~ Weywyn ~

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~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Mon May 25, 2015 11:49 pm



On the Western Boarder


The lake stretched out before them, mist drifting up from its surface to waft into the pine forest lining its banks. Visibility was dim. Early morning light filtered through fog and trees forming a small spherical world surrounded by the eerie grey tendrils of mist swirling in misleading motions all around the edges and on the rippling surface of the water. Small sounds were loud in the stillness. The plop of a fish was as startling as a sudden knock on a hollow door and the wind gusting through the pines it sounded like a hissing roar.

A particularly strong gust sent tiny droplets of cold water raining down on the shoulders of Ostia Silverscale and she instinctively shivered. She was chimera, most others considered her a Gill, because of her smooth fish like skin and webbed hands, but she couldn’t breath under water and she actually favored her other features. Thick course hair grew from her head, the back of her neck and along her spine all the to the center of her shoulder blades. It a horse’s mane, mainly a pale palomino in color with a few brown streaks. Then there was her tail, long and twitchy like a feline, but strong enough and flat enough to help serve as a rudder when she swam. It was pleasant to stand by and contemplatively twitch it while her rabbit like nose and whiskers quivered taking in the smells of the pines and fresh water. As her name suggested, Ostia Silverscale had small silver scales as a skin. They were smooth and gleam when they were wet like a river tout. Her palomino mane was the only hair on her body, but the silver scales shifted to patches of grey blue in places, giving her a somewhat splotchy pattered color overall. Her eyes were very large and bluish green in color and too round in shape to seem natural. At only four feet, four inches, she was rather small, but she was the commander and no one would dare question her.

At the moment the dozen other members of the exploration party were making sure the canoes were properly loaded. Many of them were also Gills, chimera with some kind of water affinity, but Rolo was a Wing, a little sprite of a chimera with a long monkey tail, and arms that were just as long and, the fuzzy membrane that stretched between his long arms and his body was like that of a flying squirrel or possibility a bat. He was very small, agile and able to leap and glide short distances on his wings. Not to mention the long extensible claws on his hands and feet were perfect for climbing trees.  Ostia’s tail twitched as she watched Rolo jump about now, bouncing off Brawyn’s large head and dodging under the swat she sent after him. Little scamp. Someone should kick the marmet half across the lake and teach him.

“Captain, the sun’s been up 20 minutes now.”

Ostia looked up at Marius’s mismatched eyes, as he politely waited for her to give the order to move out. They had intended to cross the lake and reach their destination before evening.

“Just a little longer,” Ostia said, her tail twitching more as she crossed her arms, “Go make sure that human wagoneer isn’t still hanging around and tell Rolo I’ll start using him as a kickball if he doesn’t settle down. It too early to put up with his kind of scatterbrained energy right now.”

Marius nodded and turned away. Ostia was making excuses and he didn’t really know why. It wasn’t his place.

The truth was that Ostia was waiting for him. He’d told her to wait on the edge of Weyish territory, the voice, the spirit of the elven master whom they all served. A few months ago he’s first come to her. He gave her wisdom and insight and worked though her to achieve things she never could have done herself. She didn’t fully understand what was happening between them. Many times she blacked out and at other times it was like she was watching her own body from the outside, seeing it speak and act without her conscious will or thoughts, but she’d learned to trust it. He spoke to her in dreams and thoughts and had told her she would be going on this mission before her actual commander had given the order and now she had to wait here on the edge of the lake for him to come.

Ostia shivered again and she thought another wind gust has sent a wet chill down her spine then she recognized his presence. He was here, a small pressure on her mind, like a hand trying to gentle push open a familiar door. Ostia’s tail twitched and a small smile touched her lips making her whiskers quiver. She let him in.  

***
Meryn Flynt slipped into the body like a key slipping into its lock. Ostia was a willing host and he liked her, because she was strong enough and smart enough to recognize what was going on and work with him, but not quite smart enough to see past superstitions or question his presence and motives too closely.

Looking though her eyes he took in the lake, the packed canoes and the rest of the chimera exploration party. Ostia had done all he’s ask of her and it put Flynt in a good mood.  

“Let’s go,” he said, speaking in the smooth feminine tones of Captain Ostia Silverscale.
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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Tue May 26, 2015 11:59 am

Glyndal




“She rots,”

The voice was wavering in his mind and the small crystal around his neck was hot on his skin.

“She rots and worms hide in her belly. They are frightened of the sunlight and hide in stench and decay…. She dead, long dead, Oh Novwyn!”

Soft weeping filled his mind and he had the instinct to put his arms around someone, to hold her close and gentle stroke the long blonde hair.

But the space in the bed beside him was empty. It had been for centuries. All he could do was put a hand to the crystal on his necklaces and rub the smooth stone. Throwing off the covers Novwyn jumped out of bed. He knew this vision. She had it often. The child they never had dead and decaying, being devoured on the inside by worms. He saw it himself sometimes. The little girl had blonde hair like Arial. Most of the time the eyes were dead and hollow, eaten away by gave worms, but once the dead child had opened its eyes and looked directly at him. Her eyes had been the same as his, a pale sea green, rimmed by blue. It still haunted him and he didn’t want Arial’s vision leaking over to him again, so he tired to ignore her weeping and quavering voice.

He liked the new rooms. Back in the old world he’d lived in a huge mansion, with elaborate carvings on every wall and pillar and thick rugs on every floor. As a counsel member and head of the Thallassan Guild he was expected to be extravagant, to have the finest halls, the most slaves and the best relics. He’d had no excuse back in the old world, but here… Well here, everyone had to start over. No one would fault him too much, if he didn’t have the best servants, and luxury spilling from every room. Things could be simpler in this new world. They had to be. Novwyn hadn’t even gotten any slaves yet and it found it relaxing to keep himself busy with menial tacks.

He began carrying water in buckets up from the lower level, where a small natural spring formed a fountain in the back of his private courtyard. Most elves would be aghast at the thought of him drawing his own bath. Well, the never had to know.

“They call this place Refuge,” Airal said and her tone startled Novwyn slightly. She seemed more lucid than normal.

His wife had died centuries ago, but like many elves of those days her soul had been trapped and preserved in a small magical crystal in hopes that one day Lestari’s guidance would teach them ways to make the dead living again. Most of the crystals had been stored away in secret places, but Novwyn had stolen his wife away and kept her with him. It was one of the few orders he’d every broken.

It had been unwise to do so.


Keeping a dead soul so close to the living had caused Arial to stir and seep out of her crystal prison into him and part way into the realm of the spirits, where he supposed the dead truly belonged. He’d tried putting the crystal away, but it was too late Airal’s was a like a long clinging vine now, growing out of the crystal stone to wrapped in tangles around him and then sending forth long tendrils to crawl through the strange realms beyond, where the past, the present and the future swirled in mists of macabre and symbolism.

“This could have been a Refuge, a new beginning, but Lestari’s spite betrayed that future.”

Novwyn frowned, as he poured the final bucket into the tub and then brushed a hand on the heating stone below the tub, activating the magic there. “Her spite?” he asked. No one could see him here, so it didn’t matter that he appeared to be speaking to himself.

“When she sabotaged the escape of Autarus’s people, she slit the throat of a future, a future that may have been a salvation. It is dead now, rotted way, rotting to dust and worms.”              

“They were our oldest enemies,” Novwyn argued, “The source so many wars and misery. They drove us from our lands and have sought our doom for centuries.” His voice was calm, but many elves would have been shaking with rage. The Autarians were the most hated and despised enemies of Glyndal, the source and the face of all their troubles. Leaving them trapped in the Old World had been the single greatest victory in all their history. With their ancient enemy eliminate and Autarus severely weakened by the blow, the Glyndal Elves had hope again. Here at last they saw a gleam of victory and renewal like they had not had in nine hundred years.  

“If we had let them be. If Autarus had been allowed to take his people to a new home far from here, he may have granted us peace in this new world, a new start with old grudges left in the ruins of Allis, but now he shall never stop hounding us.”

“You have seen this?” Novwyn asked, combing the tangles from his long black hair, as he waited for the water to heat up.

“No. I simply saw a future die. Because of that… I just feel that it must be true.” The voice in his mind took a waving breath. “You can know what it’s like to see a future, a bright future, one that gives hope, one you long to see and then watch it’s throat be slit by the awful present. To see it whither and die.  …. Our child. Our beautiful child! She’s dead! She’s dead! Rotting…”
 
Arial slipped back into a state of semi lucid weeping and he let her voice fading away to the back of his mind. He wasn’t sure how sane his wife’s spirit was, or how much of it still existed after being disembodied so long. Setting down the comb, Novwyn slowly opened a drawer in his dresser and took out the small painting of her portrait. It was fading from age, the paint cracking and loosing color. Long blonde hair and a heart-shaped face with blue eyes, looked out from the portrait, smiling. She’d lived during a more innocent age.  

He didn’t truly remember her anymore, not as a living person. There’d been too many hibernation cycles between now and then. He knew Arial only as a crystal stone on his neck, a voice in his head and an old painting in his dresser drawer. But he still loved her. He loved what she’d been in life, even though he couldn’t remember. It went beyond his understanding and he dared not try to understand for fear that reason would kill what the hibernation cycles could not.

It didn’t matter that he couldn’t remember. It didn’t matter that she was dead, not even that their future was rotted away. He would always love it. He would always protect it. He would keep the painting and the stone and he would keep his mind open and his swords sharp.    


Last edited by MissMilkMaid on Wed May 27, 2015 1:16 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Tue May 26, 2015 8:00 pm

Glyndal



Dressed in his formal counsel robes and the sash of the Thallassan guild master, Novwyn left his home and began making his way along the newly carved streets of Glyndal. His home was just inside the caverns built high in the upper walls. The road here was more like a long ledge or balcony overlooking the large cavern below. Overhead a slight crevice let in a little natural light, but it was mostly magical crystals that illuminate this part of the village. They were set in the walls, glowing with a steady white or sometimes soft purple light. At the house next to his, a human artisan had a delicate hammer and chisels and was carving elaborate designs around some of the crystals set in a stone pillar. Even with both his hands full, he managed to sign to his assistants, giving them silent orders with his fingers. Like all humans in Glyndal, his tongue had been cut out.

Far below more slaves were working on a garden, which would be set on an island in the gurgling stream. At the center of the cave, it got enough natural light to support rose beds and other flowers. The stone bridges crossing the stream were already completed, stretching like pale beautiful arms over the swiftly flowing water and gleaming in the sunlight that beamed down upon them. The sound of hammers on stone echoed all around, as the slaves worked day and night to create the perfect heaven for their elven masters.

Folding his hands in his loose sleeves, Novwyn walked by without directly looking at the slaves. No one ever looked at them unless they had to. Novwyn suspected most elves didn’t even notice them. His instincts, however, kept him from being able to do that. Years of training and fighting had made it so that he always noted his surrounding and those in it. The humans paused and backed well out his way with their heads lowered as he passed, the lead artisan flicked his fingers lightly close to his side and Novwyn couldn’t tell if he were subtly signing something, or if it was just a nervous habit.

Descending some steps that were dusty from the chips of freshly carved stone, Nowvyn spotted Monica Quinn approaching from a side tunnel leading to a smaller cavern. She had very pale skin, short red hair, blue eyes and very full red lips. Her make up and dress were stunning, tiny beads shimmering on her blood red gown and rubies on her ears. Novwyn suspected that she’d been waiting for him to pass.

Unlike many of the elves, Novwyn didn’t engage himself much in relationships, sexual or otherwise. If he’d been anyone else, it probably wouldn’t have mattered, but he was a guild master and a famously renowned warrior on top of that. His every move was watched and gossiped over. Over the years his hard-to-get antics seemed to have led to a kind of game for a handful of the others. When it had first started happening, he’d given in once or twice, hoping they would loose interest, but all it had done was prove that he could be worn down. He’d even heard a rumor that there was a betting pool, which would go to whoever was able get him into bed first. It was just a rumor and he hoped it wasn’t true, but, if it was, he was pretty sure Monica was involved. She’s always been persistent with him.

“Good morning, Lord Wystri,” she said, falling into step beside him.

He nodded to her and a smile played on her full lips.
“Priestess,” he replied. Monica was part of the Stareti, the guild of religious priests. She was quite high in their ranks, could have even been in line to be Ambrossia’s apprentice - that is if Monica cared to take anything seriously. Ambrossia had passed her over, because of her reputation for frivolity.

“You are on your way to counsel?” she asked.

Novwyn nodded.

“Sounds dreary.”

Novwyn shrugged slightly. He couldn’t really argue with that. They were usually quite boarding, either ending up with Elynd jabberingly endlessly on about government plans and bureaucracy, or descending into a shouting match between Ambrosia and Enari. “It’s a duty. Hopefully this meeting will not last long.”

“May Lestari grant you that hope. I’m planning a party and was hoping you would attend. My new ballroom has finally been completed and I want the party to be truly magnificent. If you come, most of the rest of the Thallassan will follow your lead. You are simply essential.”

Novwyn cast her a glance. Monica was famous for throwing extremely debauched parties. She actually reveled in that reputation, since it made her edgy and different from all the other elves, who still threw proper balls, where people actually kept their clothes on and remember things like manners. He’d been to one or two of her parties. The orgies on the floor of the feast hall hadn’t bothered him too much, but the platforms where guests could rape and torture slaves for their amusement had been disturbing. Over the centuries Monica had been forced to become more and more extreme in order to keep her parties edgy. The definition of disturbing had progressed a long way for most of them, but Novwyn had always been slow to keep up with the times and he didn’t really want to see the latest version of edgy and disturbing. But on the other hand, attending parties and balls was a social duty in Glyndal, especially for the heads of guilds. All of the Stareti could end up being offended if he didn’t come.

“I shall consider it,” he said.

She smiled and reached a finger up to caress his cheek. He managed to resist the urge to jerk away. “Do come. I promise I’ll make it worth your while, my lord.”

He nodded. They were at the base of the stairs leading up toward the counsel room and he just wanted her to go away. “I think this is where we part ways. Have a good rest of the day, Priestess.”

“Oh I shall,” she said and stroked a lock of his hair, before turning to go back the way they’d come.

Novwyn watched her a moment and then turned to start up the steps. Up ahead he saw the small figure of Enari Lowyna. She paused where she was and was waiting for him to catch up. Short and slimm the head of the Alano guild had long black hair and eyes, which were almost as dark.

“Was that Monica Quinn?” Enari asked, as he came even with her on the stairs.

“Yes,” he answered, “She invited me to a party.”

Enari scoffed. “Stareti tramps. I already told my slaves to burn her invitation as soon as it is delivered. She’s the worst of the worst! I certainly will take no part in her so called balls.”

“That’s easy for you to say. Everyone knows Stareti and Alano don’t get along. It’d be a scandal if you ever did show up. It’s not so simple for me. Most of the Thallassan will expect me to keep up cordial relations.”

Enari gave a sympathetic sigh. “I don’t know what to tell you, but its people like Monica who are destroying us from the inside and giving in to her only speeds up the rot.”

At the word, he gave her a sharp glance, but then looked away, resisting the urge to touch the necklace around his neck.

They had arrived at the doors to the counsel room and Enari graciously held the them open for him. They were both heads of guilds and members of the high counsel, but Novwyn was older and more respected than she was. Status and custom dictated that she grant him privilege. He nodded to her and walked in. He wasn’t looking forward to the meeting, but at least he wouldn’t have to think about Monica’s party while he was there.


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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Wed May 27, 2015 2:58 am

Glyndal - High Counsel Room





" />

Earak Dunn stood behind Jovyn’s chair, his hands folded behind his back, as he listened to the counsel meeting. As usual Elynd was doing most of the talking. The High Councilor was always eager to advance his plans for the new construction in Glyndal, or some way to improve the organization of funds and resources in the valley. If he weren’t so self absorbed, Elynd would have been a genius. As it was, half the time Elynd couldn’t get his head out of his own ass long enough to notice what was really going on around him. Even now most of the rest of the counsel members were looking bored and fidgety and it took a lot to make 1000 year old elves fidgety.

Earak was the only non-counsel member in the room, which was why he didn’t have a chair. He was Tarek and though it hadn’t been officially announced yet, everyone knew the High Commanding General was grooming him to take his place as head of the Tarek guild.

Earak glanced at his master. Jovyn was one of the very few elves that showed any sign of age. There were faint wrinkles on his face and the gray strands were barely perceptible in his blonde hair. Jovyn wasn’t actually any older than the other counsel members. Novwyn Wystri was probably more than twice Jovyn’s age, but it had been nearly three hundred years since Jovyn had been in hibernation and Lestari’s preservation magic was beginning to fade. This was why no one opposed Jovyn bringing Earak to the meetings. Seeing the lines and gray hairs in the general’s visage was a reminder of their mortality, something so many of them constantly denied. They’d needed him desperately during the immigration, but now that they had a safe new hole to hide in, they all wanted to see him disappear into the crypts.

“What we really need is improvements on the exterior of the temple,” Ambrosia said, interrupting Elynd. She was always the first to loose patience.

Enari gave the high priestess a dirty look. “The work on the homes is surely more important. There are elves still living in temporary cabins and rough caves. You already have a perfectly nice temple and I fail to see why improvements there should be a priority over actual needs.”

Oh boy, thought Earak. Here we go. The two women couldn’t go a single meeting without at least one argument.

The rest of the members sat up a little more. As useless as these disagreements were, they could at least prove interesting. Earak however didn’t bother to listen.

The counsel room was just on the surface. High cliffs and tall pine trees surrounded a stone dais with slender carved stone arches. Unless you were a squirrel or a bird, the only way to gain access to the place was through the caverns below, but Ambrosia and the other members of the priesthood had placed magical wards all around just the same. For those of the counsel who lived in the lower caverns, being in the sunshine and clean pine air was refreshing. It almost made listing to all the others worth it.

“You will never understand everything Lestari does for our people!” Ambrosia was saying her voice growing close to a shout, “Everything she will do for us in the future. She’s our only hope for salvation, holding back our reverence only brings doom closer to out gates!”

The scorn on Enari’s face was clear, but she knew better than to speak ill of the goddess. “Once our people have true homes to live in, we shall be much more able to give her the due respect you think she is owed. Priorities must be set.”

Ambrosia arched an eyebrow. “I’d think the obvious priority would be for our existence, eventual survival and triumph over the Dreadful Curse, rather than vain luxuries and fancy mansions to sit in.”

“That’s enough,” Elynd said. “Right now the workers will stay focused on the homes, but we can get the architects and the Alano artists to begin work on designs for a greater temple.

Enari looked aghast that her people would be expected to design the building, but then shut her mouth. The Alano were responsible for learning, preserving and continuing the arts and styles of old. That of course included architecture. I was their duty - their purpose to design buildings like this, even if they were for the use of Stareti priests. “I will find out who’s available,” she said, nodding to Elynd.

“Very good,” the high counselor said. Then, before Ambrosia could say a word, “Is there anything else to discuss?”

Jovyn nodded and spoke up. He liked to wait until the end of meetings to say his piece. It made his words more memorable afterwards. “We have made progress in the development of Thorwyn City,” he said, “But it is high time for us to send emissaries out to seek other nations. Lestari spoke of other elves settled both in the northwest and the northeast and trade is necessary if we wish to root ourselves here with any strength. Surely, if salvation is possible, it will be through the blood and blessing of those of our kind not infected with the Dreadful Curse.

Elynd frowned. He was a staunch isolationist and put up resistance toward any efforts that involved foreign negotiations, or the possible risk of discovery and invasion. “Its too dangerous right now,” he said, “We’re still practically defenseless and Autarus will be searching high and low for any rumor of our whereabouts. We must-”

“The General is right,” Ambrosia said, interrupting again, “The most dangerous situation we can be in is one of total ignorance, which is where we are at the moment. We have to know what’s out there, or someone will find us and we will have no preparations at all.”

Both Novwyn and Enari were silent, but there eyes show hesitancy. Like Elynd they were mostly concerned with the affairs of Glyndal and didn’t want to face the world outside. That was the job of the Tarek guild.

“Earak is making plans to send a few different emissaries out, with instructions to be subtle and give as little away as possible. When Jovyn said “Earak” both he and Earak knew he really meant Maryn Flynt. He’d been the Tarek guild master before Jovyn, several centuries ago and, like Jovyn, he’d found it difficult to retire peacefully into hibernation.

Flynt’s astral soul was away at the present, and Earek felt strangely hollow and vulnerable without him. Flynt often used Earak as a host, working through him to get things done in Glyndal. Earak almost felt like he and Maryn were soul mates, they’d spent so much time in the same body.

“I’m making preparations to send two parties of chimera out to seek these foreign elves and other nations,” Earak explained, “One shall go by ship and follow the coastline east and then north. The other will go by land in a direct rout northwest. They will say nothing of Glyndal or elves. They will introduce themselves as emissaries from Weywyn and claim it to be a nation of chimera and humans only. They will gather information, give some gifts and possibility sell a few goods.”

“You spoke of trade,” Enari asked, “Surely you don’t intend to invite foreign ships and merchants to our lands?”

“Not without careful consideration,” Jovyn said, answering for Earak. When Maryn wasn’t in control it was better for Earak not to talk too much. They didn’t want the others noticing a difference, “If they did come, all access would be limited to ports or trading stations in Thorwyn and nothing beyond.”

No one seemed to like the idea of even that little of exposure to the outside world, but no one spoke immediately. Elynd looked at Earak. “See to it that no agreements are made without the Counsel’s consent,” he said, “And if any foreigners are discovered on our lands, or even close to them have the chimera arrest them immediately and hold them.”

“Those orders are already in place,” Earek said, “I plan on raising more scouts to patrol our lands as quickly as possible.”

“Very good,” Elynd said, though he still looked worried. He always did when he was forced to think about foreign affairs. “I think that’s all we need to discuss for today. Lets adjourn until next week.”

No one protested and the counsel members began getting up to go.

Jovyn stood and stretched his back. He was very tall, and slightly more board set than many other elves. He had obvious, brawny strength, rather than the more lithe and nimble muscle of Novwyn, Elynd or Earak . His eyes were grey and they looked tired. A cold breeze blew down and the General grinned when Earak shivered slightly.

“If you want to follow in my footsteps and become Commanding General, you will have to get used to the cold,” he said. “Us Tareks can’t remain constantly hidden in the shelter of Glyndal. We have actual work to do.”

Earak grinned slightly. He knew it was true. While all the other guilds hid away playing with harps, fussing over buaracacy, or pretending to study combat or magic, the Tarek actually faced the world - some of them anyway. Jovyn and Earak would be making a trip to Thorwyn this week, after first stopping by the new outpost to see that it was properly completed.

“I don’t mind the cold,” Earak said and pushed his platinum blonde hair away from his eyes.
“Good,” Jovyn said and handed Earak his cloak, “Because the outside world is a bitter place.”

" />


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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by Admin on Wed May 27, 2015 9:31 pm

Making a Proposal about Something She Knows Nothing About

"Novwyn! I knew you'd come." Monica smiled smugly with large, sensual lips, her ornate dress of fine silk not quite covering everything. She offered Novwyn her arm with the same aggression a warrior might swing a sword at someone, and led him forward with the terrible grip of etiquette.

"Now I know you were probably expecting something a little more lively" She explained as she guided him through gilded caverns of debauchery "But I'll have you know I've been distracted with my own little project. You're always going on about 'duty' and 'contributing' and all that so I thought I'd give it a try, and here it is." She pushed aside the strands of a curtain. Standing in the alcove behind it were several Chimera.

Or not, as Novwyn realized upon closer inspection. They had been Chimera, but their eyes were now made of glass, and he could just make out the subtle stitch-marks where the taxidermist had sewn them together again. They were all in impressive martial poses that were, surprisingly, correct form, and were garbed and geared with only the most fashionable equipment. The armor was embroidered with gold thread and colored with enamel, the helmets being especially fancy (one chimera, a part stag, had its horns gilded), and the pommels and hand grips of the weapons being highly decorated.

"Imagine: an elite, special corpse of Chimera, especially chosen and trained from inception, equipped with only the very best to go out and represent our splendid selves to all the barbarians. I thought it was crazy myself at first, but it grew on me. These are just the concept pieces, but you must let me design their armor. I'll even pay for it myself."

------------------------------------------------
Monica's "Project"
Monica, a greatly influential priestess of the Stareti, has brought a proposal before the council: she wants to create an elite corpse of Chimera soldiers to act as the strong (and stylish) arm of the Weywyn elves throughout the new world. Is she simply making proposals about something she knows nothing about in order to catch eyes and stoke controversy, or might there be merit to her idea?

Accept Her Proposal
While Monica has little experience, she has stumbled upon a good idea, and her offer to donate to the project will certainly not hurt.
-- Gain 1 free Template. Said template MUST be for Chimera and provide Elite training.
-- The first regiment of said template can be purchased at half cost.
-- Monica Quinn gains significant political capital thanks to her proposal being accepted.

Reject the Proposal
Monica is simply trying to get attention. We were getting tired of her parties, so she tried a different tactic.
-- No benefit

Chastise Monica
Chimera are not dolls to use for playing dress up. Monica's little project has wasted valuable lives and slaves.
-- Monica Quinn loses influence and becomes bitter at the council's actions.
-- The Chimera commanders appreciate that they will not be used as stuffed dolls in the future. Increased Chimera loyalty and +5 Gold from extra taxes squeezed out of the humans as thanks.

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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Wed May 27, 2015 10:52 pm

Glyndal

When Monica unveiled her little project there was a gasp from all the surrounding elves and one elf actually let out a small scream.

Novwyn himself stepped back and nearly reached for his swords. The poses and taxidermy had been very well crafted and very few elves had ever seen a chimera. The freakish appearances were very startling and several sets of claws gleamed in the light. One was nearly nine feet tall with a long horse like nose below large, owlish eyes.

“Monica where did you get these?” Novwyn asked in a low voice, keeping his eyes on the stuffed beasts.

Monica Quinn couldn’t have been happier with the reactions around her. Her lips spread in a sensual smile and one hand slipped around Novwyn’s waist.

“Had them shipped in.”

“How?” demanded Novwyn leveling his eyes on Monica. As the guards of Glyndal, the Thallassan Guild was responsible for examining the goods that came in and out of the valley. With all the new construction going on the task had been a little overwhelming lately, but Novwyn was pretty sure a dozen stuffed monsters would have raised some flags with his people.

“That’s my little secret,” Moncia said, with a mischievous grin.

Novwyn frowned. He didn’t know much about elite chimera units. That was the Tarek’s realm of affairs, but he couldn’t allow any smuggling in and out of Glyndal. That could lead to all sorts of dangers in the village and that was his responsibility.

“This is outrageous,” came a voice and Novwyn glanced over at Jovyn Thrace, who was coming out of one of the side rooms and straightening his shirt. He glared up at the platform of chimera with angry grey eyes. “The chimera are not dolls to be played with, Monica. They aren’t for dress up or party entertainment.”

“Oh please, General,” scoffed Monica, “Anything can become entertainment.” She squeezed her arm around Novwyn a little as she said it. He shifted and stepped out of her grip.

“The Chimera aren’t like human slaves. They’re extremely valuable,” Jovyn admonished.

“The General does have a point,” Ambrosia said, stepping up. Her red hair was pinned back with opal pins and her blue eyes snapped with a lively energy only she seemed to possess. “But on the other hand, it’s good to see you trying to be productive and contribute.” The high priestess smiled at Monica and then glanced over at Jovyn, “You do always complain how Glyndal never contributes enough to your little armies of freaks. Monica here is offering to put up substantial amounts of gold and only asks for a little allowance in the way of fashion in return.”

Monica smirked back and crossed her arms. “So what will it be, General? Do you want my help or not?”

Jovyn scowled. It was true enough that he basically had to scrape and beg to get Elynd to provide even the most essential funds to the outside armies.

“What in Lestari’s name!?”

Elynd Landri had just arrived and he stared up at the display aghast. “What in the world is going on here?”

“I think we may need to call another counsel meeting, Elynd,” Ambrosia said.

Elynd just opened and then closed his mouth.

---

Arguments were even more heated than usual at the next meeting, but eventually even Jovyn admitted that however ridiculous and frivolous the offer, he couldn’t afford to turn away the offer of so much gold. “Just make sure she doesn’t design armor that’s going to get in the way or cause undue risks,” he sighed, “And make sure this doesn’t happen again. I rather not have rumors of this getting back out to the rest of the chimera.”

“I’ll make sure I find out how the bodies got in,” Novwyn said and he meant it. He’d get the secret out of Monica one way or another.

Elynd was still steaming. He’d spoken out against the idea rather fervently, but in the end only Enari had been on his side. “See that you do,” he snapped and then took a deep breath, “An Ambosia, try to keep you people more in line. Stareti desire for flare and drama has gotten us into trouble before this.”

Ambrosia scoffed and leaned back in her chair. She still had on her party dress and it showed off her bosom with free exaggeration. “I think you all might be over reaction a little. Chimera aren’t cheap, but they’re just fancy guard dogs at the end of the day. It’s good for people to have hobbies and interests. It keeps…” she hesitated slightly. No one liked to talk about the elves that faded into despondency and total disinterest in everything around them. “ … It keeps them engaged.”

No one was in the mood to argue more after that. Ambrosia wrote a letter to Monica, accepting her proposal and congratulating her on her proactive generosity and Jovyn began making notes on the sort of training and selection process he would arrange for this new order of guards.

---
The High Counsel accepts Monica Quinn’s proposal on the condition that she reveals the all details on how she smuggled the Chimera dolls into the valley to the Thallassan guards.




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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Fri May 29, 2015 3:22 pm

West of Weywyn

Ostia’s body slipped through the water with the grace of a swallow on wing. Her strong tail lashed, giving her speed and direction and the cold water moved past her scales with barely a ripple. Under the gleaming surface, her mottled blue and silver form was visible as little more than a streak of light.

Flynt had come to love possessing chimera. They were amazing beasts. He was well over a thousand years old and it was easy to think he’d seen everything, but every chimera was something new, something strange and unique. He loved exploring their varied strengths, it wasn’t always easy to tell on the outside what small advantages a chimera may have. Every time he took one over it was like unwrapping an unknown package. Ostia, for example, besides being an excellent swimmer, had a surprisingly good sense of smell and her long whiskers also extremely sensitive. They brushed over the dark and uneven lake bottom, and Flynt was pretty sure he couldn’t have found the shellfish without them. He dug them out with tiny almost needle like claws at the end of Ostia’s webbed hands then darted toward the surface with a slash of her powerful tail.

The sun was out and, despite the cold air, it was quite pleasant around the lake. Flynt shook and the water flew off Ostia’s scales like water off a ducks back. Only the mane of coarse horsehair continued to drip, sending rivulets down her back and then along her tail. Dropping the shellfish into a woven basket, Flynt wrung out the mane and then picked up her dress, pulling it on over the small but elegant breast and smooth silver skin of Ostia’s body.

Marius was sitting at a desk set up in the little camp constructed at the lakeshore. He was surprisingly normal for a chimera. There was nothing blatantly bestial about him. True, he was well over seven feet tall, had six fingers on his left hand, grayish skin, one emerald green eye and one solid back and long braided hair was randomly threaded through by three different colors, black, blond and buckskin brown, but no claws, no fur or strange appendages. Marius Blackeye was down right mundane.

Or so he appeared.

Having possessed Marius, Flynt knew Marius’s freak oddity was his mental capacities and will power. The first time he’d tried to take over Marius’s body, the chimera had rebuffed him with a force he had never seen and never expected to see in these beasts. After that, he’d followed and watched Marius carefully from the outside. The chimera could instantly memorize anything, calculate the exact numbers of bees in a hive simply by looking at it and precisely survey a swath of country simply by walking it in a circle. The chimera had also been able to sense him and even pin point him well enough to confront Flynt after only a few days of being haunted. It had taken a little time, but eventually he’d won Marius over to his side. It was true the chimera didn’t wholly trust him, but that was just another sign of the chimera’s intelligence. The best part of that Marius was quite. He didn’t let others know how smart he was and never gave up a secret he didn’t need to, or garnered for attention and praise. The two of them actually had a lot in common, which made Flynt slightly nervous.

“These are defiantly, Barrian mollusks,” Flynt said in Ostia’s voice. “The dye made from them is quite valuable, or it was in the Old World. The population here is more than enough to support quite and industry.”

Marius looked up from the maps and notes he was working on and nodded. “Yes, Captain. I’ll write up a full report on them.”

Flynt wrung out Ostia’s mane once more and walked over to take a pear from a bowl on the desk. Even for Gills, swimming was hungry work. “Rolo and Brawyn are still testing the soil in the forest north of here. Looks like very fertile grounds, as well as good lumber. I was with them this morning.”

Marius nodded. Captain Ostia hadn’t left the shore, but Marius knew Rolo was a host. Out of the three hosts Flynt had taken on this trip, Marius was the only one who knew the truth about all three. They didn’t talk about it out loud, but Marius didn’t talk much at all. Looking back down at his work, the chimera dipped his pin in ink and continued his detailed and elegant work of drawing out a map of the shoreline.

“I’ll be away this evening, but will want to check your work on the maps before morning,” Flynt said.

“I will be sure to leave the candles where you can find them.”

Flynt eyed, the chimera. He spoke with a deep, completely emotionless tone. He always did, never revealing anything. To those who didn’t work with him regularly, Marius often seemed brutish and dumb because of his reluctance to speak and inaptitude for engaging emotions. Flynt knew better, but Marius was still one of the most difficult people to read.

While Marius allowed Flynt to possess him without question or complaint these days, Flynt was still uncertain how the chimera truly viewed the invasion. Ostia saw it as a desirable, even spiritual occurrence, welcoming Flynt into her mind like she would welcome a lover into her bed. Rolo hated it, but was too confused and frightened to object or tell anyone, mastering the little Wing was like ordering an unwilling child to eat his supper or starve, took some stern words and a slap or two, but was easy to understand. Marius, however, just accepted wordlessly and went about the rest of his duties and work as if it never happened.

Silence hung few a few moments and then Flynt finished the pear and threw the core into the lake. Turning inward, he touched Ostia’s sleeping consciousness, waking her and giving her an enough impression of what had been happening to keep her from being confused, or caught off guard. She clung to his consciousness slightly, reluctant to let him go, wanting his attention. He let a little fondness slip through his thoughts, while their minds briefly sheared consciousness. She was a good host, beautiful and strong. Her body served him well and she pleased him with her compliance and responsibility. He could sense her pride and pleasure, as he slipped away.





Marius could just see Ostia from the corner of his eyes, as he working on the map. She quivered slightly and smiled at nothing in particular, her tail gave a satisfied twitch and then wrapping around one ankle. The elf didn’t twitch the tail the way Ostia did. It was a prominent enough habit that the elf didn’t leave it out completely, but he didn’t use it as and extension of his expressions the same way the captain did. For Ostia it was as natural a smile, or an eye blink. The elf treated it more like a prop and sometimes seemed to forget it completely.

The elf didn’t stay long. His presence hung about them for a moment or two then he was gone. Ostia glanced at her wet mane and damp dress, clearly trying to piece together her activities while he’d been in control.

“Hope you got to enjoy your swim, while collecting the mollusks Captain,” Marius said, sounding casual.

“Yes, quite. It’s a good day for it,” she answered, flicking the last water off her tail and stretching slightly in the sunshine. “You have all the information you need to write up your reports?”

“Yes Captain.”

“Very good. I’m going to change back into my armor then. Tell the others to report to me when they get back.”

“Yes Captain.”

Ostia walked off, her tail twitching in rhythm with her steps. She was pretty good at keeping natural and maintaining consistency, but there was a slight dreaminess to her these days. Marius could remember what Ostia had been like before she’d encounter the elf. She’d been tough and ambitious, a strong, assertive office. Now…. She’d mellowed out, given her personal ambitious away in order to serve him completely. Though it wasn’t obvious to most people, Ostia Silverscale was broken. She was a glove who only cared for the hand. One day he would cast her aside and she would have nothing but an empty, hollow life.

The quill pen twitched in Marius’s hand and a slight crease appeared between his mismatched eyes. It was the only sign on anger he revealed and there was no one there to see it, before it vanished and he leaned back over his work.
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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:17 pm

Thorwyn

“Marius!”

His commander’s voice had that furious tone he often used when speaking to him. The tone that sounded as if he’d like nothing better than the drag Marius out by his scruff and thrash him in the courtyard.  His commander didn’t have very much patients with what he called “Scrappies”, chimera who weren’t born with any significant advantage, or may have been born with a feature that was handicap or a hindrance. He’d beaten a young chimera to death last week, because his mismatched legs made him too slow and gimpy.

The commander was stomping down the hall in a hurry and got to Marius’s door, just as Marius finished hiding his papers and books and was coming around the desk. They met in the doorwar, coming face to face as the commander jerked it open.

Marius was taller, by nearly a foot, but Commander Gydion Strongclaw was much boarder, with shoulders as muscular as an ox and a big barrel chest. A hard almost plate like exoskeleton or a turtle’s shell grew like natural armor on Gydion’s shoulders and back, black as onyx and in place of a left hand was a huge lobster-like claw, strong enough to crush a person’s head like a grape, or snap limbs like twigs. Add to this, cloven hooves hard as steel, boar-like tusks visible over his lips and small beady eyes, and the commander was certainly one of the most dangerous looking chimera in Thorwyn. Gydion had the attitude and reputation to match his appearance.

Grabbing Marius by his shirtfront, the commander jerked him roughly out into the hall. Marius was just glad he’s used his hand and not his claw. “What the hell is wrong with you,” Gydion snarled, “Why are you always locked away in you room hm? Don’t you know how to do anything useful?”

Marius didn’t answer, just looked blankly back. Gydion thought he was an empty headed moron and nothing Marius could say was going to change that, assuming Marius even wanted him to think otherwise.

Gydion shook his head, scoffing. “This is idiocy! I told them you were noting but a scrappy idiot, missing a few cogs in the brain, but they didn’t listen.” With a disgusted snort, the commander crossed his arms his huge claw resting across his barrel chest like a sledgehammer. He stared at Marius a few moments trying to glare him down, but Marius just held the gaze with a blank look. “Pack your things, Soldier!” Gydion finally ordered, delivering it in an angry shout. “You’ve been promoted out of here.”

“Yes Sir,” Marius said, betraying nothing in his voice.

His lack of shock only seemed in make Gydion more angry and the commander suddenly swung his claw, catching Marius hard in the side of the head and sending him tumbling down the hall, as if his seven-foot-four-inch frame hadn’t been any heavier than a two month old puppy. There was a crunching sound and Marius wasn’t quite sure if he was his skull or the wooden wall that’d cracked.

As violent as Gydion was, he usually didn’t hit his men without at least one good reason. Though, Marius, considered through a whirl of pain and dizziness, I’m not really one of his men any longer and he’s been wanting to do this for years.

He heard the thud - thud of Gydion’s hooves walking toward him and muttered oaths. Marius didn’t try to get up, or defend himself. Gydion wasn’t stupid enough to kill him and risk angering the elves and the less Marius did to provoke the commander the sooner he’d go on his way.

“Slack brained Scrappy!” Gydion snorted and one hoof caught Marius in the chest. This time he was pretty sure the crunching was one of his ribs.  “You are to report to the City Hall this evening.” There was a flutter of paper, as Gydion dropped some pages to the floor beside him. “There are you orders and official release from my command. I’m just hoping this is all a hoax or something. Heard the elves killed and stuffed some useless Scrappies not so long ago, maybe that’s what’s really going on here.”

With that the thump of Gydion’s hooves continued on down the hall and down the steps.

Marius pushed the papers away, so they wouldn’t get blood on them as he coughed and struggled to sit up. His head was spinning, threatening to sink into unconsciousness and his chest felt like a tree had fallen on it, but he could also sence the deep magic of healing beginning to stir like dormant coals coming to life at the heave of the bellows.

Marius counted to 30, letting the pain wash by and focusing his control over it all. Then he gathered the papers and got up, only swaying a little. His vision cleared enough and he glanced over his new orders.

He’d been promoted to captain and given command of a special exploration and emissary mission. The Elf had indicated that something like this was going to happen, but Marius had expected it to be like the last mission, with Ostia or some other already ranking chimera in command and Marius going along as just another host to spy through.

After reading through all the papers twice, Marius carefully folded them and placed them in a pocket, before whipping away the blood trickling down his face and going back into his little cell of a room. He’d need a good smoke after that beating and then he’d have to get cleaned up and packed.

The chimera weren’t paid with silver or gold. In exchange for life long service, they were given food, board and Kypher. For the chimera, Kypher was more valuable than any gold, jewels to other possible reward they could receive.

The dried, bluish leaves were given out in small bags along with the paper needed to roll it. There was barely enough for them to have one or two smokes a day, assuming no one stole their stash, but it was greatly coveted. It was as about as necessary as water or breathing for most of them and much more satisfying. Marius rolled his Kypher with deft fingers, striking a spark in his tender box impatiently.  When he’d finally lit up, he drew in deeply and then leaned back against the wall with a sigh of deep relief.  Burning kypher gave off a sweetish small a little like sun-ripened tomatoes, mixed with something spicy. It worked quickly, washing away the pain and pushing anxiety from his mind, making room for high spiraling thoughts of little practical consequence, but much peace, color and existential musing.

Though it wasn’t commonly known or talked about, Marius knew there was magic in the drug. The healing, which could awaken inside them, was fueled by the kypher and there was more than that. It connected them to some other will, some influence that subtly worked on them like a baker steadily kneading bread dough. He’d become more aware of it since The Elf started using him. The magic he felt in the kypher was like an invisible mental rope, something the elf could use to help pull his way inside and force his dominance. Marius doubted he’d ever really understand it all. The chimeras were products of great magic. They were fed on and bound by it through the kypher, but they were kept in darkness about how any of it worked. Most didn’t even know the kypher was a source magic. They just knew they needed to have it. Anyone who went too long without a smoke was driven crazy with a craving that was worse than thirst or starvation. They became physically weak and shaky, growing mad with delirium and fever. Though he’d never seen it happen, it was assumed by all that eventually the deprivation would kill them as surely as starvation, suffocation or dehydration.

Marius watched the blue smoke swirl around him and felt the almost soothing burn of the rapid healing happing inside him. There was no need for chains, whips or overlords when it came to the chimera. All the elves needed was a little sweet smelling blue smoke. A moronically amused smile spread on Marius’s wide grey lips.
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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:38 pm

Thorwyn

Flynt was in Earak and it was nice to be here after gallivanting around lakes and forests in the chimera. Earek Dunn had left hibernation shortly after Flynt had gone into it and since he was Tarek and highborn, he’d made an ideal first choice as a host. Over the last century Earak’s body had become more familiar and conferrable than his own, which was sleeping endlessly in depths of the caverns, being of no use to anyone.

Earek was quite beautiful, even by elven standards, with fine platinum blonde hair, soft as feathers to the touch, large grey eyes, high delicate ears and cheekbones and a figure that was small, but extremely agile and graceful. His skin was porcelain pale and along with his platinum hair and grey eyes, it made Earek seem like white mist given form.

After so much time in the same body, Earek and Flynt had a soul connection that made it possible for them to both maintain consciousness and control without getting signals mixed up and sending the body into a kind of epileptic fit. So they were standing together watching patiently from Earek’s place behind High Commander Jovyn Thrace’s chair.

The throne room at Thorwyn’s city hall was still little more than a large office with a big desk set by a fireplace and above some benches and an open space. Usually the chimera governor would occupy the desk, but it’d been swiftly cleared to make room for Jovyn when he’d arrived in the city. Not many of the chimera spoke regularly with elves or even saw them, but, whenever and elf did come among them, they made every effort to please them. There were stories about what happened to those who did not please an elf, so Jovyn and Earek were practically hailed as visiting gods.

The fire was warm and bright. Fine food has been set close at hand on the top of the desk and each and every chimera bowed as soon as they came into the presence of the elves. It was no different when the governor brought newly appointed Captain Marius Blackeye into the chamber. Both dropped to their knees in the open space before the desk and pressed their foreheads to the cold stone of the floor.

“Governor,” Jovyn greeted, “You may rise.”

The governor of Thorwyn was a female chimera named Borella Tusk. She had dark brown fur on most of her body and very powerful back legs with large powerful feet, like an oversized hare or a kangaroo. The desk Jovyn was sitting at had been build with a good deal of space underneath to accommodate her. Ears like a wolf stood out from a mop of thick back hair and a boar’s snout complete with two sharp tusks dominated her face. She rocked back up onto her large feet with a compliant speed, but didn’t look Jovyn in the eyes.

“My lord,” she said, “I present to you Marius Blackeye, whom you sent for. I have all his papers in order.” She stepped up and placed some folded papers on Jovyn’s desk.

“Thank you Govorner,” Jovyn said nodded to Borella as he took up the papers. He only glanced at them before passing them back to Flynt and Earek to hold. He then looked back at Borella, “What do you know of him? Can you give any insight beyond the official records?”

Jovyn liked to get the opinions of the chimera themselves. Unlike many elves he wasn’t completely dismissive of everything and everyone who wasn’t of Glyndal and he knew he didn’t spend enough time among the soldiers to fully understand all those he had to place trust in. He needed to rely on the higher officers. He’d chosen Borella carefully not just because she was a strong and a high-ranking officer, but because he knew that she had both loyalty and sound judgment. Borella use to get nervous when he asked such questions, unsure how best to please him, but eventually she’d learned that it was blunt honesty he appreciated most.

“I don’t know much about him personally, My lord,” she answered, “He was raised under commander Gydion Strongclaw, but has also gone on missions under Captain Ostia Silverscale, Captain Zeb Finn and worked for some years under Sectary Owlsie Browning during the immigration. Browning spoke very well of him, before his death though Marius was still very young at the time. Silverscale always gave satisfied reports, but Finn complained regularly that Marius was far too passive and needed to be goaded to take any action. His commander, Gydion Strongclaw, has written several strongly worded complaints, claiming Marius to be weak, stupid, lazy and unsociable with the rest of the company. He even sent in a request to have Marius Blackeye terminated as a defective.

It was in response to this request that I encountered Marius myself, as I reviewed several of Gydion’s termination requests in person. Best I can tell, while Marius Blackeye had no outstanding advantages, he is strong and healthy, with above average skill in most of the usual weapons, no physical handicaps and an extremely compliant and obedient manner. He is perhaps a little soft spoken and strange, but I couldn’t find any biases for termination.”

Borella hesitated slightly then finished her oral report, “However, I wouldn’t recommend him for promotion or as a commander for such an important and delicate mission. While it’s true that his appearance may cause less offence to other races, he has yet to prove himself an ambitious fighter, or strong leader and I have my doubt that he ever shall.”

“Thank you, Governor.” Jovyn said. While she’d spoken, he’d watched Marius, but the chimera hadn’t moved or even twitched from his place on the floor. He’d heard Flynt’s report, but he still wasn’t completely convinced. The body-snatching, mind-bonding magic Flynt practiced seemed like a rather unreliable way to judge others. “You may go,” he told Borella, “Leave some guards outside the door. I will be sending for you again shortly.”

“As you wish, My lord,” Borella said and bowed once more, before backing from the room, where two guards were standing. The doors shut with a thud and the little throne room was quite.

You’re certain about this one? Earek thought to Flynt eyeing the Chimera still pressing his forehead to the stones before them.

Trust me that he’s smarter than he allows his commanders to see.

If you say so, Earek thought back.

“Get up,” Jovyn ordered.

Silently, Marius lifted his head and got to his feet, his tricolored hair hanging in a long neat braid over his shoulder.

“You’ve been given a promotion to captaincy and will be leading a mission to seek out other nations along the northeastern coastline. I’m giving you this promotion not biased on the reports of your peers and fellow chimera, but because of a favorable report from one of my own. He said you would understand what I mean by this. Is that true?”

“Yes, my lord.” Marius’s mismatched eyes lifted slightly and flicked from Jovyn to Earek and Flynt in a knowing manner. “I know of whom you speak and am aware that he is here with us now.”

Jovyn lifted a brow and rubbed his chin. Even after a hundred years, he sometimes had trouble telling weather it was Maryn Flynt, Earek Dunn, or both in the body of his apprentice and Marius seemed aware of Flynt without even knowing Earek at all.

“That is impressive. Flynt has told me that the maps and most of the reports that came from the westward exploration last month were your work.”

“Yes, My Lord, though Lord Flynt also did a good deal of that work himself.”

Jovyn glanced at Earek and Flynt then back down at Marius. “You’re smart and know how to make a good map, but this act you have going isn’t going to serve us well. You hide like a mouse under the floor boards, watching the world going on all around you and praying no one notices in the fear of being stepped on.”

Flynt smirked ever so slightly. It was an app description, not only of Marius but of most of Glyndal as well. Jovyn had accused the Elynd Landri and the rest of the High Counsel of being mice on more than one occasion. If they were feeling gracious they attributed it to his cantankerous attitude and didn’t get too offended.

“You will need to step up and speak up, if you’re going to be a leader and a representative,” Jovyn continued.

“Yes, My Lord,” Marius answered automatically.

Jovyn frowned slightly. “Do you think you can do this, Marius?”

Marius was quite a moment. Despite being an elf, Jovyn Thrace had a away of talking that encouraged trust and honesty. It hadn’t been what he’d expected and he contemplated telling the High Commander that he couldn’t do this. Tell him The Elf was wrong or at least overestimating him and he really couldn’t lead anyone. In the long run it would probably be better to live out his life in quite anonymity. It was all he’d really wanted for most of his life The attention of elves wasn’t likely to lead anywhere good for his kind, especially if something happened to cause him to fail them. However, it was a little too late now. Going back to Gydion’s company wouldn’t put him in a safer position and this mission would be his chance to see the world and learn more than anyone else in Weywyn. The lure of that knowledge, the idea of other nations and a wide free world, was too much to pass up.

Lifting his head he actually looked Jovyn in the eyes. “I can do this, My lord. I will not let you or Lord Flynt down.” He glanced at Earek and Flynt again. “I assume he will be accompanying the mission in his own manner?”

“Yes,” Flynt said, speaking in Earek’s clear tenor. “You and I will be working together quite closely.”

“Ultimately this will be Flynt’s mission,” Jovyn said, “You and the men under your command will obey his orders and keep the secrets he orders kept, but officially all the responsibility will be under you name, Captain.”

“I understand, My lord.” Marius said.

Jovyn nodded, “You will be given a small ship and a crew. There are rumors of elves far to the north. You are to follow the coastline gathering information on any nations or peoples you encounter, making maps and notes and searching out rumors on these other elves. Find them and learn all you can.”

“Yes, My lord.” Marius said, in his usual tone, but his interest was peeked. So that was what they were looking for, more of their own kind.

Marius didn’t know much about elves, at least nothing more than the elves themselves allowed to be known. Supposedly, they were powerful and favored people of the goddess. Immortal and blessed above all others and living in a great magical valley, invisible to all other people and where all the beautiful things they could ever desire were readily available. They were angels, barely below the gods themselves, old and wise beyond words. However, Marius knew they were hiding and those who had something to hide usually had something to fear and those who lived in fear were those without the power necessary to save themselves.

“You leave in five days,” Jovyn announced, “Further details and arrangements shall be organized between you and your ship captain, Thaddeus Wart, by Governor Tusk.”

Marius remained quite and Jovyn eyed him a moment before announcing, “You are dismissed Captain Blackeye. Tell the guards to send the Governor in about five minutes from now.”

“Yes, My Lord” Marius said and gave a deep bow, before backing out of the room.

Jovyn scoffed once the doors such behind him. “I can see why this mutt hasn’t been exactly popular. His blank face and emotionless compliance is infuriating. It’s like talking to a blank wall and the idea that there might be something clever and shifty behind that wall, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, Flynt.”

Flynt chuckled. “I’ll need to break some new habits into him, shake him out so to say, but eventually I expect Marius to be an extremely useful servant. I won’t be able to constantly haunt the ship and those upon it. We will need someone capable of craftiness, keeping secrets and noticing the details of people and events around him, for the times when I’m not there to lead the mission.”

“Well assuming his own men don’t mutiny against him for being too passive and soft spoken, he may be the chimera you need, but these are chimera we’re talking about. They respect strength and boldness, not crafty intellectuals.”

“Let them try to munity,” Earek said, and Jovyn could only barely tell his apprentice from his spymaster, by a slight sift in the tone of voice. “It’s the best thing that can happen. With Flynt controlling him, Marius Blackeye will be able to beat a small crew of mutineers even if they all attacked at once. Once he’s proved himself in a fight like that, they won’t dare to question him again.”

Jovyn sighed and leaned back. “It’s risky.”

“I’ll see to it that the fight is controlled,” Flynt said, “It isn’t hard to get into the minds of these beasts. I’ll determine the time, the place. We will loose a few of the crew, but the point made will be worth it.”

Jovyn scowled. He generally disapproved of anything that ended with reckless killing. He’d been a general over the elven forces back before they’d had chimera to fight for them, in the early years of the curse. He’d learned his trade at a time when the life of each and every soldier was a precious thing. His conservative style of leadership had carried on, even though he no longer gambled with the lives of his own people, but with the lives of their monstrous creations.

“Do what you must to lock down control of this mission, Flynt, but try not to waist my good men.”

“I understand.”

There was a sound of the doors opening again and Jovyn turned as the Governor entered and once against prostrated herself on the floor in a deep bow.

Flynt smirked slightly as he watched the High Commander interacting with his chimera. Jovyn was something special among elves. It was going to be a real shame when he finally submitted to hibernation.




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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by Admin on Mon Jun 08, 2015 4:05 pm

Despair

Two more deaths. A pair of lovers by the look of it. Hands entwined, eyes facing each other, naked, they had said their goodbyes and slit each other's throats. The blood had pooled into the mattress, leaving a thick, heavy stain on the white cloth. This was no act of rash despair - it was counseled, calculated, and decided upon. No doubt they had seen the "courage" of others and decided to end their misery - the horrid curse of stasis that had plagued the elves of Weywyn for centuries. No doubt they felt they couldn't take it any more.

This was the fifth incident in the last two weeks. Despair was weighing heavily on the elves. Wrenching away the last shades of familiarity had left them adrift in the new world, and some were now deciding it was time to give up. Every loss was irreplaceable. Something had to be done. The despair had to be stopped.

---------------------------------------------
Elven Despair
A rash of suicides in Glyndel has exposed a mood of despair and fatalism among the ruling elves. Something must be done, for every death bring Weywyn closer to implosion.

Host a Grand Party
A great party will get elven minds off their predicament and help them live again.
-- pay 8 Gold and 6 Food to host a lavish party
-- Suicides are stopped as the elves briefly have something to take their minds off despair.

Allow Elves to leave Glyndel
If carefully managed and guarded, allowing elves to leave will lift their spirits and give them hope. The danger of the outside world is less than the danger of lonesome despair if we do nothing.
-- Slightly increased chance of Glyndel's location/existence being discovered.
-- The elves interact with the kingdom they now rule

No Elf Goes Alone!
There is safety in numbers. Strict rules must be passed: no elf is to live alone or be left unattended. Razors and other potential suicide tools should be removed. We will persevere!
-- Regulations stop the spread of suicide.
-- Some elves may resent the new rules, and the despair suicidal elves feel is not addressed.

Redouble our Efforts
We need good news - soon. Find a way to cure the curse and allow us to have children. Any way.
-- Despair increases every turn until you can find and announce a potential way to remove the curse.
-- The Elve's hope will be sharply pinned on whatever method you find. If it does not work, things will be worse than before.

Do Nothing
Those who cannot persevere are unworthy of the eventual salvation we will achieve.
-- Mood continues to get worse in Glyndal. More suicides are likely.

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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:22 pm

Glyndal - High Counsel Room



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“This is the worst it’s been in centuries, we need to take action” Elynd said standing under the huge redwood growing at the front of the counsel deck.

The high counsel was gathered in their secret grove, trying to find a solution to the deaths spreading among the people. There’d been eight deaths in only two weeks, the highest suicide rate any since before they’d began worshiping Lestari.

“Coming to a new world, defeating are ancient enemies once and for all, you’d think these recant events would encourage the people, not lead to this despair,” Elynd continued.

“We have all lost another home,” Enari said quietly, “Everything that was left to us was lost in the Old World, the places we were once happy, the old valleys, it was our home, Elynd, and for many a home was all they had left.”

Ambrosia glared over at Enari. The high priestess was standing at the edge of the deck under a pine tree smoking a cigarette of kypher on a long holder. Bluish smoke rose around her rising toward the rainy sky and the tall cliff tops above. Ambrosia was maintaining a spell to keep the rain from falling down on the counsel, but the dreary atmosphere couldn’t be held off and felt all too appropriate for the topic of conversation.  

“That’s such an Alano sentiment, Nari,” Ambrosia said, disgust rife in her tone, “And it’s exactly what’s causing all this. Clinging to the past, lamenting over old memories and lost history, trying to maintain romantic ideals of outdated principles, that’s what’s killing our people, Alano sentimentality.”

Enari’s whipped her head around toward Ambrosia and her dark eyes snapped. “Our history is what gives us meaning and identity, Brosia. If anything’s behind this despaired it’s the Staretti pushing immorality and the empty promises of a twisted goddess!”

There was a stunned silence for a moment and Enari bit her lip. “I meant no blasphemy,” she said after a moment.

“I think you did,” Ambrosia hissed back, “You never have believed and clearly hate-”

“Enough!” Elynd said stepping forward, “This is no time for us to be accusing each other of anything. We’re here to try to address the problem, not to cast blame.”

The two women glared at each other for a last hateful moment, but then turned away. Enari smoothed her dress and Ambrosia sighed, letting out a stream of smoke, as she glanced up at the sky. “As you wish Elynd,” she said.

The Astran High Counselor folded his hands behind his back and a misty breeze ruffled his brown hair, as he gathered his words. “Enari may be right. Many elves probably feel a further loss of identity and history because of the move to a new world and the loss of the old.”

Ambrosia scoffed slightly, but didn’t interrupt. Elynd ignored her and looked at Enari. “However, the Alano guild did manage to save many artifacts of our history, art and culture and bringing them with us. I want to remind the people of that, give us all a chance to properly remember the Old World, celebrate the good, recording what isn’t already written and laying aside the bad to be peacefully put to rest. But most importantly, I want to also take steps toward building something new.” Elynd lifted his arms and his face to the sky and the trees. “We need to see this world as a new beginning, a brand new chance to live.”

Closing his brown eyes Elynd took a deep breath, smelling the pines and the sent of the rain, feeling the cold mist on his face, listening to the patter of rain in the forest. Though he was over a thousand years old, Elynd Landri had always been able to feel young, when he really needed it. Right now he needed it. He needed to feel young and glad to be alive. He needed to bring this to his people and he couldn’t do that without first bringing it to himself. Breathing deeply he reached inside and found a lightness and part of himself unaffected by centuries of despair. He grabbed hold of that and let it fill him up. He spun where his stood, like a child taking in the world and trying to embrace the sky. Then he lowered his arms and let out a small laugh. He could do this.

“This is a new world, new life is waiting for us, the destruction of the old was a break in the cycle a changing of the rules. Our enemies have perished and Antarus is weaker than he ever was before.” Clenching a fist, Elynd lifted with a determined manner, “Our time is coming my friends. Our salvation, our cure, our life and our victory are here in this world. I can feel it, like I can feel the rain on my face and the earth under my feet.” He stamped a boot.

Turning his head toward Jovyn and Earak, he began giving orders, “I want the Tarek to redouble efforts to explore the world. I know I’ve been reluctant in the past to fund your efforts, but I see now why we must pursue any knowledge we can gather about this place and those around us. If there are other elves out there, find them. If Antarus is out there acting against us, stop him. If, somewhere in this wide, wild, beautiful new world there is anything that can help us break our curse, get it.”

Jovyn nodded and, inside of Earak, Flynt smiled slightly. It was true Elynd Landri was a little too in love with the sound of his own voice, but there was a reason he’d risen to High Counselor so fast. There was a force in Elynd, something bright and strong that most elves had lost centuries ago. It was hope. In Elynd hope was genuine and it was what the people needed in a leader, it was what the counsel needed.

“Ambrosia,” Elynd continued, turning his commanding tones to the priestess, “I want the Staretti to redouble their efforts. Lestari promised us centuries ago that she could save us. She took us safely out of the destruction of the Old World, and foiled our enemies’ attempts to follow. She’s given us the power to live forever, the power to create new races and rule over them. I have faith in her and still believe that she will be able to break the curse. Keep on learning the secrets she teaches, keep practicing and keep on spreading her worship, remind the people of all that she’s done for us and all that she’s promised.”

“Enari,” Elynd turned to her next, “The Alano are responsible for preserving the art, culture and identity of our people, I’m going to give you as much money as you need. Rally our people. Remind them of who they are, lead them in efforts to embrace a new world and a new era. Throw festivals, build dance halls, have feasts, paint murals, sculpt statues, write new books and new music. Do whatever it takes and get the rest to follow you. You need to give them courage and remind them who we are and why we can never give up. Why we can’t just lie down and die and let all of this fade to nothing. Remind the people that they have a responsibility to our history, our culture, our race and preserving that is more important than personal happiness. Remind them that we have a responsibility too keep on living and give them something to do, something to fight for.”

“I will,” Enari promised.

Elynd nodded and then turned to Novwyn. This time when he spoke his tone was a little grimmer. “Enari will do her best, but not everyone will listen. You need to organize the Thallassan Guard, Novwyn. Your purpose is to protect this valley from threats and I know this isn’t what you would want, but our own people are the threat right now. Don’t go storming around kicking in doors, but organize patrols and send out spies. Try to find out who are the high-risk subjects and who might be encouraging or romantizing suicide. Stop these killings before they can happen, take away weapons, making sure no one is living in isolation, arrest anyone who you think is going to try and kill themselves, anyone who even considers it. Lestari gave us hibernation for a reason. They can find peace, without killing themselves. There is another option and if they won’t take it for themselves, we will have to make them. If any more suicides occur, cover it up. Don’t let the news get around. Tell the people the person chose hibernation as away of escape, finding personal rest, but still maintaining their responsibility to the community. I want the Thallassan secretly investigating every household in Glyndal, I want you to have an ear in every conversation. This sudden break out seems almost too organized and rapid. If there’s someone behind this, someone or something that’s purposely encouraging suicide, find them.”

Novwyn nodded. He didn’t like to think that anyone would be trying to get elves to kill themselves, but it was possible.

“I’ll start giving regular speeches to the people, and so will the rest of the Astra officials, encouraging hibernation as an alternative, reminding them of the work we have here, and spreading announcements of Enari’s plans for cultural revival.”

Elynd looked around at all the other members of the counsel, “We will get through this. The five guilds are meant to keep our people safe, keep us busy and give us families and purpose. Fighting among ourselves is pointless. Let’s remember our purposes and work together to remind the people.”  

----

Elynd Landri takes the lead in fighting against the outbreak of suicides and organized all the guilds into action.

The Tarek, with the help of Maryn Flynt, will increase efforts to explore the outside world and look for new elves, signs of Antarus working against them and any leads that could help break the curse.

The Staretti will increase their worship to Lestari, seeking greater secrets and encouraging religious participation among the rest of the people, both in Glyndal and outside.

The Alano will be given funding for a cultural revival, including a party, but mostly for cultural projects, such as new songs, books, art and increasing the awareness and participation in these activities.

The Thalassan, under the command of Novwyn Westri, will increase security, removing weapons, enforce more restrictions, but primary began organizing espionage against the Glyndal elves, recruiting informants, and seeking out those who are considering it or sympathize with the idea of suicide. High-risk subjects will be arrested along with those who seem to be spreading the idea. All future suicides will be covered up.

The Astra, led by Elynd Landri, will felicitate the organization, communication and funding of all the other efforts and will spread counter propaganda, against the idea of suicides and promoting hibernation as a better, more responsible option, and encouraging the elves to find a new purpose and new hope in their new home.

Cultural Rival
A great party will get elven minds off their predicament and help them live again, and a renewal of cultural pride and national awareness is probably help even more.
-- Pay 10 Gold and 2 Food to throw festivals and fund cultural projects.

No Elf Goes Alone!
There is safety in numbers. Strict rules must be passed: no elf is to live alone. Weapons and other potential suicide tools should be removed and espionage efforts to find highrisk subjects before they can kill themselves will be undertaken. Future suicides will be covered up and the Thalassan will try to find a source behind the movement.
-- Regulations stop the spread of suicide.
-- Some elves may resent the new rules, and the despair suicidal elves feel is not addressed.
             
Redouble our Efforts
We need good news - soon. Find a way to cure the curse and allow us to have children. Any way. The Tarek and the Staretti leaders will undertake this, but these efforts shall not be publicly announced, since false hope can be far more dangerous in the long run.
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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:55 pm

Glyndal

“It’s so dark,” Airal said, “So cold.”

Novwyn glanced at her. With his body left behind in his home, they were both spirits now, two nebulous souls tangled together and drifting between realities. It this state, she was visible to him as an aura drifting around him like a luminescent mist. Sometimes a face or strands of long flowing hair would form in the mist, but never clear enough to leave a strong impression.

Though most elves considered astral projection of a living soul to be only a myth or at best a secret power reserved for only the most sacred of Lestari’s servants, Novwyn had been able to do it for as long as he could remember. Nonetheless, he didn’t do it very often and it was always a strange experience.

Right now they were on a path within one of the smaller sections of the cavern system. It was neither especially dark, nor especially cold. A line of crystal geodes lit the path with a pleasant aqua glow and the cavern air was only a little chill. However, Novwyn knew Arial meant the words symbolically. He wondered at times if she could even sense the physical world. Maybe for Arial magic, emotions, auras, and phantasms of past and future were all she could sense. He imagined a nebulous world, where magic flowed like streams or blew by like the wind, where souls glided about in various colors of emotional and magical states, where the past left visible stains or followed you like shadows and the future wavered like mirages around every corner. While in this astral state, it really wasn’t too hard to envision.

“Where is it coming from?” Novwyn whispered back, despite the fact that he knew no one could possibility overhear him.

Arial undulated around him, giving a soft moan, as she drew in whatever she was sensing.

“Up there,” she finally said and his wife didn’t need to point. The place entered his mind like it’d been his own thought.

Turning, he gazed up at a small home carved into the cave about fifty yards higher up, near the cavern roof. He wasn’t sure who lived there. This neighborhood wasn’t the most prestigious and most of these elves didn’t have much wealth or reputation.

With only a thought, Novwyn and Arial were up on the balcony of the little home and doors couldn’t keep them from slipping inside. The light was faint here, only a dim glow coming through the windows. Half finished murals were on the all walls and bowls of dried paint lay on reed mats about the floor. Herbs and dried flowers hung from the low ceiling and the home had very little in the way of furniture.

“The light is dead.” Arial said and Novwyn turned to look at the mural on his left. Though incomplete, it was a depiction of Ludaria, one of the ancient cities of the lost Golden Age. Elegant towers rose into the bosom of a rising sun and, Aurora ancient goddess of the dawn, smiled down at a family standing in the foreground. None of the faces were painted in and half of the foreground was still a blank fresco. Someone had thrown paint on the mural. Angry splashes of dark paint marred the sunrise and the goddess and trickles ran down to stain the family.

Frowning, Novwyn reached out, but his hand passed through the wall. Stories of Ludaria were rarely heard these days, but it’d been known for its chivalry, honor and piety. The king that ruled there had been gracious and kind to his neighbors and subjects alike. Under his rule, gallant knights had carried out righteous and noble deeds, protecting the weak, preserving the innocent and spreading the light of their goddess.

His astral hand dragging through the wall like it was in a cold pool of water, Novwyn walked along a hallway, where another mural depicted the gallant knights of Ludaria dressed in fine armor and walking in a line. All the faces had been crossed out with more of the angry dark paint, but Novwyn was still able to recognize many of them. They were elven heroes, not from Ludaria, but people from the history of Glyndal, men and women who’d fought against the human invasions, defended escaping war refugees, stood up to demons and monsters and become legendary heroes. They were all elves that had died after the Curse, prtecting the dwindling number of surviving elves with their sacrafice. Then Novwyn came to the last knight in the line and his eyes fixed on the face under the dark streaks of splashed paint.

“Its you,” Arial said softly.

Novwyn said nothing. He just studied the painting. It was a good likeness, but he wasn’t sure what to make of the role artist had given him, or the subsequent dark x that’d ruined the portrait.

“The Last Knight of Ludaria,” Arial said and it was regretful. “Perished like the rest of the Knights of the Dawn.”

They were silent.

Then Arial gave a small cry. “The bedroom! Novwyn, hurry!”

They’d almost forgotten the whole reason they’d come. Arial’s senses had been tracking despair, the same despair that she’d sensed on the scene of all the other suicides.

With a snapping blink of thought, the two of them were in the small bedroom carved at the back of the home. By the light of a little crystal, they saw a woman was sitting cross-legged on the floor. She was naked, only her long locks of brown hair falling around her. Tears gleamed in the aqua light of the crystal and a small ornate dagger, from the Ludarian era was held in her hands. The woman’s intent was clear and Novwyn only had a moment to act.

It felt like slamming into a physical barrier, a barrier that resisted him as the woman gave a scream and clutched at her dagger. Fear, despair, confusion and a heavy weight of sorrow fell like stones on Novwyn’s soul, but he pushed more and the resistance snapped, just as a sharp pain pierced him. The consciousness of the woman sunk to the back of his mind and Arial faded as well, wrapping comforting arms around the woman’s soul as they fell back into a world of dreams.

Now all Novwyn could sense was pain and he fell over onto a cold stone floor, blood pooling around him. Breathing was shallow and labored and, for several moments, he wasn’t sure what was going on. Then he saw the knife and pulled the blade out of a chest that wasn’t his own. The little knife had missed his, or rather the woman’s, heart. In the confusion of the possession, her aim had been off, but the wound was still serious.

Fortunately Lestari could heal any non-mortal wounds and as he struggled for air, Novwyn could already feel the gradual burn of the magic starting to work. It was like hot embers burning inside him.

“Just… just hold on,” he whispered, before coughing up some blood, “It’s… going to be alright. Hold on un--until morning.” Weather he was trying to assure the woman or himself, he wasn’t sure.

Pushing long, bloody strands of hair out of the way, Novwyn managed to tare up some sheets to bandage the wound. Then he sat still and waited. He didn’t dare to leave her body, for fear the woman would try again and it wouldn’t be wise to move around until the wound had healed more. The pain was more than any he’d felt in over a hundred years, but Novwyn kept quite and just studied the paintings on the walls, as the hours slowly passed.

When morning came, Novwyn got up and washed, before finding some clothes and walking back to the Thallassan guildhall.

Later that day, Lithlani Silver a Ludarian scholar and a painter of the Alano guild requested a place in hibernation, after confessing to an attempted suicide. Before going down to the temple, she asked to see Commander Novwyn Westri.

He let her into his office and gave her something to drink, before sending the guards and slaves away and sitting across from her.

“Thank you,” she said after several long moments of silence. Then she met his eyes. “I’m not exactly sure what happened last night, but I know, one way or another, you came and saved me. I didn’t think anything was left of the Old Knights, but maybe I shouldn’t have ruined that painting of you.”

“Maybe,” he agreed softly, “I don’t really know. The knights of Ludaria lived in a different era, Lithlani. It was a world of light and we live in shadows. Everything looks different after the sun goes down.”

“Just because we can’t see something in the dark doesn’t mean it has stopped existing,” Lithlani said and got up, “In any case, thank you.” She stepped over and softly kissed his cheek, before leaving the room.

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Re: ~ Weywyn ~

Post by MissMilkMaid on Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:58 am

Glyndal

It was a festival night; one of the final celebrations in the series the Alano guild had organized in order to celebrate Glyndal culture and history. This was a victory feast. The elves were celebrating Lestari’s masterful defeat and annihilation of the Antarian humans.

It was being held in the open park outside the caverns. Chrystal lights of all colors hung from wires suspended between the trees and they flickered and glowed, somehow keeping rhythm with the music. Banners flapped on poles, or hung from the branches, waving in the wind and the smell of food filled the cool air. Ancient tunes of Eleven melodies and the haunting voices of the singers rang in the valley, lilting in intertwining harmonies. Bright dresses, silken cloaks, feathered masks and gleaming jewelry spun about the dance floor and over head the stars and a half moon could be seen between the flowing ghosts of ragged clouds. The river ran through the middle of the park, carved stone bridges crossing it at two points. The sound of its babble could be in the background, like a laughing spirit hanging over them all.  

Ambrosia Starwyn had one of the finest gowns in the valley. Golden fabric swished with her every step and the auburn trim and the lining of the flowing sleeves matched her hair. Elaborate embroidery decorated the low cut bodice and a gemmed necklace shone on her long neck. She had an eye mask set with swirling gold trim and several small rubies, with a red rose made of silk and feathers on one corner. Her hair was pulled partway up with several glittering hairpins, but still fell in curls around her shoulders. It’s taken her slaves several hours to help her dress, but it was worth every minuet.  

She walked down out of the caverns into the festival lights with the empowering boldness that comes from carefully planned perfection and the confidence that the majority of the women were jealous and the majority of the men were having trouble looking away.  Flicking out a red fan with a practiced motion, she smiled and nodded to a few of the others and made her way toward one of the bridges. A part of her knew all this vanity and posing was a complete waist of time. This whole party was just a façade put on in order to keep the weak and dimwitted from killing themselves, but it felt really good to be the best, even at silly things like this.

Several of the men approached and bowed, offering her compliments, but Ambrosia waved them away, before they could ask her for a dance or any other favors. She intended to bask and take in the scene a little, before engaging in any activities. As much as she disapproved of Alano sentimentality, she did have to admit that this was a fine party. The music made even Ambrosia reminiscent of glories gone by and looking out at all the beauty, magic and finery, it was easy to feel a since of pride and patriotism. They had something so wonderful so unique and rooted in so much. How anyone could turn their back on all this and kill themselves? It was a total mystery to Ambrosia, but she’d always been a fighter. For most of her life she’d passionately fought for their freedom and survival. She would do anything, ANYTHING to win, to survive, to break the curse and carry this beautiful, glorious nation on into the future and on to their total and ultimate victory against Antarus.

She was considering this, when Monica Quinn came up beside her on the bridge. At first Ambrosia was a little annoyed. Ever since she’d gotten her way with the Chimera costume party, she’s been insufferable, or rather more insufferable than usual. However, one glace and Ambrosia knew something was different. Monica wasn’t herself.  She wasn’t sure what it was, her posture maybe. or perhaps just an aura of grandeur that usually wasn’t there.

Lifting a baffled eyebrow Ambrosia looked the other woman over more carefully. She was dressed in dark purple, with white trim and a glittering mask set with amethysts. Radiant lips tugged up in a small, knowing smile and Ambrosia suddenly realized who it really was. Bowing her head in a subtle motion of respect, Ambrosia whispered. “Goddess, this is an unexpected honor.”

“It’s good to know that my high priestess can recognize me,” Lestari said, Monica’s eyes gleaming behind the mask. “And thank you for not giving me away to the rest of the rabble.”

“Of course,” Ambrosia smiled slightly, “After all, this is a masquerade.”

“Indeed,” Lestari said and turned her smile onto the rest of the party swirling along the river banks to either side, “It is good for the people to celebrate our victory against the people of Antarus. The setback it gave to his power is the first crack in the shattering of the Curse. Wherever he is, Antarus will be weak and fleeting without mortals to serve him.”

Ambrosia smiled, imagining their enemy scattered like a dispersing mist in the heat of the morning sun. “We are forever grateful, my goddess. Your glory is the joy and salvation of all Glyndal.”

“Not quite all,” Lestari said and Monica’s blue eyes drifted over to where Enari Lowyna was playing the harp with the rest of the musicians.

Ambrosia smiled again, malicious smugness touching her lips. “It’s true that Lady Lowyna resents you, my goddess. I have heard her blaspheme you before the High Counsel.”

Lestari nodded slightly and smiled as well. “Pour girl. It does sadden me that she won’t accept me, even after all I’ve done to save her people.”

“She would be nothing, if she wasn’t on the counsel and a guild leader, but I fear she might lead others on a path toward blasphemy.”

Lestari nodded slightly, “Nevertheless, I’m here to bring the life, salvation and freedom from your enemy’s curse. Blasphemer or not, she is one of my people and her life is precious to me.” The goddess’s tone was soft, almost to the point of being sugary, but the malicious look in her eyes didn’t match the voice.

“Perhaps if you speak to Enari, she will finally see the error of her ways,” Ambrosia suggested.

“Perhaps,” agreed Lestari, “Maybe we both should.” Her blue eyes scanned the rest of the scene and fixed on someone else. Satisfaction showed on the part of her face that wasn’t covered by the mask. “In any case, I do intend on enjoying this party.” She turned slightly and nodded to Ambrosia, “As always a pleasure to see you, my dear, and your dress is lovely. Give me a few moments to stanch a small thirst and then we shall see to Lady Lowyna.”

“As always, I am your faithful servant,” Ambrosia replied, bowing back.


---

Novwyn stepped back, staying out of the way of the dancers as the musicians picked up a livelier tune and more people stepped into the circle of swirling skits and cloaks. He had his swords belted over the sky blue silk of his tunic and the white cloak of the Thallassan guard over his shoulders. He’d been on his guard more than usual. Trying to enforce new restrictions on people as ancient and proud as Glyndal didn’t happen without meeting resentment and resistance. Even in the mist of the festival, Novwyn felt the pressure of responsibility and he’d never really enjoyed these sort of lavish occasions anyway.

He’d pushed his white mask up off his face, so he could see better and forgotten it. Stands of black hair that’d slipped free of his loose ponytail fell out from under the mask and Arial’s crystal hung like a large gemstone around his neck.

Someone came up to him and, despite the avian style mask, Novwyn recognized Dario Olianne, an Astra administrator of notable wealth and reputation. “So I see you, at least, get to not only keep your weapons, but ware them about,” Dario said bitter resentment in his voice.

“Lord Olianne,” Novwyn said with a nod of his head, “I am the head of the Thallassan guild, I carry these as a part of my station and out of the necessity of my duty.”

Dario let out an unsatisfied huff. “Since when was it Thallassan duty to steal ancient heirlooms and the weapons we have carried and protected all our lives? These recant seizers have been an outrage!”

Novwyn tried not to sign in frustration. The Thallassans had explained this a thousand times over the past couple of weeks to Dario and many who shared his resentments. “These recent restriction have been for the greater safety and survival of us all and your weapons were not stolen. They still belong to you, Lord Olianne, and shall be returned when the High Counsel deems it safe to do so.”

“And when shall that be, hrm? Suicides aren’t an enemy we can just chase away and be clear of. How do I know the High Counsel won’t keep my swords forever?”

Novwyn’s mouth twitched in a slight grimace. He really wished people would stop asking him such questions. He didn’t know when the ban on weapons would be lifted and doubted he could get the counsel to agree on a time span even if he’d tried. “I suppose you really can’t know,” Novwyn said coolly, “Now, if you will excuse me, Lord Ollianne, I simply must get a drink. This cold, outside air has left my throat very dry.”

Slipping away from Dario, Novwyn cut through a copse of trees, making his way toward the drink table. To his irritation, he saw Monica Quinn glide into the cover of the trees as well.

She came in from another direction and there was an air about her, which seemed, different. She seemed more confident and more aloof than normal and the smile she gave him didn’t have the greedy need for attention it usually held. It seemed relaxed, sly and subtly dangerous, like a lioness. The change and the expression made him even more wary of her than normal, but also caught his interest and he hesitated as she glided up to him.

“Lady Quinn,” he greeted with a nod, unconsciously placing a hand on the hilt of one of his swords.

“Lord Westri,” she replied, still smiling that smile. Cocking her head slightly, she glanced at his mask sitting on up of his head. “I do believe these should be worn like so.” As she spoke she reached over and lowered his mask down onto the top of his face then pushed the loose strands of hair out of the way.  “There.”

Her finger brushed his skin, as she pushed back his hair and the sensation of overwhelming power and allurement it gave felt almost like a burn.

“Thank you,” he managed to say, “I’d forgotten it.” Behind the mask he frowned, trying to figure out what was so different about her and unable to pinpoint it. She was quite beautiful, stunning in a way he hadn’t ever noticed, but all her features seemed to be the same. Monica’s hairstyle and style of dress was the same. Her sensual lips wore the same color lipstick and the blue eyes peering out of the mask were normal. “Your dress is lovely,” he said, uncertain what else to do.

A smile tugged at her lips, a smugness, which almost twisted it to a sneer, catching the corner. “I hope you can admire more than my dress, Novwyn,” she said, pushing forward aggressively enough to back him against a tree.  The pulsing purple glow of a nearby crystal lantern, illuminated them dimly through the trees, reflecting off the pale skin of Monica’s breasts, amply presented by her tight bodice and scooping neckline. She leaned close and Novwyn was engulfed in the smell of her perfume, the sweet addicting scents of roses and kypher. A breeze ruffled her red hair and Monica reached over to pick up the crystal hanging around his neck. He’d never told anyone about Arial, but the Staretti priestess turned it over with a curious interest and there was knowingness in her smile.

A soft tisk passed through her lips. “So old, and yet in so many ways you are still a boy,” she sighed, “Like so many of you people you need to learn to how to move on.” Letting the crystal drop back against his chest, she lifted her eyes to his, “Move on, so you may grown into something more, something so much better than what you once knew.”

She pressed up against him and lifted her full rosy lips to his. The kiss was so natural. Sensual and sweet like nothing he could remeber, Novwyn returned it without thought, pure instinct and pleasure moving his mouth. For several moments they were locked together and when she finally pulled back, he was breathless and dizzy.

Monica brushed the side of his face with one finger, a fond, if slightly condensing caress, and a smile to match. “Don’t forget this,” she whispered and then glided away before he could speak.

He was left in the little copse of trees, leaning against a trunk and breathing hard. Swallowing, he tried to figure out what exactly had happened and then saw Enari disappearing from the edge of the grove. Had the Alano guild master been watching? Novwyn felt his face grow hot under his mask and he hastily straitened and strode in another direction. He’d never wanted anything to do with Monica Quinn and he certainly hadn’t wanted Enari to think he was interested in someone like Monica. It’d all just been so out of his control. Feeling a little sick, he finally found his way to the drink table, where he got a strong daft and then got out a cigarette of kypher.


---

Her golden brown gown dragged on the forest floor slightly, as Enari Lowyna strode away from the park. Below her avian eye mask, her cheeks were hot an angry. She couldn’t believe what she’d seen and it made her madder than it should have. Despite his usually passive options and middle stance in the counsel, she’d believed Novwyn Westri was better than that. She’d thought he still had honor and dignity enough to know better than to associate, let alone kiss that slutty, evil, sadistic, witch of priestess, Monica Quinn. All of Glyndal knew how she took pleasure in openly torturing slaves and belittling whomever she had any power over.

Coming to the edge of the trees, Enari found herself facing a sheer cliff wall on the edge of the valley. The party music was distant now and no one else was around to see her. Despondently, Enari slumped onto a bounder, pulling away her mask, she tossed it away and sat with her elbows resting on her knees, sulking.

It hadn’t just been any kiss either. He’d kissed her in a way… In a way that was serious, meaningful. There’d been a lot to that kiss and Enari hated every bit of it. How could this happen?

She brooded for another minute or two and didn’t even hear the others approaching, until they were nearly beside her.

“You know we’re not supposed to go off alone these days.” It was Ambrosia and Monica Quinn was with her, “You might try to kill yourself.”

“Get fucked,” Enari snapped back, “I don’t need you telling me the new rules.”

Monica leaned down and picked up Enari’s mask from where she’d thrown it to the ground.

“Actually we really are concerned, Lady Lowyna,” she said, the sugary tones of her voice annoyingly sweet and full of righteous concern.

“Not about you killing yourself, though…” Monica tapped her lips thoughtfully, “You do seem awfully distraught. Can’t imagine what’s upsetting you.” The softly smug smile on Monica’s lips almost made Enari stand up and punch her.

“What we are really concerned about, Enari,” Ambrosia continued, “Is your spiritual relationship with the goddess. You’ve said some things lately, which could be considered blasphemous even by gracious standards.”

Monica carefully placed Enari’s mask on the rock beside her and nodded. “As priestesses to our glorious and radiant goddess and savior, I felt it was our responsibility to quietly confront you with this and help you see your sins and repent.”

Enari was very temped to begin cussing them both out, but the tingle of fear going down her back made her hold her tongue. Accusations of blasphemy could be very serious. Generally someone with Enari’s position, reputation and status didn’t have to worry about it, but if Ambrosia and the rest of the Staretti decided to really push the matter, Enari knew she’d already given them plenty of material to began building a case against her. Adding to the pier was the worst thing she could do right now.

Nonetheless, Enari was gritting her teeth in rage and disgust. She really hated them right now. Taking a deep breath, she took a few moments to pick up her mask and adjust it back over her face, trying to swallow her rage and adjust her tone of voice. “I appreciate your concern and effort on my behalf, High priestess and Priestess Quinn. Whatever I may have said that seemed blasphemous, I assure you I meant no dishonor to our great goddess and I apologize to whomever it may of offended. Now if you excuse me, I’m suppose to be playing harp this evening.”

She got up to go, but Monica caught her arm in a grip that seemed too strong to be real, and Enari had to bite back a cry of pain and surprise.

“I’m not sure you understand the gravity of what you’ve done, of what you are,” Monica said in a forceful whisper, “If Ambrosia wanted to, she could probably bring you to trial and get you sentenced to hibernation, maybe everlastingly, but that’s a little wrist slap compared to what Lestari herself could do to you. She knows your heart, Enari. She knows you hate and mistrust her, that you do all you can to sway others away from her, others like Lord Westri for example and many from your own guild. If you think she will tolerate that sort of sabotage, you are greatly mistaken. She just destroyed an entire civilization, as this festival you put on so gallantly celebrates. If you think she can’t do the same and worse to your soul, you are far more foolish than we thought.”

Monica’s blue eyes were burning into her and Enari felt a deep sense of helpless dread and pure terror spreading over her. This was not the same Monica Quinn. Enari wasn’t sure who or what it was, but it was more than mortal. If she hadn’t been held like a vise in Monica’s grip, Enari might have fallen over.

“From now on, girl, you will keep you mouth shut and your thoughts to yourself,” Monica continued, her voice deep and malicious, “Keep spreading dissention against the goddess however subtly and you will find yourself in a deep, dark, horrible place, where no one can save you, not even Death.”

Monica held her gaze a moment or two longer and then suddenly released her arm, leaving a dark bruise under the sleeve of the fine gown.

“Come Ambrosia,” Monica said, her tone back to the light sugary tones of a frivolous party girl, “Let us return to the park. I think Lady Lowyna will be better after this little talk.” Joining arms, Ambrosia and Monica, or whatever Monica had become, turned to walk back to the park.

Shaking, Enari leaned back against the boulder to steady herself. Hot tears were gathering under her mask. She couldn’t remember feeling so frightened and helpless since the year her eldest son had died, but somehow this was much more personal and invasive. The bruise on her arm was burning with a deep ache and Enari could only stand and cry for a few minutes, before returning to her home in the caverns. She couldn’t go back to the festival, not after that.
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