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Pantheon 2.0 - Contests
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Simjen
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not long ago, on the southernmost hills of Magoddar, a certain species of plant began to creep into the dwarrow fields. The dwarrow considered this a particularly pernicious growth, as it supplanted valuable arable soil. It proved quite difficult to eradicate, and even the most voracious insects would not eat it. And so the dwarrow prayed to Simjen for aid. Hearing their cries, the Crafter brought his ire against the weed, burning them down to the root. Simjen considered the problem solved and moved his attention to other things.

But as soon the God of Agriculture, Jastrau, got word of this, he angrily confronted Simjen. "Who are you, Simjen, to casually burn that which grows without consulting me? Who are you, Simjen, to take matters of agriculture into your own hands?"

Normally, the God of the Forge would have considered Jastrau's claim before responding, but it so happened that Jastrau's interruption came during a crucial moment of a complicated device that he had been working on. The forging was ruined, meaning he would have to start it all over again.

"Where were you, Jastrau, when my people were suffering from this blight? If you had shown more diligence in the execution of your domain, I would not have had to interfere. Now darken my doorstep no more, lest I blacken your crops to charcoal." With that, Simjen closed his door in Jastrau's face, and began his work anew.

"You have insulted me one time too many, Smith," Jastrau yelled at the door. But Simjen did not hear him over the ringing of his hammer on the anvil.

Soon after, Simjen realized he had been too short with the God of Agriculture. He was on his way to apologize, when he noticed the green blight spreading at an even faster pace across the dwarrow's fields. Realizing that this must be the direct work of Jastrau, Simjen's ire flared anew. "Challenge me, does he?" he yelled, drawing up his sleeves. As he stretched out his hands, orange sparks, like from steel stoked too hot and hit too hard, jumped from them to the leaves of the plant. Where they hit, the plants began to wither and smoke, soon bursting to flame and spreading to others. But when the spread of flame began to outpace the plants' growth, the plants would spring anew with increased vigor. In response, Simjen released more heat.

As time wore on, the God of Agriculture and the God of Fire became completely engrossed in their struggle. Fire poured from the smith like lava from a mountain, but stalks would no sooner be reduced to tinder when green sprouts would spring out from the black. Soon, the entire valley was filled with smoke, rolling in thick clouds halfway up the great peaks of Magoddar. And even though entire fields were turned to ruin, the gods struggled on.

But soon each god began to hear a curious thing - laughter. The strange sound broke the two from their single-minded pursuit. What would cause these people, whose livelihoods were ruined and houses in danger, to carry on so? As Simjen and Jastrau looked closer, they saw the dwarrow behaving almost drunkenly. Clans who had feuded for centuries over a fence or stream were gathered together, arms over shoulders. And what feasts they had laid out before them! Facing certain famine, they had emptied their larders. And as each god looked at the face of the other, they realized it was the smoke that was affecting these people.

To this day, no one will agree who laughed first, the Smith or the Farmer. But their laughter sounded across all of Eiran. They both knew how foolish they had been. And they knew it was the laughter of mortals who made them realize it.

Simjen and Jastrau worked together to repair the damage done, ensuring the harvests would last long through the coming winter. And several fields were reserved for the growing of this new crop. And when they were done, they cemented their new friendship by partaking of this crop themselves. Word has it that Jastrau created a divinely powerful strain just for this purpose, and Simjen created the first pipe to smoke it in. There are also rumors that Undine proposed a novel way of his own when he heard of it.

And that is why, among the dwarrow, the symbol of authority for diplomats is a pipe, and the badge of office bears a flame over a leaf.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Mythology of Erian

Taught to the young initiates of the Guild of Death in their first year in the academy, this myth of the origin of their following is commonly known the length and breadth of the world, wherever gather those who seek profit from their ability to kill.

Its veracity remains unknown, but the lessons it imparts are considered valuable teaching aids.


Quote:


The First Assassin

It is said that, in the dawning of the second age, as the new Gods of Erian arose but before the Prophets spoke to the world of their coming, that a dire evil stalked the people of Erian, slaying many though one by one, and confounding all for the perpetrator was never seen or heard of felt.

The evidence of dark deeds were discovered…bloodied corpses, entrails spread around in mystic patterns, but never a sign, not a footprint, not a mark, nothing to show the nature or form or substance of whatever force or being or creature lay behind these scenes of savage depredation.

Years passed and seasons changed and some times the deaths were many, and sometimes they were few, but always the innocent bled and died for the unknown designs of their feared killer and the people cried out in their hearts that they may be saved somehow and as the tales grew in the telling, more and more sought the end of this fearsome mystery and many were the brave men and women who hunted this death, and hunting died.

And after more years came a young man in their footsteps and the people by now grown weary bid him good luck and thought no more of it. But the young man travelled far and sought out the stories and the histories and all that was known about these bloody deaths and he took to following likely victims and hiding near them when he could and this way he saw what none had seen, as one night,a dark cloud condensed on the ceiling of the room in which he hid beneath the bed.

And his breath stoped in his chest as the cloud lowered itself over the sleeper above him and the sounds of rending flesh tore at his ears although the sleeper woke not nor did he scream himself.

And the next morning the young man was near despair for he did not know how to attack an enemy with no flesh and no spirit and he wandered fearing that the people were doomed for all time to suffer so. But as he wandered his despair left him for he knew more about his quarry than ever before, and he sought the wisdom of great warriors and magic users and weapon-smiths and priests until at last his knowledge was great.

And with will and magic and knowledge he caused to be forged a blade the likes of which was never seen before or since. A blade that struck to the very essence of being, a blade that would bleed out the stuff of animation without regard for flesh or spirit or soul or life. A blade that was the very opposite of existence.

To be struck by this blade was to cease to be.

And the blade was named Vyakr.

And so armed the man, no longer so young, took to his old habits again. Stalking the victims of the black cloud, whose name and nature no mortal living knew, he waited with the patience of the hunter until fate should cast him and his target together.

And then one night, startled awake by some inexplicable quality of the air, he witnessed what only he had seen before and lived to tell of…the dark cloud grew from his own ceiling like some malevolent fungus, not of this world. Frozen, the hunter become the hunted he watched the dark cloud growing above him, crystalising out of the air until at last, weighed down by its own insubstantial form it slid down through the close atmosphere of the suddenly low room.

Moved finally by desperation the man throws aside the covers and bares the blade that never leaves his side, thrusting through no resistance, as it cleaves the air in the hope that final seconds bring.

And the cloud falls as a light rain of black ash, unmade by the blade in the dictates of its forging as anything with existence could have been.

The story is largely told now, with the final death of the black cloud and the freedom of the people who suffered under it. Its name and nature remain unknown. The young man set sail for a small fertile island off the coast of the continent bearing his blade with him, vowing that it should remain unwielded while he lived. He died long ago, and the legendary blade Vyakr has never been found.

But that young man was Agraja, the first assassin.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Obsidian Pheasants

The sun shone brightly in the sky yet seemed to Veola to give no warmth as she knelt on the grass arranging fresh flowers around the headstone. When her brother had died, their grandmother had promised her that eventually the pain would subside. It had been just over a year since then, and even though the loss of Hagel didn't sting quite as much, no joy had flooded in to take its place. She had simply exchanged sorrow for numbness. Veola looked at her grandmother out of the corner of her eye as the old woman plucked the last remaining weeds from around the grave - perhaps she felt the same. Perhaps all adults did. What if this was what it meant to be all grown up?

They had had to work in silence as a young man was being interred this morning, but Veola stood and stretched her back as the last few mourners offered the family their condolences and walked away. Then, as a woman dressed all in black crumpled to her knees and began to wail in grief, two black shapes sailed overhead into a nearby tree and began to sing. Their song was soft and gentle, and it washed over Veola like a balm. It also seemed to have a soothing effect on the mourning mother, whose wails slowly faded away, leaving silent tears of loss.

"They took their time this morning", Veola's grandmother noted. "I expeted them here much earlier." She paused as she regarded the still weeping woman across the cemetery. "I'm sure they know their job better than I do though."

"What is their job?" asked Veola?

"To give comfort of course. To sing away the sorrow, at least for as long as their song lasts."

"Have they always been here?"

Grandmother smiled. "Yes dear. The obsidian pheasants have sung at funerals in the cemetery since long before I was born."

"Why do they only sing at funerals?"

"Ah. Now that", said the old woman as she drew her granddaughter into her arms, "is a tale worth telling."

* * *

The obsidian pheasant has always been a rare creature, found only on the rolling plains of central Olaern, yet this rarity has always been natural and not the cause of over-zealous hunters. And if they were rare, their song was rarer still, and few there were that ever heard it. Yet there was a time when they did not sing out of grief, but out of joy.

Many years ago there was a wealthy landowner in county Esviore who fell in love with the younger daughter of the Grand Duke of county Regalzine, and she with him. Normally such a union would have no hope, for wealthy though he was, the landowner was bred of peasant stock whilst his love was from the noblest of families. The Grand Duke however was a good man who did not see himself as inherently better than others simply because he was a Grand Duke, and so for the sake of his daughter he gave her his blessing to marry her love.

So the young landowner and his noble lady were married, and before long she gave birth to a daughter. As she grew to maidenhood she was more beautiful than any other woman in county Esviore, yet this fact paled next to her voice, for when she sang it was said that even the All-Father himself took notice. And even as her fame spread throughout Olaern, the maiden attracted the attention of an even more discerning critic - the obsidian pheasants.

She was standing at her bedroom window one evening, brushing her hair before bed and singing of the beauty of the setting sun, when they suddenly arrived in the gardens below. Over five-score graceful birds, their black feathers seeming to glimmer in the fading light. They did not join the maiden in her song that night, but when she awoke the next morning and went to her window she found that they had remained in the garden all night, and they did not leave the estate while she lived.

Thus did this young maiden become the keeper of Eiran's most enigmatic bird. Every day she would feed the obsidian pheasants and in time they grew to know and trust her. Scarcely four turnings of the moon had passed before the entire flock would break into song whenever they saw her, and this brought onlookers from all over Eiran, for the tale of the song of the obsidian pheasant, and it's beauty, was known far and wide. Who could pass up such an opportunity? These were the words that a young man said to himself as he journey south from county Belkhyde, yet when he arrived it was the voice of the woman and not the birds that stole his heart.

That day he stayed after the crowds had dispersed and helped the maiden feed the pheasants, who trusted him immediately. He came back the next day, and the day after that, and very soon she had fallen for a man below her station just as her mother had done. For the young man was a spice merchant who, although successful, owned no land.

As they grew closer, the maiden encouraged the young man to go to her father and ask for her hand in marriage, for surely he could not refuse. Had not the Grand Duke of Regalzine allowed her mother to marry her father when he was but a landowner? How could her father not remember this and do the same? Thus, he met with her parents on autumn morning to proclaim his love for their daughter.

Now her mother was both wise and kind, and she looked favourably on the young merchant, but her father did not. He had grown foolish over the years, to the point that he believed all his success had come from his own hand and not from his fortuitous marriage. Therefore he refused the request, saying that the grief of losing his daughter, even to marriage, would be to great for him to bare. Undaunted, the young man declared that he would gladly share that grief if he could, even take it all upon himself. It was then, with a cruel smile on his face, that the landowner gave the young man his task.

Far to the south he said, on the continent of Khenstorn, was the city of Aldastrian. It was said that in a mountain ravine above Aldastrian were the ruins of a temple that once belong to a god who had had much to do with sorrow and grief. The tales told of a golden mask hidden deep within the temple that shed tears for all the sorrows of Eiran. If he could find the temple, retrieve in a bottle the tears of the golden mask and return to drink the drought, then he would know the depth of the landowner's sorrow, and then would he have his blessing.

It is said that on hearing these words all hope drained from the young man's face. Yet without a word he walked from the room and left the estate, and the maiden's father chuckled to himself, in spite of his wife's disgust, for he believed that he had easily seen off a highly unsuitable suitor.

No tale tells of the young man's adventures of Khenstorn, for none shared them with him and he would speak of them himself. What we do know is that when she learned of what her father had done, the maiden's grief and anger were terrible to behold. She immediately attempted to flee the estate and follow her love, but her father's guards prevented her escape and she was confined to her bedroom. There she remained day after day, separated from both her love and her beloved birds, who called out to her in voices so beautiful and yet bereaved that it made the hearts of the estate's servants break. Thus it was one of the young gardeners who climbed the outer wall late one night and loosened the bars from her bedroom window. From then on she could climb down at night and comfort the pheasants, although with her love gone she could find no comfort for herself.

Weeks passed with no word of the young man, much to her father's joy, and at last the maiden could remain a prisoner in her own home no longer. Packing her belongings, she climbed down into the garden one night, said farewell to her beloved pheasants, and fled in search of her love.

Yet she was betrayed, though we shall never know by whom, and her father sent soldiers to retrieve her. Hearing the sound of hooves approaching from the estate, the maiden sought to flee through a nearby forest, and as she ran she tripped over the root of a tree and rolled down hill into a shallow stream where she hit her head on a rock. There she was found, alive but only just, by her father's soldiers, who bore her home to him. As her parents gathered around her bed, she would not look at her father, nor speak to him. Instead she took her mother's hand and whispered, "when he returns from Khenstorn, tell him that I love him, just as I love you." And then she died.

The whole estate was then plunged into mourning, for the maiden had ever been the life of the place. Her mother spoke not a word to her father from that day on but simply sat in the empty garden, weeping for her daughter, and for the obsidian pheasants who were gone. The landowner remained shut up in his office, and none saw him for almost a full turning of the moon. Yet he did show himself, one final time, the day the young merchant returned.

Looking disheveled and malnourished but leaner and straighter of back, the young man marched up to his love's father and draw forth a vial from beneath his traveling cloak. As he un-stoppered the vial a wave of sorrow washed over all present - there was no doubt that the young man had succeeded in his quest. Without further delay he put the vial to his lips and drank the clear liquid within, shuddering violently as he swallowed. Then he raised his head, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, he asked, "am I now fit to wed your daughter?" The landowner did not answer, but with a cry of grief he fled out into the fields and did not come back.

Thus it was left to the maiden's mother to show the young man his love's grave. When he saw her name etched in stone he made no sound but simply sank to his knees and lowered his head. There he remained for three days and nights, and many feared that he would die of hunger or thirst beside his beloved, yet it was not so, for as the sun rose on the fourth day, the obsidian pheasants returned, and looking down on he who had so loved the maiden who once cared for them, they began to sing.

Their song was different that it had ever been, and it is that song they have sung ever since. A song of sorrow and grief and loss, and yet a song of quiet, gentle hope. As he heard the song, the young man raised his head and opened his eyes. Looking round at the beautiful black birds, who had grown silent now, he smiled gently and nodded, and at this pheasants flew away. Their work was done, for today.

From that day forward, the young man tended his love's grave, and as time grew he tended the grave's of others who had passed on. He kept their resting places clean, and he gave what comfort he could to their bereaved, and most importantly, he cared for the obsidian pheasants, who were now seen only at funerals and the like, where they sang to provide, even if only whist their song lasted, a surcease from sorrow. Thus do they remember the young maiden who so loved them, and thus do they treasure their memory of her, and of the young man who loved her.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In days gone by, before the mists parted and when all Eiran was still concentrated in the east, the dragons lived in weyr and forest, under the grace of whichever deity called to them. Yet there were others: larger than any known now save one. These dragons held themselves aloof, from both their distant kin and the known G-ds, seeing themselves superior in both intellect and strength to those they saw around them.

In time, the population of Eiran increased and lands grew crowded. All the species of dragons were competing for weyr and den, and the smaller drakes often found themselves pushed out of established homes and weyrs by their larger cousins. Naturally slow to reproduce, the unsettled ones found their numbers ever diminishing as they relocated from one location to the next, always longing for a permanent home. Yet their larger cousins always trailed them when previously settled accommodations grew tight, and rooted them out.

It was at such a time when Kendra, a small and runty green, was out searching for new places to settle, when she chanced upon one of these cousins. He was a huge specimen, with the ego to match. And unlike the smaller drakes, his hide was not a single tone, but a myriad of all colors mingled together so that from a distance he appeared white. He was in a place Kendra never expected to see him; a new locale for possible settlement found by her weyrmate Chuchi, a brown wingleader. Of Chuchi there was no sign.

Kendra tried to beat a stealthy retreat, but the large one easily spotted her.

So. The mate of the one I dispatched has come.

Kendra stopped, fear welling in her heart.

Dispatched? What do you mean? Where is Chuchi?

The brown refused to yield this place to me and mine. We…settled the matter. I am B’reishis of the אחים, and as such was able to banish him once he was defeated.

Banish? To where? And what is the meaning of what you said you were of?

B’reishis smiled wryly. “It matters not, little one. You would be unable comprehend the explanation I would give to you.

Well naturally, Kendra did not take to this answer well at all.

I see that you are arrogant as well as greedy. Chuchi laid claim to these lands for my kind, and I now ask you to depart. We need them as a respite from your land usurping ways.

B’reishis cocked an eyeridge. “Will you settle the matter with me through a challenge? As I have no doubt I will defeat you easily, you may choose the method.

Kendra was taken aback. Challenge this creature? In what way could she challenge him? His size alone proved his physical strength must easily surpass hers, and he spoke of things of which she had no comprehension.

Then…the smidgen of an idea dawned on her. With this kernel of hope, her basic lustful green nature returned, and she smiled up towards B’reishis. Little did she realize the dazzling effect doing such had on him, he who was viewed as the source of his kind, and as such was held too much in reverence to ever have been flirted with. Some say the outcome to follow was determined then and there, but that is for the sages to argue, not for the storyteller to dwell upon.

How about a race?” Kendra slyly asked. Speed and agility were the skills most highly prized in greens, other than their lusty nature sought after by blues, browns, and bronzes. While B’reishis’ wing span would likely carry him further with each sweep, she had a gut feeling in this she could compete.

And the prize for the winner?” B’reishis indulgently asked.

Why…these lands, of course,” Kendra replied, “with the agreement that none of our respective races will ever force the winner’s race out of them.” She was taken aback by B’reishis response. His eyes closed, his breathing slowed, his white hide shone with a power previously hidden to her sight. Then, he reverted to how he was.

We are committed. So be it,” was all he replied.
****************************************************

The rest of that day and evening was spent agreeing on the race course and other details. However, once these things were decided, silence fell between them, and Kendra found herself wanting to know more of her unexpected companion. And apparently the feeling was mutual. Hesitantly, they conversed, and each slowly came to regret the ill will between their races. For they slowly discovered neither was all that much different from the other. And both secretly laid their plans for the next day.
*****************************************************

With the dawning of the sun, Kendra and B’reishis took their respective racers stance, and when the sun cleared the horizon, they launched! As Kendra feared, B’reishis’ wing span carried him much further with each stroke, yet the effort he put forth to sweep them rapidly appeared to tax him more than either of them expected. Eventually his flying slowed, and not only was Kendra able to pull ahead, but if she desired she could have stayed even by flying circles around him. She surprised herself with the pain seeing him struggle caused her, and she slowed down to pull even with him.

B’reishis, what is wrong? I suspected I might have been able to challenge you, but this is too easily done! Are you hurt? I will not hold you to our agreement, not if I lay claim to the prize due to injury or another advantage on my part other than speed and skill in the race.

B’reishis turned to look at her, and the wisdom and sadness in his look touched her to the core. He pulled up, and softly landed far short of the course end they have agreed upon.

The challenge was never the race, little one. My kind has grown arrogant and cold towards Eiran and her children. Your kind has Love and Hope to spare for all. I must take my kind beyond the known lands, where we will start fresh and find ourselves anew.

B’reishis…where would you find such a place? Already we struggle to find homes now. There is no such place to do as you say.

B’reishis looked towards the West. “Beyond the mists. We will banish ourselves to where none here can reach us, and find ourselves again. In time, perhaps we will return, and our kinds will reunite with Joy, instead of fear.

With that B’reishis launched himself again, and beating strongly took to the skies. With each down sweep, his hide glowed brighter and whiter, until with a flash it vanished from view.

…little did he realize as he climbed into the skies, that a small, runty green, herself unaware of what she committed herself to other than being with the one she had come to desire, had grabbed a neck ridge with a talon and disappeared along with him…
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Moon Under Water

Suf-j sat on the raft with his class, all of them dangling their feet in the cool water and gazing down at the lights of Mer Solus and Undine’s temple. He checked the position of the stars once more and held up his hands for silence.

There was no need. Even the most boisterous of the children was staring in disbelief into the depths as a monstrous shadow passed between their raft and the lights. Mer Solus was being slowly eclipsed, and they felt the steady counter-current on their feet as the darkness spread towards them, until not one light of the marine metropolis was visible. A minute passed, and pent-up breath was at last released, as the furthest off lights became visible once more, and gradually the entire city re-appeared.

“I saw a tail, a TAIL, as it passed beneath us, what WAS it?” asked the most confident of the kids. Suf-j raised an eyebrow at him, a gesture that they’d come to recognize when they asked a question that they already knew the answer to. “It was Leviathon, wasn’t it? Nothing else could possibly be that big! But how did you know to bring us here tonight, Suf-j?”

Suf-j:-
“That is today’s lesson, children. Leviathon has returned to his ancient, predictable orbit, in preparation. You all know Leviathon’s recent history. Compelled to carry a town – Drifton - on his back, to swim only on the surface (forsaking his beloved depths), until his disgust at the decadence of the Driftonians enabled him to break the charm that they had cast on him.”

The children nodded, solemn-faced, for the moral of Drifton’s fall from grace had been told to them all at an early age.

Suf-j, waved his arm to encompass the newly risen full moon…
“Ah, right on cue, another participant in our lesson has arrived!
What does she remind you of? The purest of pearls, no? Would you believe me if I told you that that is exactly what she is? A pearl, THE pearl that all other pearls strive to emulate, that was stolen from us by a greedy goddess, but that will soon return to its rightful place beneath the waves….

But I digress, and have told you the end of the tale before the beginning.
Long ago, when the marine races were young and still guided in their enterprises by the Iksphikix, their leaders were distraught at the darkness of their new realms. The sun’s light penetrated only into the shallows, and while that was most welcome, the people longed to explore the true depths of the oceans. At the instruction of the Iksphikix, the people prayed. Years passed, decades, and still they prayed, until Undine heeded their prayer and became their god.

Undine saw their plight and sympathized with their desires, for as god of the seas he wanted his people to explore and multiply, so he focused his divine power on a humble oyster and the pearl inside, causing it to grow immense. Then he took this pearl and filled it with fluorescent algae. Undine bargained with O-Gon-Cho, Lady of Light, who burnished the pearl so that its light shone forth like a beacon.

The pearl was placed on the ocean bed directly beneath us, close to the present site of Mer Solus, and thus the people could see, and they founded their city and cultivated their underwater world. But soon they had reached the limits of the light and once more turned to Undine in prayer, for their appetite for exploration was undiminished, and they longed for wider realms.

Undine pondered long over their problem.

Again, He focused his divine power, this time on the great masses of kelp which grew on the ocean bed, strengthening it until it was unbreakable. Again he bargained, with another goddess this time, Norn, The Weaver, who helped Undine weave a vast harness from the kelp, into which he rolled the Pearl. Then He summoned the greatest creature of the deep, Leviathon, and fastened the harness over his great back. Leviathon, who swam endlessly through Eiran’s oceans, now bearing beneath him a source of light sufficient to brighten the deepest subterranean grottos, making the entire ocean inhabitable.

The people were overjoyed, but soon disaster was to befall.

Tsaloga, Goddess of The Orcs, glimpsed the Pearl in the depths, and coveted it. She sent her fiercest orcish hunters to attack Leviathon, and although they couldn’t kill him, they drove him far from his course, into the shallows where Tsaloga, manifesting, was able to steal the Pearl and the Harness! Tsaloga, eager for the whole Pantheon to see her victory, placed the Pearl in the night sky where it would be most visible.

Now the Pearl, placed high in the sky, looked down upon the waters of Eiran and knew that was where it belonged, and the Sea, looking up into the sky, itself yearned for that which had brought light and life into its depths. This mutual attraction caused great agitation within the seas, and so the tides formed, as the Sea sought to follow the Pearl’s path across the sky.

Meanwhile, Tsaloga had gifted the Pearl’s Harness to the greatest of her hunters, the mighty warrior Orghul, who wrapped it around his torso and created an impregnable suit of armour.

And what was Undine doing while this happened, I hear you ask. How could he sit abjectly by and let his greatest creation be stolen by another Goddess?

Undine was teaching His prophet Min-q the Lore of the Deep, and this took preference for a time. When our prophet’s training was complete, however, and Min-q saw what it had cost his God, and he begged Undine’s leave to help regain the Pearl from the Goddess of the Orcs. Undine acquiesced to Min-q’s request, and gave to him gifts to help his quest: a pearl ring, a fragment of Iksphikix shell, and a piece of the divinely strengthened kelp that had been left over from the manufacture of the harness.

Min-q wandered long, searching for the orc Orghul, for he knew that he would need the harness before endeavoring the re-capture the Pearl. He had many adventures and found himself in many delicate situations. Surrounded by the God of Nature’s followers in Magran, his noble nature enabled him to forge a lasting peace between the followers of Undine and Bhakti. On the coasts of Kortral, he found the water-drakes that had been making the passage north to Landir nigh impossible, and he tamed them and provided the mounts for the Knights of The Cresting Wave!

North to Landir, he found himself in the tribal lands of the orcs. The Iksphikix shell he carried hid him from the sight of Tsaloga, but he still needed all his wits to avoid her hunters! He travelled in water wherever possible, along streams and rivers, the water spirits recognizing him and hiding his spoor from the orcs, and guiding him. Eventually he found Orghul’s tracks (never was there an orc with larger feet!) and followed them into the mountains.

He spotted Orghul in a valley as night was falling, coming towards him. Quickly Min-q used the length of kelp to set up a simple noose snare, for he knew that in one-to–one combat Orghul would defeat him easily, so he would have to use his wits and his God’s blessing to defeat the orc. Orghul, mighty hunter, spotted Min-q and the noose, and laughed uproariously at the thought that such a simple trap could catch the world’s greatest hunter! As the tears of laughter flowed, however, Min-q raised the pearl ring. The Pearl in the sky, rising behind him, shone onto and through the pearl on the ring, magnifying and blinding Orghul, who covered his eyes and staggered, straight into Min-q’s kelp noose! The noose closed and Orghul was caught.

The hunter struggled and raged and cursed Min-q, but he could not break the kelp and eventually he sank into an exhausted stupor, whereupon Min-q unwrapped the Harness and made his getaway from Tsaloga’s lands.

Again the water spirits helped, and Min-q was able to reach the coast and return the Harness to Undine.”

The children were gazing at him, wide-eyed and mouths gaping. “Go on, please,” they cried, “what happened next?”

“I can’t tell you what happened next,” Suf-j replied, gazing up at the Pearl, and then in the direction Leviathon had traveled, “for it hasn’t happened yet!”
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Myths of Eiran

Allright, here are the results of the Myths contest! We had nine entries in this contest, and a total of 11 players voted to determine which of these entries would win.

The authors of the three most-voted myths were:

1. Simjen with 5 1/4 votes for his Tale of the Pipe;
2. Norn with 4 votes for her Obsidian Pheasants;
3. Lord Adomorn with 3 1/4 votes for The Player and the Shade.

Look out for elements of these stories creeping into the Pantheon game! Wink

Congratulations to everyone who partecipated! I trust the increase in worshipers will be appreciated Very Happy I'll soon post details for the next contest!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turn Events

Deadline: October 2, 2007
Voting Deadline: October 9, 2007

This is an unusual contest, in that it focuses more on the game itself than on the events and happenings of Eiran. However, it is a fitting contest to shamefully capitalize over the anticipation for Pantheon 3.0.
As you well know, events are generated each turn for each player; these events can be good or bad, often having an effect on the deity's worshipers, but also sometimes on the worshipers of other deities. They range from global events to small-scale ones, and sometimes they can be downright bizarre. All of you have witnessed first-hand the chaos and weirdness an event can bring - from the dreaded Adventurers to the Reality Tear. Well now, it's your turn to come up with some more!

In preparation for Pantheon 3.0, but also to spice up Pantheon 2.0, I would like to add more events to the random generator. Therefore, players who wish to enter the contest are invited to come up with new events that could happen to other deities. You can suggest good or bad events, or both; you are not limited to a single entry, but you can submit more than one event. When describing the event, you must include a short summary of the mechanics (e.g. "A portal tears open in reality and demons pour forth"), and a longer writing which describes the event from a character's point of view (this can be your deity, or a mortal, but not another player's deity).

You can be as bizarre or outlandish as you wish, provided your events aren't downright comical; if an event already exists in the game, it will normally not be considered for voting, unless the suggestion offered here is actually better than the one already present in the generator.

Each contestant will then receive a boost to his or her number of worshipers, depending on the votes his or her events will receive. The more events, the greater the boost, if they get voted! All the events which are not annulled will then be added to the random generator.

Have fun creating catastrophes!

EDIT:

So, the gods whose turn events are eligible for voting are:

Astavyastataa Kadna - Cupid's Curse
Maeror - Invisibility
Maeror - The Dark Abyss
O-gon-cho - Annular Eclipse
O-gon-cho - Ergotism
Undine - Brainwash


Not many entries this time... I guess you people are happy with the catastrophes I dump in your laps Wink

The voting procedure is quite simple. Every player in the Pantheon game (even if he or she hasn't taken part in the contest) can choose three of the entries, in order of preference from highest to lowest, and send me an email or a PM containing these preferences. Voting is to be secret, so please do not announce who you voted for, be it through the comments thread or PMs. The first entry in order of preference receives 1 vote, the second receives half a vote, and the third receives a quarter of a vote.

Voting will last until October 16, to give players enough time to re-read the entries multiple times, if needed, as well as to give all players the chance to partecipate, even if they do not log on daily. The deadline for voting will therefore be October 16, 10 pm GMT time. After that, I will be posting the names of the authors of the three most-voted entries, and each contestant will receive a boost in their number of worshipers depending on the amount of votes received (although all contestants will receive a prize, even if they do not receive any votes).

Incidentally, this increase in worshipers will not necessarily be tied to the turn's end, so it might actually happen mid-turn.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brainwash

“At one of your temples, the priests add hallucinogenic mushrooms to the food that is distributed to the poor. Many people are converted, as the effects of the mushrooms combined with the priest’s sermons, give them divine visions.”

Carma shuffled forward, allowing the priest’s monologue to relax taut muscles and sooth the pressure in her head. The queue was long today, for which she was grateful. Violence, intimidation, bullying, the staples of life for an orphan in the city, were all forbidden here in the temple square, while the priests distributed their food and tried to convert their captive audience. A long queue meant this daily respite would last a little longer than usual, and though their portions would likely be smaller, that was a price worth paying!

She lowered her eyes as she passed Dogo, already hunkered down wolfing his food. She’d have to keep an eye on his route out of the square, and take another. He’d been trying to recruit Carma for the past few weeks, but she’d seen the vicious treatment he inflicted on his girls when their daily earning fell below his expectations. Sometimes he let a client inflict the beatings, thereby recouping his lost profit. Dogo’s whores were perhaps the only other residents who Carma felt were a rung below her among the city’s social outcasts.

Today’s handout was a little smaller than normal. She found a space to eat, where she could watch Dogo from the corner of her eye, but out of his line of sight. He’d finished his food, but to her dismay he hadn’t rushed off as normal. In fact he seemed to be making himself comfortable, and even more unbelievably, had his attention focused on the priest.

The priest.

At that thought, Carma’s attention seemed to swoop like a bird to focus on the priest. His voice were clearer today. More succinct. She’d heard it every day, as long as she could remember. The words didn’t apply to her, had nothing to offer her. But now they surrounded her. Her left ear seemed to be hearing different words to her right ear, but both together were creating a beautiful harmony. She closed her eyes to listen better. Meaning escaped her, but that didn’t matter. She didn’t want that priest to ever stop talking. Her consciousness floated like a feather, light and carefree as never before, buoyed up by his blissful voice.

She slowly opened her eyes. Someone had made a tunnel, straight from her eyes to the preacher. Everything else was blurred, contorted. But straight ahead, he was perfect. She’s never seen anything so clearly before. The birthmark on his cheek. How had she never noticed before? It was a heart, a symbol of his love just for her, no-one else. The priest loved her. A shudder shook her. No! He was beyond her, beyond her love, what was orphan Carma to him? How could he love her? BUT HE DID!

The prayers continued, but Carma knew that they were only for her now. Meaning escaped her, the words senseless. But they were hers, and she was theirs, and nothing else mattered any more. One word only, now, repeated endlessly. ‘Follow’.

She lurched to her feet, staggering as the square tried to knock her down again. But there were bodies all around her now, keeping her upright. She tried to tell her feet to move, to follow her beloved into the temple. Her feet didn’t answer, might not even have been there any more. But that didn’t matter, because the warm, friendly tide of bodies was going that way anyway. She floated along in their midst.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Dark Abyss
(Very rare event)

"A stray ripple in reality brushes between Eiran and the Abyss near ______, and darkness seeps through...."


On the twenty-fifth day of Simjenus, I woke in my house in the town of Tellar as I would have on any other day. It is my custom to rise early, with the first rays of the sun, and to spend an hour in my study going through the account books from the previous day's business. After this work was complete, I then went down to the cellar in order to take inventory and organise the stock in preparation for delivery.
The cellar of my house was entered through a pair of heavy wooden doors set at an angle into the ground outside, this entrance situated within a wide alley that ran beside the house from the main street. Though the cellar was not completely subterranean, there were no windows--I kept a good lamp on a shelf just inside, and I was accustomed enough to working with only the light cast by it that this did not concern me. The cellar was arranged with shelves on all sides for the stock, surrounding a wide space in the centre. I began, as I always did, with the shelf immediately to the left of the entrance, intending to work my way around until I arrived back at the steps from the other side. On this day, however, I could not seem to keep my concentration; I continually felt as though there were someone watching over my shoulder, and though I knew there was nothing I still repeatedly found myself turning to look intob the space behind me, to assure myself I was alone. I managed to get as far as the first corner when it happened.
In retrospect, it was not so much a sound as an impression; it seemed to reach my mind without my ears hearing it. Thinking back since then, I have never been able to describe what exactly it was that I thought I heard, but it made me spin round to looks upon it--and that was when I first saw the darkness.
I panicked. I had worked myself into something of a state with my constant paranoia in the cellar, and turning to find this... this unknown thing behind me, I lost control, and ran out into the street in fear. After several moments spent standing in the street, forcing myself to stay calm, I eventually found the courage to return within.
A patch of darkness lay like a blot on the air, a dark spatter suspended on nothing. Taking the lamp from its shelf, I shone the light upon it, and though it cast a shadow I illuminated nothing. Slowly I paced a circle around it, being careful not to come into contact with the thing itself. Looking closer I could see the way the shadow thickened gradually toward its centre, becoming more impenetrable until it formed a single point of undiluted void. The shadow bled outward from this focus, seeping into the dank air of the cellar, and if I stopped and stared for a few moments, I could see that it grew.
For the next hour I stayed there and watched this strange phenomenon; on an impulse I retrieved a notebook from the house, and began to record the stain's behaviour. The darkness seemed to be spreading at a rate of just over an inch every minute--and it grew evenly, the black heart in its centre growing in proportion to the fainter shadow that surrounded it.
There was something about that centre that drew the eyes toward it; I would find myself staring into the blackness for several minutes at a time, oblivious to all else around me. It gripped me with the feeling that within this stain were untold depths of nothingness into which I might fall and lose myself forever; indeed, the notion came to me that perhaps it was not the darkness that was creeping into the world, but the world that fell away into darkness.
After that hour had passed, my fear of this thing overtook my curiosity, and I left the cellar once more, barring the doors shut behind me.
I had thought to find someone who might help me discover what was happening beneath my house, but now that it came to it the thought seemed absurd. Who could possibly know what this thing was, this creeping shadow? Only the gods might know of such things. It was with this last thought in mind that I chose to go to Prachas, one of the town's priests, for guidance.
It took much entreating on my part to convince him to follow me back to my house, and even then I think it was only my clear excitement that finally swayed him. Another half-hour had passed since I had locked the doors to the cellar, and there were now people out in the street, beginning to go about their daily business. I led Prachas immediately to the cellar where the darkness waited. He entered ahead of me, and I heard him gasp in horror. The lamp he held seemed to cast no light at all. The shadow had spread as far as the walls on each side, and brushed the ceiling above it--nothing could be seen of the opposite end of the cellar. Though we could barely see, the dark heart of the stain was palpable: I turned my head away from it and saw Pachas transfixed, on his face an expression somewhere between fear and awe. He was muttering to himself, barely audible: "...oh gods, the abyss, the dark abyss, the Lord take us, Lord save us from the darkness..." I put my hand on his shoulder, and his head snapped round toward me. For a moment he stared uncomprehending, and then his senses seemed to return to him.
"What is this thing, Barran?"
"I do not know." My hand had remained on his shoulder, and I realised that I had been tightening my grip; I released him, and turned toward the wall, away from the darkness. "It appeared from nowhere, this morning, while I was preparing for the delivery. It was much smaller then."
Pachas, like myself, had turned to avoid looking at the thing. Fear clearly still gripped him. I thought about the things he had been muttering while he stared into the void.
"You.. when you saw that thing." To talk of what had happened to him felt somehow wrong, as though it was something we should pretend had not occurred, but the need to understand what was happening pressed upon me, and I continued. "You were talking about the abyss." I looked him full in the eye, and could see how he almost shrank away at mention of it. "What did you mean?"
The priest visibly struggled with his fear for a moment, before he began slowly to speak. "There are legends," he said, "among some of our order. About--about the time Before. These members of our order, they speak of writings from the earliest ages, writings that mention our Lord. It is said that in these old times, our Lord was cast out of this world, into another place. A place of darkness. They say that in the end the Abyss will--"
His words were cut short then, as we heard the sound of a terrible scream. Immediately we were running, out from the cellar and into the street outside. On the ground before my house a young boy was on the ground, rolling from side to side and giving out the most horrible screams. Blood covered his clothing, and was flung out in sprays as he writhed on the ground. We ran to him, and I struggled to hold him still as Pachas sought out his injury.
There was another scream, as a woman emerged from a house nearby, and saw what was happening. More faces were beginning to appear at windows and doors throughtout the street.
The blood was coming from the boy's left hand. Pachas managed to grab hold of him and keep it still, and I saw what was wrong: two fingers of his hand were missing, severed cleanly at the knuckle. Pachas' face, spotted with drops of the boy's blood, was a mask of horror.
"Can you help him?" I asked. Pachas shook his head.
"I am not a healer. The temple. There is a healer at the temple." Gripping the boy's wrist tightly, he began with his free hand to unfasten his belt. As he did this, I began to glance around, looking for the cause of the boy's injury. My eyes fell upon the wall of my own house.
"Pachas." The priest was concerned with tying the tourniquet around the boy's arm--who had now fainted--and did not hear me. "Pachas, look. The wall."
Irritatedly he glanced up quickly, but when he saw what I was pointing toward he froze, mouth opening in horror.
At the bottom of the wall of my house, where the cellar stood a few feet above the level of the street, a patch of shadow was growing. Blood painted the bricks around it and a trail of red covered the ground from the stain to where the boy lay.
"Oh, Gods," Pachas gasped.
The people in the street had begun to converge upon us; some of them had noticed the stain as well. I called to the woman who had screamed earlier. "You. Run to the Temple, find a healer. Tell them we are on our way, this boy needs help." I glanced around at the other faces surrounding us, and singled out one of the young men. "You. Bring the soldiers. Tell them it is urgent." As he sprinted away, I addressed the others nearby. "Keep back! Stay away from the house--it's dangerous!"
I turned back to Pachas. He was still staring at the wall where the shadow had emerged; he seemed to have forgotten about the injured boy entirely. I grabbed his arm and shook him. "Pachas, we need to move. We have to take this boy to the Temple." He did not respond, and I had reached out to shake him again when he turned and grabbed my hand. "It's growing," he whispered. I turned to look at the house again, and saw that the shadow had spread to cover almost the full length of the wall at the base of the house, and had crept a few feet out into the street. As I stared, a deep groan emerged from within. A feeling of dull horror came over me for a moment, until I realised--"The house!" The groaning continued, and cement dust fell from the walls as the building slowly began to shift. "It's eating the foundations!" I shouted at Pachas over the noise. "We need to move!"
The crowd that had gathered earlier had begun to scatter; it was impossible now for anyone to mistake what was happening: the shadow was consuming the brick walls of the house. Together we picked up the boy from the ground, Pachas taking his feet, and I his shoulders. Visible cracks had formed in the brickwork, and just as we began to move, the sounds emerging from it changed in pitch, and the house began to fall.
As the base od the house disappeared into shadow, the upper storeys seemed to lean out over the street, then began to break apart. Masonry came crashing down around us; I threw myself upon the ground, shielding the boy with my body and clasping my arms over my head. I lay there as fragments of brick and mortar pattered down on top of me, and then, only moments after it began, there was silence.
It did not last long. Soon there was shouting all around, and the sounds of running feet. I rose onto my hands and knees and looked around me. A great cloud of dust filled the air. Where the house had been, there was a circle of scattered rubble, surrounding... nothing. In the place my home had stood, a mass of darkness crouched, a great depth of inpenetrable blackness. There was not enough rubble on the ground. The shadow had swallowed it--everything that fell within its bounds was lost. When the building fell, it had taken the joining wall with it, exposing the inside of the house next door. The shadow's edges lapped at the bricks of this home's walls, threatening to take it down next. Its other side had already crossed half the alleyway toward the building on its other side.
There were people in the street around us, some searching the rubble, some only staring at the blackness. Soldiers, and I saw a priest from the temple with them. The dust filled my throat, making me cough, but I managed to croak out a call; the healer and one of the soldiers ran toward me. I moved aside so that the healer could see the boy; without a word, he nodded and bent over him, checking his pulse and breathing before turning to his bloody hand.
The soldier squatted down beside me and placed his hand on my shoulder. "What is going on, Barran? Wasn't that your house? What is that... shadow?"
"I--" I could not order my thoughts; I was dazed, and slow to realise that something was not right. Finally it returned to me: "Pachas!"
Frantically I looked around for him--he had been right beside me when the house fell! Then I saw what looked like his robe, my view blocked by the healer tending to the child. I scrambled past, and saw that Pachas had been trapped under a piece of the falling wall. The soldier came and helped me pull the rubble away, and revealing the priest beneath. His face was a mess of dust and blood, only some of it the child's. A dark gash covered the side of his head where he had been hit by the falling rubble, and his dead eyes stared blankly at the ground.
At this sight of him, something in me deflated. I stopped moving the rubble, and stood for a few moments, then I said to the soldier, weakly, "It's growing bigger. We need to move." As if to confirm my words, at that moment a few more feet of wooden flooring in the exposed house collapsed and vanished into the darkness. "As far away as possible."
I walked wearily back toward the place where the healer knelt. I looked at the boy's hand: where the fingers had been severed, smooth skin covered the stumps. The healer sighed. "It is the best I can do. At least he is alive."
The soldier moved to help carry the boy to safety, but I stopped him. "Please. I will carry him." He stepped aside, and together the healer and I lifted the boy from the ground and began to walk away from where my house had stood. The soldier--their captain, I noticed belatedly--strode over to his men, giving orders for the evacuation of the whole street.
A short while later, the boy and I were taken to the Temple, where the healer and his assistants took care of us. The sound of more houses falling to the shadow reached us even there, and they seemed to increase in volume and frequency as time passed. Occasionally one of the captain's men would pass by with a report on what was happening--word of this street or that falling into the shadow, of this or that person missing who had lived or worked in the missing streets. It grew increasingly apparent that the void's spread was accelarating.
I had only been in the temple for two hours when the order came--the entire town was to be evacuated. We wasted no time in obeying the order. I heard many stories later, of people who had tried to return to a home on the edge of the darkness to retrieve some valued possession, only to be swallowed. I suppose I was lucky in that respect--there could be nothing left to tempt me into returning.
We left in a ragged column, men, women and children moving up out of the valley all together, an entire town on the march. Every now and then someone would stop and turn back, and would stare for a long time at the shadow that was visible now over the rooftops. I think all of us did this at least once. The shadow was as tall as the houses by then, and we could watch as, in a widening circle, they toppled into the darkness. When we reached the top of the hill, by some unspoken consensus we stopped, and sat down to watch what remained of our homes vanish into the abyss. It was just after midday; what food had been salvaged was shared out among us and we ate there, watching the shadow grow.
By the evening, no sign was left that the town of Tellar had ever stood in that valley. The shadow filled the bottom of the valley like an ocean of blackness, and the trees that covered the hillsides collapsed inward at a regular pace; the shadow seemed at last to hace reached a steady rate of growth.
Though we knew it was not the same, we all felt wary I think about staying where we could see this darkness when the night came to accompany it. As the sun was setting behind the opposite slope of the valley, we stood once more and began to march.
None of us looked back.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Annular Eclipse

“Given the common level of astronomy on Eiran (or wherever 3.0 is set), the unpredictable eclipsing of the Sun by the Moon at full apogee brings forth unexpected magical acts, and perhaps madness, for the duration of the eclipse.”

Walking slowly back to town from the apple orchard, Danya hefted the basket of bright shining globes of fruit from one hand to the other. She knew she would appreciate this chore when Imah brought a hot, freshly baked cinnamon scented treat out of the oven, but right now she still had over a mile to walk home, and it was hot.

A cooling breeze unexpectedly blew through her hair, and she lifted her face towards the Sun in appreciation. Lowering her head to continue on, she suddenly jerked it back up again. No…she didn’t imagine it. The Sun’s lower corner had a crescent shaped blackness devouring it!

Dropping her basket, she pelted towards home. Stopping at the front of her home to pull open the door, she was suddenly assaulted by stones. But…they weren’t stones. The apples she had dropped, and the basket she had carried them in, had levitated and followed her home of their own accord. Because she had run home, they followed her at a brisk pace, and some slammed into her when she stopped. But the rest just floated there, awaiting her bidding.

Danya’s jaw dropped, but as the sky around her darkened as if a storm was coming, despite the cloudless sky, she kicked herself back into motion and entered her home. Imah looked up from the pastry she was rolling and frowned. “Danya, the apples?”

“Right here, Imah,” and Danya opened the door wide and made a beckoning motion. The apples and basket floated in and hovered in the kitchen. Imah quickly assessed the situation, and with a practiced hand patted a wooden bowl where the apples settled themselves as neat as you could please. Dropping a towel over her pastry, Imah guided Danya back outside.

It was twilight. Yet twilight was hours away. In the distance, the sound of hysterical male laughter could be heard. Danya glanced up towards the Sun again. It was totally eaten! A black circle was where the Sun should be, yet glowing around the circle were beads of pure light that looked like segmented worms that shifted and shimmered randomly around the perimeter of that black circle. The great iridescent halo streaming in long lavender loops with mother of pearl jade lightening held her enraptured. She had never seen such a sight.

Imah sharply grabbed her arm. “You mustn’t look too long. Once the circle shifts, the brightness will stab your eyes, and you could be harmed.

“Now come, we have less than an hour to take advantage. Follow and learn…”

And walking down the path from their door, Imah was suddenly walking off the path and ascending up into the winds. Danya started running down the path, as she didn’t want to loose sight of her mother. She was so busy concentrating on Imah, that she didn’t notice when her own feet left the ground…

…and everything under the Sun is in tune…
…~but the Sun is eclipsed by the Moon.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Invisibility


"An inexperienced mage tries out a new spell, and accidentally turns himself--and most of his neighbours--invisible."



When Carras had been called out to investigate an "incident", this was not quite what he had imagined.
He had arrived in the small town expecting to see something drastic--people hurt, property damaged, strange forces flying around causing mayhem. The usual stuff. But when he got there, there was nothing to indicate that any kind of magical disaster had occured. As usual he had gone immediately to consult the local captain who had, without time for explanation, led him into the main room of the guardhouse. It was, with the exception of the two of them, empty.
Which is why he was taken a little by surprise when a voice directly in front of him asked if he was "the holy man" and whether he'd come to help him. Within moments the room erupted with the sounds of at least a dozen voices all asking what are you going to do, can you help us, will we be stuck like this, and at one point, he was almost certain, Can anyone find my chicken I had it a second ago only it's got away again and I don't want to lose it we're having it for dinner tomorrow.
He retreated hastily from the room and closed the door.
"How did this happen?" he asked the captain. The man shrugged and waved a hand over toward a bench at one side of the hall.
"Erm." A hesitant voice ventured from the air in that direction. Carras near jumped out of his skin. "That would be my fault. Sorry."
"What--? I--." He goggled at the empty space where the voice seemed to originate, then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Can someone please tell me what in the Lord's name is going on?"
The voice began to elaborate. "You see, it was a new spell I was working on, for hiding things. Making them disappear. I, uh, was trying to disappear and apple, and... Well." A sigh. "It's a work in progress."
Carras echoed the mage's sigh; he raised a hand and rubbed at his brow. "Are the effects permanent?"
"Oh, no, no. They should all be fine in a day or so. Well, maybe a week. At least I think--" Apparently seeing the look on the investigator's face, he gave an audible gulp and repeated: "No. Not permanent."
Dropping his hand to his side again, Carras turned to the captain. "I'll need a bed until I'm sure these people will be alright."
"Of course. It will have to be in the officers' quarters."
"That will be fine. If they're still like this in a week, I'll have to call in some more people to look into it." He sighed again. "I don't suppose there is anything else for me to do here while I wait?"
The captain opened his mouth to speak, but the voice from the bench chimed in: "You could help me find my cat?"
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ergotism

"Due to excessive rains and improper harvesting, a supply of rye is stored wet and grows ergot sclerotia (pods). However, dry rye is stored on top of it before the pods become apparent, and the spores filter through the supply, contaminating the entire batch. In some partakers of the contaminated resultant bread, a random chemical reaction processes the toxin, revealing latent oracular skills. Whereas most suffer painful seizures, leading to the potential loss of limbs."

Gristner eyed the rising loaves of rye with a practiced glance. Satisfied that they were ready, he opened the massive oven door and slid them on to the shelves to bake. The sharp tang of the starter culture always made him inhale fully. Approaching his hand cranked mill, he began bagging up the ground rye he didn’t need for this current batch of bread. When finished, a light layer of rye dust was on his counters and kneading surfaces, so he began wiping everything down with a damp cloth. Suaddenly, he found himself opening his eyes while lying on the floor, with several of his baking implements scattered around him, having no idea how he got there.

Gathering his fallen implements, and slowly shaking his head to clear it, he picked himself up from the floor and checked the baking loaves. They were just about ready to come out and start cooling. If he had a fainting spell, the timing couldn’t have been better. Turning to grab his long handled oven spade, he rubbed his index finger on his right hand, which felt a little numb.

As he was removing the loaves on to his counters, he heard the bells of his shop door opening. Judging by the light of the Sun, he realized the children of the village would be stopping by for a quick bite to eat on their way to duties with their various Masters. Grinning, he sliced up a fresh loaf of sourdough rye, and handed out slices with a wave of his hand, turning aside the proffered offerings in exchange. He knew his occasional generosity with a hot piece of just baked bread to the children helped his business with their parents.
*************************************************************

Hurrying past the bakery on his way to the fields, Hanver was brought up short by the luscious aroma of the baking rye. Perhaps a loaf in his satchel to go along with his bite of cheese would make for a pleasant lunch. Quickly purchasing one, he hurried onward and began his day’s toil. When the sun reached the highest point of it’s journey across the sky, he found a shady spot and enjoyed his lunch and a brief siesta.

Upon awakening, his eyes were bedazzled. Appearing before him amidst swirling motes gleaming in the sun was an older woman, seated on a tripod, and she looked at him with grave eyes. Suddenly, he knew her name of Pythia and a thought was in his mind; he knew he must spread the word of it when he went back down into the village:

There are two roads, most distant from each other: the one leading to the honorable house of freedom, the other the house of slavery, which mortals must shun. It is possible to travel the one through manliness and lovely accord; so lead your people to this path. The other they reach through hateful strife and cowardly destruction; so shun it most of all.

Leaving his work in the fields, he made his way back to the village to spread this teaching.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

to appease "The Whining One"

Cupid's Curse

A shimmer ... as shade of red modulating to pink ... and a small cherub appears ... drawn by the battle ... and some mischievious sense of play! He waves his hands ... and an almost unseen glow radiates out over all sentient beings in a 1000 yard radius. A child-like chuckle and the Cherub disappears! [Duration 1 week]

The battle had been raging for days. AK's 1,000 troops were led by five Powerful FAVORED led by Sarota. The enemy was twice that size; but the ferocity of Battle and Conquest were overwhelming them. Sarota smiled evily ... the battle would be over soon. Most of the enemy was wounded, he looked forward to ... What was that? He heard something that sounded like a childs laughter ... and suddenly. He felt really good!!!

He smiled and laughed ... his opponent ... whom he was about to disembowl ... laughted as well. What are we doing? I LOVE you Sarota thought ... in fact, I love EVERYBODY!!

All around him, the scene was repeating. Enemies, who were instants before thrusting swords into each other, laughed! They Hugged each other. Those who were mages worked spells of healing on each other. A few were even seen picking flowers together.

As the glow of cupid's curse faded (new entrants to the field of battle would not be affected); the effects on those exposed continued. They played games with each other; lounged around ... in the evening campfires were lit and stories were told. It was a scene that none would believe.

After three days; many of the fighters ... although one could not call them that now, wandered away. The effects were somewhat lessened, but still generated warmth and friendship that no animosity could ovecome.

Suddenly, a Warren was opened. Shivada stepped through with 20 FAVORED to see how the battle faired. He was ready to lend aid if needed. While not impacted by the 'curse', this man - who had never feared anything - felt shock!! He saw the deadly killers of Astavyastataa Kadna skipping across the field, arm-in-arm and laughing with their enemy! THEY WERE PLAYING TOGETHER!! THEY WERE FROLICKING!!!

Shivida, who feared nothing, considered how he was going to report this event to Kalpa, opened the Warren and returned home will all 20 FAVORED ... and pondered how he would survive THIS report!!


Last edited by Astavyastataa Kadna on Fri Oct 19, 2007 9:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turn Events

And so ends the fifth contest for the Pantheon game! We had six entries in this contest, and a total of 5 players voted to determine which of these creation myths would win the contest. I admit I'm a bit disappointed regarding how few players voted... but no matter.

Because of the low number of votes, we ended up with a unique situation... while there is a turn event which clearly placed itself first, three others ended up second with the same number of votes, and the last two ones ended up third with the same number of votes. It seems that no one has "lost" then!

The authors of the turn events were:

1. Astavyastataa Kadna's Cupid's Curse with 3 votes;
2. Maeror's Dark Abyss, O-gon-cho's Ergotism and Undine's Brainwash with 1 1/4 votes;
3. Maeror's Invisibility and O-gon-cho's Annular Eclipse with 1 vote.

Congrats all around!
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Interdiction

Deadline: December 8, 2007
Voting Deadline: December 15, 2007

The Second Age is over, the Mists close in, and the deities are interdicted by the AllFather's decree, that the world may heal and recuperate, safe from the depredations and the scheming of those gods who care more for self-aggrandizement or hunger for power than the wellbeing of Eiran and its mortal people.

Thus ends the second edition of the Pantheon game, which began on September 20, 2006... more than one year has gone by since then! For this final contest before the launch of P3, I would like to ask players whether they'd like to post stories of the world of Eiran as the Mists close in, from the mortals's point of view. These tales cannot expand on what happens after the Mists close; they are concerned with the last days of the gods's presence on Eiran. The protagonists, specific timeframe, topics and so on are all up to you, however: the only caveats are that you should try to fit your story into the framework of what happened in the last turns, that the story doesn't continue after the Mists have closed over Eiran, and that you cannot change the course of major events (you can't say your protagonists stopped Nephirthos from re-cracking the world, for example). You should try to restrict yourself to stories linked to your deity's area of influence, but this is not compulsory (though it'd be nice if you refrained from using other players's important worshipers without their consent).

Feel free to write the story as you wish - as a dialogue, or the way it would be written on the Chronicles of Eiran, or as a tale, or any other way.

As there is no ongoing game, the only reward this time is the pleasure of writing the tale itself - and perhaps to give a last goodbye to characters you have grown fond of over the months. Maybe a last chance to follow your beloved Prophet as he/she struggles with the realization his/her deity is leaving, or to see how your important followers deal with dangerous events... whatever you would like.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Sufjan Heresy

Suf-j held the ultimate note longer than he should. The earthquake’s third aftershock was fading, and for a moment Suf-j’s singing and the surrounding bedlam created a perfect harmony, before both fell away to silence.

There was no cheering for this, the first performance of his masterpiece ‘The Ballad of the Second Age’. But as he gazed out onto the dirty careworn faces, he saw renewed hope and determination. The Ballad had reminded his audience that the Gods HAD been worthy of worship, and though their families and communities had been decimated, there was now hope for their children.

Thellarr was an uninhabitable wasteland. Mer Solus abandoned, its people gone through the portal, following Eldine and Elimere into Pourzoleh’s service. It was time to make a new life in a new place. The people moved down from the dunes towards the sea, began wading out into the calm water. Gills flared as they dived under the surface.

Without need for discussion, the group swam westwards, hugging the coast until they reached the waterfall, the Tears of Undine, where they drunk deep of the healing waters. Although Min-q’s soul had departed, the memory of his sacrifice on behalf of Thellarr, strengthened their wills, just as the blessed waters strengthened their bodies.

**

Suf-j remained apart as the remnants of Thellarr’s people were made welcome by the Iksphikix. Surely Undine was a generous god? Had he only created this sanctuary for his own worshippers? Suf-j couldn’t believe that of his god, and so determined for himself a new path, and a new goal.

With his music to provide for him, he would walk the lands of Eiran, and spread the word of this sanctuary. And he would sing of the glorious Second Age of the Pantheon, recalling in the hearts of the downtrodden and the pathetic, the triumphs and majesty of the Gods.

He would be Prophet for an entire Pantheon!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Closing Of The Mists

I.


The Prophet & The Eyeless

Agraga, First among the Eyeless, the Prophet of Vadhaka Chora, gazed blankly at the walls. Of course, his gaze was usually blank, but this time it was because he was seeing nothing, even with his bizarrely accentuated senses.

It had come.

At last…the end of the world as they knew it was nigh...Eiran lay broken beneath the final malice of Nephirthos, and the AllFather’s interdict on the gods of Eiran was about to come to pass. The gods were leaving Eiran, and Vadhaka among them. The Eyeless were abandoned.

His last task, with Naimal the Child of Destiny, had been to prepare the faithful at Vadhaka’s command…to break to them the news of god's departure…to offer them hope in a world without gods. The way ahead would be long and hard…especially if the Eyeless were to retain power. And Naimal would probably have to be…dealt with.

The mists drew closer…

II.

Aimele & The Thieves In The Night

Aimele, leader of the Thieves Guild since almost its founding, looked thoughtfully over the shadowy gathering. Their god was leaving them, and for all he'd often seemed more the god of assassins than of thieves, still he had sheltered them and owned their devotion.

Now, the world was changed it seemed. No more would a hasty prayer mean a dog would bark on the other side of the house, or that a cloud should drift over the moon. No more would sanctuary of a sort be found in the cloak of the god.

Aimele suspected that the assassins would soon be fighting amongst themselves for power or fanaticism, and that their disagreements would leave little room for those of the faithful who did not share one side or the other. The time was ripe, she decided. Time to split the thieves off from the assassins and make their own way in a faithless world.

Who knew…perhaps one day a deity would arise that the thieves could truly worship.

And the mists drew closer…

III.

Chitak & The Ne-Houka

Secure in the faith of his god, Chitak, father of the Ne-Houka, prepared his people for the journey that lay ahead. With his mates and their children, all of whom bore in their blood the gift of the AllFather that had made him what he was, and with any of their Houka bretheren who wished to follow, the seeds of a new race, favoured by the god, prepared to withdraw from the lands of men.

Warned by the god that the petty desires of men and deities were not to be trusted, and commanded to seek the destiny of Houka and Ne-Houka alike, Chitak felt himself invested with a purpose as strong as any he'd ever felt in service to his god, with the added knowledge that this was also his gods will, and that his god had entrusted to him a message, to pass down through the generations…

The Ne-Houka and their lesser kin set forth with confidence into the brave new world…a fiercely proud, independent, and newly free race on Eiran.

And the mists drew closer…

IV.

Naimal, Child of Destiny

Young in years, Naimal, the Child of Destiny was wise in knowledge and experience. He'd spent the last year studying closely under the Prophet Agraga, and 14 subjective years before that under the sole tutelage of one of the most gifted thieves, and one of the deadliest assassins, with none but the first preternaturally skilled Ne-Houka to test himself against.

He knew what the departure of the gods and the end of times would bring. And he knew that the power-hungry and fanatical Prophet would seek to tighten his hold on the faithful of their strange god, with the backing of his eerie comrades.

But he was the Child of Destiny. Rescued from the plague-lands of Nor Pupae and raised under the watchful eye of his god, he had known almost from birth that he would play a vital role in the Church of Vadhaka. And now it seemed that this was to be his part. To preserve the faithful, and to keep the Eyeless at bay. Which meant that Agraga would probably have to be…dealt with.

And the mists drew closer…


V.

The Shadow

Standing before the planar mansion of Vadhaka, The Shadow knelt to once again take up the Headband that Vadhaka had left lying at his feet when he freed him of his service. He shrugged, thinking it might come in handy afterall.

He was free. Freed with power at that. And yet…it was as though Vadhaka had bound him all the more tightly by doing so. He knew that, come what may, he would spend his days seeking the fulfilment of his gods hope for a better world.

When, some turns of seasons before, he had tired of his game with the god in the face of the world's threats and the persistence of the deity, he had expected nothing more than the usual of the supposedly dark god. A contract here or there, some death for gain, political or otherwise. Murder, not to put too fine a point on it.

Instead, he had found himself battling the minions of evil gods, ending the misery of the insanely destructive, banishing blood-thirsty demons, and generally fighting for that better world. He had never been sure exactly what sort of assassin Vadhaka was, and now he would never know. But he had caught his purpose like a disease.

Settling the Headband of Awareness firmly on his head, The Shadow drew on the power he had been granted and faded from the plane of the gods, even as The AllFather enforced his interdiction.

And the mists closed in.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:22 pm    Post subject: The Tale of Dante Simjenson Reply with quote

The Tale of Dante Simjenson

Part I : The Early Years

The young boy chose to stay in the Hall a few moments longer. The Presence was especially strong today. Dante knew he would receive a lecture from Acmon on the value of punctuality, but he figured it was worth it, even with the extra work that came with it. As if reading his thoughts, the presence quickly faded back to its normal, assuring strength, leaving a lingering touch like a mother’s hand before it vanished.

Even at the age of six, Dante knew it was rare for the Presence to be so strong. Wondering what was so important, he looked around the Hall to see if anyone else was there, either to corroborate or explain what he felt. Although the Presence extended throughout Magoddar, it was always more potent, more observable, in the Great Hall with the Blessed Parents. Seeing no one, he gathered up his books and ran off to the Great Library.

It was early yet, and other than one or two golems going about their tasks, there wasn’t anyone in that part of Maggido to impede his mad dash. Because of that and the timely departure of the Presence, Dante managed to sit down in his assigned chair moments before the Library’s clock chimed the hour. It was with a small amount of surprise that Dante noticed it wasn’t Acmon looking up from his book at him, but Celmis. The unspoken word of reproach in his eyes, however, was the same, even if it was ruby tinged rather than emerald.

“Master Celmis…” Dante started.

“Acmon had some other matters to take care of,” the Dactyl said, anticipating the question. “But as far as I am aware, your lessons still begin at seven o’ clock.”

“Yes, sir, but…”

“But you barely arrived on time. And judging by the flush in your cheeks, and the rapid pace of your breathing, you cannot be said to be in an entirely receptive state to your lessons, can you?”

Resigning himself to the lecture, “No, Master Celmis.”

“Punctuality is important, Dante Simjenson. Do you know why that is?”

“Because doing your duty at the right time is the only way to gain honor?”

Celmis shook his head. “That’s a typically dwarrow answer. My brother indulges such foolishness, I imagine.” Taking on more of an authoritative tone rather than a lecturing one, he continued. “That is an answer, but it is not the answer. Punctuality is important because time is important. Time is important because events happen in time. And in order for an event to happen correctly, it must happen at the correct time. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.” Dante had no wish to say that Acmon had given almost the exact same answer last time.

“Good. Now, have you learned of the importance of the number four as it relates to time?” Seeing the look of fruitless concentration Dante’s face, Celmis continued. “Time, like many things on Eiran, is measured in fours. A day is evenly divided into fours. A year is measured in four distinct seasons; hence the months also are grouped into fours. Solus, in his wisdom, set up a great contest and celebration every four years.”

Looking like he could go on but decided not to, Celmis concluded, “But more immediately, today marks the fourth year that you’ve been on Eiran. Your uncle has informed me that you will be allowed to take leave of your studies for today, and that you are to go see him after you leave here…”

The look of sudden joy on Dante’s face was the kind that only children let out of school early can have. It only took a moment for him to grab up his books and start to bolt for the door. Before he could get entirely out of his seat, Celmis finished, “…but not before you receive your assignments for this weekend. You will write out all numbers, by fours, up to one thousand. Also, you will be expected to explain how something, which you will choose, relates to the number four.”

With that, Dante resumed his hasty departure. A slight tug from the torque around his neck, however, made him stop at the door. Realizing his error, Dante turned to address Celmis. “Thank you for the instruction, Master Celmis.”

The ruby eyes of the Dactyl settled on his own. With a nod, Celmis said, “You are welcome. Enjoy your day, Mr. Simjenson.”

When he was sure there was no longer any risk of being called back, Dante slowed his pace to a leisurely walk. Uncle Ferax had not specified a time that he was to meet him, not that he was informed of, anyway. More and more dwarrows were about now. Dante even noticed a couple visiting giants struggling to make their way through the halls. The ceilings were lofty by dwarrow standards, but their brother giants risked banging their heads if they weren’t careful. A S’en Golem passed through a cross hallway in front of him, and Dante stopped and gave a short bow as he passed, as did the other dwarrow.

It wasn’t long before Dante was back at the royal chambers. Looking forward to a better breakfast than the roll and dried fruit that he had grabbed from the kitchen before leaving that morning, he made his way to the dining chamber. Unlike the grand dining hall, the chamber was small and simply furnished. Though the furnishing of the room was modest, the meal spread out on the table was anything but. Uncle Ferax often joked that the main reason he accepted the kingship from Martovan the Wise was the food. The years immediately after had ensured he got precious little of that, and he claimed that he was still making up for lost time. And seeing that the king’s waistline was by no means bulging, it might just have been true.

“Dante, m’lad,” Ferax greeted him. Waving to the seat next to him with a mostly clean hambone, he said, “Have a seat, boy. So, Acmon told ye, did he?”

“Uh, it was Celmis, Uncle. But aye, he told me.”

“Celmis, was it? Those Dactyls… flitterin’ here and there. Not that it makes any difference to me.” Ferax gave a small chuckle and said, “I bet it drives old Nalam crazy, though. Goin’ in and out of his library like that.

“But ye’ve been told all the same, and that’s good.”

The tone of Ferax’s voice changed slightly as he asked, “Ye felt ‘em this mornin’, I take it?”

Dante was relieved that it hadn’t been just him. If anyone else in Maggido would have noticed, it would be Uncle Ferax. Dante knew the king and former prophet didn’t like talking about them much. As he grew older, Dante noticed the pain in Ferax’s eyes when he answered the multitude of questions their son had about them. Because of this, Dante grew determined to ask only the most important questions, lest the dwarrow’s steadfast dedication to his ward bring him pain unnecessarily.

In most ways, Ferax knew his parents better than Dante did. He would have nothing but the foggiest of memories of them were it not for three things.

The first was the book given to him by his mother. Through the magic of that gift or through some divine birthright, he had always been able to read its pages. And it always opened to a page with an appropriate message. At night, it would be poems to lull him to sleep. When he was feeling down, it would be words of encouragement. Strangely, even Uncle Nalam, whose knowledge of the written language was only exceeded by that of the Dactyls, claimed to be unable to read the language in which it was written.

The second was his torc, given to him by his father. Through its touch on his shoulders, like at the Library that morning, it had always guided him. Sometimes it was a nudge in the right direction, others it was a pat on the shoulders for something well done. There were even times, like last week when he decided to carve a new rune into his uncle’s table, when it seemed to pull him by the scruff of his neck.

The third was the Blessed Parents. The Presence was always comforting, though most times it was impersonal. Combined with the solid, familiar touch of the torc and the book, though, it usually felt like his parents were in the next room or had gone to run an errand.

“No reason to look so serious, lad,” Ferax exclaimed. He reached over and lifted the lid off of one of the trays. “Here. I thought this might make ye happy.”

“Chisicakes with Avenberry sauce? Thanks, Uncle!” Dante exclaimed. As he piled the sweet pastries onto his plate, his Uncle wiped the corners of his mouth with his napkin, checked his beard for any stray crumbs, and then pushed his plate away.

“So, what do ye want to do today, lad?” Ferax asked. “I have the whole mornin’ and most of the afternoon set aside, so name it.”

This was good news indeed. Seeing to the needs of the dwarrow kingdom did not usually leave Ferax with much time. If Dante was lucky, they’d have an hour in the afternoon to talk, usually while Ferax swung a hammer in his own smithy. The time itself was a precious gift, but there was only one thing Dante could think of naming.

“Can we go out on an airship, Uncle? They always tell me it’s too dangerous, but if you take me, they’ll have to let me go.”

There appeared to be a twinkle in his iron eye as Ferax answered, “Aye. They tell me that, too. But sometimes, lad…” Despite his jovial manner, Dante knew his uncle was a serious dwarrow. The weight on his shoulders was almost visible at times. That morning was not one of those times. “Sometimes it’s good to be the king.”
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:23 pm    Post subject: The Tale of Dante Simjenson Reply with quote

Part II : Anduria

On one hand, Dante missed the comforting halls of Maggido, but on the other, it was great to be out in the open air. The sky was clear as the airship descended towards the airstrip outside of Martovan, and as they got below the tree line, it started to feel like the early summer day that it was.

The keel was still several feet in the air as the dwarrow crewmen jumped over the gunwales with mooring line in hand. If their hands ever slipped before they shimmied those last several feet, they would at least break a leg. But a dwarrow whose hands slipped didn’t make crewman. Certainly it would have been safer to have a mooring crew on the airstrip. For that very reason there was always one on hand for visitors from Jovian or other cities. But the highly trained and fiercely competitive dwarrow would have taken any such offer as an insult. Within minutes, the airship was moored down, not that even a tremor could be felt as the keel came to rest in its dock.

A gangway was rolled up to the ship. First making sure he had everything from his cabin, Dante saluted the captain and asked for permission to go ashore. The dwarrow captain, his weathered face more beard, nose, and eyebrows than anything else, barked something that sounded like, “Get on w’ ye,” before returning a respectful salute. With a final salute to the dwarrow banner, Dante departed the ship. He was surprised to hear a short, sharp note from the boatswain’s pipe as he walked down the gangway. That honor was usually reserved for crewmen who were departing for a new command.

At the bottom of the gangway waited his uncle, Attem. The leader of the Giants always chose his words carefully, never wasting them for idle talk. His greeting to his nephew was, “It appears you made an impression.”

Somewhat bashfully, he responded, “Oh, that. Uncle Ferax probably told them to, or they just did it because he’s my uncle and all.”

“The first is unlikely,” Attem said evenly. “And we both know that crewmen don’t give a damn about cargo or their connections. Accepting praise when given is nearly as important as earning it. Remember that.”

“Yes, Uncle.”

At that, Attem turned and began walking back to Martovan. It was understood that Dante was to follow. Unlike with other kingdoms and peoples, there was no retinue for the Giants’ leader. The position, though treated with respect, was understood by all giants to be much like any other job. Knowing this, and knowing it was more than a three mile walk to his uncle’s house, Dante had traveled light. Slinging his pack over his shoulder, he quickly fell in beside his uncle. Though his legs were now longer than even the tallest dwarrow’s, he would have had to run to keep up if Attem had not shortened his stride.

Looking over at his nephew, the giant gave him a rare smile. “We’re glad to have you, Dante.”

“Thank you, Uncle. I’m glad to be here. I will miss Magoddar, but…” he sighed, looking down at his legs. “I won’t miss tripping over everything and getting in everybody’s way. Uncle Ferax says I still have at least four years until I stop growing, and he’s not even sure about that.”

“Plenty of room here,” Attem agreed.

“And Uncle always says he’s lucky if I leave him a few scraps on the table.”

Attem laughed. “I doubt he’s hurting any. I’m not even certain he could still fit in Sorrow’s Child without a shoehorn and liberal amounts of grease.”

“I know, but…” Dante trailed off. “He has the boys now.”

“That doesn’t mean he cares any less for you. You know that.”

“Aye, Uncle. I do. And that’s what I mean, really.” Dante paused, thinking of how to explain it. There was no way he could have told Ferax, relying instead on the excuses of his size and wanting to learn from the giants for a while. “Uncle Ferax had it pretty rough under my parents. You both did. But you served them faithfully nonetheless. Now the gods have gone. You deserve a break just as much as Eiran does. Ferax should have some time to spend with his family without having to worry about the responsibility of the past. Snorl and Cullep shouldn’t have to grow up under the shadow of old gods.”

The two walked in silence for a minute. There was no tone of reproach or pity in Attem’s voice when he finally said, “Those are wise words. There’s more of your parents in you than I had thought. Reminds me of when your dad would ask my brother or me to do the impossible, or at least what would have been impossible without the gods’ help. It wasn’t the praise for success that made us love him. A dwarrow is content with a job well done, damn what anyone else thinks, and giants are no different. No, it was that sense of guilt behind it that let us know he wouldn’t ask us to do it if it hadn’t been necessary. Our pain was his pain, so his pride in us was our pride in him.

“But just because you’re wise for your age, it doesn’t mean you’re right. Maybe you would be if you were any different. I’ve never met another godling, but I’m sure some could be intolerable. You’re no burden, boy. I wasn’t being polite when I said we were glad to have you.”

Dante knew it could not have been entirely easy for Attem to adjust his life to accommodate the fourteen year-old child of his former gods, but with those kind words, Dante felt a weight slip from his shoulders. This was fortunate, because he was already considering if there was anything else he could have left behind, and they were barely halfway there. They finished the rest of the walk to Martovan in silence.



There were still several hours of daylight left when Dante was let out from his studies with Damnameneus. The dactyl’s lectures were no less demanding than those of Acmon or Celmis, though there was a remarkably different approach. Where Acmon emphasized substance and Celmis emphasized form, Damnameneus was more concerned about discovery and delivery. Just as Dante would be chastised for arriving at the correct answer by guess or half-formed intuition, he would also be praised for an original, well-conceived approach, even if the answer was incorrect.

As Dante walked down the broad street that lead out of Martovan, he stopped to observe a group of giants. They were in the process of erecting an exterior wall on a new house. As with almost all the structures in Martovan, the foundation had been laid years ago, shaping itself from the still hot magma during Anduria’s creation. In this way, the giants’ homeland continued to grow according to its maker’s plans, even though the maker himself had departed.

Thinking of his father, Dante fingered the torque around his neck. As he watched the wall being hoisted into position, he had a feeling of unease. His eyes traveled from the large slab to the crossbeams waiting to be joined to it.

“Wait, stop!” Dante yelled.

The giants’ hands stopped moving, and they all turned to look at the kid who was waving his arms and running towards them. A couple of them couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight, but the foreman did not. Seeing the boy, and knowing he was the ward of their leader, Attem, he had a bad feeling. Whether it was because the boy was delaying their work or something else, he wasn’t sure.

“What is it?” the foreman called out impatiently.

“The beams!” Dante answered. “They won’t hold.”

“What? Nonsense. I know my craft, kid.” The foreman was about to tell his men to go back to pulling when he took a closer look. The joists looked fine. Except… There. That beam not only served as the central cross-brace for the new wall, but it also connected to the wall on the opposite side of the house. It would hold either wall by itself, but not both. It should have had another brace to support the main one. The foreman cursed himself for his stupidity.

“Lower it. He’s right. We need to put up another beam.” To Dante he said, “My thanks. You saved me from a costly mistake. How did you know?”

“I’m not sure, sir,” Dante said, rubbing the torque uncertainly. “It was just a feeling. It was probably something I read in one of Damnameneus’ books.” In actuality, Dante had a fairly good idea from where and from whom the knowledge came.

“It was fortunate for us, regardless. I’ll be sure to get the word to Attem how you helped us out. And if you ever need some coin or just something to do, ask the Builders for Stacker. I’ll make sure you get it.” Seeing the youth understood, he gave him a nod and turned back to his crew. A second later he was yelling out new instructions.

By the time Dante reached the fields outside the walls of Martovan, there were still a few hours before he had to be back at his uncle’s home. He put his hands to both sides of his mouth and yelled, “Antovar!” Moments later, the fire wreathed, three-headed hound bounded into view. Though Dante knew the hound could stand as tall as or taller than a large house, he was currently of a height that reached his midriff.

Without warning, Antovar tackled the youth. Dante was not entirely caught off guard and managed to get one arm behind the thick neck before he was dragged off his feet. It was difficult to get any kind of grip, but after nearly falling off and under the beast, his feet found purchase. Pushing with his legs and holding on to one of the spikes that made up Antovar’s mane, he flipped the hound over onto his back. But the maneuver did not come without a price. As Dante’s settled his weight onto the hound, seeking to pin him, he felt twin rows of jagged spikes clamp onto his collar.

“Ow, ow!” Dante cried. “You win.” He relaxed his arms and the rest of his body in admission of defeat.

Antovar let his grip on the boy’s collar go. “Not bad,” the beast said from its three mouths. “You almost got me.”

In the sense that a season ago the most Dante could have hoped to do was slap fight with the dog, trying to get a hand in past those quick jaws, Antovar was right. But in the sense that Antovar could slip in and out of reality or turn into molten steel, much less assume a far more massive form, Dante was not even close. Still, the fact that he could wrestle with the dog without coming out bleeding or burnt to a crisp was something.

“Antovar, how is it that I can grab onto you now? Only a few months ago…” Dante made a fluttering gesture with his hands and a noise that sounded like something catching on fire.

“How is it that you’re not wearing any of the same clothes you came here with?” he answered cryptically.

“Just growing, I guess.”

“Well, that’s true enough. But let me ask you something else. Why is it that I have this form, that I speak the way I do, or that I usually have no qualms about acting like the hound I am? Was I not once three men, each a wise and aged dwarrow?”

“Isn’t that how Father made you?”

“Do you think Simjen would have made me less than I was? Surely not.”

“I don’t understand.”

“We used…” said one head.

“…to speak…” said another.

“…like this,” said the last. “Or sometimes we’d just speak all at once. We decided we didn’t like that. And now I speak with one voice,” the three mouths voiced the last in unison once again. “Among other things, it helps me act with one purpose.”

“That makes sense,” Dante said. “But I still don’t understand what you mean.”

“Form and purpose, boy. One necessarily shapes the other. The two, by and large, determine your nature. Your father shaped us to be a hound, so hound I am. Not just a hound, of course, but I wouldn’t like to be anything other than I am.”

The whole conversation was starting to sound like one of Damnameneus’ lectures. What Antovar was saying was undoubtedly true, but Dante did not understand how that related to him. He had the feeling that one crucial detail eluded him.

“So you’re saying I can fight with you without being burned because I’m a growing boy?”

“Not just a boy.”

“You think that because of my father I won’t be burned? I’m not a god, Antovar. I don’t have any powers.”

“No, you’re not a god,” the hound said solemnly. “But gods made you. And like all parents, they made you with a purpose: to go out in the world. To be happy, if possible. To find some place where you feel you belong. The difference is that mortal parents pass on a mortal form - one race or another, usually. You, Dante, have no such restrictions.”

It dawned on Dante that he would never have thought to play fight with Antovar if he had not seen his Uncle Attem do so first. A giant would have no fear of casual contact with the hound. Their bodies were as resistant to heat and scrapes as the star metal from which they were formed. The same giants no longer seemed as towering as they once did, appearing no taller than any adult would to a child.

“I’m becoming…”

“A giant, yes,” Antovar finished. “Or something very much like one, anyway.”
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:24 pm    Post subject: The Tale of Dante Simjenson Reply with quote

Part III : The Years Between

As Dante grew in size, his uncle determined it was safe to allow him to begin studying the arts of war. At first, Dante was elated. The excitement wore off, however, when he learned that the training would be daily and in addition to his lessons with Damnameneus. Regardless, he took his training seriously. This was fortunate, as his swordmaster was a very serious giant.

The first season was disappointing to the young student. Training consisted of nothing but running and exercise. When he wasn’t doing that, he was left to clean, polish, and repair the weapons and armor the older students used during practice. The swordmaster, whose standards were so high that meeting them often seemed impossible, inspected Dante’s work. Invariably, some deficiency would be noted, and that meant more running and exercise on top of redoing the assigned task. Dante complained more than once, albeit inwardly, that he was learning nothing he could not have on his own, except, perhaps, how to fall asleep instantly and deeply at the end of the day.

Things began to look up in the spring. First, Dante was allowed to address his swordmaster by name. Instead of saying, “Yes, sir!” or, “No, swordmaster!” it was, “Yes, Master Vonnon!” and so on. Spring also marked the beginning of what Dante considered real training. It was all hand-to-hand, though if it was fisticuffs, kicks and elbows, throws and locks, or just plain brawling on the ground all depended on Master Vonnon’s mood that day. There were no other students at Dante’s level at that time, so all his fighting was against his instructor. Vonnon must have thought that there was no sense in giving his opponent any information, as most instruction was done by painfully showing the student where he had gone wrong. Dante still fell asleep soundly at the end of the day, but he learned to do so in a way that minimized aggravating bruised ribs and strained limbs.

It was nearly fall when Dante was finally allowed to handle a weapon. At first the training was with a staff. Each day, Dante was sent to train against one of the older students. Each day, they would drub him with a different weapon. When he started to be able to hold his own, Vonnon would switch him to a different weapon. Spears, axes, hammers, halberds. Sometimes he would have to go back to using a weapon he had already trained with, and for a while, the drubbings would be worse than when he started with them. Eventually, he was allowed to use a sword. Though the giants typically wielded enormous two-handed swords, he was also trained to use sword and shield.

Not long into Dante’s eighteenth year, Vonnon cut one session short and told Dante that he had done well enough for that day. Coming from the swordmaster, it was an unusual compliment. Vonnon then informed him that his uncle wished to speak with him at home.

When he arrived home, he found his uncle in the study. The door was open, and Attem stood leaning over his desk, poring over several parchments rolled out in front of him. Dante knocked lightly on the frame to announce his presence. At the sound, Attem stood up and gestured for his nephew to enter. Dante still found it hard to believe that he stood almost eye to eye with his uncle.

“Good. You’re here,” the giant stated. “I didn’t think Vonnon would let you go so early, but he did say you were doing quite well.”

Dante laughed. “I don’t think he’d say that. I’m just not as horrible as I used to be.”

“He wouldn’t say that to you,” his uncle replied. “But you should know what he tells me. And if you even give a hint to him that I told you, eighteen or not, I’ll tan your hide.”

As if looking over reports in his mind, Attem said, “He said he never had a student who made him invent so many excuses to push the kid farther than he thought he could go, and he never had one that didn’t complain and give him an excuse to knock him down a peg. He said that he could only train you hand-to-hand for three months before he was no longer sure that you wouldn’t manage to beat him. He said you managed to become sufficient with every weapon he could teach when most times he was lucky to get a student to learn more than one weapon other than the sword. And he told me I had to get rid of you before he started worrying about being able to keep his post, though I think he might have been mostly joking about that last part.”

Attem gave a small chuckle. “I was almost tempted to tell him not to feel so bad, that it wasn’t every day he had to worry about training the son of gods. But I think it will do some good to let the old bastard know that some young pup might take him down one day.”

Dante was shocked. It took him a few moments to be able to say, “I had no idea.”

“Well, we didn’t want it to go to your head. Can’t have you prancing all around Magoddar, decked out in gold, and thinking you’re invincible and whatnot. We have a reputation to maintain here.”

“Magoddar? Gold? I don’t understand.”

Attem looked down at his desk and picked up one of the scraps of parchment. It had the royal seal of the dwarrow kingdom on it. “This is a commission,” Attem said. “You’re now a Rank Lieutenant of the Vanguard. Don’t thank me. If I was being nice, you would’ve been a corporal. The lowest ranking officers have the highest mortality rate.”

“A commission in Magoddar? Why?”

With a more serious tone, the giant explained. “You’ve learned all you can here. Even the dactyls tell me that other than initiating you in the most mysterious and arcane arts, there’s little more that they can teach you. Anything else, like tactics and leadership, you have to learn in the real world.”

“I understand,” Dante said.

“You don’t have to accept the commission, of course. We’re not drafting you. It’s just an opportunity. One path you can choose.”

“No, I’m honored. I accept.”

“You know the Incursions are getting more frequent lately, right? The void is throwing out some pretty nasty stuff.”

“I know.”

Attem nodded. He had expected that response. “Now I have something else for you.” He went to the back of his room and dragged out a large chest. Setting it in front of Dante, he said, “Open it.”

Doing as he was told, Dante flipped the latch and pulled up the lid. Inside was an ornate set of golden armor, a golden shield with a blazing sun emblem, and a golden sword. They were amazing; beautiful beyond expression. Each piece alone would have made a fair trade for an airship if anyone would be as foolish to trade one away.

“These can’t be for me,” Dante said breathlessly. “You can’t uncle. It’s too much. I…”

“They’re not from me, Dante. They’re yours by birthright. Your father made them for you and your heirs just before his battle against Nephirthos. Now that you are of age and know enough not to look like a jumped up fool in them, I no longer have any right or reason to keep them from you.”

That his father had anticipated this day, had been looking out for him even then, brought tears to his eyes. “Then I will bear them with pride and strive to be worthy, in your eyes and his,” Dante vowed.

The warmth in Attem’s eyes was matched perfectly by that which rested across the young man’s shoulders.
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So prithee, strike home and redouble the blow."
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