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The Multiverse » Arcs » Chronicles of Khroniktus: The Gaia Volumes

These are the annuls recorded by the historians of the Rokin Republic, detailing the discovery and colonization of the planet of Gaia by the Khroniktan Alliance.

As written by: TheNoremac42, Marcus, Rougeshadow, Scorpion01, Tearen Wover, lostamongtrees, barney_fife, Yvandír, LukeShepherd

183 pieces and 104 characters involved, written by 9 different authors.

23 places involved

So begins...

Chronicles of Khroniktus: The Gaia Volumes

SpaceSetting: Space

Somewhere in the Multiverse
Arya'rayku K'romjhi, Zet'varethi, Khroniktuz
Lion's Mane City, Arydia, Khroniktus

"We are running out of time..." growled Priest-king Neodin Shadowslayer as he slammed his fist on the table.

Neodin was tall, even for an Aryite, and resonated with an authority that dwarfed his stature. A golden brown mane lined with streaks of grey surrounded his fierce and noble feline face and cascaded down his shoulders and back. Long flowing robes of royal purple, gold, and silver clad his sturdy body and barely covered his clawed paw-like bare feet. His eyes shone like two stars that were illuminated with an aura of wisdom, nobility, virtue, and honor. His long tail twitched in irritation behind him while he pressed his furred hands against the surface of the table before him.

"Construction on the ark is on schedule..." replied Archmage Sheodin Thundermane. "The rift to the sub-dimensional shipyard is still stable and the time-lapse ratio has not fluctuated."

Sheodin stood a hair taller than Neodin. Azure and silver robes contrasted the vibrant purple and gold that adorned his brother. His body, built like a mountain, was covered in auburn fur that was salted with traces of silver, gray, and white. A long silver mane fell across his chest and upper back. His eyes, filled with an ancient power, glowed like twin full moons. While the power that radiated from the king was almost divine in nature, the archmage's was cosmic and arcane - as if the universe itself postured before him. A paw-hand stroked his long beard while he eyed his king. Sheodin's brow furrowed in mutual concern with his brother.

"Your spellwork is not my concern, Sheodin." Neodin replied as he glared at the mountains of data that scrolled across the crystalline tabletop. "The ark may yet provide a suitable temporary home for our people, but that is its issue. It is temporary. I will not allow our people to become nomads without a land to call their own - without a land where they can sow crops, raise their children, and build a home."

"We both know that terraforming is out of the question..." Sheodin said as he dissected the data streaming from the research colony. "The process of stimulating a dead planet's magical field in order for our crops, and by extension ourselves, to thrive is too volatile."

"Aye..." Neodin frowned at the memories from the experiments. They were... less than fruitful. "Thus we must acquire suitable land from the other nations until we can perfect the process."

"That will be risky at best. Not even my foresight can predict their response."

"We will have to trust in Leolik..." Neodin sighed as he buried his face in his palms and ran his fingers through his mane. "And we will have to trust that we have the resources to make a worthwhile trade. I simply do not see how, though... Our people can barely fill the numbers of a mere colony of the Aschen or Taiyou. What do we have to offer to these giants that we seek to congregate with?"

"Well, unless you want to take land by force, we do not have much of a choice besides living as nomads!" Sheodin growled.

Neodin frowned sadly and fell silent for several moments before meeting his brother's gaze with a glare that could crumble mountains and cow storms. "If it falls to that... So be it. We have lived with this curse for far too long to see our people be burned along with our world, or for their legacy to be untold generations of drifting through the cold and unforgiving void - never to feel the warmth of a sun on their coats or soil beneath their paws. No. We will claim a new home for ourselves through either the scale or the sword!"

Sheodin pursed his lips and furrowed his brow more deeply. He exhale a drained sigh. "... Then we will pray that it is the former."

The Priest-king's eyes drifted from the table and out of the window overlooking the city. Lion's Mane still possessed the relatively same architectural style from his youth... Stone and wood. His people still walked on foot in this part of Arydia. Dark clouds loomed above the blacksmithing shops while merchants bartered their wares in the bazaar. Children played in the streets, innocent of the troubles of kings and mages. Armed guards stoically watched over the citizens as they went on with their lives.

"Yes... Pray that it is the former." Neodin whispered.
Something stirred in the depths of the arcane undercurrent that the city of walking cats provided. It was nothing to volatile in nature that it was unwelcome but something more strange and bizarre as eldritch forces formed a silent portal from an unknown location. From there a rather odd presence stepped in with its mammoth sized wizards cap. The elderly man stroked his beard with one hand while the other clutched at a fiery orbed staff of bronze and silver.

"Talk or Sword? My what an odd concept it must be to not consider that your time was long gone before you meddled with the affairs of the natural order of things." The elderly man smiled as he spoke his mind only to turn his attention to another feline that traveled along side him.

"Bigsby you speak as if that the choice to live is not something we deserve. No these proud spirits I would call brothers for existence is the only blessing we can count." The feline priest spoke up only to glance at the archmage and the king before him only to slowly offer a respectable courtly nod to the two.

"Kath teaches that all his creations are nothing more than nomads trying to claim their rights to salvation. The thirteenth prophet also spoke of something similar if I recall." The feline once again spoke and Bigsby nodded. The elderly wizard seemed to stare up at the blazing globe atop his staff and nodded as if answering something else.

"Roaming through the stars might not be a bad plan of action but let the two of us propose yet another idea." The wizard never allowed his gaze to leave his staff as he spoke. "I am Bigsby Big Hat and this companion of mine is a priest of Kath, A rakasta as his people are called, he has had a vision of your peoples arrival and wishes to extend a rather lucrative invitation." The elderly wizard began to smile like his wicked mind began to stitch the pieces of this puzzle together only to take a step back allowing his feline friend to move forward towards the two.

The Rakasta priest simply smile and his tail began to twitch slightly as he looked over the two. "What say you two? Will you hear an offer or is there something more pressing for either of you to deal with right now?"
It was then that Fate and Chance chose to throw Khroniktus a curve ball... When the wizard passed through the dimensional barrier into the home of the Khroniktan Alliance, alarms broke out across the known world. Fortresses were fortified and armies mobilized. Blaring sirens screamed through the barracks and shipyards - signaling the frigates and other warships to prepare for battle.

A sharp ping rung through their minds before the infamous Bigsby materialized in the private study of the Royal Brothers. They rose to their feet and a bright light surrounded their bodies. When the wizard and his companion entered the room, the Priest-king and Archmage were clad in suits of golden and silver armor, respectively, that radiated with powerful magic and runes that would shrug off blows that would vaporize seas and disintegrate mountains. A massive broadsword materialized in Neodin's gauntlet. It was jagged and covered in glowing runes of courage, righteousness, and virtue that burned like an ageless inferno. The weapon itself was an anomaly - bearing no flaw or unintended nick. Sheodin held an enormous mallet. Its neck and handle were made of a polished stone-like material while a large crystal, blue as the deepest sea, served as its head. The wrath of a cataclysmic maelstrom churned beneath the surface of the crystal.

Sheodin stretched out his hand as Neodin rolled to the side to flank the intruders. Several multi-tiered runes and arcane matrices materialized beneath the wizard and his companion - forming a cage that negated spellcasting and would ensnare them in a stasis field.

"Who dares intrude upon the sanctum of His Majesty and the Archmage?!" Sheodin thundered with a voice that shook the castle to its foundations. It dripped with raw cosmic power, as if he could erase them from Existence with a single word. "If you come as assassins then you are sorely mist- ... Wait... You!"

Sheodin growled as he recognized the wizard from his pilgrimage several years ago. He glared down at the man very much like a lion who's den was just invaded. "What are you doing here?"

"Brother..." Neodin said while still in a defensive position. "Do you... know these miscreants?"

"I recall the wizard, but not the creature beside him - who looks like kin but is not. I met him briefly while on my pilgrimage to Terra. We had a... conversation."

"Are they dangerous?" Neodin narrowed his eyes behind his visor.

"He most assuredly is..." Sheodin glared at Bigsby, "... but I do not believe our parting would have instilled motive to break through our wards and assault us in our home. Brother, you should call off the alarm and calm our allies. As for you, I will release you under the faith that you are not here for hostilities."

With that, Sheodin deactivated the wards that surrounded the pair. King Neodin sighed in irritation as he stepped over to his desk and tapped on a crystal ball. Meanwhile, Sheodin listened to them speak. Neodin returned as the Rakasta voiced his question.

"The Aryites, my people," Neodin began, now adopting a calm and diplomatic posture as his armor vanishes, "have always had a close relationship with the land we dwell upon. It is said that our blood waters the fields of our descendants. But I will listen to your offer, rakasta, and forgive your trespass into my house as long as it is brief - for offworlders are not suited for extended stays on Khroniktus."
The field went up and Bigsby just smiled. "Let them do as they do my friend. We have nothing to worried about." The feline priest simply nodded and watched as eventually the other two had said their fill and lowered the cosmic field. Bigsby himself smiled knowing full well that the archmage here noted their former meeting.

"A pleasure to see you alive and well magistrate. Did I not warn you before...." Bigsby was cut off as the priest simply offered a neutral glance. "Right forgive me my friend. This is your time not my own."

Ra'Zahr's tail swished slightly to the left when Neodin spoke his peace. "It is that very same arrogance that will be your downfall King of the Aryites. My people welcome all with open arms be them assassins or friends barring gifts." The Rakasta priest spoke only to smile as he tapped the bottom of his staff against the floor and raised his furry paw high creating images with the very raw energy that this place seemed to be made of. It showed a world of lush forests and vast expanses of sand and ocean. The image of this world pulled back beyond the skyline revealing the world itself and several suns that seemed to hold arcane sway over the world.

"My people have long lived on the world of Gaia. We follow the will of the saints and prophets we believe Kath has sent us over the vast lifetime my people have lived. I know your problem well King Neodin for it is something that Kath sent to me on the rolling sands and grasses of my lands." The feline turned to Sheodin and dismissed his illusion. "I am sure that you can track these stars to find our hospitality. Just know that like in all lands Darkness claims the very worlds that any soul tries to call their own."
The Priest-king narrowed his glowing eyes coldly on the rakasta. Neodin towered over Ra'Zahr at nearly twice his height. "You speak of arrogance..." Neodin took on the tone of an elder scolding a child for misbehaving. He slowly strode behind his desk - his now bare feet padding against the fine wool carpet of the floor - and sat in his seat. The King rested his elbows on the desk and tented his fingers. "... and yet you possess the audacity to prance into the private chambers of a King - my home - uninvited? If I was not already familiar with you, Ra'Zahr of the Desert, from the account given by one of my agents who visited your world, I would have thrown you and your companion into a stasis chamber and deported you both on the next vessel into your space! ... But now you are a guest in my home, and certain procedures must be met."

King Neodin tapped a crystal diode on his desk. It illuminated with a soft glow. Five seconds later the door opened and a white robed Aryite stepped into the room. He was head and shoulders over Bigsby and Ra'Zahr, but shorter than the King and Archmage. The Aryite's short coat was a pale yellow with black spots and he bore no mane. His body was wiry and lean in contrast to the mountainous bulk of the sovereigns.

"Mani attah'wee tzaraka, Shlah Melelmote?" he said as he eyed the two guests with suspicion.

"L'ahbeta si'akhnu mirkhai." King Neodin nodded to the servant and gave him a warm smile.

The servant deflated and gave a barely audible sigh of relief at the gesture. He bowed low and departed.

"Now..." Neodin returned his attention to the two visitors. Sheodin took his place standing beside the King. "Before you continue your proposal, I desire to know the hearts and minds of my two guests. You have time. The Sickness will not take hold over you for another few hours."
"Yes I speak of arrogance indeed." Ra'Zahr spoke confidently in his own way once the king had taken his own seat. "You act as if you are the only one who needs to carry your burdens. It sickens me know that such a folly as I have said can and will be the downfall you fate yourself over."

Bigsby simply glanced at the smaller fellow only to then make note of the other guests who had just arrived. The Rakasta priest simply shook his head but the large hatted wizard made his own step forward.

"My friend here speaks from the heart but he is true in his words my king. Also it was my doing that brought him here and not his own." Bigsby began to chuckle slightly as he stroked at his beard while he contemplated something. "What sickness would befuddle us that it would take a few hours? Surely it is not the rythmic sway that your star is giving off?"
King Neodin Shadowlsayer drilled his penetrating gaze into Ra'Zahr. His face was stony and neutral - honed by a thousand years of politicking. If the rakasha and wizard had approached any other noble, they likely would have been thrown out onto the streets for their lack of manners. Neodin, however, had a patience tempered by centuries of dealing with manipulative nobles, cunning merchants, and ambitious generals all trying to outwit himself and each other in order to syphon power for their future generations. Most of their attempts were petty, others were so pathetic that it made the stoic and virtuous king burst into uproarious (and scandalous) laughter right in the middle of court, while some few were diabolical enough to invoke his terrible wrath... Neodin inwardly cringed at the memories. He dearly loved the Aryites like his own children, and like every father he despised the moments when he had to discipline them. However, he was also a shepherd, and sometimes the individual sheep had to be purged in order to protect the flock as a whole.

It was then that the door opened and the same servant from before entered the room. He carried a silver tray with a white and gold porcelain tea set - a steaming kettle and four cups - placed upon it. The servant approached and placed the tray on the desk before bowing low. Neodin dismissed him with a wave.

"To answer your question, wizard." Neodin neglected to mention Ra'Zahr's poor conduct. "Eons ago, before my people roamed the world, the Ancient Ones waged a great war that consumed all of Khroniktus. The sky burned, the seas boiled, and the land was scorched into glass. If not for the good graces of Elunhim, all life would have been burned away by fire. However, by His blessing, a small portion of the world was able to sustain life. While the glass mountains and plains gave way to vast deserts, life in this sanctuary adapted and flourished. Nevertheless, the world has been permanently scarred by that war and a vast field of energy - what I believe the other space-faring civilizations refer to as radiation - permeates the whole planet. Even though life here has adapted to resist the energy and even thrive with it in some cases, we have discovered it is quite harmful and potentially lethal to off-worlders. This is one of our greatest defenses against invasion from the other civilizations that vastly outnumber us. Khroniktus itself will rise against them. Our other defense, which you have apparently circumvented, is our ambiguous location." Neodin gave Bigsby a glare. "We have never had visitors to our world without our permission, so forgive our... caution.

"I digress..." Neodin continued as he filled the four cups. "Though the Foreigner Sickness will not effect you for several hours, this herbal brew possesses medicinal properties that will momentarily keep it at bay. Would you care for a cup?"
King Neodin bowed his head and fixated his gaze on the shifting data that scrolled across his desk. The crystalline surface was smooth as glass and depicted several pages of documents and scores of evolving numbers in the pictographical Khroniktan language. In truth, Neodin was mostly ignoring the data as he delved into deep meditation over the offer. Finally, after several moments, he looked up and met Sheodin's eyes. The Archmage gave a silent nod. Though their faces were stony and neutral, their eyes betrayed meaning that only they could discern.

"Your offer is tempting." Neodin finally replied. "It would be foolish of me to not consider it, but it would also be rash to throw away all other venues. I believe that Leolik has orchestrated this meeting, perhaps so this agreement can come to pass - or perhaps so our peoples can grow closer together in kinship. Regardless, I will take your offer into consideration. However, I must also seek out other options, for I cannot invest the safety of my people in the potential hospitality of an entire world and the testament of a single citizen. Perhaps while I do so you could direct my Foreign Correspondence Committee to a more official diplomat of your people?" the king gave the rakasta a subtle wink.
Ra'Zahr only laughed at the idea of any kind of official diplomat from anyplace on the world of Gaia. The Rakasta only shrugged and looked at the two with hopes that they would find other answers if this was not an acceptable route to take.

"If your people do come be sure to find yourself a nice cozy nook to sit in. Most of the world is not inhabited by civilized creatures and I am sure the great nations would be pleased with another trade or two." Ra'Zahr pointed out only to down the rest of his tea. Bigsby on the other hand simply continued to wait for things to tidy themselves up before leaving. He had done what was needed but he would remain in the shadows to catch the energy of the slowly fading sun if he could.
Neodin nodded at Ra'Zahr. "Regardless, I would like to formally meet with any of the major world powers of Gaia. Now, unless there is anything else we must discuss, I must request that you leave my brother and I to our work. It is drawing near to the Erebari's raiding season, and we must ensure that Lionheart Keep is prepared for the first waves. I apologize for not inviting you to join us for dinner.

"Go with Leolik's blessing," Neodin continued as he lifted his hand. Power infused his words as he spoke, "May your days be long and fruitful. May Leolik guide you and fill you with His wisdom and His courage. May His Everlasting Flame always keep the All Consuming Darkness at bay."
"May the blessings of my peoples prophets offer you the same." Ra'Zahr offered as he left his empty cup and left through the same portal. Bigsby himself stood by and watched the two large cats at work only to smirk as if he knew something. Instead of adding something more the old wizard simply turned about and entered his own portal only to close it on his way out.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Initiating final pre-voyage checks.

Cargo loaded? Check. Shields stabilized? Check. Energy crystals activated? Check.

Life support online. Defense systems online. Engines online. Comm’ systems online. All systems go.

All personnel to stations. Dimensional breach in… shatu… shinbali… mokhad…




A flash of light.

Just outside the border of the Sirius system, a flash of light erupted in the dark emptiness of nothingness and gave chase to the endless shadows of space. A swirling vortex of purple, blue, red, and gold forged a violent tempest where there was once a calm blackness. The energies churned, gathered, dissipated, and thundered as a funnel in the fabric of space and time formed like a raging sea storm.. Blue and violet lightning illuminated the cosmic maelstrom.

A blinding light erupted from the vortex. Three enormous shapes emerged from the maelstrom in single file. Their surfaces were like golden diamonds that radiated with auras of shimmering light. The hulls of the vessels were crystalline and seamless. They hovered unhindered by the cosmic wrath of the vortex like three stars. Two of the vessels were triangular while the third bore a more rectangular shape. All three of the mysterious vessels rivaled the size of the asteroids that they brushed passed with little effort as they lumbered towards the center of the star system.

A few moments passed before the convoy settled into a high orbit over the world of Gaia. They would appear as a trio of new and particular bright stars to the inhabitants below - to be interpreted as any way they wished.

"Sire, we have established a stable orbit. What are your orders?"

"Send out probes. Map out any notable areas and search for the densest clusters of civilization. I want to know the locations of all major powers on that world within the hour. Have the magi calibrate the arcanogram and prepare for official first contact."

"Aye, milord."

Dozens of small golden spheres emerged from the ships. They hovered beside the vessels, unhindered by the gravity well of the planet and the abundant cosmic energies that drifted their the void like an ocean breeze. The spheres suddenly shot down to the planet like meteors without any sign of acceleration. Tails of shimmering radiance followed in their wake as they explored the globe in a grid pattern.

The Great city of Wer'Guawysvern sat bellow and the oracles and wizards of the mighty desert city began their works in the name of their great scaly Lord of the Southern Sands. Inikhethadaternock simply offered a toothy smile as he rose from his sandy throne and donned a silk robe to cover his bare sun-kissed skin. His elvish appearance he now took moved with grace as he took a scroll from a kneeling robed servant all the while his Hidden Claw strode right beside him keeping her silence until he was ready for her words.

"You know, Aurora, there is a fine line of wonderful news that I am willing to take." Inikhethadaternock commented as he unrolled the scroll and looked over the inscribed work only to smirk. "I was wondering how that assignment went. So you outright killed the man in public?" The Dragon quested slyly. Aurora simply nodded and kept her pace with her lord as they walked.

"I called him out for his betrayals and when he tried to deny them I silenced him." Aurora quickly commented. She kept her eyes forward as the two stepped into the daylight. "My lord what are you going to do about the newcomers who sit high above? Ra'Zahr and that wizard said that they would arrive but we have no idea as to what kind of force they have. Their technology from what I am informed is magical in nature but..." Aurora began to trail off the subject as her gaze fell upon Symir who only offered his own smile as he strode past the two.

"Aurora." The sand dragon chirped a bit as he continued to smile. "Go after that loving brother of yours and let him know that lunch will be served shortly. I expect him to be present during the festivities and for the arrival of our guests if they decide to come down from that lofty spot of theirs."

The Hidden Claw simply nodded and turned about to go after her brother. The King of Wer'Guawysvern simply continued on his way and began to look over his territory just to then bring his gaze up too the sky above. His keen vision brought a smile to his face as arcane energies began to flow heavily around him.

"Bring on the feast then."
Silence was all the Qenna would give towards the two, following quietly behind the King of the Sands. Qenna sighed inwardly as she strode along behind and listened to the words spoken between her sister and father 'Fools...the lot of them' She thought to herself as she leaned slightly on her walking stick, the Staff hummed with a power all it's own, her fingers brushing up and down the golden lines and runic markings while her gaze shifted to look at it 'I take it you already know a good deal about that thing in the sky dont you?' She asked, the tiefling would say while running her fingers through her hair to brush it from her face.

'Always...' The Staff replied as it said further 'It is a very curious design, however, I would need to interface directly with one of their minds to learn anything further. All I can infer is that their magic is almost superior to your own' Qenna nodded and would sway her tail back and forth gently as her gaze lifted up at the thought of a feast 'Great...another feast with the boring dignataries...wonderful of days' She said with a roll of her eyes and allowed her presence be known by a sharp rapping of her staff on the ground "My you desire my contact with regard to those whom rest above our heads?" She asked him

Her face was practiced and even in tone, cold, steely eyes watching her Father while her grip on her staff tightened gently though she did bow her head "If necessary, I could arrange quarters for them and their number to stay within the city walls" Qenna offered.
The king of the sands simply turned to look at his wonderful court wizard only to frown slightly as there was still plenty to do.

"You know Qenna it is almost unbearable when you ask such simple questions." The sun kissed elf offered her a mock bow. His blue eyes seemed to glow as they held their gaze upon his half bread child. "I actually wish you to be present for when the new arrivals show themselves. After all Ra'Zahr and that large hatted wizard did promise me that those guests of ours would be most famished and tired."

Inikhethadaternock began to straighten himself up and popped his neck only to look over the vast ocean before them and the desert at their backs. "Have the people who work within my halls prepare a great meal and the dining hall. Make sure there is extra sand upon the floor and the cooling lamps in place, the blue flames. Once this is all done and over with I will require my maps and documents from our personal library to see what can be done with our new found friends to make them comfortable."
Qenna sighed gently while tapping the ground with her staff "Very well my lord but may I make one point known. How am I to know your will when you do not share it with me? I may be your advisor and a high tier Chrono-mancer but there are literally an endless amount of outcomes your will could be based on the current situation. Time is fickle like that" She said and would turn to head out for the servant's quarters to begin the preparations "Time...what is the nature of it?" She said to herself then snapped her fingers and disappeared as time itself froze all around her. even the Great Sand King would find himself immobile to her while she headed onward

'My Lady, you sound angry...' The staff hummed as the Tiefling nodded a little "I am Heim but now is not the time to be venting frustrations and troubles. Now, there is work to be done and perhaps once the evening has come, I may shed a tear or two in the oasis" Qenna would arrive at the quarters and snapped her fingers again loudly as time resumed and she began to organize the servants for the feast's preparations.
"Sire, we have located an adequate civilization and have synchronized the arcanogram. Shall we establish contact?"

"Aye, initiate the broadcast."

Several minutes after the conversation between the King of the Sands and his underlings, when the King was alone with his thoughts, a hum of magical energy stirred the air. The flames of the nearby fire flickered and churned with the hum. A blast of wind erupted through the room as the flames ascended several feet in the air. Cosmic energy flowed through the flames, warping and shifting them into a radiant golden yellow. An aura of soothing and calming tranquility and peace flowed from the fire place along with a soft tune that melted away anxiety and tension. The radiance flowed from the hearth and melded into a tall humanoid form.

The figure grew in size until it nearly doubled the height of the king's elven form. A golden brown mane surrounded his fierce and noble feline face and flowed down his shoulders and back like a shining waterfall. Long flowing robes covered the being's large and muscled body. His eyes shone like two stars that were illuminated with an aura of great wisdom, power, nobility, virtue, and honor. A massive jagged broadsword covered in glowing runes rested in his paw-like hands. He gripped the hilt and held it downward like a cane. The image of golden light and warm flame shimmered as he raised a clenched fist to his chest in a salute.

"Greetings, friend," the being said in a rich, strong, yet tender voice. "I am Neodin Shadowslayer, son of Lo'din the Fearless, King of Arydia, Head Councilman of the Khroniktan Alliance, High Priest of the Chosen, and Prophet of Leolik. On behalf of all the free peoples of Khroniktus, I extend a banner of peace and friendship towards you and your race. Please respond if you can understand me."
The King of the Sands simply offered a bow and a warm smile before he opened his mouth.

"A fine greeting indeed, Neodin Shadowslayer, son of Lo'din the Fearless, King of Arydia, Head Councilman of the Khroniktan Alliance, High Priest of the Chosen, and Prophet of Leolik. I also wish to extend a warm hand and embrace a wayward people to the lands of Gaia."

The sun-kissed elf offered his warmest greetings while straightening himself up. Inikhethadaternock could only smile as the opportunity that presented itself was to rare to pass up. With these new people they would need to know what this land could provide and its dangers as well. Asides from that the sand dragon began to ponder something more as he looked at the massive figure that stood before him.

"I am blessed by the luck of the Prophets it seems for I was foretold of your arrival actually. I wonder if you would be willing to accept my invitation to a feast in your honor Neodin Shadowslayer. You and your people have traveled far and I am sure that the splendors I have to offer would be a welcome comfort to such a powerful king."

Meanwhile in the lower city Ra'Zahr and Bigsby ate their own meals discussing the local politics of the massive sand dragon while Symir and Aurora went about on their own tasks. The massive city seemed to glow as the suns falsely set behind the clouds within the sky as the last light gleamed off the city and its crushed minerals that lined the crevices between each golden brick. Within the dragons main hall a massive feast was being set and prepared by the finest cooks and the air within smelled greatly of spices and fine drink. Many of the people within began to celebrate as the priests of the city began to spread word of the possible arrival of new guests and honored friends.
The Aryite King gave the elf a reassuring smile before inclining his head. "I accept the invitation into your household, Lord of the Sands, on behalf of my convoy and myself. We will arrive at the gates of your city by late afternoon on the morrow to ensure ample time for your staff to prepare. Until then, King Inikhethadaternock."

With that, the shimmering image of King Neodin faded and the flames returned to the hearth.


The next day.

The massive crystalline vessels continued their orbit. Cosmic and arcane energies surged across their surfaces and formed ripples of pulsating light like waves on a golden sea. A dozen smaller ships crafted from the same crystalline material emerged from the ripples and descended towards the world below. They penetrated the atmosphere - leaving contrails of superheated ozone in their wake. Dry desert winds whipped against the smooth faces of their hulls.

The Khroniktan ships glistened like desert diamonds in the radiance of Gaia's dual suns. Some were rectangular like long sea-faring ships while others were more faceted. They approached the edge of the city before slowing to a silent halt. Galleys, the long rectangular vessels, descended to the ground while their sleek diamond-shaped Trireme cousins remained aloft like guardian angels. They took defensive positions in the sky - passive yet alert.

A single vessel flew ahead of the herd and landed at a stone's throw from the city gate. It landed with its broadside facing the city. The vessel hovered above the ground, causing a barely perceptible disturbance in the sand beneath. Swirling light resonated on the side of the ship.

Several pairs of armored feet emerged from the light. Gallant figures clad in golden plate radiated with an aura of mystical and divine energy. They towered head and shoulders above the residents of Wer'Guawysvern and were thick as boulders. Large broadswords, shields, maces, and bows were sheathed on their backs. Fur, ranging from a glossy black to pale yellow, covered the entirety of their bodies. The fur that adorned their feline-like faces and heads were neatly trimmed, tied back, or braided into dreadlocks. Other manes were gray and thinned. Large banners, bearing their gold and red standard, were gripped in the gauntlets of the two front Aryites.

The armor-clad lion-men marched lockstep to a rigid rhythm of snares, toms, and bass. However, none of the Aryite Chosen wielded any instruments among their arms. It was as if the cadence resonated from the air itself, or an invisible orchestra of spirits had materialized to guide the holy warriors. Two columns of ten marched with five paces between them.

“Shemot!... Imaki!... Shemo’ imak’ shemot!” barked one of the Aryites in sync with the cadence.

“Magtzeer!” he shouted. The columns and marching beat ceased at the order. “Lehuka nazeh makedat!” As one, the two lines pivoted inward and stood rigid with soldierly discipline.

“Ledaha!” The soldiers, in a robotic sync, stretched their gauntleted paw-hands behind their backs and unsheathed their large broadswords. Their blades resonated with runes of courage, righteousness, and virtue. They gripped the runeblades in both hands and placed the tips against the ground.

Another figure emerged from the ship. His mountainous body was wrapped in long flowing robes of royal purple, pure gold, and shining silver. A long furred tail swayed behind him. King Neodin Shadowslayer stood two heads above the other Aryites and towered at twice the height of the Gaians. A golden brown mane, laced with strands of silver and gray, surrounded his fierce and noble feline face and flowed down his shoulders and back. His eyes shone like two stars that illuminated an aura of great wisdom, power, nobility, virtue, and honor. He held a massive runesword in his grip. Runes similar to those carved into the blades of the Aryite Chosen, but much more ancient and powerful, glowed with a soft golden luminescence on the blade. Neodin wielded the blade like a cane - or a scepter. A crown of polished silver adorned his brow. The band was crafted of pure gold while studs of firm bronze fastened it and the silver body together. Crimson rubies adorned the tips of the headpiece.

The Aryite Chosen lowered to their knees and bowed their heads in deep reverence to their King and High Priest as he walked down the aisle between the columns. They rose to attention after his passing.

Several other figures followed King Neodin. Some were other Aryites dressed in fine silks and expensive jewels. Other, much smaller creatures, were interspersed with the Aryites. They stood shorter than the Gaians with their backs hunched. Long beaks protruded from beneath linen hoods while talons slid through the sand. The creatures rotated their heads every which way to take their surroundings. A large assortment of colors, ranging from forest greens, earthy greys, to electric blues painted their fine robes.

"Presenting King Neodin Shadowslayer," one of the Aryite's declared, "King of Arydia, Head Councilman of the Khroniktan Alliance, High Priest of the Chosen, and Prophet of Leolik; and accompanying delegation of the Khroniktan Alliance!"
The Sand Dragon watched from his keep the arrival of the Khroniktan Alliance. Inikhethadaternock glanced from the arrivals to the closed gates which slowly opened upon the oncoming entourage only to smile toothily as the parade and the festivities that ran down the main street dazzled with the suns brilliance as music and cheers suddenly accompanied the King Neodin Shadowslayer's announced arrival on the field. At the front of the gates stood the familiar sight of Ra'Zahr in his own robbed garb held his staff on high only to send out the first set of Snap Dragon Fireworks bursting forth from his hand sending several large fiery dragons on high just to explode in an array of colors and sparks.
"Welcome to The great city Wer'Guawysvern!" Ra'Zahr shouted with jubilation. "The people of the city offer you their finest hospitality according to the laws set by our mighty lord. Please come and partake in our festivities." The Rakasta Priest offered his own warm toothy smile as he approached the group of well armed soldiers who acted as their kings guard. "Your soldiers and your people are more than welcome to enjoy whatever they see fit within reach. The rules of hospitality dictate that good food and fine stories are always welcome on warm days such as this."
It was with those words that the smaller feline turned about and bid them to follow as he would escort them through the festive streets. Men and women alike of the merchant class would try their best to tempt the newcomers with fine spirits and ales along with good food while others would admire and marvel the newcomers from a distance. The celebration would not end behind them in their wake and neither would it stop before them. It was only when they drew closer to the main keep of the city palace that the royal guards stood ready in site.

Each man and woman who stood their guard held their Khopesh by their side and at the ready. Their armor gleamed with an enchanted aura and their skin glowed like polished bronze in the light of day. Before the group Aurora Urthador stood expectantly with her hands behind her back.

"My lords." Aurora spoke in a rather firm tone. She turned his gaze to the guard to her left which quickly dispersed. "The festivities await you in the dinning hall. Please feel free to make yourselves comfortable and enjoy the entertainment and meal that was prepared for you by our humble King." Aurora offered her courtesies and bowed for the noble lords only to show them the way to a massive set of ebony doors lined with silver dust that was set into its grain.

"A word of advice my lords." Aurora quickly spoke up as she opened the doors for them. "Our King is not what many expect at first." The warrior monk stepped away quickly as the scent of freshly cooked food filled the air along with the image of massive dinning tables lining the Hall packed full of a variety of foods and drinks. The head table faced towards a massive sand throne that sat above the sandy floor and upon the throne a rather massive Sand Dragon lay with bestial eyes upon the group that entered.

"My welcomed guests!" The massive creature bellowed with a toothy grin. In the beasts clawed hand was a large copper bowl filled to the brim with the sweetest nectar. "This feast is being held in your honor for your long journey! Take in my splendor and be at peace." It was with that command that the Hall was filled with its own music as bards of all kinds took to the floor while servants moved to welcome to the guests and escort them to their seats. Symir himself simply offered a warm bow to Neodin Shadowslayer and waved him and his entourage over.

"My lords. I welcome you to my Fathers party. If you would all please take your seats at the main table before his throne I am sure there is plenty for you all to discuss." Symir smiled and as he would escort the diplomats and their leader he was suddenly whisked away by a large hatted fellow who had some of his own questions that needed answered.

"Qenna L'Tone, You do me proud that you are here, I hope you have the documents I asked for." The Dragon asked his court mage. Inikhethadaternock sipped at the nectar within the massive saucer and awaited his answer before his guests took their seats.
Qenna had used her time quite nicely. By the time the morning sun had arrived on the horizon, she had completed all of the tasks set aside for her by her father and prepared them for his viewing. She scoffed at this and sighed "One of these days Heimdal, Ill be able to break the bonds which hold me here..." She said as she walked through the now frozen streets, finding herself a nice little pocket of time with which to move unimpeeded by the city's bustling streets. She could see the people's excitement in their frozen faces as she tapped a few with the end of her staff to part their ways from her as she approached the main city gates.

Her gaze soon fell to the frozen cat men as they began to walk through the city, each one larger then she could have expected. "My my...what large creatures these lot are" She said, slowly moving the frozen faces to look at them a bit more closely "Heim, what can you gather?" She asked, the staff humming gently 'They are not of this world, or any world we have seen with our greatest eyes. They are a powerful species well versed in magics we do not even know. It would be fascinating to learn some of these my lady. Perhaps they might be willing to teach you should you inquire' Heim stated as she nodded gently "Perhaps so...but not yet. This king looks like a wise man" She said and chuckled a little as she moved along her way but snapped her fingers quickly to make time resume as she could view the entirety of their tour from afar.

When the group made their way to the palace, Qenna snapped her fingers and stopped time once again to freeze the procession in place, quite literally "Now then, to grab father's papers" She said and headed for her room using a teleportation spell and snatched up the documents, then appeared at her father's side just as the procession entered "Of course my lord. Your papers are here" She said and used a levitation spell to make the documents hover before her King's eyes and leaned lightly on her staff as she watched the group with interest "Father, may I gather a bottle of the special reserve tonight? I think our guest would enjoy a finer vintage then what I provided" She said while moving some of her hair from her face, eyes turning towards King Neodin Shadowslayer with curious flickers in her irises.
Captain Mafsha Sandrunner, who stood at the head of the guard, gave Ra'Zahr a friendly nod as the Rakasta Priest approached, but retained his soldierly discipline. A few strands of grey fur had weathered the Aryite's face since their last encounter. In addition to his single runed greatsword, two twin blades rested in their scabbards on his waist.

Many of the Khroniktans eyed Ra'Zahr curiously as he led them through the city, if only because of his similarity to the larger Aryites. Meanwhile, several of the delegates basked and preened - some quite literally - in the attention directed by the Gaians. They smiled and waved with natural politic grace. Others eyed the wares as they passed - wheels of economic ingenuity turning in their eyes.

When they entered the throne room and gazed upon the dragon, the majority of the Khroniktans gawked or wore other bewildered expressions. King Neodin, however, took it in stride and folded his torso in a modest bow.

"I thank you for accepting our company, Lord Inikhethadaternock..." Neodin pronounced the name slowly, enunciating the syllables with care, as the other Khroniktans took positions behind their designated chairs. "... into your household. I present to you the delegates of the Khroniktan Alliance, including representatives of the twelve Aryite noble families and diplomats of the Rokin Republic."

King Neodin approached his chair and took his seat. The other delegates followed suit. Meanwhile, the Khroniktan guards took positions behind the diplomats with their backs against the wall. They retained their stony and serious demeanor, yet melding into the background, even as the festivities began.
"It is I who should be thanking you." The might dragon bellowed as he set his massive saucer down beside his throne only to simply lean towards the table of his foreign guests and their mighty leader. The Sand Dragon simply began to look over each and every member as if weighing their worth out before him but he showed no signs of aggression but instead simply offered a toothy smile. "I see your diplomats and representatives are of fine stock. As my people have done before I welcome you into my home and I offer the warmest greeting one can expect within my sandy domain. So please do enjoy yourselves and eat your fill."

Inikhethadaternock began to chuckle as he took up his drink once more. "So please tell me your peoples story. I know my invitation was sent to you but I wish to know what you have suffered. Maybe I will gain a better grasp on your situation and be able to help the travelers of the stars." The Lord of the Sands took a long drought from his nectar while he waited for a reply.

Within the background of the room some of the bards who played their instruments began to form together and the sounds of joyous ruckus began to fill a small corner of the grand hall. Ra'Zahr the priest found himself a nice table to sit and smoke from a long pipe he produced from his pack while Bigsby began to talk the ear off from a scholarly looking young woman who seemed upset and in a hurry. Aurora simply watched from the upper halls over one of the many balconies so that she could keep tabs on her brother Symir and the guests in case something went terrible south.
King Neodin sat silently for a long moment as he gathered his thoughts. He reached over the table and assembled a plate with several foodstuffs, including three kinds of meats and various vegetables that kindled his curiosity. Then he reached for his designated chalice and lifted it to his mouth. Finally, after a slow sip, he placed it beside his plate. On cue, the rest of the Khroniktan delegation assembled their own plates.

"Our tale is a long one, but I believe when people get to our age we can afford more patience than most, aye?" King Neodin said with a wink, but immediately shifted to a somber expression. "Our world is ancient and scarred by war... The Ancients - those who came before us - plunged themselves into a conflict that consumed the world in fire and death. Mountains were turned to dust, seas were scorched into deserts, rivers ran with blood, and the sky burned. In the end they destroyed themselves - leaving only scraps and petrified ruins to give voice to their self-inflicted crimes.

"It was only by the grace of Leolik that any life was preserved. Only a small fraction of our planet, out of the tens of thousands of miles that make up the surface, is habitable. It is in this narrow stretch of land that all the known peoples of Khroniktus grew and flourished. We Aryites make our homes in the deserts, jungles, and plains, while the Rokin here prefer the high mountains. There are other members of our confederation that are, unfortunately, unable to be represented here today. Our peoples lived for many generations in relative peace if not close friendship. We were a nation of farmers, masons, magi, priests, and common folk... Until they came.

"A powerful enemy was made known to the Aryites when my brother and I were cubs. Our father, Lo'din the Fearless, assembled an army to march across the desert and combat the threat, but he never returned. It fell to my brother, myself, and our mentor, Alphanius the Sage-wizard, to take on the mantle of leadership in Arydia. When a representative from the enemy came into our home, for at the time we did not know that they were the enemy, they promised great riches and power in exchange for fealty. While a few of the lesser and more ambitious nobles fell sway to his silver tongue, the majority of the Aryites - under the counsel of Alphanius - rejected his bribes. Aryites are a proud people, Inikhethadaternock. Our sovereignty is one of our greatest treasures. To be a slave is to be a victim of the greatest shame.

"I digress... After a small portion of our population left with the representative, we thought that we had seen the last of his kind, but for that assumption we were fools. A few years later a massive offensive struck our borders. We had later learned that this foreign entity was called the Erebon Empire. They wielded powerful dark magic and assaulted us with legions of creatures born and molded from the blackest pits of the Abyss. And... our former brothers were with them as well... but they were changed.

"They were no longer Aryites..." Neodin paused for a long moment, idly thumbing the intricate carvings on his chalice, as distant and buried memories rose to the surface of his mind. "... They were no longer our kin. You see, good king, the Erebon Empire is ruled by a god-emperor - and one that can solidify that claim a hundred fold. He is a far greater shadow - an all consuming darkness - than anything you have ever encountered or conceived of in even your long life. The weight of his malice shatters continents. His raw unfiltered power tears apart the leylines and rends asunder the very fabric of reality. And his eyes... When you meet his gaze, it is like looking into the Void - or glimpsing into Eternity. Apparently, whenever the Emperor, may His Shadow be shackled for Eternity, encounters a new people, he experiments on them. When my kin marched among the ranks of the Dark Legion, they were no longer Aryites. They were at best empty shells, or perverted copies, crafted from darkness and filled with hate, rage, and bloodlust.

"Eventually our capitol came under siege by their unstoppable war machine. Despite our youth, my brother and I led our people in a valiant last stand. The heavens and our blades both burned with so much magic that one's fur still tingles on the ancient site of the battlefield. Alphanius, our mentor and friend, fell in battle against the Emperor's second-in-command, Lord Narkaloxan, and his field commander, General Got'mog. With his dying breath, Alphanius bestowed his gifts and powers to myself and my brother. I inherited his sword and his attunement to the Everlasting Flame. My brother, Sheodin, received his powers over the arcane. Together we battled the two dark fiends... until the Emperor himself arrived.

"I prayed..." Neodin sliced off a piece of meat and chewed it thoughtfully. "I gripped the handle of my new sword and prayed harder than I ever had in my life. I prayed for the sanctity of my people, for forgiveness for my sins and theirs, and a chance... any chance... for them to survive until dawn.

"And..." Neodin chuckled, "... My prayer was answered. Leolik, in his divine glory, descended upon the heavens and smote a thousand scores of the Emperor's army with a single word. He drew his blade and engaged the Emperor in a duel that not even the greatest of warrior poets could transcribe into words. And so the battle went. My brother, Leolik, and I against Got'mog, the Emperor, and Narkaloxan, respectively. It might have been seconds, hours, or days, but the battle ended with Leolik banishing the Emperor beneath his mountain fortress and imprisoning him inside a glacier of magical ice. His second and field commander fled afterward.

"And so we rebuilt. Those events were recorded as The Shadows of Dawn in our histories. My brother and I, as a consequence of that battle, became immortal, so we ruled and guided the Aryites for a thousand years until another series of events led to the Emperor breaking free from his prison. Instead of overtaking us by sheer force, he sought to destabilize the world through several mediums and destroy us through an incredibly complex rune that would have diverted our world's ley lines back onto itself and destroyed the entire planet. However, my brother and I theorized that the construction of this Rune of Sundering would have occupied all of the attention of even a being as powerful as the Emperor. It turned out our theory was correct, and we were able to take advantage of his inattention to stun him long enough to bind him in a prison of our own making.

"However, after those events, which would be recorded as the Twilight Armageddon War, my brother and I shared a prophetic vision. This vision presented us with a need to look to the stars and explore the cosmos. We put research into portal magic and developed a way to traverse space, time, and parallel realities. I am quite familiar with chronomancy, by the way, as my brother was the one to discover it among my people. Though I have never been able to practice it myself, I've come to recognize the ripples it leaves in the universe, so I hope your court mage has found their observations satisfactory." Neodin gave a sly smile. "But I digress... We discovered numerous advanced civilizations in our initial probings and eventually made contact. Through trade we acquired much of their advanced technology and sciences before integrating them with our own magics. After a few years we developed functional vessels that could safely traverse the cosmos, and weapons that could defend us against other space-faring civilization that may eye our world and resources with greed.

"And here we are..." Neodin lifted his chalice with a smile. "Exploring the stars, making friends, recording knowledge, and teaching what wisdom we can offer to the rest of the Multiverse."
While the great King Neodin told the tale of the noble Aryite race, a much younger, smaller Aryite was scribbling away at his notebook rather furiously. He had one leg crossed over the other, and his long robes flowed down his body flawlessly, the colors a flawless and beautiful mixture of Blues, Purples, and Dark Greens. Leaning against his shoulder was a large staff that seemed to be almost as tall as the young Aryite himself when he stood.

The shaft of this staff was made out of a strange, and extremely resilient metal, and sitting on the top of the staff was a large crystal of pure Arcanium. The crystal glowed faintly, and every now and again would fluctuate, causing the young Aryite to stop and stare at the crystal for a second before nodding and continuing his rather furious note-taking.

After Neodin was finished with his tale, the young Aryite looked up from his book, and set his pen down, rising swiftly and silently to fill his plate with a variety of foods from the table, and to fill his cup as well, sitting back down he carefully picked at his food, observing what he had just scribbled down in his notebook again before glancing to the once again fluctuating crystal of his staff. His lip twitched, and he muttered a few soft words; making the fluctuation stop immediately before he cleared his throat calmly and continued about his business.
The mighty sand dragon listened well to the tale that King Neodin Shadowslayer wove. What the foreign lord did not know however was that within these halls that he feasted in and would boast cheerfully is that before him was a beast that did not care for good or evil.

"I am truly sorry for your predicament Neodin." The Sand Dragon offered his condolences as he downed the rest of his nectar only to set it off to the side for several servants to refill once more. "However I am pleased to see that through all of what I heard you still managed to come out on top. Your species and allies survived through the darkness and your light has brought you to my door." Inikhethadaternock began to chuckle as he took up his drink once more once it was filled. "Might I offer you a suggestion if you would. A temporary bond of friendship which can benefit the two of us." The large beast began to lean his massive head down next to his court mage.

"Qenna L'Tone, my adviser here, is indeed as brilliant as she is powerful. Her mastery of time magic is indeed what you felt and thanks to her skills she has also aided in obtaining the proper documentation for providing your people some comfort away from your ships." The Mighty sand dragon began to bellow out a few strange words and the air before him shimmered and changed to produce a fortified mesa with walls and battlements that sat close to the sea and rested upon the sand covered plains with plenty of lush grasses and palms.

"What I offer you is one of my long abandoned hoard homes. Fortified from raiders who would try to pry into my wealth and positioned well enough that with the right amount of effort and time could produce a rather glorious city for your people to call home. " Inikhethadaternock was blunt and to the point as his mind began to calculate what he could and would be able to do with his deal next. "I am offering your people a home that is close enough for trade between this city and the one I offer for you all. My guards will provide you with the initial protection from raiders and other groups within Gaia." The dragon began to sigh slightly. "Of course you do not need to take up this offer now. I only wished to offer it so that we could not be distracted by the festivities that my feasts tend to cause and you do not need to make any hasty decisions."

Ra'Zahr began to up and move after getting a few drinks only to stop and study the scholarly Aryite and his staff. Bigsby himself simply took hold of the young priest and began to walk him away. "This is not the time or the place Ra'Zahr. It is a time of celebration and not something that you need to be bothering the poor boy over. " Bigsby offered a warm smile to the smaller feline only to walk him past Mafsha Sandrunner and over to a small group of bards who sand the tales of the mighty sand wyrm. Symir and Aurora continued to watch the party from a distance .
Neodin methodically chewed on a piece of mutton while he pondered the sand dragon's words. He washed it down with a draft of mead before replying.

"It is an intriguing offer, lord dragon." King Neodin said. "One that I will invest consideration. However, it is our goal to meet with as many governing bodies in this world as we can before finalizing any agreements. While the location of this site may be problematic for a permanent settlement in regards to logistics, I foresee no great harm in establishing a trading post - for the mutual benefit of both our peoples."

King Neodin's face was fixed with a casual, friendly, yet respectful demeanor. Gears and cogs turned beneath the intricately-forged political facade. The Aryite noted the peculiar wording of the dragon's offer. Neodin deduced that the dragon knew details - confidential and top secret details - about the predicament of his people. He slipped a slice of meat into his mouth and afforded a glance towards Bigsby and Ra'Zahr.

I will need to have a word with them later...

Meanwhile, Mafsha Sandrunner continued to observe the party from his position behind and to the left of the King. His keen feline eyes scanned across the room, like every other Aryite guard, with expanded astral senses and watched for stirring trouble.
As he listened to the Dragon's offer to his king, the scholarly Aryite chewed quietly on his food, considering the idea himself. He had felt eyes on him, and glanced in their direction, noting a man with an extremely large hat, and another feline humanoid, before turning his head back to the Dragon.

For a moment he considered, then opened his mouth, only to close it again; he felt it was not his place to speak, so he did not, and covered it up by gently placing another small chunk of meat into his mouth to continue eating. As he ate, the crystal in his staff yet again started glowing, and his ears twitched as if he were listening to something.

Finally he spoke; his voice was nowhere as deep or powerful as King Neodin's, but it did have a sort of wisdom to it that was a bit uncommon for an Aryite of his age. "May we see the site?" he asked calmly, glancing to King Neodin for approval. He then gave a small smile and stood. "Apologies....I should have introduced myself. I am Pakhavu Golemtamer." he said with a low bow. "Representative of the University of Alphanius." He added; figuring that they would at least want to know what such a young Aryite was doing at such a formal meeting.
Qenna would sit silently as she watched the exchange between her father and the King across the way with some interest, smiling and bowing her head at the compliment from the Greak King and offer a bow of her own "My skills are developed yes sir. I would love to teach you should you or any of your subjects would be willing to undergo my tutelage" She said while eyeing her father warily. Something was wrong with this...and it put her on edge.

Her eyes then turned towards the Scholarly Aryite, who identified himself as Pakhavu Golemslammer and then stood up "I would be happy to show you the site, of course with my King's approval and permission. I can have us there in roughly five minutes" She said with a kind smile. It would start with him, her plotting and scheming would come into motion with this one. Her eyes turned towards the great Wyrm and offered him a bow "With your permission, id like to escort that one to the site and let him inspect it under my supervision. Perhaps a neutral envoy would be beneficial towards establishment of this trading post"
The large dragon looked over the scholarly cat and then at his court mage who he simply shook his head over. "We shall allow the king to see the others of this world. We do not wish to seem to pushy." Inikhethadaternock continued to ponder as what he would do only to then continue to watch over his feast. The massive king of the sands began to ponder a bit. "If they wish to see the site however it is entirely up to the king."

Bigsby found himself next to Symir and Aurora while Ra'Zahr found himself drinking and listening to a fine tale now being spun by the bards.
King Neodin smiled as Pakhavu spoke. He knew the boy had showed much promise in his early years at the university from stories shared by his brother. Sheodin had hand-picked him to represent the university, and it appeared to the king that his trust was not misplaced.

"I have no argument against it." Neodin replied. "You have my leave to investigate the site, Akhmawi Golemtamer. Take Colonel Sandrunner with you. I imagine he would like to ensure that the site's defenses are sound."

The Aryite Chosen stepped up at his name being called and brought a gauntleted fist to his chest in a salute. Mafsha Sandrunner turned towards the king and inclined his head. "As you wish, my lord."
Pakhavu listened carefully to the responses he was given. A yes from a female, a yes from the Dragon before them, and... even a yes from King Neodin! Happiness swelled in his chest, but he did not let it show; for he must keep his composure. With a careful and respective gaze he moved his head to all three who agreed with his plan, and offered them all a low bow in thanks.

"Thank you, my Lords." He said mid-bow. With a small smile he straitened his body before taking his staff in his hands. "I shall prepare at once for the trip!" He said, voice hinting towards quite a bit of excitement. It was an honor to be here; hand picked by the great King himself, even! But this? He was being allowed to scout out an area for potential dangers to his own people. The excitement was very real for the young Aryite, but so was the stress. The future of trade between these people and his hung in the balance, even thought it wasn't exactly hanging. It was merely placed on the table for them to consider, and Pakhavu was simply leaning forward to take a closer look.

With a smile and a nod, he acknowledged Mafsha Sandrunner, glad to have company in his little scouting mission. Of course, the female Tiefling had also agreed, and even went as far to volunteer to take him there. "Your presence and knowledge of the reason would serve us well in scouting the area, thank you." He said, bowing slightly to her.
Qenna would nod once as she stood up herself and dusted off her robes "Very well, with the express permission, I shall escort the young sir with me to the site" She said and strode over to the two and gave them a confident smile "You will feel...a little discomfort. It will pass in time" She said, catching her words then gave a chuckle before placing her hand on the Aryite's shoulders and stood her staff on the ground. With a snap of her fingers, she pulled Pakhavu and Mafsha out of the time they previously existed.

How the Aryites would see the world would be a very strange sight. Everyone was frozen, mid chew, mid drink and even laughter of a joke. They were completely alone in this timeline with all faces frozen while Qenna just chuckled "Come on, Its a bit of a walk, it will give us a chance to talk along the way" Qenna said as she took her staff back into her hand as she began to walk out towards the door. The door would open as she waved her hand then turned back to Pakhavu and Mafsha "This way" She said "Also, feel free to ask me any questions. We have plenty of time to answer them"

To those whom remained, the three simply vanished, the door would open and shut in the blink of an eye and the three could not be seen. Many of the onlookers would be astonished at how the young tiefling had such a mastery of time that she could just disappear as quickly as she did. Though to her father, this was just routine.
Inikhethadaternock simply watched the chain of events go by and his glance towards Aurora said it all. The monk simply nodded and turned to follow the two from a distance only to vanish into the sand outside. As for the rest of the party the sand dragon simply began to chuckle and look down at the king before him.

"Youth is always pushing forward. I can appreciate the notion of your people wanting to see the outside world." The Dragon spoke while Bigsby and Ra'Zahr stood in the background talking about something that had just occurred. Symir on the other hand continued to watch from a distance. "I do hope that my court mage remembers to shut off all of the traps."
"I am sure Sandrunner will be fine." Neodin waved his hand dismissively. "He was one of my best explorers when he was younger. The lad traveled to many worlds, discovered many peoples, and battled many evils. A few ancient traps will hardly phase him." he chuckled.

"So..." he continued. "I have told you much about my people, Inikhethadaternock, yet I know little of you or yours. Educate my entourage and I how you founded this city - assuming it was you, of course."
The Sandy Dragon offered a toothy grin as he looked down at the king. His quest for knowing the lord of the sands was admirable but it was something that he might not have wanted to hear.

"King Neodin Shadowslayer, it is an honor, but are you truly ready to hear such a lengthy tale?" The Sand King simply propped his head up upon his right clawed hand. "My people as you can see from within this room are not all the same. Many claim to be from different origins that are not their own and few claim humble beginnings."

Inikhethadaternock began to chuckle a little. "In truth my people are primarily artisans and merchants and this city you are in now is nothing more than a hub for trade. Our culture is from all corners of this vast world and yet here it is I that rules over these people who see me in one of two forms." The Dragon began to slowly rise from his massive throne only to straighten his wings. "When we are in times of great peace and prosperity I am before the people a sun kissed elf. When otherwise I am as you see before you in my true form, this of course is only to show you so that I do not deceive your eyes." Symir stood in the back and grimaced slightly only to leave the party while Bigsby and Ra'Zahr remained to enjoy the story.

"As for this city it was a ruin hidden in the sand by the time I came upon it. I plundered ever bit of magic it had and devoured all of it once I determined that this was going to be the site of my great empire." Inikhethadaternock slowly began to descend from his massive sandy seat only to transform into the elf that Neodin had seen before. The Sun-kissed elf bore a crown upon his head and wore silk robes of the finest quality that ranged from light blues to sandy hues. "I am a conqueror but within this I have aged greatly and know the true meaning behind holding peace within my own lands. Know this Neodin Shadowslayer like my brothers I am not a source of good within this world. I still take what is rightfully mine to take and I will be a good source of advice for you if you decide to take another route that is offered."
Mafsha eyed the surrounding guests curiously before following Qenna. He kept a single paw-hand resting diligently on the pommel of one of his twin broadswords. The Zealot sent curious glances towards the architecture of the palace before speaking in a baritone characteristic of the Aryites.

"Tell me, Magus." he directed to Qenna. "How long have you been studying the arcane? My uncle is an accomplished elemental mage - specializing in pyromancy - and an instructor at the University, so I am familiar with basic theory."
Pakhavu seemed rather calm as the flow of time stopped around them, and he followed Qenna, looking around at everything that seemed frozen, carrying his staff with him as he walked calmly. As Mafsha spoke to Qenna, the younger Aryite smiled.

"I was about to ask you the same, Qenna; please tell us." he encouraged her, his voice gentle, yet still powerful at the same time. As one of the students of the University, and one of it's most skilled mages, he had taught himself to speak as though he were rather unassuming to avoid trouble among any other students who may be jealous; though, all respected him, so he had no troubles. At the back of his mind, he was trying to figure out how this magic capable of stopping time around them worked; that he may either learn how to do it, himself, or learn to counter it should he face it in battle.

The entire time they walked, however, the crystal atop his staff glowed dimly, and constantly.
Qenna would smile at the two of them as she walked with them out of the city gates, towards the desert with her staff in hand "Well, I have been studying magic for as long as I can remember. I range from various school but I always found Chronomancy the most powerful yet the most unknown magic to date. My abilities are of a Universalist school of training" Qenna would say as she moved with the group

"Pyromancy is one of the more common disciplines of magic to date. So naturally there are plenty of fire wielders currently in the universe. However I can commend someone whom specialized in it during their educational history" Qenna would stop for a moment and took in a very deep breath and sighed softly, taking in the desert air "I love it out here, the scent of the sands, the waves on the peaceful. So quiet without the hustle and bustle of the city" Qenna would turn her head towards the two and tapped the ground with her staff lightly " two are magic casters yourselves?" She asked "I figured we could get to know each other a little while we have the..." She stopped and giggled a little "While we have the time"
The guards eyed the dragon warily as he descended his throne, while the Khroniktan delegates fidgeted in their seats. It was their stubborn pride as Khroniktans and Neodin's calm demeanor that kept them from reacting in terror before the dragon.

"Honesty," Neodin began after a moment of thought, "is a virtue that few find value in anymore. I appreciate your openness with me, Inikhethadaternock, and I believe I will look forward to keeping you a friend. It is better to neutralize a foe by turning them into allies when it is possible, in my own opinion. You say that your people are artisans and traders... Is there anything that your empire specializes in that others find lacking?"
Mafsha nodded. The desert air tousled his mane as a nostalgic smile spread across his face. "We Aryites are very familiar with the desert. It is dangerous, yet it is home. I earned my name serving as a scout and courier in His Majesty's Army before I was blessed with the opportunity to join the Chosen of Leolik. The Chosen are an elite order of warrior priests that serve beneath His Majesty as agents of Leolik Elonhim. Each of the Chosen are born with a Spark of the Everlasting Flame, a gift bestowed to us by Leolik, which is discovered later in life by another Chosen. We are able to channel the Flame through will and faith in order to smite the wicked, protect the innocent, and serve Elonhim with every fiber of our beings."
The Sun-Kissed Elf simply smiled as he looked upon the group that held their composer well. "Honesty is indeed a wise policy for it can make or break the relations between two powerful peoples. Subterfuge on the other hand is something that I will not personally deal with but allow one of my many talents to take care of it." The Sand King shrugged slightly and pointed over to a mosaic that embellished all of his walls. Even The king himself bowed before the group showing off his fine silken robes.

"And please my new found friend." Inikhethadaternock spoke as he lifted himself up to look upon his guests. "We are friends now. Call me Inik. I am sure my name must be somewhat hard to say if we must continue." The Sand King only offered a warm smile as he then walked over to a woman carrying a platter filled with fresh fruits. "Our merchants travel long and far and our artisans craft and will into existence the very things that life comfortable. Needless to say our resources in mineral wealth are also plentiful here." Inikhethadaternock took some of the fruit only to bite veraciously into a pair. "Generally we are well balanced on all grounds though I am sure if you asked one of the merchants or craftsmen who live within my mighty city they could acquire or build something for you."

Ra'Zahr and a few of his fellow Rakasta left the festivities with a bit of sway in their step and drunken wills to contend with. Bigsby on the other hand simply kept to himself as he now watched the interaction between the foreign people and the Sand King.

"Education is very important within my domain and training in any skill here can land you a worthy profession depending on your skills and talents."
Pakhavu let out a small huff of agreement with Qenna and Mafsha. "Indeed. I specialize in the Arcane Magics, myself. I was given my name for, well, taming an Arcane Golem that was previously untamable, no matter how strong someone's connection to the Arcane was." he explained calmly. "I was chosen my King Neodin himself to represent the University where I, no, all who are willing come to learn the ways of Magic." He smiled softly, his staff lightly placed on the sand.

"Ever since I was a child, Magic always caught my eye; and I always wanted to Learn it. When I was given the opportunity, I took it as fast as I could. Of course, I was more fond of the Arcane, having seen the Golems around the city as I grew up, so I studied hard, and I am today!" he chuckled, a finger lightly stroking his still developing mane to keep a few loose strands of fur away from his eyes.
Neodin nodded. "Aryites are renowned crafters and architects. Our art is in what we can build with our hands utilizing both magic and skills that have been passed down for generations. The Rokin, our cousins, place their skills in rhetoric and literature. It is sometimes said that Aryites build civilization and the Rokin refine and preserve it.

"We have a few things you may be interested in, Inik." Neodin said as he finished his plate. "A healthy supply of trade goods await aboard our ships, including exotic furs, fruits, artistic trinkets, and other things. With your permission, we can erect a temporary trading post outside the walls and allow those who dwell in the city to browse our wares."
The King of the Sands simply smiled and nodded at the offer.

"I think a wise man could not accept a better offer. Please enjoy my peoples hospitality and allow the warm sands to welcome you." Inik smiled and turned his back from his guests. "If you need me I will be around. I am going to retire for now but again please enjoy yourself."
Qenna smiled softly at the two as they shared their tales with her, standing under the desert sunlight. The gears in her mind began to work, turning with new ideas of these creatures. It was then, the staff hummed gently 'Yes Heimdall?' She said as she focused her attention on what was being said 'Pardon me my lady for interrupting but I do believe I see an opportunity for an exchange of information and knowledge'

'I know what your thinking and it was just exactly my own plans Heimdall. Patience is the key to winning the day' Qenna said as she turned away from the staff and gave the two Aryite a polite nod "Indeed, I always appreciate fine minds willing to learn. I could forsee taking on an apprentice but for a fair trade of your magical techniques. If one among you would be interested in this offer of course" Qenna turned on her heel and started to walk "Come, we are getting there" She said as the staff hummed again

'My lady, can you feel it too?' Qenna's eyes turned towards the site and glowed a deep blue while she was facing away from the group of the cat folk 'I do...very faintly. Necromancy and...Illusion magics. How odd. Heimdall, monitor it while we get closer' She told the staff while she turned her head towards the group, speaking to her staff was via telepathy after all. She didnt say anything but she was glad to have the sword wielding Ayrite with them.
As the group would slowly approach the site Quenna L'Tone would feel even more of the magic she had sensed earlier and this time it was as thick as honey now. The Mesa itself was bronzed in the light of the sun and atop it a fortification that held empty battlements and enough space atop for a city to thrive. All along the sides of the Mesa were carved wide paths for heavy traffics to get to the top while at the base of the massive rocky structure stood even more towers and walls. Off in the distance the beyond the walls reach was an ocean of green waters that churned near the old city.
"Good evening to you, Inik." Neodin nodded before turning to one of his guards. "Inform the caravan that they are cleared for landing."

"Yes, my lord."

Moments later, the numerous vessels that hovered over the city descended to the desert floor outside the gates. Clouds of dust and sand were cast into the air as the hover crafts rested upon the dunes. Their crystalline hulls shimmered as dozens of Aryites and Rokin poured out of the vessels while carrying large crates. Large bipedal constructs, formed from massive floating crystals that radiated with arcane energy, also aided the Khroniktans in unpacking the caravan. A makeshift marketplace had taken form outside the city walls within minutes.

Each of the traders had universal translation spells placed upon them or enchanted upon a trinket on their person, so any language barrier was a non-issue. They bartered everything from exotic fruits, furs, hand-crafted trinkets, literature, to Aryite-forged tools and small weapons. Several Aryites adorned in thick armor and equipped with a variety of weapons patrolled the market. Hooded Aryites and Rokin, clad in embroidered robes, drifted among them. Each of the guards were marked by a red and gold tabard.
Mafsha eyed the empty battlements cautiously as they approached. The fur on his neck and back bristled while a deep growl rumbled in the back of his throat. He instinctively wrapped a hand around the hilt of one of his blades. The Everlasting Flame flickered within his soul, as if struck by a frigid breeze.

"Be on your guard..." Mafsha growled as he expanded his senses to detect undead and demons, "I sense foul magic here."
Pakhavu could also sense the foul magic, and nodded, a small, quick huff escaping his throat to show that he was ready for anything. Silently, the small Aryite began to recite a spell; one he hoped he would not have to finish, but would if the trouble arose. Until that time, however, he would not say a single word, but the crystal on his staff would begin to glow brightly with Arcane Magic.

Whatever was going to happen was going to get a rude shock if not careful.
Qenna could sense it too "Strange...this aura is not usual for this installation. Gentlemen, allow me a brief moment to study" She said while sitting down and closed her eyes, reaching out with her mind and senses to gauge what was inside "This magic is black, something has moved in which is rather strange"

She reached further with her mind, looking through the passages and hallways as she moved into a lotus style position on the ground, staff standing straight to her side. As she felt the presence within the vault, she gasped and bolted upright, looking visibly scared, tightly gripping her staff "That is not possible...there is something in there, older then time itself. I couldnt get a good look at it but...there are so many souls. So many I could not even count blocking it" She looked very frightened "We can go back and inform our kings...or we can go in. Gentlemen I would not go in there alone. Something ancient has taken residence...and I am actually afraid"
The City was in a uproar of approval as the newcomers brought their exotic goods to be exchanged and bartered. It was however not the main stage of the story as Qenna L'Tone escorted her fathers guests to their possible new home. The Mesa itself continued to radiate the foul magics from within and once its depths had been ascertained by the Sand Dragon's Magical Adviser something began to stir within.

Deep within the walls shackled hands forced themselves up over the wall itself to get a better look at the three. At first the man appeared to be slack-jawed at the simple concept that others had arrived but soon his open mouth turned into a groan of pain. Other men and women who appeared to be enslaved within began to poke their heads out as to get a better look at the trio on the distant horizon but none seemed to move or even try to wave to the possible heroes that stood their ground.
"Fear is always the greater enemy, chronomancer." Mafsha growled as he clenched his sheathed blades. A fire kindled behind his eyes as he tore the blades free. The blades burned with golden runes of courage, faith, and zealous righteousness. His body erupted in tongues of golden flames that surged across his armor. When the tempest receded, he was clad in a suit of gold and red armor that was a union of crystal and metal. Numerous runes of agility, fortitude, strength, and protection were artistically engraved on the crimson lining. The armor was thick yet slim and allowed protection while maximizing agility. Corporal Sandrunner looked down at Qenna through a pitch black visor on a helmet that fully enclosed his head.

"It is said that faith amounting to a single grain of sand can move mountains - and fear is the opposite of faith. Fear given thought will cloud your mind. Fear given voice becomes reality. I am a Chosen of Leolik, sworn to destroy and banish all creatures of darkness and destruction I encounter across Creation. I have walked the path of Leolik Elonhim, the Creator of all things, for many decades. What use have I for fear? However, I am not stupid. I have already alerted my kin to the situation. If we encounter trouble, a fully armed Trireme will arrive in seconds with both reinforcements and air support. Now, shall we? It's been awhile since I've been in a good fight..."
As the flames enveloped Mafsha's body and gave him his armor, arcane light poured from the crystal on top of Pakhavu's staff and he raised it into the air, almost as if to gather energy from the very cosmos themselves. A great humming resonated outwards from the staff as Pakhavu spoke the final word of power in his spell, the final word of power that was incomprehensible to the ears of mere mortals. Finishing the chant, the young Aryite slammed the end of his staff into the desert sand, and the light blazed brilliantly and washed over them for a few seconds before a large crash was heard behind them.

Upon turning, Pakhavu would smile. "Good to see you again." He spoke calmly, looking to the simply massive Arcane Golem standing calmly behind them. The same Golem that for hundreds of years could not be successfully summoned without running amok until this single Aryite found out how to do it. It earned him his name, Golemtamer, and set himself in the history of the Aryite and Khroniktan culture as the great tamer.

But now wasn't the time for gloating as he immediately hopped up onto the shoulder of the great Golem, his staff radiating a brilliant light of Arcane Magic. "The Shadows know not the grace and power of Leolik, friend. We must show them....the hard way." He spoke to the Golem, who responded by sending out telepathic images of it smashing and utterly destroying anything in it's path. "Not that much; we don't need the temple killed, just the creatures within." Again the images, only more tamed instead of wild, flashed before the eyes of the two Aryites and of Qenna. "Yes, that'll do nicely." the young Aryite spoke.

With a loud, rumbling gurgle the Golem agreed, the young Aryite upon its shoulder smiled, looking towards the Temple once more.
The Tiefling would shiver a little as she could see the faces on the wall staring at them unceasingly, her grip on her staff tightening just a little bit more. She could see her companions readying themselves for a battle and listened to their words. She turned her head towards the structure and let in a deep breath in and out, as if to try and calm her now shaking nerves.

"Fear is a powerful thing warrior. You have walked a very powerful line, yet in this instance, I am the novice. I have not seen this kind of power before, nor have I proven my skills in combat before. In ages past, I have manipulated things from afar. I fear that I will be feeling fear for a time. But I am confident we can figure this out"

Qenna began to walk towards the walls and entrance of the forgotten Vault, her fingers working a spell work while her staff hummed 'Mistress, pardon me for interrupting. But shall I prepare the conventional spells?' It asked while Qenna nodded 'Yes please Heim, I have a feeling that we will need them. If push comes to shove, I might have to drop my disguise. I cannot concentrate on it if held during combat'
The men and women on the wall stood still as they continued to look upon the three but the wretched people behind the wall did not claim to be alone. A man with a strange staff walked among the unhealthy but seemed completely invisible to them but turned slightly to look upon the newcomers only to be filled with dread. Quickly the man moved through the ranks of the filthy and loathsome occupants only to vanish from sight.

The wretched men and women on the walls began to wail and cry from agony and the sand before the citadel seemed to come to life as a dark miasma poured over the sides of the walls tainting the very sand that now stood before the three. The illusion itself seemed to shatter revealing each of the sickly humans as nothing more than zombies that stood their guard while something more devious went on within the walls and deep inside of the fortified structure. The creatures seemingly mocked the adventuring band that was before them while their master continued to work tirelessly deeper within.
Mafsha narrowed his eyes as the black miasma revealed the abominations that infested the keep. He clenched his gauntleted fists and tightened the grip around his twin runeblades. The Zealot whispered two prayers beneath his helmet as an aura of light surrounded Qenna, Pakhavu, and himself. A fulfilling warmth would course through their bodies as their physical strength, endurance, senses, and mana pool were enhanced. Meanwhile, a fiery orange rune materialized beneath each of their feet before dissipating.

"Whoever controls these undead puppets is a fool to believe they can withstand the cleansing fire of the Everlasting Flame." Mafsha said calmly as his gait accelerated into a jog. "They will fall before the might of Leolik! Kuamsheev! Imarotz vya'Elonhim!"
Pakhavu merely closed his eyes as he felt the warmth coursing through his body and as he felt the rune beneath his feet. It was time. With a snarl the young Aryite pointed the end of his staff towards the ranks of darkness before them, and with a deep gurgle the Golem upon whose shoulder he rode strode forward; long, slow, powerful strides that edged on as fast as the Chosen of Leolik at their side could currently jog.

Calmly Pakhavu's eyes scanned the ranks of the unholy, looking for a weakness in the ranks that wouldn't end up in a deathtrap for him or his allies. With a grunt he hopped off the shoulder of his Golem and jogged beside Mafsha, the stone at the end of his staff lighting up again as he began readying his spells for combat.
Qenna would see the undead that stood before the walls and sneered, looking disgusted by the foul abominations of their existence. "How disgusting....the abominations. Though it is curious how so many went unseen for this long" The tiefling would move her staff towards herself and hmphed loudly "Now lets see how useful I can be"

Her hand extended outward as a powerful arcane matrix formed in her hand, coating her arm in a light red magic. Her arm then shimmered as an illusion upon her body faded to that of lustrious scales...very much akin to the Sand King's scale color in his dragon form. From her hand a large ball of molten rock erupted and grew to the size of a small boulder and hurled rapidly towards the legions of the undead "I will create an opening, you two get us inside those walls and do not let this barrier fall"
The undead horde stood their ground as more of them began to spew out from the buildings upon the walls of the long abandoned citadel. The necromancer who brought these creatures to life worked hard on his art as the creatures began to howl and shout in unison as something hidden in the shadows of the old fortification made itself known with its own deafening call. The old dragon's fort began to shimmer with its own natural magic as the winds around the sandy mesa began to pick up slightly tossing a bit of sand up in the process.

It was however deep within the old citadel that a large dark crystal remained with a large hatted wizard who seemed to write a thousand different spells while remaining in a trance while a rather shadowy figure watched from the background only to turn her gaze towards a mirror.
Mafsha burst into a sprint and unleashed a deafening leonid roar to match the feral cacophony of the undead. He flipped his blades into a reverse grip, dove into a four-point crouch, and leaped several meters into the air. The Aryite sailed over the undead masses like a ball of righteous fire that burned with divine fury. Finally, Mafsha landed in the center of the raving throngs. Half-rotten corpses crunched beneath his boots as the ground around the Zealot ignited with tongues of golden flames.

When the flames calmed, a dozen piles of ash lay at Mafsha's feet. The Aryite pivoted on his heel, tossing the skewered remains of two undead from his runeblades, before vivisecting several that still stood in the consecrating fire with two firm slashes. A terrifying roar bellowed from his open maw that would cause even the fearless damned to quake in despair. His eyes, shining like two stars from behind his visor, burned with the same holy energy that sanctified the abominations before him.


Very few souls knew the true nature of the arcane.

First were the naysayers. They were the ignorant and prideful that looked at Creation through a lens of rigidness. When confronted with the metaphysical, they rationalized it with scientific half-truths and dismissed it as superstition.

There were those who believed power came from oneself. This was only partially true. While magic flowed through everything at some level or another, it did not originate in any plane known to the majority of sapient beings.

The Aryites were not part of the majority.

Archmage Sheodin Thundermane sat cross-legged in the center of a dark room. Five braziers illuminated the chamber with an eerie orange glow. They were spaced evenly around Sheodin with deep sigils etched between them forming a pentagram. Countless other runes covered the stone floor. Sheodin sat in middle with his paw-hands resting loosely on his knees. His face was shrouded beneath a dark azure hood.

Sharp scented incense burned in strategic locations throughout the chamber. The Archmage's chest rose and fell in a slow rhythm. A revered silence held the room in an adamantium grip. One could almost hear the echo of Sheodin's heartbeat. However, the silence went unnoticed by him. Indeed, the room, and even Khroniktus, was far from both mind and soul.

"What do we have here..."

Sheodin's ethereal form drifted through the Gaian desert sky. His keen senses kept a stalwart observation of the meetings between the natives and the Khroniktans, but a stirring of the ley lines drew his attention far off into the desert. Colonel Sandrunner's spark burned like a bonfire to Sheodin's magic sight, but a deeper - darker - well of power marred the landscape like an infected boil.

The Archmage passed between the planes with a flex of will. Physical senses would have been burned away by the rampant energies, information, and raw Truth that assaulted Sheodin, but he did not look and listen with simple eyes and ears. To Sheodin's magical sight, the astral plane was like a constantly evolving painting - an ever-shifting maelstrom. Arcane energies flowed like gales in a sandstorm breaking off of massive tributaries that in turn split from titanic rivers. A novice wizard would see only chaos, but Sheodin saw the pure cosmic energy that lurked beneath the physical and mundane. Wind, earth, fire, life, and death... Everything was simply the same energy expressed in a different form.

Sheodin passed through several dozen meters of the energy. The gales flowed around him like he was an immovable stone erected in the river's rapids. He noted the rigid structure that the energy had been woven. Stone and earth. The anomaly was underground. When he approached the nucleus of the disturbance, his face grimaced in disgust.

Darkness seeped into the fabric of Existence. Sheodin scanned the vicinity and saw the silhouettes of two figures. One was clearer and sharper than the other and stood closer to the epicenter of the darkness. The arcane energies condensed into magical threads that span into intricate spell matrices. Sheodin scratched his chin in thought as he examined the threads.

"What are you up to..." he thought to himself as he attempted to delicately pull apart and dissect the threads.
As Mafsha leaped into the fray, Pakhavu released his own feral roar, his echoing across the landscape similarly to how Mafsha's did, only less terrifying to the Unholy. It was unknown if the young Aryite held a Spark of Leolik such as Mafsha, but he did have power.

Great power.

Raising his staff he broke into a sprint, his Golem already slamming into the wall of unholy beasts before him. Lightning made of Arcane energy pulsed from his Staff, vaporizing all undead in its path. With a large flash of energy from the crystal atop his Staff, more Golems appeared, at least five more, all smaller than the first, but no less skilled in battle and ferocity against the hordes of creatures against which they fought.

With a grunt the young Aryite mage hopped onto the nearest shoulder of the nearest Golem, smiling as he watched all six decimate the hoard of undead around them. Occasionally he helped, sending pulses of lightning to keep them from getting too swarmed. Luckily for Pakhavu, he didn't have to concentrate too hard for these Golems; they were all self-sustaining. All he had to do was tell them to destroy the unholy, and they obeyed. Of course there was the issue of keeping the Largest Golem under control while also telling it what to do. Now that took concentration; concentration that would be lost in physical combat.

With another roar of might Pakhavu lifted his staff, lightning raining down upon the hoards below, keeping his Golems mostly safe from them. He then grunted with effort, raising his staff to the heavens again, another Golem dropping down by Qenna to assist her. Gurgling erupted from it as it began to attack the Unholy around it, flinging them left and right and crushing them without mercy nor struggle.

With a glance he saw Mafsa, and while he did not summon another Golem, he did send two over towards him to help him. Seven Golems littered the field, one by Qenna, two heading towards Mafsha to assist, leaving four to work together with Pakhavu, moving towards their target steadily.
The Suzerain gazed out to the north of his Sapphire Citadel. There was a heavy pull on the fabric of the arcane coming from there. Heavy magic was in the air, and being that it seemed to be within a concerning distance from his own holdings, and also since a majority of his army was away in Skyfall, it would be prudent to find out what roiled in the north.

The dragon king had his attendant fiends prepare a pool of water within his quarters, and large piles of herbs were brought to be burned. Tyretlethen focused the power within his dragon blood, and projected himself.

The Astral plane was stormy and dark. Forcing his spirit through the miasmatic squalls that blew down from the north was no easy task, but the Suzerain of the East was no mere spellcaster. Eventually, he came upon the site of a walled city under siege, strange lion men and other assorted vagrants laid into a horde of undead thralls with great vigor and speed. But there was more to it than that...something deep. There was a darkness beneath that city that even his great mind could not pierce.

Taking a deep breath, he pulled his draconic spirit back into himself and severed the scrying. Perhaps he would have to postpone his crusade on Skyfall...they were crippled and plague-ridden anyway. This was a legitimate threat. There was thinking to be done.

...there was one mind, however, that did linger in that city to the north. One that indeed could pierce that dark veil beneath the sands. The Crawling Chaos gazed upon those dread beings within, and cooed with excitement. Yes...perhaps here, on this planet wracked by strife, he would be able to perpetuate the current verse.

Nyarlathotep made himself known to this sorceress and this entity, Shabot-Urn, in the form of not but a tensing of the air within their dark lair. A thought, implicit in its presence, would ring out.

Harbingers. You will have my succor.
Qenna had not advanced forwards, rushing ahead like that was rather fool hearty. Surely they did not realize that this was once the location for a dragon's entire hoard? It would have some extremely strong defenses. Her hand reached out and she began to concentrate, sensing the magic around the area 'Heimdall, aid me' She commanded, the staff obeyed and aided in her scan. She could feel something, yes..there was a strong magical presence deep within the sand itself. She focused on it, sensing it. It was a ward! So there was a defense system in place.

Thinking quickly, Qenna placed her staff securely onto her back and quickly dropped to the ground. With a snap of her fingers, time once again froze and she began to burrow her way underground 'If we find one of the ward stones, we can deactivate the defenses above. But for now, they will have to bear it' She thought 'My lady, do you think they will be alright?' Heimdall asked to which Qenna snorted 'Probably will'
The old fortification did indeed have a bit of magic hidden too it that neither of the cats or their toys seemed to take notice of. The undead fighting the holy warrior along with those being crushed by the golems began to pull back to the wall as a sandstorm began to form around the long forgotten treasure trove. It would most likely be that the massive sand storm would hit the adventures in a matter of seconds and the high winds and particles of sand would cut like glass against any open flesh if not blinding them.

Deep within the walls the large hatted wizard who was writing within the book under the massive dark crystal began to groan as every ounce of his very being was being drained through the grimoire he was writing in. The shadowing figure in the back smiled seductively as she glanced up at the crystal that floated above only to feel the prying eyes that befell this place.

The astral plane began to shift and turn as the old fortification appeared to be distorted by a bright illumination of infinite colors. The Shadow Lord returned his dark gaze onto those who peered at his resting place only smile as he began to feel more alive than he once once. This lord of both Dusk and Dawn once again was brought back to the world and it was all thanks to a Wizard seeking more power and an immortal guardian who once claimed her loyalty to the first tree.
A cold tingle drifted down Sheodin's spectral back as he examined the strange wizard's spellweaving. It was the sort of chill that he had not felt since the Twilight Armageddon War. He could feel the presence of the cosmic power sending ripples across the aether.

"Ladacio atu'ash kovac." he spoke in the language of the Arcane as he returned his attention to the spellwork. His voice radiated with authority across the astral plane. "Lyateor atzsum."

"I know you are here. Reveal yourself."

The Archmage poked and prodded the wizard's spell. It was obvious to him that the magic was constructed with nefarious purpose. After another moment of studying, he picked a single thread and attempted to pull it in such a way that the entire spell would unravel and drain its energy into another plane.


Mafsha decapitated another undead. Blood and gore sizzled against his armor even as the righteous zeal burned in his eyes. Suddenly, the holy fire burning in his soul flickered erratically.

"Pakhavu!" he cried as he dropped to a three-point stance. "Shield!"

A second later, Mafsha's battle suit was bombarded by a fierce gale of sand. The particles of rock and dust battered against his armor like hail, but it remained steadfast like a mountain in a breeze. When he was sure of his footing, Mafsha slowly rose to his feet and resumed his purposeful stride towards the retreating throngs of undead.
Pakhavu could feel something happening within the Arcane itself, his ears twitching as if trying to discern what was happening. But alas, he found himself unable to do so whilst focusing his energy on maintaining control over seven Golems at one time while in the heat of a battle.

"Pakhavu! Shield!"

He didn't have to be told twice as he saw the sandstorm kicking up. With a mighty roar the young Aryite slammed the end of his staff into the sand, giving it a twist as a shield of Arcane expanded from the crystal atop of the staff just in time to push the sand away from Pakhavu's body.

The sand battered away at his shield, and his Golems stood-fast against the maelstrom, still advancing with the purpose of destroying the undead hoards and aiding their allies. Opening his closed eyes, Pakhavu let out a low growl as he began to walk forward, removing his staff from the ground and lifting it high above him as he walked behind his Golems, who in turn smashed any undead unfortunate enough to get close to them.

The two he had sent towards Mafsha grumbled as they reached him, following steadily beside him with no look of struggle against the maelstrom of sand.

"Of all the times to look back at my studies and wish for Elemental and Weather Magics, now is the time....." Pakhavu grumbled to himself. He had made his choice as a child, and at this point, it would be more difficult for him to harness the powers of both sides of magic that the Aryites are capable of wielding.
Deep below the sand, the young Dragonborne dug through the sand, still sniffing for the magical energies left over underneath the sand 'We are getting close' She said to herself as her detection spell found the source of the problem. She stopped as she moved around and expanded a large force shield around herself and the object. Before her was a rather large stone with a glyph which pulsated with life "So there was a defense system here...curious. This must have been buried here so many years ago...fascinating" She said and removed a small sketch pad and a piece of charcoal and began to draw the inscription on the rock.

Once done, she set the items away and raised up her clawed hand and began to channel a powerful counter spell to the rune, taking down the power of the system and broke the circuit. Runes such as these worked in tandem with one another and if one went down, the entire system would stop 'We should be heading back. They still need us' Heimdall said and she nodded, removing the force shield and began her dig back up to the surface.
The undead scourge continued their retreat with the cats and golems on their tails. The Damned creatures began to climb up the walls of the old fortification while the sands shifted and the winds blew even harder providing a blind bit of cover but for the other creatures who continued to fight they found themselves quickly dispatched by blade, spell, and underfoot.

Beneath the sand however was a blessing as Qenna located one of the rune stones. and deactivated with with a spell she had learned once before during her training to be her king's court mage. The Storm above died down and the undead horde retreated deep within the old fortification in hopes of drawing the heroes in to their possible deaths.

Within the old fortification however was another story entirely as the Shadow Lord slowly began to return fully to this world and with every pain staking word ever written in that malicious tome. The shadowy woman frowned slightly as she turned her gaze to something off in the distance just to now stand before those who dared to intervene in this situation not with her own physical body but one made from the very fabric of their magics. Her appearance shifted and altered to something else as her appearance was a mix all things but the only explainable portion of her was the dark armor that glistened over her form.

The grand lion who worked to disrupt the flow of events would be meet with the force of something else behind the elvish woman as a large crowned figure stood by her side while the 'others' who peered into the events would be meet with only her own visage through both spoke with and alongside one another.

"Do you think your actions are wise?" Her voice hummed with powers not of her own as her touch against the spellwork to shatter what was already in play would be thwarted and scattered to all directions. The Elvish Witch began her own enchantments and began to distort the very room that her summons and charge were taking part in. It began to vanish slowly in the shadows and the Light Lord who inhabited the room within the crystal aided his own energies to avert the eyes of all who wished to see.

Altholos smiled seductively as she crossed the room to place a single pale hand upon the groaning wizards shoulder who continued to fall prey to the Light Lords Influence. "Soon." She whispered her words in his left ear as he continued to write each and every spell within the massive tome. She smiled and looked back at the massive crystal that continued to float just above them "Very soon and we shall take back what is rightfully yours."
Sheodin unraveled another thread of magic before turning to face the newcomer. The Archmage rose to his full height, nearly twice the stature of the other wizard and elf witch, and met the Shadow Lord with a gaze that could topple mountains with sheer will alone. His eyes radiated with the power of the aether, and he spoke.

"Perhaps not, but courage in the face of darkness incarnate is often mistaken for foolery. Lyateor atu Shomen." the Archmage growled authoritatively. "Confess your Name, Echo of the Unweaver, and your purpose here."

Threads of arcane energy swirled around his now clenched fists.


Mafsha stopped his advance several paces from the wall. His soul flame burned like a bonfire, but it flickered against the growing darkness within the fortress. The zealot hesitated for a moment. He was the instrument of Leolik - the blade of his wrath. Yet, he was still only one Aryite.

"Dispatch." Mafsha spoke into his communicator. "This is Sergeant Sandrunner. I am requesting backup at present coordinates. I need a detachment of Chosen, and word sent to the King. This is a possible Category Three, maybe even a Four, encounter."

"Affirmative, Sergeant. Trireme en route. ETA two minutes. Royal dispatch underway."
Pakhavu looked to Mafsha as they stopped at the wall. "What now?" he called out over the sound of the continuing storm. He clearly hadn't heard Mafsha's call for backup, and continued with. "I'm not sure even my Golems can handle what's on the other side of this wall alone. They can, however break down sections of it." He added over the storm, walking towards Mafsha calmly, his shield harmlessly enveloping the other Aryite and keeping him within the protection of the barrier.

Pakhavu looked rather strained, there was a tired, but fierce look in his eyes as he looked to his comrade, and his tail flicked from side to side as if agitated. "Or they can climb up the wall; which would probably be safer...." He added calmly.

Siv'enSetting: Siv'en

Archmage Sheodin Thundermane stood on the mountain cliff overlooking the valley beneath him. His azure and silver robes snapped at his ankles in the breeze. The Aryite's glowing silver eyes scanned the grassy fields, streams, and hills that spilled out from the mountain's base. Sheodin folded his arms over his chest and smiled.

"Lyruin Elunhim," he said. "'Tis perfect."

Sheodin looked up as a massive crystalline shape rumbled through the sky. The twin lights of Atargatis and Sagittae refracted off the ship's surface and cast an aurora upon the mountain face as it angled towards the surface. Two more vessels followed it while five smaller ones shot off into the sky. He watches as the three transports carefully set upon the earth before several scores of figures - big and small - emerged from its holds.
"It truly is a beautiful landscape." a rather familiar voice seemed to break the serene silence and the beautiful landscape that was almost portrait worthy. The Large hatted wizard simply took a step forward with his hand holding tightly to the gnarled staff at his side while a free hand produced a pipe which the wizard seemed to quickly lite with little to nothing at all.

Regardless of what was about to be said next the old man took a few puffs of his pipe and then began to point to the landscape bellow. "The river lands are said to start here. The freshest water from the mountains of course and down it all goes to the valleys. The soil here is the most fertile and I assure you that using the land to its fullest potential would be for the best."
A thunderstorm struck Siv'en.

The rains came down like they hadn't in ages, buckets of water dumping onto the landscape. The entropy of magic across Gaia was felt deep in the falling waters, the lightning in the air. It was as if there was a leak somewhere. Where was the magic going? It couldn't of simply been disappearing...
The edges of the clouds began to visibly pinken. Eras grew stronger, absorbing more of Gaia and whatever forces dare venture close. He was hungry, so hungry.

Thunder rolled as Eras laughed.
Stirring from slumber under a massive willow a large hatted man begins to stumble up from his napping place only to wipe away the sandman's dust from his crystalline eyes and let loose a rather gaudy yawn.

"No, I don't think it's time, I'm sure I of all people would be made aware of such things......No I don't know why people think Chocolate Cake and Red Velvet are different...."

The old large hatted man began to dust himself off with a snap of his fingers as arcane magics cleaned what dirt and grim stained his robes. He took a single look up to the clearing skyline above only to then grab a staff that had been leaning against the tree he was sleeping under. The staff was an old gnarled looking thing with a single crystal sitting atop it proudly on display as its owner began to look over it as if something was off.

"Obviously I got damp! It was storming!"
King Neodin and his brother, Archmage Sheodin, walked together in the bustling colony of New Ketajhi. Many things had changed in the few short years since its founding. Fields had been sown, houses and businesses built, and a fresh community had taken root. The birdlike rokin and leonid aryites walked together through the streets along with scattered natives of the alien world. Foreign goods were traded, ideas were shared, and friendships were forged.

Then the storms came.

Sheodin felt the flow of magic shift through the Weave. It was like the threads were fraying as if the fabric of the world had begun to rot. He felt it like a wound in his soul, and he clenched Stormquake tightly. The earth tensed at the presence of the war-hammer, and the raging storms themselves would feel the shadow of a presence looming in a challenge to their dominance. Stormquake, forged with the unified will, heart, spirit, and fury of its world’s elemental spirits, seethed.

“This world faces a similar threat as our own.” Sheodin pointed towards the world’s star. “Different, yet very much the same.”

King Neodin reached for the hilt of his greatsword. The jagged blade was formed from porous metal with the texture of ancient stone. Runes, ancient beyond reckoning, glowed with eldritch power. Magan-Hakhereb, The Guardian Blade in the common tongue, was a comforting weight to the old priestly monarch. Not because of the steel or primordial magic that was hidden within, but because of who filled it with power.

“None of our other colony sites have been viable enough,” Neodin turned to Sheodin, “and the terraforming experiments have been slow. Too slow. Do you know how much time we have, brother?”

“Too little.” Sheodin sighed.

“This world is our best chance at survival. I will not allow it to slip away.” Neodin growled.

“I have felt a large presence awaken some distance away.” Sheodin pointed off to the horizon. “I do not know if it is related, but I am confident I can deal with it, if necessary. Do not hesitate to call for my aid if it is required.”

King Neodin turned to the retinue that had been following them. “Magistrate. Issue a yellow alert and arm the militia. Activate the emergency wards and prep for possible evacuation through the portal if necessary.”

“Y-y-yes, my lord!” The rokin magistrate saluted and flew away.

Neodin sighed and stared up at the sky. He drew Magan-Hakhereb, and gold tongues of fire seeped from the runes. His eyes glowed with the same holy fire.

“Holy Father of Fathers,” he prayed, “King of Kings, Maker of Heaven and Earth. I beseech You. Remember us in our time of trial. Grant me strength and perseverance, and use me as Your vessel. May Your light flow through me, Leolik Ha’Ari, who establishes order to all things.”

Neodin released a deep breath, and then he disappeared like a mirage.

Sheodin smiled and returned his attention to the horizon, where he felt the ancient titan awaken.

“Now let us see what’s going on over there.”

Sheodin stepped to the left, but he also stepped to the right. A wrinkle in space-time, folded by the plucking of a few threads in the Weave, and two Sheodins stood side-by-side. They both vanished in flashes of light.

Lifegiver GrottoSetting: Lifegiver Grotto

There were faint whisperings deep in the waters of the grotto. This place was sacred. Despite Eras gaining so much influence across Gaia, here he still could not touch. It was a shame what had happened across the seas in Siv'en. Gaia had no choice but to flee here as there her pool was tainted. Eras seemed to have worked strategically, for now she was trapped in Ellaria.

"Worry not, they will heed the call..." Empyrea was not so sure. She meddled all she could. Any more and those who regulated beings such as herself may sweep in and...She shuddered to think of what would happen.

"They have been called. Now, we let everything fall where it shall," The World Spirit of Gaia sounded weak, but she knew too well of fate and what happens when you meddle beyond where you should. It's almost a sick joke. Whatever you try for fails. Gaia had learned this the hard way, the first time. After all, Eras rose for a reason, did he not?
"Sagittae and Atargatis, how did Eras get his power back from him?" Empyrea wondered. Tartarea spoke up. Nobody had noticed his presence arrive, but he wasn't happy.

"The stones have been removed from the tower, is how," He rumbled. From above, the pool would emit the sounds of crashing waves as the spirits of the seas on Gaia went back and forth, blaming each other for losing track. Had anyone alerted the dragons?

"Patience," Gaia whispered. Eras had been hard at work over the thousands of years since his power was so stripped. The pool pulsed as the powers shifted and some of it was returned to Gaia.

Siv'enSetting: Siv'en

High above the continent of Siv’en, a star soared in defiance of Eras.

Neodin flew into the heavens like a golden comet, and a suit of celestial plate armor shrouded his body like molten light. Divine fire engulfed him, roaring like a lion. His blade, Magan-Hakhereb, thrummed with resolve as its runes shone with cosmic power echoing from the dawn of creation.

Shadows burned away at the radiance flowing through him. As Neodin ascended higher and higher, he steeled himself with courage and allowed the Everlasting Flame - the holy spirit of Ha’Ari - to flow through his body.

”Ha’Ari ro’i…” He sang to himself in a droning war chant. ”Lo ekhsar… Bina’ot yar’bitseni… al meh m’nukhot ynaleni…”
The clouds that covered the continent were definitely pink. In nothern Siv'en, Skyfall Citadel and the rest of the Exalted Mountains scrambled in panic as Ni'thorne the Colossus seemed to awaken. He stood with his brow in the clouds, connecting the skies of the heavens to the grounds below. His siloughette was odd and jagged. After thousands of years as a mountain Ni'thorne was more than just himself anymore.

Lifegiver GrottoSetting: Lifegiver Grotto

"A great threat to the grotto!" Gaia wailed as she felt the jotunn shift. She knew it wasn't what it seemed; they all did. As there was a great disruption in the Weargtooth Mountains, the pool began to whisper. The Bogscale began to gather at the edge. They heeded the call to action, but knew they had little power. The Reshar too understood, quizzically enough, and scattered to warn the Alneh.

The waters grew still as Tartarea leapt to action, channeling his flows to strengthen the waters of the grotto and beyond, the channel to the sea. The grotto must be protected!

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Gaia was shroud in clouds. They were pink, especially so at the edges, from the light of the dead star coming alive again. Every now and again a dragon poked through. None of them were prepared for the sight that met their eyes above the clouds.

Eras burned brighter than he had in thousands of years. Hovering above the continent Ellaria, casting a shadow across the most of the northern continent, the Soja loomed. Eras continued to draw power from the Soja to the best of his abilities, while far below on a continent across the seas he puppeteer'd a Colossus- much to it's dismay. The brow of the Colossus, named Ni'Thorne, poked through the clouds into the stratosphere.

Below the Soja the head of Asvith Thrym poked through, the slightest bit taller than Ni'Thorne so that it's eyes came into the stratosphere as well. The clouds pooled to close the gap created as he took a step and his head moved from where it originally came through to another northern region more east.

Through the clouds above Siv'en burst a figure armored in light, and what a curious sight awaited he!

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

Sheodin appeared in a flash of light and crack of thunder. He floated on ethereal winds high above the landscape, and he was clad in a suit of plate that glowed like moonlight. Arcs of electricity danced between the adamantine plates as raw arcane energy flowed from the archmage in waves. His eyes shone like twin stars burning with eldritch power, and his unflinching gaze narrowed upon the titan before him.

He clenched Stormquake in his gauntlet, and the sky growled in anticipation. Dark clouds materialized like vultures, forming a semicircle around him and the Colossus’s head. Lightning flashed, and one could almost see the silhouettes of great eagles dancing amidst the tempest - echoes of long forgotten spirits of storm and wind.

Then the archmage Spoke, lacing his words with magic and authority, and the storm mimicked his voice with a symphony thunder, rain, and wind.

“You will not pass, titan of earth. Name thyself, and state thy discourse.”

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

Meanwhile, a thousand miles away over the open sea, Sheodin again appeared in a flash of light and a crack of thunder. He stood on a small island large enough for a dozen souls, and he released a long breath. The archmage knelt in the sand with Stormquake’s head pressed into the ground.

A long moment passed as Sheodin centered himself, and then he expanded his senses.

Sheodin breathed with the waves, feeling the ebb and flow of the tide pulse through his body like a heartbeat. He listened to the wind as the gentle ocean breeze caressed his silvery mane. The earth beneath him was as solid as his own bones, and it filled him with a strength that could shoulder the world.

“Hear me, Spirit of Gaia.” He said, reaching out to the elements and life of the world. “Hear my voice. I am Sheodin Thundermane, son of Lo’din the Fearless, and I am a sojourner of this world. My people and I are not natives of your bosom, but we have come voyaging from beyond the stars in search of a new home. Ha’Ari, bearer of our salvation, the God of gods, has lead us from our dying world to you - a mother not our own - so that we may escape the death throes of our sun, but we have found rest for our feet to only find that you face a similar threat as we do…”

“Hear me, Spirit of Gaia!” Sheodin cried to the sea, land, and sky. “Lend us your strength - lend us your power - and we shall smite your foes with the fury of lions and eagles! Grant me the authority, and I will shatter these roaming mountains. Grant us sanctuary, and we will guard you against the terrors that lurk in the dark between the stars, and we will bring an everlasting flame to chase away the shadows that prey upon your children. If not I, then hear the echo of your peer!”

Stormquake awakened, and the sea trembled.

Stormquake stirred, and the sky roared.

Stormquake stretched out its consciousness to the being known as Gaia, and within the hammer was felt the vengeful power of a dying world. It was much like her, but far more ancient and scarred beyond reckoning - having seen the rise and fall of many iterations of intelligent life. The hammer carried the fury and will and hope of an aged and bloody planet burned for eons by a red star and the malice of a dark god, but it was merely an echo. Though the hammer wielded the power of a hurricane and carried the strength to rend a mountain in two and cover a continent in ash, it needed more.

It needed to feel the tides in its blood.

It needed to breathe the tempest and speak with the gale.

It needed to feel the molten flame fill its heart.

It needed to stand with the mountains as its bones.

It stretched out to Gaia, offering - and asking - for aid.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Neodin continued to soar higher and higher. The fire consumed him, burning away every trace of darkness and foul magic. He saw the gargantuan colossi out of the corner of his eye, but he paid them no heed. Focusing his attention on the raging star looming before him, he trusted that Ha’Ari would deal with the giants in their own time.

The king of the aryites pierced through the pink clouds like an arrow through vapor, and the purifying fire bloomed from his greatsword like an enormous flower. It created a canopy, a shield, that would block the wrath of Eras like the stoic hand of a god, but it was yet too small.

Neodin soared higher, flying faster, appearing like a comet of brilliant light as he broke through the atmosphere. Though the air fled him, though the cosmic radiation of space battered him and the fury of Eras burned against him, no harm befell the holy king - for the Everlasting Flame raged within him like an unquenchable inferno.

The engines of the massive warship shuddered, flaring to life despite Eras’ pull on it’s main power systems.

Captain Hiroki stood at the helm, Shimizu’s last orders before he went into surgery were not lost on the Taiyou Captain.

Crewmen worked diligently aboard the bridge of this massive ship, as Gaia began to fill their displays, targeting systems began to highlight Iskjerne Bay and the surrounding area.

Quietly, and with much thought, Hiroki began to consider his options.

“The Magic that interferes with technological function won’t allow most conventional munitions to work... we’ll need to use a kinetic strike.” Hiroki said to himself, pulling up the schematics of the KX Type 2 Kinetic Kill Vehicle, a fin stabilized solid mass of iron, tungsten, and depleted uranium.

“Call in the fleet, Commander.” The Captain ordered.

Royale PrairiesSetting: Royale Prairies

The sky hushed, and the plains sighed in relief.

The spirit of Leolik, Ha’Ari, the Lion God of the Aryites, descended upon the Royale Prairies like a warm summer breeze. His fur was the color of ripe wheat, and his mane was like a crown of living fire. Eyes, like the sun and moon, looked upon the earth with mercy and judgment.

He walked across the dead ground, and life bloomed with luscious green. The grass stretched out to touch His fur, and it became renewed and bursting with seed. Trees bowed their branches as He passed by, and the birds of the air sang songs of praise.

He looked upon the fertile land, and He smiled upon it.

“I give this land to those who call upon My Name. May all who burn with my Everlasting Flame find refuge here, as long as they fuel the righteous fire in their hearts. Come, all who yearn for life, wisdom, and instruction, and I will teach you. Come, all who thirst and hunger, and I will nourish you. Hear my voice, and obey my sound teachings, and the earth will yield its bounty to you. No curse will have a hold over you. No enemy shall stand against you, for they will stand against my Name.

“Reject me, however, and harden your heart against myself and your fellow sojourners, and I will command this land to spit you out. Pestilence will come upon you, and the wild beasts of the field will chase at your heels. If you let the fire in your heart extinguish, then I will allow your enemies to take hold of you and scatter you to the four corners of the world. Then, when you rekindle the flame and yearn for my light again amidst the darkness of the nations, I will show compassion upon you and call you back to this place.

“Therefore,” Ha’Ari spoke, “choose life, and not death, so it will go well for you and for your descendants.”

Thus said Ha’Ari, and then He opened His maw in a mighty roar. The earth shook and the sky trembled as the divine proclamation fell upon the land like quenching rain.
Far away Gaia sighed with relief as more of the burden of the great mass of the Planet and all that which thrived atop she was lifted from her celestial soldiers.

Across the sea an entire Pantheon had begun to move in, Vikings and their Gods starting to make home. Gaia looked forward to fighting by their sides. Even the foreign Gods who came with the wars which made Eras grow more strong Gaia wished to meet. Part of her wasn't one to weep as she considered destruction.

Fate was fate.

With another great sigh Gaia extended a hand to accept Ha'Ari, to commune in the Lifegiver Grotto with the other celestial forces of Gaia.

She was growing weary in the fight as Eras leveled again in his strength, flexxing power with a reddening sky as he gulped from the foreign influences. For a moment, though, in Royale Prairies the rains stood still. Leolik had arrived.

Lifegiver GrottoSetting: Lifegiver Grotto

”Oh ye of little faith…” Ha’Ari spoke, a purring bass that filled the air with a serene peace.

He appeared in the grotto, an enormous lion of fire and light. Leolik looked upon the three spirits with eyes alight with compassion. His flame was like a soothing balm - a comforting hearth - and the light that shone from His face chased away the darkness of the heart.

“I have heard your cry, children of the cosmos, and I offer salvation from the Longest Night if you only ask. My own champions have been called, and I have claimed the land of the Royale Prairies as an inheritance for my children.”

Far away, amidst the rolling plains of the Royale Prairies, the Avatar of Ha’Ari roared in defiance of Eras. No, it was more than defiance. Leolik, the King of Kings, rebuked the errant star and its wicked heart. His gaze peered into Eras’s innermost being, into the crooked corruption within, and He felt both pity and disappointment.

But the Everlasting Flame still burned, and as long as He willed it, that region would be protected from the life-sapping power of the evil star.

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

Gaia smiled on Sheodin, a glimmer of light bathing him for a flash. On the seas carried a whisper from the Weargtooth Mountains. It spoke of uniting against Eras, the force draining Gaia of her life.

Stormquake was sensed by something deep in Gaia. While she herself could lend no more than a blessing, something else stirred at the ready. It was another hammer- Wyrm of Eruption, a legendary weapon of Gaia, with all the volcanic forces of the planet fueling its fury, among other traits.

It felt the call.
It felt alive.
It felt the need to melt the world beneath it's flat edge and it would forge it's way in accordance.

The hilt of Stormquake started to buzz as the Wyrm channeled itself in molten spirit to come to posess the hammer in the hands of Sheodin. Should Stormquake prove reasonable, or even weak, the hammer's transformation would begin. The Wyrm almost enjoyed Stormquake's hunger as it matched the hammer's own.

With her final blessing felt all across Gaia, the great World Spirit fell into a slumber. Far away, far below the sands of a desert, an suspecting party doesn't realize the true nature of their quest.

High above the workings of foreign experts were eavesdropped upon by the twin dancing stars of Gaia. The World Spirit herself was not concerned, so should they be?

Eras laughed and a great thunder clapped overhead. The sea brewed higher, blackening as the sky reddened more above.

Lifegiver GrottoSetting: Lifegiver Grotto

"Gaia would rather destruction than her Spirit feed Eras back to power," Atargatis swept into the Grotto. Periwinkle twinkled on the waters above. Still the Groenbogs were hubub with chaos as Nightfall was realized.
"Those from elsewhere have really opened the door. We need to return the stones-" Atargatis was silenced by a harsh look from Tartatea.

"The stones are a lost cause," Tartarea sighed. He retired to keeping an eye on the shorelines. Gaia herself had fallen into a slumber.

"They aren't," Atargatis calmly finished explaining how the stones had saved them the first time around. The acid lake, true enough, was no longer a challenge. The rooms, though! Still a few stones remained. Sadly the number, unless all, would never be enough to stop Eras.

"We can improve upon it later," Empyrea chimed in with a yawn on her breath. Something was draining her more so than the others, "Welcome to our humble Dance."

The Lifegiver Grotto was all the much more radiant and potent with the giving of life to the Alneh now that a new God had been welcomed.

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

Though his head was in a storm, Ni'thorne was little impacted. It upset the Colossus to not be able to take a swat at the glowing mosquito dancing about his head, or to try to wave away the darkened clouds.

Instead the great hand of Ni'Thorne reached to puncture the clouds, up towards the atmosphere, up towards something looming too far to reach.

Eras grew angrier as he realized Ni'Thorne would be unable to reach the Soja, and so he pulled at the ship all the mightier, blocking communicative channels and causing other minor malfunctions.

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

Stormquake felt the presence of the Wyrm, and the hammer greeted it as a kindred spirit.

The foreign warhammer spoke to the Wyrm and told it of an ancient war that spanned eons and that would be waged for epochs to come. It spoke of four elemental lords, akin to gods, that poured their spirits and will into forging a weapon that would channel the might of an entire world. Wyrm would see a great dragon forged of nuclear fire, an island-sized kraken formed of water and seafoam, an enormous eagle with eyes of lightning and hurricanes beneath its wings, and an ox that trampled mountains - but was an extension of the planet itself. In the center was a single man, a personification of them in one accord, that forged a warhammer using a sliver of each of their souls.

Stormquake, forged from the union of the elements in harmony, danced with a sword of light against a shadow that threatened all of time and space itself - a hunger that would not be sated until every star was smothered and everything that is, was, and could be… was not.

The shadow was pacified for now, but now Stormquake’s bearer and his people needed sanctuary - a sanctuary that was now being threatened.

Stormquake reached out to the Wyrm, and it would drink in the elemental energies of Gaia.

The ocean stirred, awakened by Stormquake’s rallying call. Waves stretched themselves, reaching for the sky and offering its power to the heavens, while the earth beneath the sea buckled and split - spewing its rage through the water and into the air.

Sheodin clenched at the warhammer’s handle as the clouds amassed and darkened with elemental fury. The winds whipped into mighty gales, and Sheodin’s voice thundered across the sea.

”Sufa, v’adamah, v’ash! Shema’im!”

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Thunder rolled across Gaia as Eras laughed, but it rolled even harder as Eras roared. More influence, this time a power he couldn't drain. This enraged him almost as much as when Gaia was first created. It made him want to boil the seas and scourge the land.

The light of Eras strengthened as he mightily pulled at the Soja's force of power. It was the closest thing to him. Eras wanted to devour it.

Atargatis, unable to do much more, stifled the flow in favor of the Soja. The stars cared not for the desires and affairs of man.

From down below over on Siv'en a great hand made of mountain pierced the reddening clouds. Despite this, Eras grew even angrier. He pulled at the reigns for power of the ship all the mightier, blocking communicative channels and causing other minor malfunctions as he ripped Atargatis's grip from the Soja and drank.

Down on the planet, the stones would lose focus as targets of Eras. Their draining stopped, still left with some power. Tsunami as well slipped under Eras's radar.
“Captain! We have too much interference in this system!” One of the officers called out from his station. “We’ve got multiple decks reporting errors, and the power draw on the main core is starting to stifle secondary systems, we can barely draw enough energy to run our systems. If this continues it’ll blow the main bus.” One of the Soja’s bridge lieutenants reported, causing Hiroki to grit his teeth.

“We’re going to need to break orbit.” The Captain said to himself.

“Hyperdrive stands ready! But we’re reporting communications errors, We can’t seem to get a message out to the fleet.” Another officer reported.

“Main and auxiliary show clear! Target coordinates locked!”

Hiroki turned to the large screen in front of him. “We’ll come back for you.” He assured himself, red flickers of light catching his attention on a secondary screen. Several decks had began to report power loss.

Small glimmers of light flickered on, and off, all throughout the ship. There was a shrill whir that shuddered throughout the superstructure, the Hyperdrive began to power up.
 “ The fire engulfing Neodin grew stronger as the spirit of Ha’Ari filled him. He lifted his blade, and the flames spread outward like great wings across the void between Gaia and Eras. The hilt burned his palm as the ancient power within the weapon awakened. A kernel - a seed of Creation - blossomed forth with a fraction of its power.

Neodin leveled the blade in a crossguard against Eras, and the holy fire fueled by Creation itself blossomed like a nebula. Ha’Ari, through the blade, attempted to shield Gaia from the brunt of Eras’s power. ”

ErasSetting: Eras

Neodin floated in the void, standing between the raging star and the crippled planet. He leveled his blade upon the fiery titan.

“Thus says Leolik Ha’Ari, God of Gods, King of Kings, Father of Fathers, Weaver of the Heavens and Earth!” Neodin boomed, filled with the spirit of his deity. “ ‘Speak to the Star of Eras, and say unto him: Peace! Be still! Who is your father? And who is the one who formed your fathers from the dust of Creation - and what is His son’s name? - that you would dishonor them with your hatred towards your daughter Gaia. Great is your power, Eras son of Sirius, and great is your fury. Your radiance shines across the heavens, and your warmth once filled the land with life.

“But now your light is poison - your heat pestilence. You burn away in your wrath, but even your rage must come to an end. Just as the gazelle’s sprint gives way to the pursuit of the lion, so will you fall before Leolik’s outstretched arm! Why has your countenance fallen, O Radiant One? Why do you cling to your bitterness, you who was placed with honor in the heavens?

“Release your hatred, child of the cosmos, and I will remake you. Let go of your jealousy, and I will breathe life into you. Hear me, Eras, and choose life!' "

GaiaSetting: Gaia

A winged figure appeared in the void, held aloft by divine wings. He approached the Soja and placed his hand upon the hull.

“Go in peace, children of Niihama.” Mikha’el spoke, “And proclaim the glory of Ha’Ari to your sons and daughters.”

The archangel pushed the ship, using some of his celestial power in an attempt to thrust them into hyperspace and temporarily shielding them from Eras's wrath. After a time, they would appear in their home system - safe and sound.
The great Soja, in the grasp of Eras, was provoked to move away by another God. Eras rumbled, but did not fret. He himself was too far gone in self absorption to recognize, despite any signs, that the forces surrounding Gaia were beginning to band against him. Those sworn to Eras would rather die than acknowledge any other as a savior, accept assistance from foreign entities, admit weakness. Those sworn to Eras knew that they were better guide by him through darkness than left blinded by the devious lights of the heavens-no matter what the lights said they intended.

The hyperspace of the Soja powered up. He noticed something as the winged figure appeared. While he was still tethered to the Soja, he could no longer drain it's power. It was as mortals would put it, like having your boot stuck in the mud. A very tightly laced boot. He was still tethered, however, so Eras moved to give his attention to King Neodin Shadowslayer, for a moment giving rest to his focus of draining power from the Soja.

What Eras didn't notice was another figure, made of starlight, forming next to Mikhael. Atargatis joined his celestial power with Mikhaels, aiding in the push of the Soja. He remained silent, caring little for who and what the children of the realms chose to give power to. Atargatis would be a star until the day his dance with Sagittae ended. Hopefully not at the hands of Eras.

The nebula of light, however, stretching out between he and Gaia, made it a little harder for Eras to strengthen his grip. This new God was strong- loved by their people and already embraced by Sagittae and Atargatis. This furied Eras even further. The great hand of the colossus below shifted in it's reach. Now it extend towards King Neodin. Up, up, up through the atmosphere the great hand of Ni'Thorne extended, casting a great shadow across the Exalted Mountains and the great valley at it's feet. The Kingdom of Skyfall was plunged into a strange twilight. Despite all working against him Eras had cause to smile. Gaia had fallen into a deep slumber.

The rains came to a sudden cease. Across the entire continent of Siv'en the beating of the water slowed. Though the sky was still pink, there was even more light in it now, and it was a hair less ominous to those paying close enough attention to that sort of thing. In Ellaria a Champion called out across the lands. Eras, far too distracted above the brightened sky, took no notice to the Children of Gaia awakening in her honor. He was impatient as Ni'Thorne moved too slow, shifting his attention to Asvith Thrym. Eras called out to the great creature, urging him to make a grab for the Soja, as it was much closer to Asvith than most others.

Siv'enSetting: Siv'en

The clouds across Siv'en grew brighter, before suddenly a great shadow was cast from the Exalted Mountains through the Golden Vale. Ni'Thorne, colossus made of mountain, reached his arm through the clouds into the atmosphere high above. A dust began to rise as his feet shifted.

More notably the great rains stopped.

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

Ni'Thorne's great arm extended still into the skies, which had brightened where a shadow was not being cast across the mountains. Ni'Thorne was not happy as he was being asked to grasp a figure enveloped in celestial flames high in the atmosphere. Despite being made of mountain, he was not fully invincible.

Ni'Thorne almost wavered in his allegiance towards Eras. Floating mountains and boulders began to glide though the peaks. They joined up with Ni'Thorne, adding to his bulk and strength. One great piece crushed a part of the town on his shoulder - those within earshot could hear as some of those unlucky enough to survive the foundation of their lives being thrust into the atmosphere, plunged and perished.

So. He wasn't just a tool, and if he was, he could consider himself taken care of to some degree. Still Ni'thorne had upset. He chose instead to focus on his given task at hand- grabbing for the flamed one.

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

The Wyrm of Eruption let it's powers flow through Stormquake, but not without a cost. As Stormquake drew the power from the Wyrm, the Wyrm convened with the slivers of spirit giving power to Stormquake.

It showed Stormquake two dancing celestial bodies, a looming third, a birthed fourth- and then the fourth come to be ravaged by the largest first. Seven elemental Colossi were raised to wreak havoc - when the great Star Dragons appeared. Seven stones for seven Colossi, the visions ended with a gleaming tower rising from a purple lake.

In Sheodin's grip the hammer rippled. Stones pushed their way through the hilt, cutting in to Sheodin's hands. Lines began to glow across the hammer, forming strange symbols.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

"Hyperdrive stands ready!" The Bridge officer called out.

"Sir! I'm getting increased readouts across the board! Something's pushing us away!" Another officer called out.

Hiroki breathed a sigh of relief.

The shrill whine of the hyperdrive continued to fill the superstructure of the Soja, and in sheer defiance of Eras, Hiroki called out.

"Execute Hyperspace jump!"

Lines filled the display screens of the Soja, and Hiroki braced himself. The ship lurched forward with all it's might, and in an instant, it wrenched itself free from Eras' grasp.

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

Sheodin growled and bared his teeth as the foreign magic flowed through Stormquake. The stones cut into his palm, and blood trickled down his wrist. He felt a strange presence within his weapon, but Sheodin was forced to ignore it.

The storm had grown to epic proportions. Dozens of gigantic tornadoes, formed of frothing seawater, danced across the waves while lightning bolts spiderwebbed through the canopy of spiraling clouds. A hurricane stirred the heavens and blotted out the sky, and Sheodin stood in the center of the eye. However, while he was once on a small island - it was now a mountain. Walls of water, a whirlpool, surrounded him, as the ocean had peeled back the waves to reveal the naked island.

Sheodin cried to the heavens, pouring the magic and authority of his voice into the sky and sea. Mighty gales carried his words of power across the turbulent waves and the thunder echoed his roars. Sleet, hail, and rain. Thunder, lightning, and ruin. The world raged.

Stormquake was pointed at the hurricane’s eye - the focal point of the cataclysmic storm. Woe to those who were caught in its grasp, but Sheodin could not heed the ant when the lion was warring with the mammoth.

He dug his heels into the earth and the ground trembled. Sheodin clenched his fists, and the island-turned-mountain cracked. The mighty archmage heaved, and the land yielded to his power.

The mountain rose into the air like a giant aroused from its slumber. Its base was alight in volcanic fire, and ash was poured into the maelstrom.

Sweat poured down Sheodin’s brow. He breathed raggedly as the raw arcane energies flowed through him like a flood, but he stood firm.

A world rested upon his shoulders, and so the mountains would be his strength.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Punching through the clouds and towards the skies beyond, a great fist ascending from Ellaria. The clouds puffed out as they were breached by Asvith giving those above a glimpse of what was happening below.

A cold bay was alight with activity. Bloodstained snow and many people moved like ants below. In the mountains there were other movements and a few great beasts.

The great fist of Asvith Thrymm was just a moment too late. As it reached the place where the Soja was, suddenly the Soja was no longer there.

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

”Cease.” Sheodin roared as he called a lightning bolt onto Ni’Thorne’s outstretched hand.

“Why reach for a tiny pinprick of light, far out of your reach, when a perfectly suitable target is right here?” Sheodin taunted, arms spread wide.

“Who do you serve, titan of earth, and what does your master promise you? How has he fulfilled those promises?”

Sheodin glanced towards the horizon where a massive maelstrom churned like a stirring cauldron. He felt the raw elemental power, the blinding inferno of magical energy, even from here. The archmage turned his attention back to Ni’Thorne and prepared a quick teleport should the titan attack.

He hoped he could distract him long enough for the plan to work...

Lifegiver GrottoSetting: Lifegiver Grotto

Leolik nodded to the two spirits. “Eras’s hubris is great, and he has hardened his heart to almost the point of no return. My prophet conveys my warnings to him as we speak, but he will not heed my voice. Though I protect Gaia from his fury with my outstretched hand, and my champions stand against his titans, I will only stand against his authority for so long.

“If the stones will not be retrieved, then a plan of redemption for Gaia must be written into the Weave - a plan that will release her from Eras’s yoke.”

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

Riak, swung wildly as the titan thrashed about, reaching high into the heavens for whatever yet still eluded it, the rubble of the village had begun falling by and past Riak now, he solemnly watched the carnage that had befallen those poor bystanders above; come crashing down from the sky above.

with a heavy sigh, Riak checked his position, he was far up, just under where the lowest rib would sit, so he would take the hammer at his belt and another of his dwindling supply of magicked pitons and strike it into the rock. "by the might of my forebearers, those that yet live, Ni'thorne return to the bowls of darkness!"

Riak roared as brought the hammer against the piton once more.

The strike echoing through the mountain range followed by 178 explosions from the other pitons that Riak had been hammering into the leg over the length of his climb of the titan, those explosions the power of a single megatonne bomb each, Riak had to be quick hooking the hammer into its loop on the belt he began running around the stomach of the great titan and dived into a cubby hole as the last, the piton just exploded like the rest.

the intention was to blow the leg clean off if not explode it from the inside through all the tunnels his people had long ago dugout in their mining explorations.

"how volatile did father make these things?!" Riak grabbed his climbing gear spiked into the rock and hung on for dear life.

Lifegiver GrottoSetting: Lifegiver Grotto

"The champions have been called," Atargatis continued as if he had no ears, when he knew the fate of Gaia truly rest in the hand of her children, and the Champions. Tartarea grew dark and disappeared. With him the twilight glimmer faded. Empyrea frowned after him, then after a moment her astral eyes grew wide as the moon. She too grew dark and disappeared back to her waters.

When Atargatis spoke of Champions, he was not just speaking of those native to Gaia. When Gaia, the planet, sent out her call, he felt it brisk by his spacial mass. Atargatis had no doubt the call would reach those from other realms - just as he remembered a different type of call reached other realms not so long ago.

Atargatis pondered on this, before finally speaking up again to Leolik.

"Redemption, is for the guilty. Of what guilt should Gaia be redeemed?"

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

As a mountain rose from the sea in the center of the storm, the magmatic forces below stirred with fervor. The symbols on Stormquake grew more and more dense, until finally the entire hammer was aglow as if it were made of lava itself.

The Wyrm completed it's melding into the heart of Stormquake, offering the forces of fire deep in Gaia's belly to aid his cause. The Wyrm of Eruption, unknowing of intention and blind to all but power, tingled as once again it knew it would implement itself upon the realm. Sheodin was lucky to have Stormquake facilitating The Wyrm, as the great hammer nullified a few of The Wyrms weaknesses. In turn, Stormquake would find certain weaknesses brought to light. Regardless the Wyrm would not burn to hold, the Wyrm would not grow heavier the longer it was held, and the Wyrm wasn't as inclined to argue every move before it was made. Right now, The Wyrm was simply at glee.

Still, Gaia slept.

Another force made itself present. Empyrea breathed in some of the storms, wishing to absorb some of the energy back into herself. After a moment of frustration- the energy would not return! - Empyrea realized that it wasn't a storm caused by Eras's awakening, or a storm caused by great giants moving about.

Empyrea moved to swirl around the mountain, willing the oceans of her mass to slow every so slightly as they raged. Not enough to stop the storm- she realized she wasn't strong enough to put a total end to it. Empyrea grumped at the thought of a foreign God having more power than she in her own ocean. When she saw the glowing hammer Empyrea all but lost her grip on the sea with a gasp of shock.

Lifegiver GrottoSetting: Lifegiver Grotto

Leolik smiled upon Atargatis. “Redemption can be offered to all who serve under the yoke of Death - either redemption from transgression by forgiveness and repentance, or redemption from a cruel master to a loving one.

“By cosmic law, as written from the dawn of creation, a daughter lives under the authority and protection of her father until the day she leaves his house and joins with her husband. In this sense, she is redeemed from her father and into the embrace of the bridegroom - who takes on the role of protector and provider to his new bride. The father no longer holds sway over the daughter, having relinquished his authority to the bridegroom in exchange for a bride price.

“Tell me, Atargatis.” Leolik looked from the celestial spirit to the grotto’s pool, “Can Eras be convinced to release his control over Gaia? Is he willing to bargain?”

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

Sheodin stood at the peak of the floating mountain. Arcs of pure mana danced across his body, crystallizing stone as they grazed the former island. Electricity wove through his mane while eyes, shining like stars, looked upon the storm with satisfaction. For those who had never seen Sheodin, he would very much appear a storm god in fleshly form.

He focused on the altered Stormquake, and he Saw the threads of reality that formed the weapon shift and warped into something else. Though he worried about the outcome of the changes, he could not spare time to truly inspect its new form.

There was work to do.

The archmage peered at the mountain, seeing beyond sight and into the Weave where the threads gave form and defined the very essence of everything in existence. They were stiff, rigid, and tightly woven where the mountain floated in space, but the turbulent air reminded him of frayed cloth whipping in the wind. Sheodin reached out with his will and plucked at the mountain’s threads, and then he slammed the Wyrm of Stormquake into the peak.

A ripple passed through the stone as rock cracked and buckled. The mountain bled with lava as the power of the warhammer forged it into something new. Earthen fires burned and rock was molded like clay by Sheodin and Stormquake’s will, forming what appeared to be a massive barbed spearhead.

Sheodin turned to face Empyrea as the mountain reformed, and he looked upon her with eyes that glimpsed beyond past, present, and future.

Daughter of Gaia.” He spoke in a voice that was echoed by the storm. “Spirit of water and air, lend me your strength so that I may smite the parasites that threaten this world.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

A great dragon, gleaming white, with a rider almost absurdly small in comparison, burst through the clouds from above Ellaria, and the view was spectacular.

The clouds up here were bright pink. They rolled and puffed across Gaia as far as beyond the horizon. Zirkonia stayed close to the shadows in the mists of the sky, intending to stay undetected. She took a flight path slightly wide of the great cranium of Asvith Thrym. His form was impressively huge, even she had to admit. Above the atmosphere another force had appeared in the sky-a nebula of light peeking over the edge of the planet-distorting the pink of the skies over the distant horizon curving around the the skies of the great storm in the seas to the south

Zirkonia thought to Frendor as she took note that Eras had gone from being a dark smudge in the sky, to faintly glowing a deep crimson. When the light of Eras shined anew, the Darkness would swallow the children of Gaia and plunge them in eternal night. This was the worst of signs.
Frendor looked around, fixing his eyes on Asvith Thrymm, then at Eras and finally at Mikha'el.

"Asvith Thyrmm" he said, projecting his voice as if it came booming from the illusion of the frost giant Terakon Luvinair, "Answer me - what are you doing here?"

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

"You know not what you wield," Empyrea manifested a form in a swirl. She was a gargantuan version of herself, each finger as large as a human child of Gaia. Empyrea brought her face close to Sheodin.

It wasn't complete in his grasp but the entirety of it's form was there. The Wyrm of Eruption- able to channel the forces of the very magmatic surrounding core of Gaia. Those who were able to withstand it's power as it coursed through them, hot as the fires beneath the realm, were few and far between.

Neodin's own hammer was able to absorb a bulk of the side effects - Neodin wasn't weakened to an extreme degree, nor was he struck with a fever whenever it came time to equip. The power of the magma was his. As deep below it churned, the planet warmed in the slightest, the feet of the giants burning. A grinding echoed faintly over the seas from the south as Ni'Thorne expressed displeasure.

Empyrea continued to steady the churn around the newly formed peak- but didn't slow it any more.
The storm continued to build in ferocity as the floating mountain changed shape. Sheodin maintained eye contact with Empyrea even as he clenched his fists and the storm started to fold.

A sound reverberated through the heavens, akin to the turning of gears, and the universe slowed to a crawl. Sheodin’s mane stuck out in an odd angle, buffeted by a frozen gale. Drops of rain lazily drifted through the air like graceful snowflakes, and everything grew silent except for a distant drone. Streaks of lightning bled across the sky like streaks of water. All the world grew still - except for Empyrea.

“Then tell me, ocean spirit.” Sheodin’s voice reverberated from everywhere and nowhere. “What strange magic has infected the instrument forged by the combined will of my world? How has Stormquake, the weapon of protection and retribution against the forces of the Void entrusted into my care, been corrupted?”

Another Sheodin, merely a flickering image, stepped through the frozen storm like a phantom. He passed through space and time and stepped between the folds of reality. An ancient power lingers in his eyes - eyes that could peer from the Beginning to the End.
"Corrupted, but strong. The blood of Gaia courses through the veins of your existence in this realm so long as you wield the Wyrm. Use it wisely," Empyrea dissipated in a mist.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Leolik turned his eyes away from Eras for a moment and looked upon the great giant. Foreseeing the great destruction caused by such a wicked brute, the lion god spoke to Asvith Thrym.

"Sleep, ancient one, and rest. Be at peace until the Eternal Night."

The dreadful cataclysmic gale would be silenced, transforming into a great storm that sent torrents of acidic rain across the land at worse or a foul-smelling wind at best. Then Ha'Ari's breath fell upon the giant in order to put him into a deep sleep. As Asvith would lie down to rest, his form would slowly transform into stone.

There the great Mount Thrym would stand until either the end times, or some great force of magic would awaken him from his slumber...

Empyrean High SeasSetting: Empyrean High Seas

The flickering image of Sheodin nodded, and then he vanished.

Time resumed at its normal pace, and the sky screamed with its battlecry. The ocean roared, and the thunder echoed the drums of war. Sheodin looked upon the maelstrom that stretched from horizon to horizon. Snow was falling, cooling and freezing the reformed mountain that floated in the eye of the hurricane. The frigid air fell from the upper reaches of the atmosphere, causing the churning waves to turn to icy slush in mere moments.

It was ready.

Sheodin raised Stormquake into the air and spun it in slow circles. The titanic hurricane twisted and coiled as if it was being pitched like a sideways tent. Gales howled as the raging clouds were crushed into a horizontal cyclone that was hundreds of miles long. Then, with a deafening boom that would be felt across the world, the storm collapsed into the end of the mountain.

The mountain and Sheodin vanished, leaving a shockwave that cut grooves into the ocean floor and a contrail of dissipating clouds streaking into the horizon.

The Roaring GoatSetting: The Roaring Goat

Mashi sighed as he cleaned yet another empty glass.

When the siren blared, most of his patrons decided to go home - leaving those either too drunk or too indifferent to populate his tables. The aryite tom reached over to stir a pot of stew over the wood stove and pondered.

It didn’t seem that long ago when the archmage had opened the first interdimensional portal and KASTA had sent their first probes exploring the cosmos. Mashi’s father told him stories of strange furless creatures flying machines that could travel between stars, and of the Alliance’s first contact with the Aschen and Terrans, but those fables seemed so remote with the struggles happening on their own world. After all, who cared about mystical star empires when the Long Night was an ever-looming threat?

But then more portals opened, and permanent colonies were built across time and space. Most were constructed as research outposts or manufacturing sites, but New Ketajhi seemed to be different. For some, it was a new opportunity. For others, it was a chance to prove themselves.

For Mashi, it was a chance to start over.

He poured a flagon of Arydian Ale and slid it over to the next patron.

New Ketajhi ChapelSetting: New Ketajhi Chapel

Shytmar sat in the center of the chapel, and he prayed. Several other residents of New Ketajhi surrounded him - some upon their knees and others lifting their hands towards heaven.

The chapel’s walls, a simple dome formed of uncut river stones, enclosed him like a shroud. He knelt upon a large flat stone that sat in the center of the building. Sweet-smelling grass covered the floor around him while a beam of light warmed his mane through the skylight above.

He rocked back and forth and muttered the mizburim, the praying songs, of the Sage-Wizard Alphanius - the once great prophet of Ha’Ari. Shytmar cried out to the lion god, praising Him for His wonders and beseeching Him for protection. The Long Night had followed them even here, to this new world, and he feared that the All-Consuming Darkness would be close at hand.

“Forgive us, Leolik, if we have brought our curse upon this world,” Shytmar whispered. “Forgive us, and have mercy. May your Everlasting Flame burn forever within our hearts, and may your light shine through us and be a beacon to the lost and weary of these nations!”

New Ketajhi BarracksSetting: New Ketajhi Barracks

Captain Khalbar stood in the town armory, checklist in hand and deputy at his side. The room was filled with sets of leather armor, crossbows, bows, short and longswords, axes, enough ammunition to last them for days of constant firing, and even a few magic items to use in a pinch.

The armory was fit to serve a full militia according to Long Night protocols, and Khalbar would be sure that everything would be ready if they needed it. When the yellow alert siren rang, he tried to stay calm and alert, but he still felt his tail twitch.

He checked over the inventory for the fifth time, scratching out another round of errors. Khalbar would not fail...

Moto's SmithySetting: Moto's Smithy

Moto removed the reformed bloknok shoe, satisfied, and placed it into the cooling tank. The sizzle of red-hot steel being dipped into the warm solution filled the shop. He held it under the liquid as steam billowed his leathery face, and after a few seconds, the shoe was removed.

He squinted at his handiwork. Though the seams in the metal were obvious to the trained eye, the craftsmanship was more than adequate for the level of quality required. Moto tossed the finished shoe into a pile and looked at his next order.

The middle-aged aryite sighed and ran his paw-hand across his scarred and bald head. He saw that the next one was a batch of nails. Simple enough work. Moto grabbed an iron ingot and began the process of melting it down.

Simple work. Paying work. Not very challenging, though.

“Apprentice, retrieve the nail molding!” He called out to his assistant. “Post-haste! Though this task may be servile, simplistic, and tedious, we will ensure that each customer receives the highest quality we can muster!”

Magistrate's ManorSetting: Magistrate's Manor

Magistrate Lishat scribbled away in his ledger. The town market was finally starting to do well, all things considered, but the king’s last order dwelled at the back of his mind.

After King Neodin and the Archmage left, Lishat made haste to activate the town’s alarm. They were now on yellow alert. Captain Khalbar was taking account of the armory, the wall’s enchantments were being set, and the watch patrols had been doubled. Though Lishat knew they had protocols in place for a Long-Night-scale event, he was still worried, as this would be his first major test as a magistrate.

He glanced at his two bodyguards, sighed, and signed the next form.

ErasSetting: Eras

King Neodin floated in the void. Time had become meaningless to him as he stood between Eras and Gaia, bathed in Leolik’s Everlasting Flame. He neither ate nor drank, but he only sustained himself from the divine spirit of his god as he offered his prayers up on behalf of Gaia and her children.

The nebula of divine flame bloomed like the wings of a great phoenix, shielding Gaia from the brunt of Eras’s influence. To those on the planet’s surface, it would appear as a great aurora that spread across the heavens. Neodin’s blade sat at the center of the inferno, stoic and unrelenting as Time itself.

“So speaks Ha’Ari,” Neodin began to prophesy, filled with the Flame, “The heavens shall darken and the skies will weep. The earth will boil and the oceans will turn to ash. Stars shall wither; and all that was, is, and could have been will come to an end. Such shall be the Eternal Night - the Great Unweaving - as the Last Creation shall be undone.

“But the song shall begin anew! There will come one of whom I am unfit to wash the dust from His feet. He shall carry the blood of a divine king, and His spirit shall be white as snow - one with the Everlasting Flame! The mountains will tremble at His name, and the great cedars shall bow at His passing! The Children of Gaia shall lift Him up, and His outcry will shake the foundations of the world!

“It will be through Him that Gaia shall be redeemed and Eras will be forever silenced, for whoever will follow Him shall be reborn by fire and water - and those who deny Him will be consumed by the Eternal Night. May heaven and earth stand as witnesses and wait upon Him, He who carries the name of Ha’Ari!”

Royale PrairiesSetting: Royale Prairies

Makshab fell to his knees as a great shockwave tore through the sky, casting aside the strange pink clouds and momentarily silencing the rain. He stared, trembling, as a gargantuan comet trail of supercharged storm clouds screamed across the distant horizon. At the head was a ball of molten fire, like a miniature sun, and Makshab could feel the tremendous magical power radiating from it even where he stood.

A long moment passed as the comet disappeared over the horizon, and Makshab sucked in a lung full of air. His senses were on fire. The grass was green, the sky was red, and the rain was bitterly cold to his bones. He stared into the heavens and marveled at the cosmic energy that filled them.

“Blessed Ha’Ari... “ He whispered. “King of Kings, Maker of Heaven and Earth. Deliver us from this tribulation, and I pray that our transgressions are revealed to us so that our covenant may be made anew.”


“Hmm?” Makshab stared off into the darkening plains. He had heard - felt - something call out to him. It was like a whisper on the wind, or a half-formed thought in his mind, or even a pattern in the lightning and dancing of the rain.


“Who’s there?!” He called out, bearing his staff at the shadows. Makshab prayed silently and called upon the Flame burning in his heart, but what he found surprised him…


His Ember, the mark of the Everlasting Flame upon his soul, was burning brighter than ever before. He could feel the warmth in his chest as the Spirit of Ha’Ari filled his being, and he trembled.

“Here I am…” Makshab whispered.

Lelekhet. Kra!

A sensation filled his heart, and images passed through his mind. He saw himself sojourning, wandering among the nations. Ha’Ari’s light filled him, shining from him, and called to the lost souls of Gaia. It was a call of repentance, and it was a proclamation of one who would come after him…

But Maksha hesitated and thought of his family. They waited for him back at New Ketajhi, likely worried for his safety because of the worsening weather. What would his wife say? Would she come with him? What if…

Atah oveh oti?

“Yes, my Master.” Makshab nodded, knowing what he must do.

Sheh’boteh’akh oti.

“... Your will be done, and not my own.”

Makshab picked up his staff, and he started on the road home.

ErasSetting: Eras

Eras, who was glowing a deep, deep, deep red, turned slightly pinkish brown as Artrea was weakened. Rapidly Artrea filled Eras in on all that was going on below- included the fall of the Iskjerne Vikings. Eras wasn't happy to hear that those who were of most use to him had fallen. He cursed the Champions of Gaia.

Artrea felt their rays obstructed by a construct of light stronger than them. While Eras grew enraged, able to do little to stop the blockage of his corrupting rays of Artrea to Gaia, Artrea began to grow weak. The spectrum of the Colossi's impact narrowed, sparing those with fire for complexion, or those who's leaves flourished red. These Children of Gaia were voids to Artrea- the Colossus could no longer see, hear, or touch them.

This caused Artrea to consider the powerful light billowing between Eras and Gaia. Eras, meanwhile, closed off his energy. Nightfall had begun but even a vengeful God was required to recuperate after a battle such as the one in days past. Not to mention his cover had been blown. He shut himself away- nothing but an eyeball and an ear to none but Artrea.

Artrea had an idea. It was a strange idea, but an idea nonetheless. They communicated this idea to Eras, who hadn't considered an idea such like that before. Eras, in all his greed for Gaia, knew that there was a slim chance Artrea's idea would work at all- but he was in no position to face the God force before him. Eras blessed Artrea.

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

Ni'Thorne turned his attention to the taunted one as a lightning bolt struck his hand. Ni'Thorne, unable to feel pain, was simply ticked that his favorite finger was plummeting down. No, not the Children's favorite- his was the useful one. The broken finger tumbled down the mountain leaving a drag in the trees.

Sheodin spoke of promises and of Masters. Ni'Thorne paused for a slim second in his movement. Eras broiled with rage at this! How dare! The light in the sky began to grow brighter. The clouds were beginning to shift away. The pink of the sky seemed to have subtly faded as well. So, who did Ni'Thorne serve?

Ni'Thorne didn't really have the time to get existential with the question. Ni'Thorne was fully aware that he lived and breathed through Eras in the beginning. Especially now he owed Eras his life but for what?
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A debris cloud puffed around Ni'Thorne's hip.
It took almost ten whole seconds.

Then Ni'Thorne wobbled.
And then his leg,
(the left one),
in the complete
opposite direction
than the rest of him.

In what might have been slow motion Ni'Thorne reached for the nearest peak to the right. His hand crumbled the peak as it clenched around it, bracing himself for the inevitable. The leg, officially detached, began it's descent to the east. It plummeted towards the mountain, breaking over the tops of them into two massive segments, crushing the border of the Whispering Woods, entombing all who suffered under the fall of Ni'Thorne's leg.

This enraged Eras, and had Ni'Thorne the Colossus version of distraught - berserk. With his free arm he swung for Sheodin. The great mass of mountain rained dirt as it sailed high through the sky. Now, Ni'Thorne was relatively stuck. Gaia's heart pulsed with hope.

Fort Ashanga KeepSetting: Fort Ashanga Keep

General Magao stood like a statue over the battlements of Fort Ashanga. His piercing eyes peered across the sky, and he silently chewed on his cigar. Soldiers scurried through the courtyard and along the walls. Turret ammunition was restocked, fortifications were reinforced, and runic arrays were energized.

Archers and mages patrolled the walls while infantrymen honed their skills in the training yard. Magao took a long drag from his cigar and sneered at the sky. The Alliance had entrusted the protection of the Gaian colony to him, and by Ha'Ari as his witness, he would not allow a single Tartaruz-damned erebim to set foot in this fort as long as he still stood.

Fort AshangaSetting: Fort Ashanga

Ogechi patrolled the walls of Fort Ashanga. His chain mail rattled as he walked the parapets, and he clenched his warhammer tightly between glances at the sky. The war cleric hummed a battle hymn as he gave reassuring nods to the regulars that he passed. He would give his life for them if need be, but he prayed to Ha'Ari that it would not come to that.

Watch over us, my King and Commander, and guide my hammer to do your will...

He hoisted his shield and gave a blessing to a rokin archer, who thanked him for his kindness.

"No, cousin." Ogechi smiled. "Thank Leolik, for His will shall prevail in this Long Night."

Ogechi continued his route and thought of his late wife. Though his heart still ached at her memory, he took solace that his god would rejoin them in the great resurrection after they both passed through the Everlasting Flame. He would not fear death, but for now, he fought for those still living.

ErasSetting: Eras

The Khroniktan Alliance fleet drifted through the Sirius system. They flew by unseen forces, as if the ships simply willed themselves to fly through the void. Lord Ironclaw sat on his admiral chair and listened to reports from across the fleet.

“My lord, we are approaching the star called Eras. We have detected significant amounts of holy magic. The readings confirm a high concentration of the Everlasting Flame. I… have never seen anything like this before, my lord.”

“Such is the power of Ha’Ari.” Lord Ironclaw rumbled, “And the Kingdom of Arydia by extension - and the Alliance by association. How are the systems holding against Eras’s influence?”

“Difficult to say at this time, milord.” replied the technician. “Mana dampeners are currently holding, and alphanite generators are holding a stable output.”

“Maintain course. We must ensure a proper defensive position before any Taiyou forces arrive.”

“Aye aye, Admiral!”

Lord Ironclaw watched the fiery aurora through the display, and he imagined he could see his father in the midst of the maelstrom. His crystalline eye dilated and focused on the image, and he pressed his lips together in a firm line.

It would be so easy, a thought came to his mind. I am commanding the greatest and most powerful vessel ever constructed by the Alliance. Not even he would be able to withstand against this. Then I could remake the kingdom - the Alliance - into my own image. He was always far too soft on the heretics…

“Remember why we have come, my liege.” spoke a hooded aryite on his right. He was garbed in gold and white robes, and his eyes were covered by a blue blindfold embroidered with red sigils. “Do not let your mind be clouded.”

“I know why we are here, oracle.” Tigris all but snarled at him. “I will carry out your message and the will of Ha’Ari.”

Soon. He thought. Not even you can live forever, father.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

The Khroniktan fleet flew past the rogue star unmolested, arriving in high orbit above the planet of Gaia. Those perceptive few looking up at the night sky would see a dozen new stars twinkling amidst the cosmos.

Lord Tigris tapped at the console on his throne, and he began to speak.

“Attention, sovereign nations of the galactic cluster. I am Lord Tigris Ironclaw, High Admiral of the Khroniktan Alliance, Crowned Prince of Arydia. By divine ordinance, the free nations of Gaia are now protectorates of the Khroniktan Alliance. All diplomacy, all criminal indictments, and all political grievances must pass through Alliance channels. All hostile actions taken against the sovereign peoples of Gaia, or Gaia herself, by off-world powers will face retaliation from our ordnance. You have been warned. This message shall repeat.”

He tapped on the console again, ending the recording, and turned to his first officer.

“Prepare armaments and battlestations. Issue yellow alert.”

Siv'enSetting: Siv'en

The sky shuddered.

Thunder wracked the heavens.

Archmage Sheodin Thundermane stood atop a mountain, now reforged into a titanic missile of metal and stone, that screamed through the sky like a cannonball. A comet-tail of lightning, stormcloud, and hurricane winds trailed behind the projectile as it arched across Siv’en.

It banked towards the Exalted Mountains, leaving an ionized contrail in its wake and pulling cloud banks into the roaring tempest.

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

Meanwhile, Sheodin also floated amidst the Exalted Mountains. He stared down the great titan Ni’Thorne with swirling arcane energy in one palm and his bristling hammer in the other. The archmage started to charge another spell when the deafening explosion rocked the mountain range.

Wind billowed past Sheodin, but he stood resolute against the shockwave. He watched as the massive stone limb tumbled into the earth, wishing that he could do more to help those unfortunate to be underneath - but his power would be helpful elsewhere.

Sheodin grabbed his robe and spun away from Ni’Thorne’s flailing fist. He transformed into a cloud of billowing mist that reformed on the opposite side of the swing. As he recovered, a tingling sensation made the fur on his neck stand on edge. Static was rapidly building up in the air, and he could feel an inferno of magical power intrude on his senses like a rising sun. Low rolling thunder rumbled from beyond the horizon.

He reached out, grabbing a handful of air, and whispered into his clenched fist. Sheodin cast it away and it sped across the mountain range to any listening ear.

“Whoever hears this message. Flee. Take cover. Do whatever you must to survive. Gaia’s judgment is about to fall upon this titan of stone, and it will shake this land to its foundations. May Ha’Ari have mercy upon you.”

GaiaSetting: Gaia

"Approaching designated coordinates, Initiating hyperspace deceleration burn."

"Quantum waveform stable, beginning transition back into realspace!"

A lurch that could throw even the most grounded person from their feet reverberated all throughout the Kaze no Tani as it transitioned back into realspace, the brilliant light-show of streaks, and wormhole effects faded rapidly into the velvety blackness of space as the Shokaku Class carrier transitioned out of hyperspace, and back into realspace.

"Venting excess energies! Wave-force engines stabilizing!"

Hundreds of individual warships lurched into real-space in this manner, streaking across the blackness of space as a cluster of twinkling stars roughly twenty million kilometers from Gaia, and the strange stars that orbited it. One by one the number was steadily growing, as star-ships of an unusual make began to streak into existence.

"No Aschen vessels detected, medium range scanners are picking up unidentified warships in defensive orbit above the planet! Recommend we go to battlestations!" One of the bridge officers called out.

"Detecting anomalous energies!"

With Taiyou ships appearing one by one, their numbers were steadily growing, this was no exploration fleet, this was no band of scouts, this was what it appeared to be, an invasion force.

"They've probably spooked the Aschen." Ayako commented to herself, before picking up the communications reciever.

"All ships check in, we have unidentified hostiles in orbit above the planet. We'll need to clear them out before we can begin our attack. Stay clear of incoming, all crews to battlestations!" She called out, switching the receiver off.

"Prepare opening salvo, Anti-ship nuclear shells." Ayako ordered, as a second officer interrupted.

"We're picking up a signal on the planet, it's the Mizuho! It's unmoving, and unresponsive to our hails!"

"Tch... that complicates thing." Ayako muttered. "Prepare to focus firing solution on unidentified fleet. We will drive them from this place, and then we will begin the operation to rescue the Princess, and the other high ranking officials held hostage by the Iskjerne Vikings."

"Imperial Armada! Advance!" Ayako ordered.

They continued to appear, one after another, they were beginning to number in the thousands, aligned in a neat grid like formation that spanned nearly a hundred thousand kilometers, a proverbial wall of ships that spanned almost as far as the eye could see.

"We are being hailed!"

Ayako considered the words that were spoken, though the translation software muddled a few of the words, the intent was clear, energy readings were off the charts, but if they were going to throw their lives in service to the Emperor, they would do so, here. They would return home victorious, or not at all. This was the founding principal of the Taiyou Empire. Better to die with honor, than live with shame.

Picking up the receiver, she transmitted an audio message over a wide-band modulated frequency.

"I am Rear Admiral Katamura Ayako, of the Imperial Taiyou Navy's Twenty third Glorious Armada. The time for peaceful parlay has passed, the civilizations you claim protect have grievously injured our heads of state, sent agents of mayhem to our home worlds, and hold several key members of our government hostage. There is no restitution, no mediation you can provide that would satisfy our objective, these savages must be burned like the cancer they have displayed themselves to be."

There was a brief pause as Ayako considered her next words.

"There will be no further discussion until the hostages are freed." Ayako said cooly.

"Preliminary analysis is in, these warships are superior to our own, while we hold numerical superiority, preliminary analysis does not look good." One of the tactical officers reported.

"We have our orders from the Emperor himself. We must not dishonor him, or our stations."

She focused her attention on a large high-resolution map of Iskjerne bay, looking down to several promising landing spots.

"Any attempts to land on the planet will be thwarted by the fact technology seems to malfunction here."

Katamura nodded, she was simply here to burn the continent once the Princess had been rescued. "General Hama has not begun his operation yet." She commented

Picking up the receiver once more, she called out. "All carriers, prepare to launch Machine Calibers, and Cosmo Falcons on my command!"

New Ketajhi WarehouseSetting: New Ketajhi Warehouse

Lupe cracked open another crate, wincing at the noise. She paused and listened for voices, footsteps, or anything that would signal unwanted company. Confident she was still alone, Lupe carefully placed the lid on the ground and rummaged through the crate’s contents.

“Ahah!” She whispered to herself.

She pulled out a small metal box from the packing straw and popped it open. Lockpicks, files, and other fresh shiny tools lined the box. It was a pain getting her usual tools through customs, so she had to rely on other means. Now she was equipped, however, she could get to work.

Still need to lie low for a while, Lupe thought to herself. At least until the alert level goes down. Too many patrols right now.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Last chance. Tigris thought to himself as he watched the energy readouts across the fleet. Then all will see the might of Ha’Ari and His chosen people…

“Then allow us a gesture of goodwill.” Lord Tigris replied. “Our technology is not hampered by the planet’s magical field, so allow us to send elite agents to retrieve your persons of interest. If Ha’Ari wills it, we will cleanse the land of wickedness and redeem any innocent blood that was spilled. According to our laws, anyone who protects and harbors those who shed innocent blood shall receive the same reckoning - even if an entire city must be put to the sword. You may send a detachment of your own forces to accompany our Inquisitor, if you desire. A choice lies before you, Admiral Ayako. You can either make a friend or a foe this day. May Ha’Ari, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, grant you wisdom… and mercy.”

“Your Highness," the first officer spoke once the reply was sent, "targets have been acquired. Star javelins are almost powered.”

“Excellent. Ensure shields are at full power. If they attack, activate spatial bombardment. Target their capital ships with the javelins. Break the dogs’ spines and rip out their teeth.”
Atargatis appeared on the displays of all vessels, a stoic blue face. He interfered reads of the planet and the Children of Gaia, everything below and everything around, rendering the read technology of all vessels relatively useless.

"You know not what you provoke."

Meanwhile, Eras stirred faintly at the presence of so much disruption. He grew disgruntled as Atargatis blocked most of the channels. However there was still a bit of power he could gleam, he was sure of it. If only he could find an in...
Far below Artrea advanced on his blessing, as did a few of the other Colossi. The disruptions of the invasive energies allowed him to prod through again.

Though his light didn't illuminate anything at all, Eras did begin to glow slightly stronger.
Atargatis frowned. He cared little for the makings of mortals, and did less everyday which passed. Threats to Gaia beyond a certain scale also threatened his own mass. Not to mention, Skygem would surely be impacted if the gravitational force around which she revolved...changed.

Siv'enSetting: Siv'en

The skies above Siv'en had emptied and refilled. New constellations dotted the sky and crowded the old, strange shapes with strange lights and colors. The great hurricane, source of the mountainous bullet, began to subside.

The shadow of the bullet struck fear into the hearts of many, hope into others, and two dropped dead of shock.

GaiaSetting: Gaia

The Taiyou fleet held position as Ayako considered her next move.

"Very well, you have three hours to deliver the hostages to our custody." She replied, mostly so that she could buy time to gather additional data on this alien fleet, but something was interfering with her ship's sensors, and there were reports of this kind of interference that was spreading throughout the fleet.

No one could get any sort of viable targeting solution on the planet.

Ayako growled, before she turned to her tactical officer.

"How soon can we get one of the hybrid ships here?"

The Tactical officer began to crunch the numbers, before another strange signal flickered into existence from nothing. This vessel was a stark contrast to the Taiyou ships that had assembled in the void. This vessel was organic in nature, appearing to be ornately grown from wood. This strange vessel radiated hyperdimensional energy that would likely be unlike anything the Kroniktans have encountered before.

Powered by a second generation royal tree, the Ryu-oh was a Taiyou ship grown from a Mt'kee royal tree, and bound for life with it's partner, Princess Aeka Takayama. Channeling hyperdimensional energy from the Choushin Goddess Tsunami, these Hybrid ships, as the Taiyou called them, were a force to be reckoned with.

Aeka stood up from inside the tree that acted as the nerve center of the entire ship, Mountains, forest, streams, lakes, and rivers surrounded her, as the interior of the Hybrid ships were more a pocket-dimension than an actual interior, and it afforded a vista unlike anything that could be crafted by human hands. Superimposed in the skies above the world that Aeka stood in was targeting data, and large projections of the Taiyou and Kroniktan fleet.

The Ryu-oh resisted against the influence of both Eras, and Atargatis, defiant like an old oak, it would be inexplicably immune to their influence.

So far no hails came fourth from this new, alien vessel.
Lord Tigris nodded and turned to his first officer. “Dispatch an inquisitor and a team of chosen to the site of the incident. If the heathens prove… uncooperative... then they have full authority to dispense justice and enact the L’takasa Protocols.”

“Yes, my lord. Sending requisition now.”

“Have them arrive a little early.” Tigris continued. “It’ll give us some extra insurance. In the meantime, contact the home fleet and have them on standby in case we require reinforcements.”

The admiral narrowed his eyes as the new alien ship entered the area. He tapped on his console, sending orders to the ship’s team of magi to begin scrying.

“If they attack, we will surround them like wolves.”

Iskjerne BaySetting: Iskjerne Bay


A flash of light.

A crack of thunder.

A kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, and purples exploded in a remote corner of the bay. The air shimmered as a tear was cut in the fabric of reality. Then, as quickly as it appeared, the anomaly vanished. Twelve figures stood in its place, wetting their boots in the freshly melted snow.

Ten were clad in gleaming metal armor and carried varying swords, shields, and maces that glowed with radiant light. A rokin, off to the side, was dressed in azure robes and carried a silver staff. The one in the center wore a cloak, the color of dried blood, and had a hood pulled over his face.

“We seem to have missed our mark,” Thabo said. “There’s some sort of temporal interference, so we have three hours until our deadline. Remember our objectives: find the offworlders - alive - and if possible claim the head of the instigator. If things go desert-side up, we have been authorized to use the L’takasa Protocols.”

“Sir,” one of the armored aryites, Mafsha, spoke up. “Do you believe that will be necessary?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Let’s move out. Magus, do you have a lock on our target?”

“Yes sir.” The robed rokin said, holding a glowing sphere in his talons. “In the mountains. There is a large spike in psionic energy there. Shall we make the jump?”

“Let’s inspect the area first, but have the mass teleport on a hair-trigger.”
Snow stood still in the air around the new arrivals, Iskjerne Bay haven fully fallen mercy to the harsh winds of Zephras- as well as the influences of the great serpent in the mountain. In the distance there was a subtle quake from not too deep in the Weargtooth Mountains.
Takao peered his head out of the great mead hall to survey the bodies, this was all very strange to him, and he pulled his coat closer to try and stave off the cold.
The khroniktans cautiously moved through the bay. They ignored the cold for the most part, the minor enchantments in their armor staving off the worst of it, and inspected the deserted village. Thabo moved like a ghost, his boots leaving nary a trace in the snow or dust. Mafsha, sword drawn, poked his head into a longhouse and grimaced at the bodies.

“No wounds,” Thabo observed. “Weapons still in their scabbard. I don’t see any signs of a struggle, either. Either something killed them all at once, and quickly, or this was some sort of mass ritual suicide. Magus, are you recording this?”

“Yes, sir.” The rokin wizard said, gesturing to the orb floating at his side. “I am also detecting some strange arcane readings. There’s some sort of temporal anomaly… like a time stop spell, but it’s suffused into the atmosphere. I will do what I can to protect us from it.”

The wizard tapped his staff on the ground, and the arcanium orb mounted on top glowed with faint eldritch energy. A pulse of magic emanated from it, forming a transparent white dome around the party that kept most of the strange magic at bay.

“Sir!” Mafsha shouted, pointing towards one of the larger structures. “I think I see a survivor! He doesn’t look like any of the natives.”

“Must be our target. Approach cautiously and stow your weapons. We don’t need to spook him.”

The party of aryites, plus one rokin, slowly approached Takao.

“Hello!” Thabo said, speaking into a translator. “My name is Inquisitor Thabo of the Khroniktan Alliance. We have been sent as an extraction team for you and your Taiyou associates. We mean you no harm. Are there any more survivors?”

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

Looking out from his cubby hole at the centre of the great titan's stomach Riak, saw the damage, a soft sigh escaping his lips. shocked back into reality by the voice carried by the winds.
realising and sensing the oppressive presence of magic the Builder cast a simple but powerful spell upon himself. his arm turning to black smooth metal, he checked he could articulate his fingers; nodded when he could and then punched his fist into the rock of the cave, finishing his spell so that the rest of his flesh and form transformed into this same fantastical material he closed his eyes and froze. becoming a near-indestructible statue, but he in no way could interact with the world until the spell wore off but that could take as long as untold centuries.

Iskjerne BaySetting: Iskjerne Bay

Snow bounced off of the Khroniktans as they moved through the bay, little frozen droplets spinning out into the air as if gravity had stopped existing. Zephras didn't seem to touch them so much as they were able to grip the rest in the bay. This angered Zephras. The bay grew colder.

Exalted MountainsSetting: Exalted Mountains

Sheodin teleported away from Ni’Thorne, his spell leaving a concussive burst of energy in his wake to stun the titan. Time slowed from his perspective, and he saw the flying mountain soar into view. Veins of lightning danced across the molten surface, and a crown of red and white flames shrouded the mountain’s horizontal peak. The air rushed to get out of the missile’s way, but was compressed and heated before being shunted behind like a meteor’s contrail.

A moment passed - like a fraction of a heartbeat. The mountain range held its breath as the sky burned with magic and fire. Sheodin met the eyes of his doppelganger, and they stepped into one another. He slipped into the ethereal just as the uprooted and reforged island struck Ni’Thorne’s chest like the fist of an angry god.


A shockwave tore across the region. Forests were incinerated. Smaller meteors were launched for miles like grapeshot. The floating mountains spun and drifted from the cataclysmic impact. The earth itself trembled from the destructive power brought down upon the titan, and collateral damage swept across the land like a wildfire.

Sheodin’s heart was as heavy as the mutated hammer in his hand, but he hoped the lives lost would be an acceptable sacrifice in order to stop the sure destruction brought about by the Colossus.

Iskjerne BaySetting: Iskjerne Bay

At first Takao shrank away from the imposing creatures, who were just as alien to him as the other inhabitants of this world. Strangely enough, they seemed to speak his language.

He stepped out of the mead hall and into the outside, pulling his jacket once again to try and stave off the cold.

"No." Takao answered simply, pointing to the bodies all around them. "Only two, Princess Yukiko, and Director Miyagi went to the mountains to try and find a way back through the gate, here I am the only survivor." Takao replied, taking a tentative step forward. So it seemed he was finally going home.
"Then we must hurry." Inquisitor Thabo gestured for Takao to follow him. "There are powerful forces at work in this place, and we are far from welcomed."

"Inquisitor..." The wizard interrupted, voice straining. "There is old magic at work here. The temporal energies are increasing, and I am not sure how long I can hold them at bay."

"Ready the teleport. Get as close as you can to the targets without getting us stuck in a rock wall. Sir... Please come close. We need to leave this place immediately. Rest assured that, by our honor, we will rescue your princess and the director."

The wizard's staff grew brightly, and several sigils and runes floated through the air.
Takao hurried quickly towards the others, stumbling over bodies, debris, and rocks embedded into the ground. He waited quietly for their next move, but he paid close attention to their words.
Arcane energy built up, an electric hum buzzing in the air. The crystalline orb on top of the wizard's staff glowed with a brilliant light.

"Commencing leapfrog jump in three... two... one."

There was a flash of light, and one by one the party of khroniktans vanished with a small pop.

Rikkisopi Cave SystemSetting: Rikkisopi Cave System

Inquisitor Thabo, followed by each member of his unit, materialized in a series of bright lights several yards away from Seno and Yukiko. The rokin wizard appeared last. He squawked and leaned heavy on his staff, the top of which wafted with steam.

"Take a breather, magus." Thabo instructed. "Take a mana potion if you need it."

Mafsha scanned the perimeter, hand resting on the hilt of his blade. The fur on his face bristled in the icy wind, and he squinted into the building snow storm. He saw nothing, however, besides his comrades and the Taiyou aliens.

New Ketajhi Town SquareSetting: New Ketajhi Town Square

Archmage Sheodin Thundermane materialized with a thunderclap and flash of light. He fells to one knee, the corrupted Stormquake holding his weight up, and he released a ragged breath. Sweat matted his mane and he trembled from exhaustion.

"Sire!" Several town guards rushed forward to assist Sheodin.

"At... ease." He replied, rising to his feet. "I have used a great deal of power today, and now I must rest. There are still things that need doing. The danger has passed for now. Please calm the villagers. I will be in the meeting hall."

ErasSetting: Eras

King Neodin Shadowslayer floated amidst the nebula of holy fire. The fires continued to spring forth from his blade like the wings of a phoenix, blocking Eras's influence like the outstretched hand of a god. Ha'Ari's holy fury, His everlasting flame, poured out from Neodin like the light of a small star.

Time was meaningless as Neodin floated and was enshrouded in the presence of his god. He neither ate, nor drank, nor slept, but was a living conduit for Ha'Ari's will and power. He knew not how long the flames consumed him, but the flow eventually tapered and the Spirit of Leolik left him. Neodin still felt His presence, as always, but the power had lifted.

Rest. Be still, and wait upon Ha'Ari.

Neodin vanished.

Rikkisopi Cave SystemSetting: Rikkisopi Cave System

Both Yukiko, and Seno stopped from their digging for a moment to see the strange lights materialize behind them. Seno quickly stood between the newcomers, and Yukiko, relaxing briefly as he saw Takao slowly emerge from behind Mafsha.

"Director, Takayama-Hime!" He called out, Yukiko now had stopped digging. "They're here to rescue us!" He called out, noticing that neither Seno, nor Yukiko managed to make any significant progress.

"We need to leave." Seno spoke up. "The longer we stay here, the more danger we're in."

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Admiral Katamura checked her watch, the time continued to count down, seconds ticked by on the LCD face of the watch, the numerals changing with each passing moment.

There was a flicker of light, a sleek, yet angular shaped vessel winked in from the ether behind the formation of Taiyou ships, this vessel was distinct, in contrast to the brightly colored Taiyou warships, this vessel was dark in color, almost an iridescent gunmetal gray.

Six more strange vessels winked in formation around the alien vessel. These vessels each bore a rather large power signature, obscured by the flickering curtain of light that was their shields. The first vessel could be identified as an Aschen Vigiles class fast attack cruiser, while the six other vessels were identified as Aschen Empire Aegis class defense cruisers.

Commander Soban examined the readout carefully, leaning on the command console. "Aegis cruisers to assume defense formation around the Taiyou fleet, we'll provide rearguard support should this turn nasty."

Working in unison, the crew of the Ifriit began to execute the orders they had been given, as Clea leaned back up from where she was leaning.

"Ad Victoriam!" She called out.

Anquietas numerals counted down on a holographic interface in front of Commander Soban.

Rikkisopi Cave SystemSetting: Rikkisopi Cave System

Thabo waited for the translation spell to finish before he replied. “Agree. First, we must rescue your princess. There is a Taiyou fleet in high orbit ready to glass this entire region, killing us and untold other bystanders, and scarring the planet, because of your skirmish with the tribesmen. My people have a colony and a vested interest in this world, and so we are trying to end this incident without further bloodshed. Sandrunner, wake up our demolitions expert…”

“Yes, sir.” Mafsha nodded and pulled a large red crystal from a pouch on his belt.

He held it up to his mouth and whispered to it. The stone glowed with a fiery warmth, and Mafsha tossed it onto the snowbank. Steam billowed into the air as the snow melted and vaporized at the stone’s touch. An inferno bloomed like a crimson flower in the white haze, and it twisted and solidified into a vague humanoid shape.

Clawed hands and a serpentine tail sprouted from the blaze. A forked tongue flicked at the air while slitted reptilian eyes opened like the shutters of a furnace. The creature stood about shoulder-height with the Taiyou - its body sculpted from churning plasma. It turned to face Inquisitor Thabo and spoke in an alien language filled with clicking pops and rumbling growls.

“Time is of the essence, corporal. Clear a path into the caverns!”

The creature screeched and turned towards the spot the Taiyou were digging. It walked forward, pools of boiling water marking its path. Waves of intense heat wafted off the creature, providing an almost overwhelming reprieve from the frigid winds. It opened its mouth wide like a snake, and a fiery vortex sprung forth and started drilling into the snow. The air was filled with steam as the elemental worked.

South PathSetting: South Path

Archmage Thundermane walked down the southern path of New Ketajhi. He recovered his composure after a moment of rest, and he stood tall despite his exhaustion. A handful of town guards trailed behind him as a makeshift honor guard and security detail.

Sheodin turned towards the large longhouse-like building and stepped inside.

New Ketajhi Meeting HallSetting: New Ketajhi Meeting Hall

“Brother.” Sheodin said, stepping into the meeting hall.

King Neodin slouched in a large leather chair in front of a roaring fire. He held a glass in one hand filled with a dark amber liquid. His sword lay against the mantle, runes glowing faintly with golden light, within easy reach.

“Sheodin.” Neodin craned his head. “Are you well?”

“As well as can be expected.” Sheodin replied, taking the seat beside his brother and pouring himself a glass from the crystal jar between them. “Much has transpired in the last few hours.”

“Only that long? When I confronted Eras, I became filled with Ha’Ari’s spirit, and the passage of time became… blurred. He spoke through me, and He revealed part of His plan. I will share my vision with you later. In the meantime, we must take steps to ensure this world is protected - quarantined - as much as possible from outside influence. Even as we speak, my son is dealing with a situation with the Taiyou Empire. There was apparently an incident between them and a tribe of natives, and it turned bloody.”

“I hope he is able to deescalate the situation. Tigris is decisive and is a strong leader, but I fear for his brashness.”

“He will mature in time.” Neodin waved his hand. “Regardless, we must take steps to secure our holdings here - for both our future and that of this world’s inhabitants.”

“I agree. Perhaps we can extend the protectorate status to the Gaians, like we did with the goblinoids and orken?”

“That would be a good course of action. Precedence would be difficult to establish, however. Unlike the protectorates back home, the natives here have very little reason to take the offer or knowledge of the kinds of threats they face.”

“Yes, making a case would be hard - especially considering the requirements. The pagans tend to cling to their idols like children to their favorite toys… even if all they’re getting is splinters.”

“Peace is often a valuable tool, as well as lucrative trade. We’ll need to draft a treaty in which they will have as much autonomy as possible while still adhering to the tenets.”

King Neodin and his brother talked all through the night, deliberating and brainstorming, until they had a suitable draft written. They shared drinks and reminisced on old times, good and bad, and Neodin told Sheodin of his visions and the prophecy...

Atargatis LakeSetting: Atargatis Lake

Makshab continued to wander the lonely roads of the Golden Vale. The Everlasting Flame always pulled at him, beckoning him, and led him through every twisting path. When he was hungry, there was always food to be foraged. His thirst was answered by the singing of a brook. He wandered until his feet ached, and he yet walked further. Divine fire burned in his heart and kept the cold away at night, and when he laid his head down to sleep no wild beast disturbed his slumber.

Then, one day, he came across a large lake. A tower stood in the center of it, but Makshab saw no way to reach it from where he stood. He sat down by the shore and listened to the lapping waves.

“Where do you lead me, my Master?” Makshab prayed. “You make a path ready for me, but where will it take me?”

New Ketajhi Meeting HallSetting: New Ketajhi Meeting Hall

While the two elder's spoke and reminisced about times long passed, Keturah had not been idle. While construction of New Ketajhi had been recently completed, the woman had not been so fortunate in finding times to rest. Administrative duties, meetings, delegation and sleeping took most of her focus and time. She knew her father and uncle were present, but as much as she desired to speak with them, a sense of trepidation entered the furthest corners of her mind. Wondering what sorts of things were being worked on in the Meeting Hall. It was not her place to say. Keturah had taken much of a backseat in her family, predominantly keeping the city in operation.

Yet as dawn began to crest the horizon, Keturah began to tire. Setting down her papers onto a large oaken desk, she grabbed her staff and a bottle of fine imported wide and huffed. She took in a deep breath and exhaled through her nose and made her way into the Meeting Hall, finding Sheodin in the middle of his talk of prophecy and portents of the future. She bit her lower lip and took in a small breath further and waited patiently, not wishing to further disturb her father and uncle while both were engaged. It had been some time since she last saw them.
“I see…” Sheodin leaned back in his chair and stroked his beard. “Then we must prepare. I will scry the Weave and confirm what you’ve seen. Leolik willing, we will be able to minimize the outside influence on this planet and allow these things to unfold. We still have time before the plan back home reaches the final stages. Two, three decades, give or take a year. I will make revisions to this treaty and distribute it to the messengers. First, I believe we must acknowledge our guest.”

Neodin turned to face the door. “Ah, Keturah. Come in. Sheodin and I were just discussing some business. I trust the colony is well? I’m sure the recent happenings put everyone on edge with the increased security, the storms, and all that nonsense. Still, nothing too abnormal outside regular Long Night protocols.”
The Princess stood silently, waiting for her father and uncle to take notice of her presence. They spoke of things she could somewhat understand but much of it was outside the bounds of her current understanding. But upon her being noticed, she put on a smile for her family and very gently bowed her head to the two elders. Taking bottle in hand, she approached them.

"Aside from Long Night, things run smoothly here. It is a quiet position which has been a great boon to my recovery and practice. Statecraft has taken to me and I to it. While the folk of this place are a trifle concerned about the increased security presence, a spoken word from me or the good Magistrate seems to settle their minds. Having one of the King's blood here does wonders to banish the Dark from their thoughts. Though much of my own mind still is wracked with questions. Quiet meditation on the Words has born little fruit. I'm afraid my tongue does not find purchase in either language. But, this is not a place to discuss it. You are here, after what seems like ages. Together I thought we would try this wine I procured from a vendor in town. If you would enjoy sharing it?"

She waved a hand and invoked a word of summoning, calling forth simple glasses to her outstretched hand. She tossed them lightly in the air and blew on them softly, causing small vortexes of wind to bore them aloft while she poured the wine into each glass.

"It is good to see you both. I have yearned for both of your company while this place was under construction. My home so far away. You spoke of Tigris earlier dealing with an engagement with these...Taiyou fellows? Will my brother join us? Leolik willing it would be nice to have the entire family back together under one roof. If only for a short while. Time marches ever onward"

With the wine poured, she gently pushed her hand out, letting the cups float delicately towards Sheodin and Neodin while she took her own glass in hand. Her left hand held her staff tight, barely even needing to focus on such a simple spellwork. She brought the cup to her lips and took a small sip, tasting the wonderful flavors and the potent and primal magic within the wine.

It was certainly elvish and a rare vintage at that.

Rikkisopi Cave SystemSetting: Rikkisopi Cave System

At the mention of the Princess, Yukiko peered up from behind Seno. "Princess here." She said, waving to the aliens before them. "A fleet in High Orbit?" Yukiko asked, cantering her head. "They came pretty quick, yes we had a skirmish with the locals, and apparently they sent someone to Niihama, I don't know anything else about that." Yukiko added.

All three Taiyou watched in silence as the elemental worked it's magic. The warmth washed over them, it was indeed a welcome reprieve from the frigid winds.

"Before we depart, there was something the natives took from me." Yukiko explained. "A wooden crown, carved from a royal tree, and crystallized with it's sap, it radiates immense magical energy, and should be easy to find." The Princess said, pointing to the large, ornate ship that was hovering in the sky.

"It radiates the same energy as that ship." The Princess added. "It is a priceless artifact, and I'm afraid I must insist we remain until I have found it."

New Ketajhi Meeting HallSetting: New Ketajhi Meeting Hall

“I’m sure once the situation de-escalates we will be able to convince him to spare a few hours.” Sheodin replied, taking the glass with a nod. “The Taiyou are a very influential trans-galactic power, and their active military force dwarfs our entire population several times over. From what we’ve gathered, there was a diplomatic incident between them and a tribe of natives here that resulted in bloodshed and a hostage situation. Naturally, they’re not taking it well and sent a small fleet to retaliate in the form of scorched earth bombardment.”

“We will not allow it.” Neodin stated. “Your brother is up there with several frigates and one of our new warships. His… charming personality is holding them at bay for the moment while a strike team is extracting the hostages and investigating the situation further. Ideally, it will be resolved amicably, but the Inquisitor has been authorized to use what measures he deems fit in order to ensure justice is done.”

“As you can imagine,” Sheodin continued. “An armed conflict with the Taiyou would jeopardize our own interests on Gaia, so your father and I have been coming up with a plan to politically quarantine it from any other extraterrestrial influences.”

Rikkisopi Cave SystemSetting: Rikkisopi Cave System

Inquisitor Thabo nodded. “Understood. Sandrunner, run back to the village and locate the artifact. Princess, are there any more of your people we need to be aware of before we initiate extraction?”

Mafsha saluted and spun on his heels. He leaped onto the snowbank, weight evenly distributed with his feline grace, and sprinted down the mountain pass.

Meanwhile, the elemental had nearly finished melting a hole through the snow and into the cave. The flames wafted from the terronian, causing the snow and ice around it to steam.
"We're it, as far as I know." Yukiko replied.

"We need to find Yukiko's crown, and then return to the fleet, Yukiko-Hime will be able to call off whatever strike they're preparing, at least until the Emperor recovers."

Yukiko grimaced.

"He's right, my brother, Emperor Shimizu has sworn to burn this entire continent, he's a man used to getting his way, and will stop at nothing to fulfill his aims."

New Ketajhi Meeting HallSetting: New Ketajhi Meeting Hall

"If I know my brother's charm and wit, the Taiyou will be up there in orbit for months bashing their heads into the bulkheads" Keturah chuckled softly and moved to take a seat with her kin. She picked up a chair and brought it over next to them.

"Still I am concerned about these Taiyou. I have heard stories from off world about how ruthless and barbaric they are. To think they would bombard a peaceful planet over some hostages. Utterly savage... would He even allow such an act to befall those poor souls out there?"

Keturah's gaze went out towards the window while she took a sip of her wine.

"It's a shame that we do not have the numbers to match theirs. Our forces would sweep away these poor heathens from the void. Perhaps Leolik's grand design might be fulfilled. The Dark is coming for us all...yet all they care about is their false idol. I do hope we do not entertain them here in these holy lands. I know not if my temper would rise"

The Princess sighed curtly, her tail swaying back and forth in an irritable manner before snorting once.

"My views aside, how goes your travels Uncle? You haven't been back for lessons in ages. I can only go so far with the tomes you provided. They do not instruct me upon the Words as I need. I can only become as strong as I can with more fragments of Words. I have not spoken them and their syllables are like honey on my tongue"

The irritation on her voice and in her body language seemed to shift, taking on more anticipation as the woman sipped more of her wine.

Iskjerne BaySetting: Iskjerne Bay

Mafsha panted as he slid to a halt at the edge of the village. It was cold, far colder than what he was used to in the plainslands and deserts of Arydia. He had heard rumors of the violent blizzards that crowned the Rok Mountains, but he had never been there personally.

The everlasting flame tugged at his heart and led him further into the abandoned town. Half-frozen bodies still littered the streets, forever preserved by the biting cold and strange magic that permeated the air.

Rikkisopi Cave SystemSetting: Rikkisopi Cave System

“Then I suppose we should inform them of the situation.” Thabo grimaced. “... Before anyone does anything rash. Admiral Ironclaw won’t bend while he draws breath.”

Inquisitor Thabo held a device up to his mouth. It was a thin disc of crystal encircled by a band of silvery metal.

”Admiral, this is The Shadow.” He said in his native tongue into the communicator.

”What is your status, Inquisitor?”

“The VIPs have been recovered and the threat neutralized. We are in the process of recovering an artifact for the princess. I advise informing the Taiyou authorities of the development… lest we have balefire dropped on our heads.”

“Acknowledged. Good work, Inquisitor. Give the princess my regards.”


Inquisitor Thabo replaced the communicator and turned to his Taiyou associates. “Crowned-Prince Tigris Ironclaw, High Admiral of the Khroniktan Alliance, sends his regards. He will inform the Taiyou admiral of our status.”

GaiaSetting: Gaia

Lord Tigris ended the transmission from the Inquisitor and cupped his scraggly furred cheek in his pawed hand. He watched the Aschen ships carefully and pondered the situation. The Alliance had favorable relations with them in the past, but only Ha’Ari knew what state their political theater was in. How likely was it that this was the same empire they knew?

“Open a channel to the Taiyou.” He commanded.

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“Admiral Ayako.” He began. “As a courtesy, I am obliged to give you a status update on the operation. Our team of specialists, led by an elite Inquisitor, has made contact with the survivors of your countrymen - including the princess - and have neutralized the threat. I was informed that they are attempting to recover some sort of artifact for Her Highness. Presumably, you would know of what she speaks.”

New Ketajhi Meeting HallSetting: New Ketajhi Meeting Hall

“It would be little different than defending against a Erebari blitz.” King Neodin replied. “Our people are accustomed to fighting against superior numbers. We are often blessed with sharper swords, stronger shields, and the everlasting flame in our hearts. As long as we march to Leolik’s will, our enemies will be little more than grains of sand blowing against a castle wall.”

“Indeed.” Archmage Sheodin nodded. “I have ensured that the power of this world will ally with us if the need is great. As for my travels… I have communed with the elemental forces of this planet and reached an agreement. Stormquake has tapped into the beating heart of Gaia, but the union has left it… altered. To what extent, I cannot say at this time, but I drew upon powerful magic in order to strike down one of Gaia’s enemies - a great titan of stone whose head broke the clouds.

“I fear I must take a sabbatical in order to recover. In the meantime, I can assist you in your studies and you can help me finalize the proposal we will be sending out to the other nations on Gaia. Perhaps everything will be finalized in time for Deliverance Day, and we can invite a few ambassadors to join the festivities.”
"Still would be nice to put both the Erebari and these Taiyou in their place. I don't care much for their quickness for violence nor their false God King"

Keturah snorted once but did perk up at the mention of Sheodin's exploits and hearing that he was taking a sabbatical from any sort of conflict. Hearing the news of a large conflict with this Stormquake entity did put her on slight edge, but she knew her Uncle. He would have prevailed even without the use of so much magic.

"I would greatly enjoy that Uncle! Honestly, a chance to spend time with all of my family would be not only appreciated, but sorely needed. I cannot remember the last time we all were together as a family. Maybe with the exception of my awakening from my coma. I could call a celebration, just for us. Perhaps have the chef make a meal for us"

Keturah's eyes turned towards her father, reaching out a hand to place on his shoulder and one towards her Uncle. With a wave of her hand, she brought the two brother's closer with some slight displacement magic so she could bring them in for a hug.

"The Neodin line, sitting at a table and discussing everything and anything! I could show the three of you what progress I've made on the Words of Creation. I've gained a few bits and pieces over this time in study on Gaia. I found the world brimming with secrets. I've been trying to suss out more from Leolik Himself, when I can actually feel His presence. It's not often that I feel His fervor but when I do, I try to gain more knowledge from the encounter. Though I do worry He might be a bit sore with me"

After all, while she may have been looking for more information about the Words of Power, she also had been seeking knowledge upon a forbidden language. Sheodin would know her desire to seek out, learn and understand the Black Speech, the weapon of Erebuz.
“The Words of Creation are accessible to all who carry the breath of life, Keturah.” Sheodin said. “For all who carry the breath of life are made in the image of He who first spoke them. For most, this ability is long dormant - like a muscle left to atrophy from birth. There are some who manage to uncover and revive this forgotten part of their spirit, but these are few and far between.

“You appear to have a natural affinity to them, for whatever plan Leolik is preparing you for. He will reveal it in His timing. For now, your job is to wait, study, and be productive. As Alphanius said in his memoirs, we must put all of our strength into whatever our hands find to do.

“Here is a truth, Keturah.” Sheodin continued. “The Words of Creation and the Black Speech are one in the same, their difference being application and intent. The former speaks life into the universe. It is what formed the heavens, the earth, and all living things that sprout forth from them… But the latter brings death, chaos, and entropy. A wizard must bend, convince, and force the Weave into place in order to perform their spellcraft, but the Words of Power bypass all the jerryrigging us mere mortals have built to interface with Creation. You speak, and the universe obeys. It is a simple fact of your faith and authority rewriting the very nature of existence down to its foundation. Leolik used this power to speak all of Creation into existence, to build the dwelling place of His children - of His home - but the Unweaver uses them to kill, steal, and destroy. He is The Enemy, the only true enemy of everything that ever was, is, and could be; and his only desire is destruction and death.
Keturah listened to her Uncle's words, taking them all in and drinking as deeply as she could from the knowledge he provided. Yet there were so many questions yet left in her mind. Where were more of the Words? Surely the muscle may be there but the language needed more study and learning. She doubted Leolik, in all of His glory left a tome of all the words ever put to tongue and transcribed onto vellum.

"Yet one question lingers in my mind Uncle: Why do I know more of the Black Speech? Surely if He in all of his wisdom, foresight and guidance thought to give me more of the Words then the Black Speech of the Destroyer. Yet could these words created by the hateful Enemy be yet turned on him? Our voice upon the winds, driving back his darkness and turning his foul spawn back into the endless abyss they spawned from. Surely if He ordained my knowing of these words, surely they must fit into His plan somehow?"

She gave a sort of worried look towards her father, a small amount of fear on her face. Her curiosity raged behind her eyes, her tone ravenous for knowledge. Questions, always more questions dwelled within the woman. Ever since her awakening, it's all she ever seemed to have. Her magics seemed different then those of her ken, her use of the Words of Creation and the Black Speech. By Leolik himself, even her thoughts seemed to convey this notion. No Aryite alive would dare speak about the use of the Black Speech in such a bold manner infront of the King himself!

"I know the Speech causes me harm and consumes my life force, as well as the life of everything around me, but if it could serve the people by driving back the forces baying for our blood every single day why not use it? Even if in the most dire of circumstances? When our very walls lay breached and our ken are being savaged by the relentless enemy? The hated being, a thousand thousand curses upon his unholy name. Why not use them against Erebuz himself? Make him buckle to our might and force him to the fore and out in the open? He hides behind endless hosts and hordes of his insane worshipers. Surely the very weapon of the enemy, with humility, grace and foresight could utilize this weapons."

Her words seemed to ring with passion, a bite of venom for the Darkness. Yet she felt her determination and resolution towards pursuit of this further. If only to have her Uncle either validate or shun the very notion itself. At least she could trust Sheodin to speak frankly...not that she doubted her father's judgement. But she knew he would absolutely never approve.
“I know not why Leolik chose to gift you this knowledge, my child.” King Neodin shook his head. “But perhaps it is as we all have a… predisposition to certain types of transgressions. Your brother is plagued with envy and anger, and your uncle shed jealousy for pride. I, myself, have my own struggles. Perhaps this, the lure of easy power - treading the edge of darkness for the sake of light - is yours. Be wary, my daughter, for who can deceive the Father of Lies? Who can raise a sword against the master of destruction himself? There were many, long ago, who made similar proposals during the Shadows of Dawn. ‘Let us use their dark magic against them!’ they cried, ignoring the warnings of Alphanius before being twisted into the very creatures they tried to fight against.”

“He wants you to use the Black Speech.” Neodin continued. “Though the power itself comes from Leolik, like all things - yes, even him - the spirit behind the words comes from the Unweaver.”

“... Do you know who is the most knowledgeable mage on Khroniktus regarding the theory and knowledge of dark magic, Keturah?” Sheodin said after a long period of silence. “The Regent of the Erebon Empire is the most powerful, simply by merit of the bargains he’s struck with the Unweaver over the eons of his reign. The high priest of the Akbromi comes a close second, but he lacks a certain capacity for growth because of his self-inflicted curse.

“... It is me, child. I, the mighty Archmage of Arydia, the Headmaster of the University of Alphaniat, have the most in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of the dark arts compared to anyone else on our world. It is a burden I bear with great restraint for the greater good of our people. I study so I can know our enemy and be able to counter them effectively, but I always must hold myself in check - lest I look too long into the abyss and fall into it. Tell me… From what little you have seen of my power, can you comprehend the kind of destruction and death I could bring if I slip into the madness brought on by the all consuming darkness? The Unweaver would love nothing more than have me as a cursed pawn for his own ends. It would be armaggedon.”
Keturah sat back, tuning out the entirety of the world, save for the voices and visages of her beloved father and uncle. Each syllable were swallowed in her mind, taking in each and every point they made. They spoke sense, truth and understanding. Yet Sheodin's words rocked her to her very core. He knew about the Black Speech...he knew what she sought to learn. Yet instead of fixating on it, she drank deeply from his words.

After a long minute's worth of silence, Keturah smiled. Warmth radiated from her smile, eyes glowing with the light of the Spark buried deep within her soul. She stood up and went to her Uncle, wrapping her arms around his neck in a great hug. She didn't say a word for the longest pause until she spoke.

"I understand Uncle. I hear your words Father. Perhaps it is because of my naivety that I seek to use the Words of the Unweaver. I never would take them for granted. Part of me wonders why I know that I could use them to some effect. I feel that in some ways, I've been fooled by the Unweaver once before. How I feel this way, I cannot rightly say. Instinct tells me such...yet one thing eludes you Uncle"

She moved back slightly and held out a hand, focusing on her palm and spoke one simple Word.


From her palm sprang a small sun, a beacon of golden light that radiated the Light of Creation's first act. She held it in her palm, pressing it close to his chest so his fur would be warmed by the tiny celestial body in her hand.

"Even in that endless Abyss, Light yet still remains. No matter how deep the Dark goes, at the end of that road Light persists. I want to learn more Uncle. About the Light and the Dark, I can learn no more about matters of the Arcane. The Weave has yet to push me further in that path as of yet. You need not walk both sides alone. Right Father?"

She turned her head to look at Neodin, holding out a hand for him as she tossed the sun lightly and let it hold itself above her head, it's Light pulsing to the beating heart of the creator.
Sheodin looked to his brother and kept silent. This was a matter between father and child, and not for a well-meaning uncle to say his piece. The archmage leaned back into his chair and stapled his fingers.

“It is true…” Neodin said after a long moment in thought. “You have a certain predisposition to the words of power, including the darker nature of them. In all my years, I have seen and learned a great many things. One of which is that when an individual struggles with a particular vice, it is often so that they can conquer it and become a light to others who struggle with the same internal battle.

“You, ultimately, must make the decision. As your father, I am biased towards your own safety and good fortune. I have trouble looking passed the memory of a frightened and fragile little cub that clung to my robes as we bid her mother good-bye as she fell asleep in Leolik’s embrace. Perhaps it is the fear of an old man remembering darker times… A bygone era when balefire scorched our lands, hordes of undead ransacked our villages, and fiendish monsters born of abominable rituals were trying to scale our walls. Dark magic has left a terrible scar upon our people that has persisted for generations. It hardened us, unified us, and burned away a cancer we never knew was there.

“If you choose to study the enemy, then you must take every precaution. Do not allow the polluting sickness of the All Consuming Darkness to enter your heart, for it is in direct opposition with Leolik’s Everlasting Flame. Fan and feed the flame exponentially more than your delving into the dark. Descend one step, and ascend ten more. Always take care, because even the most skillful snake charmer gets bitten one day.”
Keturah seems somewhat surprised by her father's response, eyes slightly wider then normal as she looked down towards her tail. The orb above her head pulsed with a steady thrum of Light and Power. Yet she held firm to the control over such a seed of Life, as if not even thinking of it's existence. Slowly, she walked towards her father and sat down at his feet, choosing in that moment to take such a position with a smile on her face.

"Perhaps this may be true. I know what the Maw can truly be. Perhaps it is my lack of memory which has hardened my resolve. I try to remember seeing mother enter His embrace yet even to this day, fog obscures my sight. I guess from my exposure thus far I could say my perception has been altered. Yet there is such a thing that I would have made a note of in my limited studies"

She continued, looking up at the sun above her head.

"When I see the Light, I see the flame of purity. I feel it's love and warmth upon my fur and in my heart. This fire represents the life of our people. It is our guiding principle and our gift from He who fathers us all"

She raised a hand and gazed up to the orb. She opened her mouth to spreak, and what came out was Agony.


Pain wracked the Weave around the three as the Orb was subsumed, Keturah herself winced as if she was in distress. The orb that once was a brilliant sun now hung above her head was a Void, a hole of Night and Nothingness that caused a visible distortion around the edges. It was as if they were staring into the heart of the Abyss.

"Yet the inverse must be true. The Abyss is cold, dark and hostile towards the Light. It craves and years for dominance, not realizing that the two must be in harmony for the Multiverse to maintain cohesion. To be fearful of what lies in the cavernous maw is natural as mortal creatures. We know not what dwells within the vestige of the Dark. But knowing what lay within it, we become closer to knowing Truth. That Truth is what I seek. What lays in the heart of the Abyss? What dwells within the heart of Erebuz? What machinations drive him towards endless destruction and oblivion? Is it a mindless obsession? Or is it more? If we could be saved, why not he?"

The void above her head grew in small centimeters until Keturah waved it free with a hand. The Void then shrank away into naught but a pinprick then vanished in a crack. Keturah herself looked like she had lost around ten pounds in weight yet her smile remained.

"I know you worry about me father. I worry about myself as well. Yet I shan't be delving into the Abyss alone. I will have Uncle with me to delve the depths of the Abyss, and I will have Leolik to guide me. I know both of them will not lead me astray. I am not timid, nor am I cowardly. Erebuz has absolutely nothing to tempt me with. No power he could ever offer could turn me from my path."

She got up a little wobbily from her position and embraced her father tightly, resting her head on his shoulder "I love you father. So much that it might cause me to burst" She giggled until her stomach growled at her in protest rather loud.

"Sorry Father...mind if I call for food? I'm starving!"

Iskjerne ForgeSetting: Iskjerne Forge

Mafsha entered the forge and scanned the room. There! One of the bodies held a satchel, and Mafsha could feel the magic radiating from it. He stepped over the bodies and made his way to the one in question. The paladin reached into the satchel and pulled out a wooden tiara.

“Hmm…” He spoke to himself. “Looks like the one the princess described.”

He nodded, stuffed the tiara in his pack, and headed towards the door.