BZPRPG - Westside Zakaz

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  • Posted 2021-08-28 19:45:58 UTC
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  • Zakaz Map
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    The Lake:


    At the center of Zakaz lies Kvere;Ivi (Queh-reh-vee). Fittingly, even the most beneficial landmark on Zakaz doubles as a scar on the landscape. The lake that keeps most of the inhabitants of Zakaz alive, if perhaps not always well-hydrated, was originally situated underneath the capital city of Kvere, used as an underground retreat and natural hot spring that would keep the city warm for the Lesterin merchant-princes during winter months. Now the lake is known only as Kvere;Ivi, or Kvere Grave in Skakdi tongue, for the city that sunk beneath its depths when the Skakdi rose up in the time before time. Caverns which once rested underground are now blown open and ripped asunder from the lakebed, buried within diving distance of the surface of the lake and jutting above its crystalline surface in some places. 

    Though the penalty for outlanders defiling the lake is technically death, this law is not strictly upheld - mostly because few who are foolish enough to plumb the depths of Kvere;Ivi searching for treasures ever return, and even fewer surface again intact. Notably, those foolhardy explorers or treasure hunters who try to mount expeditions are never able to recruit locals.

    The Skakdi fear going into the water.

     


    The Bay:


    The Spineless Bay was named by Warlord Nektann:Dii nine hundred years ago, during his short-lived conquest of all lands north of Irnakk’s Tooth. Before Nektann’s arrival, the unnamed river delta that comprised western Zakaz was for the most part a rare oasis on the island, occupied by Lesterin traders and a few Skakdi who had found themselves incapable of fighting battles through infirmity, lameness or meek hearts. Nektann, contemptuously referring to the inhabitants of the western brook as Criebe:Dii, or ‘Gods-Of-the-Weak-Seeded,” had the valley razed as he swept across it, famously declaring that there would never be a place on Zakaz for living Skakdi to sit on their hands and contemplate the flora. Nektann was killed before he could realize his full ambitions, but before he died he had turned the northern half of the delta to cinders and his army had permanently christened it the ‘Spineless Bay.’ 

    Within a couple decades, the still-flaming carcass of the northern Bay had found itself occupied by new warlords - a gigantic species of Rahi known as the Tahtorak, which took comfort in its new environment and sought to migrate south. Only the gigantic flames that still burn on the steppes in the northern valley have halted the Tahtoraks’ advances over the century, leading to two differing legends - the prevailing fable being that the Tahtorak grew from the shed blood of Nektann’s men in the conquest of the bay, and the spirits of the Criebe:Dii kept the fires alight to prevent the rest of their weakling’s paradise from falling to the reborn army. The prevailing theory among the mystics of Zakaz is that the Tahtorak are children of a darker, unknown emissary, and that Warlord Nektann:Dii himself was reborn as the flames, keeping the Tahtorak contained before they run amok on his homeland.

    In the south of the valley, the lands Nektann never burnt, the name ‘Spineless Bay’ takes on an ironic second edge, for it is here that Zakaz’s largest collection of Spine Slugs lives among the wild. These parasites, which Skakdi use to try and replace a fragment of the rage that was lost to them in days long past, have always found the climate of the river delta palatable, and can be found in plenty the closer the delta gets to Kvere;Ivi.

     


    Other locations:

    • Tahto;Vaa: a lone mountain directly north of the Burning Steppes, said to be the breeding ground of the Tahtorak.
       
    • The Warrens: a network of tunnels and disused mines beneath the Southern Badlands, repurposed by the Broker as his base of operations.

  • Posted 2021-08-28 19:49:24 UTC
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  • Cuch-Cokvaim-Skak:Dii - Your Guide to the Beast-Men-Gods of Zakaz

     

    Table of Contents:

         I. History

        II. Traditions and Culture

        III. Locations

        IV. Technology

        V. Forts

        VI. Language Guide

     

    Lamo-Lyco-Zakaz: The Once-Silver Zakaz, Now Meaning - End of All Worlds

     

    In the Time BEFORE Time ------------- 

        Paradise!

     

    All was Many, which All was its own Paradise.

    GREAT SPIRIT Mata Nui forged His world in His image, forging many Paradise, each in His Image, which each bore his Perfect Face. 

     

    Which each bore his LOVE.

    LOVE was what GREAT SPIRIT Mata Nui gave the LESTERIN, chief among GIFTS.

     

    To his children, he gave GIFTS to CHANGE THE WORLD

    (fire ta)

    (ice ko)

    (water ga)

    (air le)

    (earth onu)

    (stone po)

    (darkness of kuta)

     

    GREAT SPIRIT Mata Nui held back (darkness of kuta) from his children. 

    But they sought it anyway? Why? 

     

    The Lesterin were good CHILDREN, and did not seek the (darkness of kuta) but abused their GIFTS.

     

    LESTERI|NII, FAN LESTERI:NII

     

    We abused our GREAT SPIRIT Mata Nui’s gifts. We were so so so, so wrong. So sorry we were wrong. We abused our GIFTS, chief among them the gift of SKATHI our Servants, and in return they brought THEIR GIFT THE SWORD to us.

     

    IN THE TIME BEFORE TIME----------

    The Skakdi were lifted up from dirt.

     

    But not by GREAT SPIRIT.

     

    Not by Mata Nui.

    (Who gave Skakdi GIFTS?)

     

    They molded dirt as they were molded, seized (darkness of kuta) for themselves, and from Mata Nui’s face they built ZAKAZ. Then they ate Mata Nui’s face from ZAKAZ, leaving just ZAKAZ behind.

     

    Once paradise, no more; once Image, no more; once peaceful, nevermore. ZAKAZ IS ZAKAZ.

     

    ZAKAZ MEANS ZAKAZ - THE END OF ALL WORLDS.

     

    FAN|SKATHI. SKATHI LORLI SKAK:DII.

     

    And they will be(,) forever. As we learned.

     

    As will you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
     

    To know Zakaz, you must know the Skakdi. They created each other.

     

    In the Time Before Time, there was no Zakaz; instead there lay an archipelago of near-a-dozen islands, populated by the Toa-cousins known as Lesterin. The Lesterin were a nimble and clever people, skilled merchants and crafters, but not physically strong enough to build glorious Zakaz with the strength of their own backs. Their naval prowess was unmatched, and their travels had brought them into contact with new species on wild new lands, but they had no heart and will, and would drag no treasures, gods or glory back to the grand ziggurats of Zakaz. For thousands of years, the civilization they had raised was the centerpiece of a great mercantile power, capitalists, or here meaning, those who connived against others for the benefit of their handful little islands. From their chief little island, Lamo-Lyco-Oshan, Silver-Jewel-on-Ocean, further horizons dazzled their eyes, ever-seeking competition with the cunning Vortixx Mata Nui had birthed to the North.

     

    As their ambitions grow

    Their clan-weaknesses become apparent

    Both built atop 

    the backs of Skathi.

     

    They came from an island to the southwest of Lamo-Lyco-Oshan, denizens of a nameless port which Great Spirit Mata Nui paid no particular attention. The Skathi were strong, but they were foundations themselves, and were not thought of as beings with particular aspirations or capabilities. A weak race, merely strong; powerless and easily vassalized, underneath Lesterin they labor; Silver-Jewel-on-Ocean blossoms under Mata Nui’s watchful eye. Lesterin and Vortixx alike hold Skathi in contempt.

     

    They were bred like beasts, treated as little more 

    than slaves.

    Of course, the Lesterin would not view themselves 

    as slavers.

    When accused

    They said

    They were but children.

    Mata Nui’s children.

    The Skathi, fury-fueled, cried

    “No.”

    “We are not ones

    To be dominated by Children.”

     

    Mata Nui’s children did not enslave, though the truth writ on

    souls underneath their skins wrote different stories.

     

    The Skathi shed their skins forever to become the Skakdi, Beast-Men-Gods, and shed the Lesterin’s skins forever to show the slaves 

    beneath.

     

    The Skakdi conquest of their former rulers was their first, and like many first times, it was quick and brutal. With their newfound power they stole island by island, sacked city by city, leaving charred ruin and smoke and salt in their wake. Within a year had Silver-Jewel fallen to golden nightmare, when Great Irnakk:Dii seized the shores of Lamo-Lyco-Oshan and, bellowing, dragged the shores in his wake, drowning the great capital

             In

                        His

                                     Glory’s

             






     

                                              tide. 

     

    The Skakdi lacked the fleetness of Lesterin upon endless ocean, and improvised; for the first time in their history, they were allowed to build for themselves, dragging all the Lesterin Isles together into jagged-jigsaw Zakaz. The last piece was Great Lamo-Lyco-Oshan, Silver-Jewel-on-Ocean and apple of Great Spirit’s eye. 

     

    When all the pieces were together, Great Irnakk:Dii stood at the precipice of old and grand Kvere and bellowed thus:

     

    “VELON RAL IRNAKK”

     

    I am Irnakk.

     

    “IRNAKK LANTE”

     

    Irnakk hungers.

     

    “FAN:DII BALOM SKAK:DII”

     

    No Gods, but for the Skakdi.

     

    And golden-nightmare bent low to devour silver-jewel whole, swallowing city and town and merchant alike. The cities, he drank like wine. The towns soaked the wine like bread and kept his mind sharp.

     

    The merchants did not go to waste either.

    Their flesh soothed his stomach.

    Their blood slaked his thirst.

     

    And their bones he spat into the ocean, for the Skakdi had begun life as builders, and knew that every great work needed a foundation.

     

    They named their home with the broad brush of irony - Lamo-Lyco-Zakaz, or, Silver-Jewel-at-End-of-All-Worlds, for it was the end of their lives as Skathi, and a silent promise to all the people of the world.

     

    Nothing would ever be built on Skakdi land again - and all the land the Skakdi saw would be theirs by right.

     

    Section I: History

     

    Once a submissive, near-slave race of the dominant Lesterin culture, the Skathi people rose up in the Time Before Time to seize the lands of the merchant-princes and build a homeland of their own. Though the cause of their ancient uprising is probably as simple as a matter of the fierce pride endemic to their species, the actual methods of the Skakdi’s sudden rise to power are shrouded in mystery - and perhaps even more sinister than their later actions, for it is well agreed upon by scholars of other races that the Skathi were a powerless race under the Lesterin, without elemental capability or the vision powers that they later became known for. Some theorize that Seprilli perhaps had free-flowing Antidermis similar to that of the Rift, though such deposits have never been found and the theory is disregarded by most who point out that according to the Skakdi creation myths, the Antidermis within the Rift was not discovered until long after the Skakdi’s rise to dominance. Another implausible, and even darker, tale comes courtesy of the blood-mystics of Zakaz, who teach their neonate occultists that the great Warlord Irnakk:Dii, first of the Ancestors and boldest of his eon, put six, then three, then two, then three of his one-hundred-and-eight wives to the sword, and from their blood and bone powder he drew a demon’s face and formed a compact with it for the Skakdi’s powers. 

     

    Whatever the case may be, the Skakdi enjoyed centuries of uninterrupted prosperity after the fall of the Lesterin merchants. In time, Warlord Irnakk:Dii died and was consumed in memory of his greatest triumph, the ravenous sack of Lamo-Lyco-Oshan; his blood and bone powder fueled his line, and from the sixty-six young wives the old Golden Nightmare kept at the end of his life, forty of them gave him sons in the nine months after his death, and of those forty, thirteen became Ancestors in their own right after their deaths. The Lesterin had been put in their place, but not extinguished, and provided valuable trade goods to the Skakdi for the sole purpose of surviving as second class citizens. Even the Vortixx to the north were being handled with a surprisingly deft hand. It was a golden age.

     

    But betrayal is in the hearts of men and women of all races, and nowhere is betrayal found in more abundance than Zakaz. 

     

    It began centuries ago, with a Vortixx delegation into Irnakk’s Tooth during a weapons deal with a local warlord. Under the cover of the starless, moonless Zakaz night, seven mercenaries stole away from their barracks and crept down the mountain. Seven ebon shadows dipped into the holy, vital waters of Kvere;Ivi, hoping to discover the great treasure zealously guarded by the Lesterin and Skakdi of old. 

     

    None of the seven returned, but clearly they had tampered with something - for the next morning, all known Vortixx had become one with the higher mysteries, and the Skakdi as a race had been effectively hamstrung. One of their two vision powers had been taken away from them completely, leaving many warriors feeling as good as blind without their full arsenal. In addition, the full force of the elements they once wielded had been dampened and restricted, leaving the emasculated Skakdi to team up and display what once would have been magnificent elemental displays they were capable of on their own. 

     

    No Skakdi had dared venture into the water, knowing well the traditions and fearing retribution from the disturbing force named Geym-Kino-Kir-Laru (or, “Our-Unknown-Abyss-Beneath-the-Waves”) so no one knew quite what the Vortixx had found or what had been done when they reached it - save all but the oldest mystics, whose knowing glances and colorless pallors in the weeks after the failed Vortixx expedition did all of their speaking for them. As news spread that the once-unstoppable berserkers of the Skakdi culture had been unmanned, any hopes of territorial expansion beyond Zakaz in the birth of a grand Skakdi confederacy quickly crumbled, in lieu of finding a way to return their powers to them and grant their species the full broth of power their Ancestors had been offered and had gladly supped from.

     

    For centuries, all attempts at restoring the Skakdi to their former glory failed...until six cast-offs, pestilence in all its living forms, from all corners of the island, none of whom contained any particular merit to their society, managed to restore their powers.

     

    Section II: Traditions and Culture

     

    Those who have encountered Skakdi from other lands have a skewed perception of what it is to be Skakdi, seeing them as chaotic beings with no guiding principles or moral compass. In reality, the species is bound by a certain alien sense of honor, at least insofar as respecting themselves and other Skakdi as gods awaiting ascension. Indeed, all beings are allowed under the Skakdi umbrella, so long as respect is paid to the Ancestors and the Skakdi species, which is recognized as the apex species under the Skakdi’s brutal philosophy. 

     

    The Ancestors are a vital part of Skakdi culture, and serve as the closest thing the famously agnostic race has to a pantheon. Though there are close to two dozen Skakdi who function as universal Ancestors, many bloodlines on Zakaz boast multiple Ancestors of their own further along their family lines, who they worship less fervently but more frequently than the race’s major ancestors like Irnakk:Dii and Nektann:Dii. The suffix :Dii is the highest honorific in the Skakdi race, and is not meted out without great societal consensus when it comes to that Skakdi’s achievements. More often the honorific ;Dii, meaning “king of all on world” as opposed to the “king of glorious legend” of :Dii, will be awarded to an Ancestor worshipped by one family tree. The difference in punctuation is small, but Skakdi have been known to kill when their Ancestors are somehow demeaned, or mantled above the accomplishments of other Ancestors; worse still are those outlanders who confuse :Dii and :Nii, meaning “mongrel.” The worst insults in all the Skakdi tongue are “Heu:Nii,” meaning “a mongrel without his own fate,” eclipsed only by “Mata:Nii,” meaning “a mongrel who kneels for another.”

     

    When a great Skakdi dies and is being considered for Ancestral worship, there is a ceremony known as the Valin;Xalt, where his blood and bone is mixed up into a paste which the deceased warrior’s wives must imbibe in and use as a soap. After cleansing themselves with the paste for thirty days, at least six wives should be proven to be with child, or each wife must have killed five Skakdi apiece and returned their skulls to the shrine where the initial Valin;Xalt took place. This proves that the Ancestor lives on in Kino-Ur, the great featureless abyss that the Skakdi believe all beings return to after they die. 

     

    It is the Skakdi’s belief that a true Ancestor retains his identity in Kino-Ur, and that one day the Ancestors will help marshal the shades of all Skakdi and ride out from Kino-Ur back into the world, where the armies of the dead will seize the mantle of the living, and all the world will be theirs.

     

    There is no strict governmental structure on Zakaz. The entire island’s population is mostly rabble, conscripted into the army of any one of the island’s various self-proclaimed warlords. The title of warlord has somewhat lost its meaning in recent centuries. In the days of old, warlords were few but powerful, raised up by deed and ritual. Any formal warlord was forced by the mystic men of Zakaz to undergo the ritual of Silva;ria;Dii, or the Grand Performance for the Gods. This ritual is two-sided; first, beneath the watchful eye of all his people, the Skakdi must spend ten minutes underneath the waters of Kvere;Ivi with only a single Air Bladder to pop in times of panic. Though use of the Air Bladder is allowed, tradition states that since great Nektann:Dii submerged himself for the full ten minutes while breathing in the waters of the dead, a warlord made of true steel will tough it out without requiring the air. Then the Skakdi must venture to the southeast of Zakaz, to the Rift, before the eyes of six of his most devout followers. There he will be fed an overdose of a miraculous cactus that grows in the Spineless Bay, which offers wondrous healing powers in small doses but overwhelms the senses and induces sheer panic if too much is consumed. The exact dosage varies, but generally it will be enough to leave the Skakdi blinded and unable to use his powers. He will then be led to the edge of the Rift and jump down with all his strength. The test is simple - hit the ground without being impaled or dissolved in Antidermis, and if you are impaled or dissolved in Antidermis, just will yourself to survive. 

     

    The ceremony of Silva;ria;Dii is intended to prove that there is no foe in our reality or any other that cannot be faced down by a Skakdi without fear in his heart. Unfortunately, as several cunning Skakdi have picked up on over the centuries, the ritual is very prone to sabotage; more than one prospective warlord has been pushed into the Rift while still struggling to retain his senses of sight and sound, and met a gruesome death on the end of a stalagmite. In addition, the rite of Silva;ria;Dii has been invoked less than a dozen times since the Vortixx’s invasion of Kvere;Ivi, usually by traditionalist warlords looking to gain favor with the older generations. These days, any Skakdi with even a small mercenary company who occupies one of the many ruined forts that litter Zakaz’s landscape can call himself a warlord, and such demesnes rise and fall without fanfare every year. 

     

    The only real organized sport on Zakaz is Sarke, taken from an archaic Skakdi verb for “to make a fool of oneself.” It is, simply put, combat sports. Fight clubs are a mainstay in almost every building on Zakaz that has four walls and a roof, and sometimes even those are optional if a large circle can be drawn in the dirt and a crowd is there. There are only two rules in Sarke: never cry, and keep your opponent alive. This way, one’s honor and the camaraderie between Skakdi are safely preserved, and the disorganized, no-holds-barred structure has taught many a Skakdi inventive new techniques during Sarke that have kept them alive on the field of battle - sometimes even against another Skakdi they know from the ring. To interrupt a duel in Sarke for any reason is rightly considered a slight by both combatants; the tale of Herbak, the bumbling referee who stopped a Sarke championship before a Skakdi was ready to submit, is well-known among the "athletic" circles of the island. One of the slighted combatants, future Ancestor and "the Lion of Sarke" Crokk, decided to exercise his prodigious talent for violence on each of Herbak's limbs before he was floated out to sea, still breathing and protesting. Some say he managed to float all the way to safety at Seprilli. Some joke that he stopped early.

     

    Finally, no discussion of Skakdi culture would be complete without discussion of the occultists.

     

    There have always been those on Zakaz with sharper minds than reflexes, and in a society where the clever and intellectually capable are mocked and belittled, alternative methods of proving one’s worth to the Skak:Dii ideal are required just to stay alive. For such men and women, the past provides more answers than the barbarous present, and many have gone to great lengths to comb through old Skakdi legends for knowledge or locate the teachings of long-dead Lesterin mystics. The Nakihl (Nahk-eel), or “hated dead-men” in Skakdi, are the only long-standing organization on the island, a loose amalgamation of philosophers, mystics, and demon worshippers who attempt congress with what they believe to be two other worlds, layered above and below our own, that house all spirits both altruistic and sinister. It is the prevailing belief of the Nakihl that their power was forged in a compact between the old Skathi generals, led by Irnakk:Dii, and one of these unknowable forces, and that somehow the concordat was broken by whatever the scheming Vortixx did beneath the crystalline surface of Kvere;Ivi centuries ago. While the mainstream Skakdi belief is that their original powers will return after they have conquered enough land for the Ancestors to marshal their hosts, the Nakihl tend to believe that only by returning the balance to whatever bargain was struck by the Skathi of old can the full might of the Skakdi be returned. 

     

    This approach to Skakdi might has not won them many fans among the people of Zakaz. In fact, the Nakihl fortress to the north of Spineless Bay has been sacked five times by angry warlords seeking to purge the taint of the Nakihl’s bloody magic from Zakaz; but after every purge, survivors crawled out from the woodwork like rats, and in no time the Nakihl have been restored to the same state they were in before the raids. The last assault on the Nakihl was over four centuries ago, when the band of mystic men were led by a Lesterin, of all things: a Lesterin named Ahk’rei:Nii, who played with corpses of the dead like puppets and led many of his followers willingly into Kino-Ur. An army united under four separate warlords, led by Warlord Ga’Rokk:Dii the Gunslinger, marched through the Burning Steppes and battled hungry Tahtorak in order to reach the Nakihl conclave and slay Ahk’rei:Nii. 

     

    It is said that the four warlords who stormed the conclave found the Lesterin in his ceremonial chambers, practicing a ritual to kill half the Skakdi where they stood and reanimate them to fight the other half; it is also said that when Ga’Rokk:Dii drew his famous silver Launcher and removed Ahk’rei:Nii’s head from his shoulders, the occultist actually continued with his ritual as though he had been stung by an insect, head futilely trying to reform itself from the slush that the Skakdi warlord had made of it. Ahk’rei:Nii’s body was taken and burnt once, outside the fortress, before the ashes were scattered into the Burning Steppes to be immolated again, just to be sure. Nonetheless, rumors of Ahk’rei:Nii’s survival still haunt children’s nightmares to this day, leading them to wonder if the evil Lesterin will appear in their dreams and try to lure them to Kino-Ur with promises of great adventure.

     

    Section III: Locations

     

    Irnakk’s Tooth - Though no larger than a Koro, Irnakk’s Tooth is probably the closest thing to a true city and capital the Skakdi possess on the Zakaz mainland. The settlement of Irnakk’s Tooth is built into the side of a mountain of the same name, that the sages claim to be one of the great Ancestor Irnakk:Dii’s teeth left behind after the Skakdi people feasted upon Lamo-Lyco-Oshan. The current village upon the Tooth is said to be erected from the gnawed-upon, discarded bones of the former Lesterin trade capital Kvere (Queh-reh) - and while no doubt meant as a grandiose boast, it appears that here, at least, Skakdi mythology has a hint of practical truth hidden beneath the bombast, as there are certain buildings spread throughout the settlement that display Lesterin or even Vortixx architectural philosophy. 

     

    Though no warlords occupy Irnakk’s Tooth full-time as ruler, and none have been brave enough to try for over two centuries, several of the island’s most dangerous and prestigious warlords do have manses that are occupied during parts of the year. Similarly, although outlanders are not as common a sight here as on Seprilli, it’s not unheard of to find mercenaries on the Tooth seeking employment with a mercenary company or warlord.

     

    Kvere;Ivi (Queh-reh-vee) - Fittingly, even the most beneficial landmark on Zakaz doubles as a scar on the landscape. The lake that keeps most of the inhabitants of Zakaz alive, if perhaps not always well-hydrated, was originally situated underneath the capital city of Kvere, used as an underground retreat and natural hot spring that would keep the city warm for the Lesterin merchant-princes during winter months. Now the lake is known only as Kvere;Ivi, or Kvere Grave in Skakdi tongue, for the city that sunk beneath its depths when the Skakdi rose up in the time before time. Caverns which once rested underground are now blown open and ripped asunder from the lakebed, buried within diving distance of the surface of the lake and jutting above its crystalline surface in some places. 

     

    Though the penalty for outlanders defiling the lake is technically death, this law is not strictly upheld - mostly because few who are foolish enough to plumb the depths of Kvere;Ivi searching for treasures ever return, and even fewer surface again intact. Notably, those foolhardy explorers or treasure hunters who try to mount expeditions are never able to recruit locals.

     

    The Skakdi fear going into the water.

     

    The Spineless Bay - The Spineless Bay was named by Warlord Nektann:Dii nine hundred years ago, during his short-lived conquest of all lands north of Irnakk’s Tooth. Before Nektann’s arrival, the unnamed river delta that comprised western Zakaz was for the most part a rare oasis on the island, occupied by Lesterin traders and a few Skakdi who had found themselves incapable of fighting battles through infirmity, lameness or meek hearts. Nektann, contemptuously referring to the inhabitants of the western brook as Criebe:Dii, or ‘Gods-Of-the-Weak-Seeded,” had the valley razed as he swept across it, famously declaring that there would never be a place on Zakaz for living Skakdi to sit on their hands and contemplate the flora. Nektann was killed before he could realize his full ambitions, but before he died he had turned the northern half of the delta to cinders and his army had permanently christened it the ‘Spineless Bay.’ 

     

    Within a couple decades, the still-flaming carcass of the northern Bay had found itself occupied by new warlords - a gigantic species of Rahi known as the Tahtorak, which took comfort in its new environment and sought to migrate south. Only the gigantic flames that still burn on the steppes in the northern valley have halted the Tahtoraks’ advances over the century, leading to two differing legends - the prevailing fable being that the Tahtorak grew from the shed blood of Nektann’s men in the conquest of the bay, and the spirits of the Criebe:Dii kept the fires alight to prevent the rest of their weakling’s paradise from falling to the reborn army. The prevailing theory among the mystics of Zakaz is that the Tahtorak are children of a darker, unknown emissary, and that Warlord Nektann:Dii himself was reborn as the flames, keeping the Tahtorak contained before they run amok on his homeland.

     

    In the south of the valley, the lands Nektann never burnt, the name ‘Spineless Bay’ takes on an ironic second edge, for it is here that Zakaz’s largest collection of Spine Slugs lives among the wild. These parasites, which Skakdi use to try and replace a fragment of the rage that was lost to them in days long past, have always found the climate of the river delta palatable, and can be found in plenty the closer the delta gets to Kvere;Ivi.

     

    Lesteri;Dak (Less-teh-ree-dah-k)  Roughly translating to the mocking nickname ‘Lesterin’s Crown,’ or often just colloquially referred to as ‘the Crown,’ Lesteri;Dak is the ring of mountains, cliffs, and other jagged surfaces that encircle the island of Zakaz. Ranging from coastal cliffs and mild crags to the west and south to the seldom-scaled, mysterious mountains of the east, the Crown is said to be where the bits and ends of old Lesterin islands, fraying and torn from where they were torn apart by the Skakdi and stuffed back into the shape of Zakaz. Though inhospitable and bleak, the Crown does make for a good defensive position during a siege, leading some particularly daring warlords to erect fortresses there. Indeed, even some stray pockets of Lesterin settlement can be found towards the east, where old goat paths and mountain trails will be used by risky caravans and fugitives as a quick path to the sea. 

     

    The Rift - On the southeast of Zakaz lies a deep gash that cuts through all of reality.

     

    In the Time Before Time, a mysterious Lesterin city named Lamo-Lyco-Cosa, the “Silver-Jewel-from-Stars,” was built on the patch of land that the Rift now lacerates. Lamo-Lyco-Cosa was an arcane, avoided city, populated by sages, occultists, and priests, dedicated to the mysteries of the Great Spirit Mata Nui and his mystics, and great care was taken in ensuring that no weapon forged within reality was allowed underneath its gates. Thus it was ensured that even despite the disagreements that often consume scholars, there were protections in place to keep violence from ever breaking out in the sacred city. So it was that the mysteries of Lamo-Lyco-Cosa remained a peaceful, if uncomfortable, fact of life for the surrounding Lesterin settlements. 

     

    When the Skathi rose up in revolt over Lesterin rule of the islands, Lamo-Lyco-Cosa ignored all pleas for aid and fielded no defense of its own. Their mystics assured each other that the Skathi, as beings of this reality, were unable to break the physical or arcane barriers that protected the city, and that they could continue their work unimpeded. The Skakdi conquest lasted under a year, but the army underneath the walls of Silver-Jewel-from-Stars held out through the whole duration of the war, as the wise men within seemed uncowed by hunger, bombardment, or news of the fall of merchant prince after merchant prince.

     

    Until one day, the city did fall. 

     

    Of course, whether or not Lamo-Lyco-Cosa ever existed is a matter of debate. The small handful of scholars remaining on Zakaz, as well as leaders of the Lesterin conclaves on Seprilli, are quick to point out that there has never been a conclusive shred of evidence that any city ever stood on the area where the Rift now lies, and indeed the wily, pragmatic Lesterin people seem very quick to deny that their culture ever dabbled in such dangerous fare as the higher mysteries. But the stories of the city’s fall are as important as the tales of Ancestors, parents frighten children with the thought of the evil Man-Shades of the Magic City who possess their Spine Slugs and suck the living matter from inside their skulls, and there is a merchant on every corner of Irnakk’s Tooth claiming to sell lost talismans from the Silver-Jewel-from-Stars. The story’s detractors also seem incapable of offering a suggestion of what may have been built over the Rift if not a city.

     

    Certainly, it has not always been there.

     

    The Rift itself appears to be nothing but a large, particularly narrow canyon through southeastern Zakaz, with stalagmites and crags dotting the ashen ground. Here and there one may find the ruins of old fortresses or ziggurats buried underneath the sands of time, or with new rock outcroppings sticking through ramparts or portculli, as if the Rift is slowly assimilating the structures into its mass. These are not, as many a zealous tour guide would insist, remnants of Lamo-Lyco-Cosa, for the truth would scare any who were mad enough to tour the Rift right from the canyon. 

     

    Truthfully, much in the way much of the rabble flocks to Lesteri;Dak, many Skakdi have seen the Rift as a potential trap for an opposing army or as a good start to fashion themselves as a warlord to be feared. Such Skakdi are fools; without exception, every attempt to occupy or settle the Rift has ended in calamity, and the most recent settlement there ended four centuries ago with the death of Warlord Nuxukann the Grinner and his chiefs within his own fortress. Those who arrived to sack the fort found the chiefs dead with their eyes gouged out, vision powers having run amok to the point where blindness was preferable to more torment. The Grinner himself was still clinging to life, though his mind had been addled and his element of Ice had been used against him and trapped him in an oubliette of his own making.  The warlord died babbling, but whatever pleas or warnings he may have been trying to get out were incomprehensible - all of his famous teeth had fallen out from their roots, thick black blood and ash clotting the gums. 

     

    There is no vegetation as far as the eye can see in any direction, even by Zakaz standards. Animals flee it or die, having gone rabid and been put down at the hands of their masters.

     

    And there is Antidermis everywhere in the Rift.

     

    It seems to bubble up everywhere, from natural springs in the ground that seem to spout like blackish-green mockeries of geysers to within the very rocks. More than one Skakdi has angrily broken off a chunk of rock the size of a spear to use on a rival, only to shriek in horror as viscous Antidermis runs down from the inside of a hidden geode and ravages them like gangrene. Executions for the most heinous of crimes are committed here, as only prisoners who commit crimes which mock both Skakdi both living and Ancestral are taken to the Rift and dropped into Antidermis to slowly dissolve, torn apart body and soul by corruption over several agonizing minutes.

     

    Seprilli (Seh-pree-lee) - Seprilli is a curious little island to the southwest of Zakaz, left separate during Irnakk’s fabled haphazard construction of Zakaz in order to symbolically leave behind his race’s past as the Skathi. Instead, Seprilli found a second life as a port city and makeshift home for the Lesterin, who found themselves in the unenviable position of having swapped homelands with the race they once utilized as submissive bruisers. It is an irony many Lesterin have rubbed in their faces by the Skakdi.

     

    Irony exists everywhere on Zakaz. 

     

    As a booming port in its own right, Seprilli is technically under the rule of the Skakdi, though they prefer to leave it alone out of a sense of haughty and ancestral pride. The Lesterin have de facto dominion of the island to themselves, along with a race of powerless bruisers known as the Kaiakans who will often be hired as mercenary help for jobs the Lesterin are not physically capable of. While there is a Skakdi population on Seprilli, they are shunned for their birthplace, looked at almost as a subspecies of the mainland Skakdi. Such Skakdi are forced to take the surname Seprillian, to mark them for who they are, and have historically been regarded as misfits who are better suited to lives on the seas and rubbing shoulders with the Lesterin. This outlook has changed somewhat in the last century, thanks to the meteoric rise of Warlord Malnak Seprillian, who seized a large chunk of territory on the mainland by utilizing the nautical knowledge he gained growing up on Seprilli and using the river delta as a launching point for his conquest. Many veteran warriors, however, still view the Seprillian Skakdi as lesser, and it will likely take many more conquests like those of Malnak in order to bring the minority the recognition they crave.

     

    Section IV: Technology

     

    The technology of Zakaz will be familiar to anyone who has seen a Skakdi on Mata Nui. Rudimentary firearms abound, mostly powered off by a substance that the Skakdi refer to as Najin (or “deathly light” in their tongue) dust - which any citizen of Mata Nui would recognize as Stralix Powder. There are no Madu fruit on Zakaz, depriving Mata Nuians of their favorite homegrown explosive, but there is oil aplenty to be mined in the south of Zakaz and from Seprilli, which helps give the Lesterin a degree of importance in trading affairs. 

     

    Thanks to the machinations of a particularly fidgety inventor named Avak, a sonic-powered motorbike has started to pick up traction (no pun intended) on Zakaz over the past century and a half as a mode of transportation over the living mounts of centuries past. Though outlandishly expensive and mostly a prized possession for status-obsessed warlords, enough time has passed that inventors without Avak’s avant-garde flair have started to reverse-engineer the machines, and several prototypes of dubious functionality can be easily acquired on the Zakaz black market - for anyone willing to shell out. 

     

    Skakdi on Zakaz may have two pieces of Foreign Technology, see Character Creation.

     

    Section V: Forts

     

    Small, defensible fortifications dot Zakaz’s landscape relics from mercenary bands past and present. Though not pretty or even always structurally sound, such a fortified camp is one of the first steps on an aspiring warlord’s path to real power. Some of these are old structures moved into after their previous tenants were evicted by violence or otherwise vacated, while others are recent construction purpose-built by the groups holding them. Often they’re built around a particularly lucrative cache of gear…

     

    For one week after the beginning of the arc applications will be open for such a fort. Design it, including its owner, location on the map, what it looks like, what it contains, and how many brave mercenaries call it ‘home’. The staff will compile a randomly generated list of loot placed at each one specifically to encourage other players to wrest control from its original owner and take their prize. This is Zakaz, things happen. Similarly these forts are not protected by the usual guidelines regarding player-established locations. If someone decides the best way to get in is to reduce the place to rubble, they can. Nor are its NPCs safe from attacking PCs.

     

    That said, the same rules that apply to any fight apply here. You are not infinitely superior to NPCs, and they are under the owner of the fort’s control as much (and with the same privileges) as Guard NPCs are under their Akiri.  

     

    Any forts created after this application deadline will have to be created IC and over time, while these approved forts will exist at the start of the game.

     

    Section VI: Skakdi Language Glossary

     

    Criebe:Dii: “gods of the weak-seeded” - historic name for the inhabitants of the Spineless Bay.

    :Dii (ah-dee): “king of glorious legend” or “god” - most important honorific in the Skakdi language, used for revered Ancestors of the species such as Irnakk:Dii.

    ;Dii (dee): “king of all on world” - second most important honorific in the Skakdi language; used for revered Ancestors of a single family line, but can also be used to denote warlords or warriors of high honor without fear of dismemberment

    Geym-Kino-Kir-Laru: “Our-Unknown-Abyss-Beneath-the-Waves” - entity of Skakdi superstition thought to exist in the depths of Kvere;Ivi.

    Heu:Nii: “mongrel without his own fate” - a Skakdi insult.

    Lesteri;Dak (Less-teh-ree-dah-k): “Lesterin’s Crown” (roughly) - the  ring of mountains, cliffs, etc that encircle Zakaz.

    Kino-Ur: the great featureless abyss that the Skakdi believe all beings return to after they die. 

    Kvere;Ivi (Queh-reh-vee): “Kvere grave” - Zakaz’s central lake.

    Lesteri:Nii: "mongrel who once wore the skins of Lesterin" - the derogatory insult for most Lesterin in contemporary Skakdi culture; also doubles as a backhanded compliment towards the Lesterin ancestors they sacked, though doubtless the Skakdi miss the irony

    Mata:Nii: “mongrel who kneels for another” - a favorite Skakdi insult, derived from a demon god and blood magician worshipped by the Lesterin

    :Nii (ah-nee): “mongrel” - a derogatory suffix.

    Nakihl (nah-keel): “hated dead-men” - native mystics.

    Najin (nah-jeen): “deathly light” - explosive powder, known to Mata-Nuians as Stralix Powder.

    Sarke: “to make a fool of oneself” - Zakaz’s combat sport.

    Silva;ria;Dii: “Grand Performance for the Gods” - the ritual through which a Skakdi may be recognised formally as a warlord.

    Valin;Xalt: ceremony to recognise a dead Skakdi for Ancestral worship.

    Zakaz: “the end of all worlds” - island home of the Skakdi.

  • Posted 2021-08-28 20:16:42 UTC
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  • :i::c: :  :t::a::r::r::m_o::k:

    If I was a true Skak:Dii, I would not be carving my own legend. Others would be carving it after my death, the strength of my deeds forcing themselves into stone without my help. The imaginations of all those living would not be enough to hold my greatness, which would spill over the bonds of the age I live in and run down through the generations, giving all a taste of my glory. But my deeds are not great enough to keep themselves living after my death. No man’s are, these days. The age of legends is far behind us, shrouded in the mist of times, and yet their we still walk in their shadows, still taste their old glory, not yet stale in the air. It is inevitable that our deeds will be outshone by theirs. The Ancestors’ nimbus is too bright for us to see our own. 

    That is why I must put chisel to stone and inscribe the tale of my life myself. I will not strong-arm the gods into giving me magical powers, as Irnakk:Dii once did, raze half the island, as did Nektann:Dii, or even complete the Silva;ria;Dii, as some still living warlords have. I know my limits, and they are so far less than those of legend they do not even bare the comparison. 

    But yet, that does not make my tale unworthy of the telling. Every Skakdii strives to be a God, although we are but men. We fight, every day, tooth and nail, against our own inadequacy, against the limits of our bodies, against the limits of our own mind. To be a Skakdii is to wrestle with impossible odds, dreaming of heights that the cruel world strains every day to keep us from. By the standards of any other race, the deeds of any of us would be worthy of generations of stories. It is only the impossible heights of the ancestors that makes us small by comparison.

    Perhaps the reader of these tablets is of another race, and you will be awed by my story, or perhaps you will be disgusted, for you do not understand our ways, or the glories we strive to attain. Perhaps you are another Skakdii, and will draw strength from the similarities and differences in our experiences, or perhaps you are a true Skak;Dii and will find my deeds quant and pathetic, but in that case I am honored by you even reading these words.

    I am Tarrok, and although I am no God, I am a Skakdii, and I understand what that means better than most. The following is an account of my own personal legend, carved as I have experienced it. May the ancestors smile upon me, and let it be completed well. 
     

  • Edited on 2021-08-28 20:17:34 by Visaru
  • Posted 2021-08-31 00:03:23 UTC
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  • IC: Zanakra - Fort Razorfish;Vaa - Spineless Bay - 

    Zanakra sat on her throne of fish bones, her fingers tapping the arm of the chair as she looked deep in thought. It had taken weeks, and the blood of countless to get this far. But now her fortress was complete. The blood price had been worth every drop. 

    She spit out a fish bone into a pail nearby, this was only the beginning of course. Her rise as a warlord was only just starting. Countless more would die in her name, and she was looking forward to it. 

    OOC: @Whisper @Sparticus147 @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-08-31 00:34:09 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay

    From her Seat Zanakra could see the courtyard of the fortress, where a small group had gathered around to watch a game of Sarke.

    Jojax slowly circled the arena, eyes locked with her foe. The bulky brown skakdi was twirling around a staff with a large hammer on each end, grinning menacingly. Jojax crouched and flexed her fingers, and smiled back. Then she turned to face the small crowd. "You better be ready, it's time to unleash the deamon!"

    There were a few scattered chears as she turned back to face her opponent . . . who was already swinging.

    The hammer smacked Jojax in the jaw and she was knocked to the floor, making everyone laugh. The brown Skakdi moved in for another strike but Jojax retalliated with her impact vision, causing him to stumble backwards. She quickly swung out her leg and her foe fell to the floor. Jojax stood back up and raised her hands, basking in scattered applause. Behind her, the brown skakdi was standing back up. She turned around and flicked her hand, and her glove detached and flew across the ring and hit her foe in the face again, caushing him to stumble.

    With another flick she activated her other glove, which swooped over and grabbed the hammer staff out of her opponents hands. He fell on his face before looking up and scowling. That got a laugh out of the crowd.

    "Had enough yet?" Jojax taunted.

    OOC: @Snelly@Whisper @Sparticus147 enjoy the show.

     

  • Posted 2021-08-31 01:23:07 UTC
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  • IC: [South of Spineless Bay, Fort Garsi]

    Ipsudir Garsi laughed.

    “Weeeelll look at that,” she said, stretching every syllable out.   “I do so very much love your fireworks, Krex.”

    Every now and then, there was a ragtag band of ruffians that though they could test the edges of the minefield that was Fort Garsi.   Ipsudir always liked to let them juuuust get far enough until…

    Najin didn’t grow on trees, not that any trees grew around here.  The Lady of Linens liked to run experiments of her own.

    Her white armor was heavily stained today, caked with dirt and dots of blood from an earlier bout—a telltale sign she was in a good mood.   Everyone in The Keep of Bones walked softly when the warlord’s armor was clean.   But no, she was sufficiently dusted and sated, and everyone was itching to get back to the campaign.   Pity about Fort Lakehnn, it would have been nice to have a secondary base closer to Malnak’s incursion, but they simply didn’t have the manpower.   An empty fort would just be a haven for rats from Seprilli, or more welps that thought they deserved a position as warlord.  Ipsudir gave the ample posterior of her current favorite consort, Savak, a reassuring squeeze.

    Today was a good day.


    OOC: @Geardirector @Visaru be sure to pay proper respects to your short queen

  • Posted 2021-08-31 01:43:08 UTC
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  •  

    IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay

    Jojax plucked the two ended hammer out of the air and swung it around to hit her foe. Surprusingly, he managed to catch the hamerhead.

    Wrapping both hands around the staff, the brown skakdi swung his weapon. Jojax lost her grip and rolled across the ground. She got up and got into a crouched stance, the two foes again circling each other. Jojax lunged and her foe swung his hammer. Jojax rolled underneeth the strike and came up to grab her foe by the waist. He flailed, smacking her in the head repeatedly. Jojax began squeezing, locking eyes with her foe, which turned out to be a mistake. There was a bright flash of his vision powers, blinding Jojax, she dropped him and stumbled backwards, trying to rub the spots out of her eyes.

    The brown Skakdi Acted quickly, lashing out repeatedly with his hammers, battering Jojax's head, shoulders, and torso. slumped over at the edge of the arena. Her foe loomed over her, hammer ready to deliver a finishing blow.

  • Posted 2021-08-31 11:34:05 UTC
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  • IC: Krex (Fort Garsi) 

    "Mwahahahahaaa. Look at the Heu:Nii run!"

    The dusty brown warrior standing on the rampart next to Ipsudir raised her mace in triumph, shaking it at the fleeing silhouettes of the overconfident bandits. Her gun was hanging under her other arm, suspended by its sling on her shoulder. She had been one of the most enthusiastic audience members to Ipsudir's previous Sarke bout, because she knew what it meant once the warlord had gotten her hands dirty.

    "All in a day's work, boss. Err…  Garsi;Dii," she answered, “whomever survived will wish they went digging for Tahtorak droppings in the spineless bay instead”

     

  • Posted 2021-08-31 21:47:48 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay

    Just before Jojax's foe could strike her levitating gloves came up from behind the Brown skakdi and grabed ahold of his weapon. They tugged him backwards and onto the ground. Jojax stood up quickly and gritted her teeth. The machinery attached to her mask began to spark and dribble red coolant down the front. She took a quick moment to look around at the crowd, everyone was waiting expectantly.

    "ARE YOU READY!" She used her enhanced streingth to leap high into the air, bending over to do a backflip in mid-air. Her opponents eyes grew wide, he was definitely not ready for the...

    "SHOOTING STAR DROP!"

    Jojax fell from the sky, elbow pointed downward. She crashed into her foe's chest, forcing the air out of his lungs. Before he could react Jojax lifted him up by the waist, upside down, and slammed him into the ground.

    "BLOODY DEMON PILEDRIVER!"

    Jojax's foe slumped to the ground, stunned. She grabbed him and lifted him over her head, parading him around in front of the cheering crowd before tossing him aside. The fight was over. Jojax exited the makeshift arena and sat down, wiping sweat and coolant off her face with a towel. She hunched over as her mask deactivated and began to recharge.

    OOC: Jojax is open for interaction for anyone at Fort Razorfish.

  • Edited on 2021-08-31 21:50:38 by Smudge8
  • Posted 2021-08-31 22:12:34 UTC
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  • IC

    The legs of the mighty warlord Krutann dragged in the dirt behind him. The manacles that bound his ankles clinked in rhythm with the strides of the two Skakdi who marched either side of him, gripping his rope-bound shoulders as they hauled him along the tunnel.

    Other beings, some Skakdi, some Lesterin, walked alongside, all of them armed. Some aimed their weapons at the captive warlord: not as a threat, since Krutann couldn’t see them through the bag over his head, but just in case the burly Skak did manage to break through his restraints and needed to be subdued once more. The warlord had long since exhausted himself from raging and struggling against the ropes and chains, and his roars and curses and vows of revenge no longer echoed through the tunnel, but even with him trussed up like a Rahi, they weren’t taking any chances.

    Hurried footsteps echoed up the tunnel from behind them: a second group, catching up. A Lesterin of their number jogged forward to the Skakdi leader of the first group, who turned his head with a grunt of acknowledgement.

    “Dealt with all of them?” he asked.

    “Aye,” said the Lesterin. “No witnesses.”

    “Good. Can’t have any of his boys getting back. Broker wants the story just right.”

    “Aye.”

    Their march continued through the dank tunnel, never pausing as they dragged the warlord Krutann deeper into the Warrens.

     

    ***

     

    Through his daze of exhausted, incoherent rage, it took Krutann a moment to realise they had stopped. He toppled forwards as the thugs who’d been dragging him dropped him to the ground, then felt their hands on him again as they grabbed and forced him into a kneeling position. He heaved on the chains and ropes binding his wrists together behind him and his arms to his sides, but there was still no give.

    The outrage! The indignity! It was unconscionable for this rabble to have captured a warlord of his stature. He would send them all to Kino-Ur with his bare hands for this. He would —

    Krutann’s train of thought was interrupted by the sudden sensation of the bag being pulled from his head. The dazzle of lightstone sconces was blinding after the dark of the bag. As he winced, squinting his eyelids near-shut and willing his eyes to adjust, a whiff of tabakk smoke wafted to his nose.

    His surroundings gradually became visible. He was in the middle of a subterranean chamber, carved from the burnt-orange rock of the Badlands. Along the walls stood beings like those who’d dragged him there: a mix of Skakdi, Lesterin, even the odd Kaiakan, holding an even more diverse variety of weapons and staring down at him dispassionately. Ahead of him was a sort of dais of rock, with steps carved into the front, leading up to a flat surface on which was placed a high-backed chair of black wood. On the chair sat a being, not quite in focus yet: a Skakdi, by his proportions, but by his size he was barely worthy of the name. A runt.

    A growl of recognition and outrage rumbled up Krutann’s throat as the runt came into focus. Lounging back in the chair, a cigar tucked lazily between his fingers, was Vrinak the Broker. His charcoal face wore a disdainful grin, one gold tooth glinting in the glow of the Lightstones.

    “Evening, Krutann,” he purred in his gravelly baritone. “I was wondering when you’d come visit.”

    Hatred breathed new life into the warlord’s aching muscles. He jerked his slumped spine upright and wrestled against the restraints once more (to no avail).

    “WORM!” he roared. “SPINE-SLUG! HEU:NII! I’LL RIP OUT YOUR HEART! I WILL FEAST ON YOUR ENTRAILS, YOU SPINELESS LITTLE SON OF A — “

    The Broker rolled his eyes and gestured to a nearby Lesterin wearing one of their strange masks, who raised his hand. The mask glowed, and Krutann’s roars abruptly fell silent, even as the warlord strained his throat and gnashed his teeth. Eventually he stopped trying to voice his apoplectic rage, settling instead to glare at his captor with a look that could’ve burned through protosteel.

    “And here I was hoping we could have a civilized chat, ” the Broker admonished. “I’m disappointed. But then...you’ve taken to disappointing me lately, haven’t you?”

    He tutted, and took a deep drag from the cigar. He breathed out through bared teeth, the smoke hissing out from between them like the breath of a dragon.

    “Don’t patronize me, you little ####,” Krutann spat. “You are nothing but a runt, an insect. I am a true Skak:Dii! I am a god!”

    “Here I thought you valued my friendship,” Vrinak continued, as though Krutann hadn’t spoken, in a tone of mock sadness. “Was it not mutually beneficial? I had what you needed, and I never asked more than you could afford. How much of your fort was built with my stone? How many of your rivals did you crush with my steel?”

    “I don’t need you,” Krutann insisted. His bluster couldn’t quite hide the hollowness of the denial. “I NEVER needed you!”

    “Oh, but you did, Krutann,” the Broker replied, rising from his seat, tugging down his waistcoat and straightening out the collar of his coat as he descended the stone steps towards the bound warlord. “You did. And you didn’t like it, did you? You let your stupid pride get to your head.”

    The Broker’s golden eyes were predatorial, fixed on the warlord as he approached, taking another drag from the cigar. He stooped to bring his gaze level with Krutann’s, and blew a lungful of smoke into the warlord’s face.

    “It didn’t have to be this way, you know,” he continued, as Krutann coughed and spluttered. “I’m nobody’s enemy, Krutann. I’m not a threat — not unless you make me one. All you had to do was buy what you needed and get on with your glorious conquests.”

    The Broker shook his head.

    “All those warlords out there, all those rivals to your glory, and you came after me? Killing my representatives, raiding my caravans? Look at you, a great and mighty warlord, behaving like some two-bit bandit.”

    “I am Skak:Dii. I don’t need your deals. I take what I want!”

    “And look where it’s got you.” The Broker folded his arms, smirking down at Krutann with a dangerous glint in his golden eyes. “You should know there's always a price with me, Krutann. Now it’s time to pay it.”

    Krutann stared silently for a moment, then burst into hoarse laughter.

    “You talk too much, runt,” the warlord growled, grinning up at his captor. “You think you can threaten me? You think those men were all I had? Ri’Zokk’s on his way right now with the rest of my band, and when he gets here, I’m gonna turn you into a stain on the floor with my bare hands!”

    The Broker just smiled.

    “Ah yes, Ri’Zokk. He’s such a good lieutenant, isn’t he? Strong, loyal, smart…”

    The smile widened. The gold tooth glinted.

    “Smarter than you, it turns out.”

    The warlord’s brow furrowed, uncomprehending.

    “What’s that supposed to — “

    The Broker clapped his hands twice. Krutann heard footsteps behind him, and craned his neck around to see who was approaching. From out of his peripheral vision, a familiar blue-armoured form hove into view.

    Ri’Zokk walked slowly past his warlord to stand at the Broker’s side. He folded his arms, looking down at Krutann.

    “Sorry, boss.”

    Krutann stared wide-eyed at his lieutenant. For the first time, the warlord looked uncertain.

    “...Ri...Ri’Zokk?” he stammered. “No...no, this can’t be. This can’t be! This is one of your Lesteri:Nii tricks!” he snarled, his attention back on the Broker again. Vrinak wore a wide, satisfied smile.

    “You see, Ri’Zokk understands the value of my friendship,” he said. “He understands who the real threats are, and who can provide what’s needed to deal with them.”

    As he spoke, the Broker pulled Ri’Zokk’s golden revolver from its holster at the warrior’s hip. The engraved metal gleamed under the Lightstone-light as Vrinak checked the cylinder.

    “And who are the real threats?” the Broker asked, placing the gun into Ri’Zokk’s hand. “Why, they’re men like Ri’Zokk.”

    He smiled.

    “Warlords.”

    Ri’Zokk looked down at him with cold eyes.

    As Krutann finally understood what was happening, and Ri’Zokk began to aim the gun, the captive warlord let out a great bellow and sprang into movement like a Skak possessed. He bucked and heaved, struggling in vain against the unyielding binds until his thrashing overbalanced him, toppled him over, and his own weight pressed his face into the dirt and he writhed there like a huge, spined worm. His impotent, anguished roars filled the chamber, until a single gunshot rang out and silenced them.

    All was still for a moment. Then the Broker patted Ri’Zokk on the shoulder and walked back over to the stone dais and up the steps, to settle back into his chair.

    “Now remember, you killed Krutann in fair combat, as I and all here present will testify as per our agreement. He was a mad dog, wasn’t fit to lead any more. You put him down, you’re in charge now, et cetera.”

    “Yeah,” Ri’Zokk replied. “They won’t question it. Writing’s been on the wall for a while now.”

    “Good,” the Broker said, and waved over a couple of his men in the direction of Krutann’s body. “Get those bindings off him.”

    Ri’Zokk stayed where he was, looking down at the fallen warlord with a frown as the Broker’s men cut off the ropes and unlocked the chains. The Broker looked on, studying the new warlord’s expression with that golden gaze.

    “Don’t feel bad about this, Ri’Zokk,” he purred. “Oh, they don’t make much of it in the great tales, but every warlord’s gotta compromise from time to time. Even Irnakk:Dii himself had to make a deal with the devil to get his power, if you believe the Nakihl, eh?”

    He grinned.

    “We all have to start somewhere. I have no doubt this is just the beginning of the glorious tale of Ri’Zokk;Dii.”

    Ri’Zokk looked up, and smirked. “Yeah. Yeah, I like the sound of that.”

    The Broker chuckled and sucked once more on his cigar. Ri’Zokk bent down and grabbed his dead boss by the spine, and began to drag the corpse away towards the tunnel that led to the surface.

    “Ri’Zokk…” the Broker called after him. The warrior stopped, and looked back over his shoulder.

    “I hope you’ll remember this, Ri’Zokk,” the Broker said, with a hint of warning in his voice. “Remember how this happened. How your old boss forgot the value of my friendship, and how he found himself tied up on the ground like a Burnak, with his replacement standing over him.”

    Ri’Zokk nodded slowly. He understood the implication perfectly.

    “Don’t you worry, Broker. Like you said, Krutann was a mad dog. He forgot how the world really works. I won’t.”

    The Broker smiled.

    “Good. Then you know where to find me.”

    Ri’Zokk trudged away down the tunnel, Krutann’s limp body trailing in his wake. The Broker watched him go, once again lounging back in his chair. When the warrior had disappeared out of sight and earshot, he beckoned to his majordomo: a tall Kaiakan, who until then had stood stock-still near the doorway that led deeper into the Warrens. The majordomo snapped his fingers, and a Lesterin hurried out and handed him a tray containing a crystal glass, a bottle of Seprillian whisky, and an ashtray.

    The Kaiakan ascended the steps and held the tray in position for the Broker, who stubbed out his cigar in the ashtray before pouring himself a glass of the whisky.

    “What did I tell you, Tarvun?” he asked with a satisfied smile, sinking back into the chair and swirling the glass idly with one hand.

    “All is as you said, Broker."

    “Yes,” said Vrinak the Broker, and took a long draught of the golden liquid. “Yes, it is.”
     

     

    Spoiler

     

     

     

     

     

  • Edited on 2021-08-31 22:16:48 by Ghosthands
  • Posted 2021-08-31 23:53:38 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    T'harrak was quickly taking a liking to her new home.

    Sturdy stone and steel surrounded her, and beyond it lay a lush expanse of greenery. The wind brought with it the rustling of leaves, the crashing of the ocean waves, and - "ARE YOU READY!" - the cries of her newfound companions as they clobbered the karz out of each other in the courtyard outside. Sighing, T'harrak set aside her latest project and stepped out of her makeshift workshop. 

    By the time she made it to the courtyard, she found Jojax sitting near the edge of the courtyard, while the other skaks worked to scrape her unfortunate opponent off the cobblestones. "We've barely just got this band together, and you're already trying to take each other apart?" She asked, leaning against the wall beside Jojax. 

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-01 00:10:20 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay

    "I'm the Bloody Demon." Jojax snapped back. "I've got a reputation to uphold. Besides," She gestured toward her former foe, her voice softening just a little. "He'll be fine."

    The Po-Skak had been lifted onto his feet by a couple friends. He brushed them off and took a couple shaky steps towards his weapon before loosing consciousness again and falling on his face.

    Jojax winced a little bit. "He's a tough guy, he just needs a nap. Skakdi are pretty durable."

    @Whisper

  • Posted 2021-09-01 00:22:51 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "Forgive my confusion, but isn't a reputation meant more for frightening your enemies?" She gestured to the poor schmuck Jojax had beaten unconscious, "I'm fairly sure he was an ally. I don't mean to sound judgemental, I just... don't really get it."

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-01 00:29:59 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay

     Jojax gave T'harrak a dissmisive wave. "It's not about that... It's about this." She tapped her mask. "I come from a long line of famous Sarke wrestlers. There's only so far I can get practicing on my own. If I'm going to keep the legacy going I have to wail on someone."

    @Whisper

  • Posted 2021-09-01 00:50:32 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "I see," she mused, scratching at her chin, "Well, try your best not to break anyone too badly. I imagine we'll need all the manpower we can muster to defend this place, and assault other forts."

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-01 00:54:17 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay

    Jojax sighed. She's probably right.

     

    "So... What do you do around here?"

    @Whisper

  • Posted 2021-09-01 00:58:02 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "Me? I make things, maintain things. Zamor spheres for our launchers, lightstones for our lamps, najin powder for our firearms," she explained. "Not nearly as glorious as what warriors such as yourself do, I know, but we all have our parts to play." 

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-01 01:04:22 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay

    Jojax quickly stood up, intrigued. "Actually, do you think you could patch this up?" She took off her mask and held it out. It was a Pakari with large demonic horns and various machines grafted on. "The whole shooting sparks and leaking red fluid thing is cool, but It's probably not good for the device. I was a little worried it'd run out of... something." She shrugged. 

    @Whisper

  • Posted 2021-09-01 01:17:13 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "Complex machinery is a bit outside my usual purview," she replied, taking the device and turning it over in her hands, "Did it come with plans or instructions?"

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-01 01:24:21 UTC
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  • C: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay

    Jojax shook her head. "I'm afraid not. It's been in my family for generations, and we were  to busy with Sarke to keep track of things like that."

    @Whisper

  • Posted 2021-09-01 01:28:25 UTC
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  • 13 hours ago, Geardirector said:

    "All in a day's work, boss. Err…  Garsi;Dii," she answered, “whomever survived will wish they went digging for Tahtorak droppings in the spineless bay instead”

    IC: [South of Spineless Bay, Fort Garsi (Ipsudir)]

    “No need to apologize, my good woman.”

    Ipsudir gave her consort an affectionate slap on the rump before disentangling herself and putting an arm around the other stone skakdi’s shoulders. “You see, I’m no welp with a superiority complex.   I know the value of a good name, Krex.   I know the blood and bone that goes into it—I know how my heu:nii of a father squandered it.  So don’t call me Ipsu;dii until comes to you without thinking.   In the meantime…you can call me boss.   I do like the sound of it.”

    “Now, why don’t we all go inside and acquire some refreshment?  Tomorrow’s back to work again.”

  • Posted 2021-09-01 01:32:01 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "Well, without knowing how it was made or how it's meant to work, I'm not sure I should mess with it," she said, carefully handing the mask back to Jojax, "Better to have it still sort of work now than risk me breaking it." 

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-01 02:53:33 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa- Spineless Bay @Whisper

    Jojax shrugged. "Makes sense. If I ever end up next to my folk's place I'll ask about instructions." She stowed the mask in her pack and then just kinda stood there, not sure what to say next.

  • Posted 2021-09-01 02:59:42 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "So, uh, what's your take on our little slice of island paradise here?" She asked, after spending a few moments wracking her brains for a conversation starter.

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-01 09:23:51 UTC
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  • 7 hours ago, Mel said:

    IC: [South of Spineless Bay, Fort Garsi (Ipsudir)]

    “Now, why don’t we all go inside and acquire some refreshment?  Tomorrow’s back to work again.”

    IC: Krex (South of Spineless Bay, Fort Garsi)

    "Now you're speakin' my language boss" Krex agreed with a big smile, something that, admittedly, was relatively easy to get out of her. She clipped weapons and gear back into position at on her belt and followed after Ipsudir. She threw one last glance at the open pits which had previously housed some mines, she'd have to go out and replace those later.

  • Posted 2021-09-01 18:03:21 UTC
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  • :i::c: - KIRIK

    Kirik is the last to follow after the others. 

    He stares out at the plain, at the receding figures running for their lives. His look is not of victory, but defeat. His smile is a grimace. They are still alive. He thinks only of taking his motorbike Lante across the stretch of blasted earth, running them down, grinding them into the dirt, ensuring no one remains alive to tell anything of the great Fort Garsi.

    But he doesn’t. He has orders. And the gouges in the his body knew well the punishment for disobeying them.

    Instead his three hands loosen their grip on the iron battlements and he makes his way after Ipsudir Garsi, his commander. His mechanical hand rubs the knife prosthetic he has in place of one of his forearms as he tears his eyes away from the-prey-he-cannot-hunt, his pointed teeth gnashing.

  • Posted 2021-09-01 21:08:34 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa @Whisper

    "You know, I was worried it'd be to hot, but it's actualy kind of nice! While I was on patrol the other day I went out for a jog on the beach!"

  • Posted 2021-09-01 23:54:16 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "It's a nice beach," she agreed. "Let's hope no one gets a mind to try to take it from us." 

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-02 02:55:44 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa @Whisper

    Jojax's fase grew a sly smile. "I kinda hope they do, or at least we get some tresspassers I can beat up."

  • Posted 2021-09-02 03:01:35 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "I suppose that's one way to look at it," she replied, nodding. "I like the way you think."

    @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-02 03:37:22 UTC
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  • IC: Zanakra - Fort Razorfish;Vaa - Spineless Bay - 

    "Oh they will come, and their bones will decorate our halls." 

    It seemed the boss lady had been listening.

    @Smudge8 @Whisper

  • Posted 2021-09-02 20:26:53 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa @Whisper @Snelly

    Jojax quicly spun around to face Zanakra. "Looking foreward to it! How's the boss doing?"

  • Posted 2021-09-04 00:14:57 UTC
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  • IC: Zanakra - Fort Razorfish;Vaa - Spineless Bay - 

    She grinned. "Just peachy. Nothiing quite like watching those under you beating the #### out of each other."

    @Smudge8 @Whisper

  • Posted 2021-09-04 16:08:49 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa @Whisper @Snelly

    Jojax smiled wide. "Sure thing! Glad to see someone enjoys my work!" She shot a quick glare at T'harrak.

  • Edited on 2021-09-05 00:16:21 by Smudge8
  • Posted 2021-09-04 22:13:02 UTC
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  • IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    T'harrak simply smiled awkwardly and said nothing in response to Jojax's jab. "So..." she turned to Zanakra, "...is there anything that needs doing today?"

    @Snelly @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-04 22:50:32 UTC
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  • IC: Zanakra - Fort Razorfish;Vaa - Spineless Bay - 

    Zanakra grunted. "Now that we are firmly established here in Razorfish;Vaa, I would like to get a firm grasp of who are closest neighbors are." Of course when she said neighbors, what she really meant was enemies to either destroy or subjugate. "It would be foolish to think we're the only well established fort this side of Zakaz. We have to learn as much as we can about these 'neighbors', as I'm sure they'll be doing the same." She spit into the nearby pale.

    "You two seem to have at least half a brain on you, better than most of the Heu:Nii here at any rate. What are your thoughts on this?"

    Zanakra read in a book somewhere that asking advice from your underlings was a good mark of a leader...actually it was a Lesterin she beat the #### out of who had read that and told her about it but eh, same difference. 

    @Smudge8 @Whisper

  • Posted 2021-09-04 23:39:11 UTC
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  • OOC: mobile

    IC: T'harrak - Fort Razorfish;Vaa

    "We should probably scout by boat," T'harrak suggested, "Watch from a distance, disappear before they can send anyone after us, take a long route back here to lose anyone trying to follow."

    @Snelly

  • Posted 2021-09-05 00:16:05 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa @Whisper @Snelly

    Jojax was a fighter, she had no idea on where to even start whith scouting an area.

    "Yea! What She said."

  • Posted 2021-09-05 16:25:52 UTC
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  • IC: Zanakra - Fort Razorfish;Vaa - Spineless Bay - 

    Zanakra nodded. "Very well, I task the two of you of making it happen. Go yourselves, or get someone else to do it. I don't care which, as long as it gets done." 

    Zanakra walked over to the side of her throne and grabbed the hilt of her massive hammer. "I will remain here, in case we get any unexpected visitors. It wouldn't do if the queen wasn't here to greet them now would it?" 

    @Whisper @Smudge8

  • Posted 2021-09-05 21:13:36 UTC
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  • IC: Jojax-Fort Razorfish;Vaa @Whisper

    "Sure thing mam!" Jojax did a quick 180 before trying to grab T'harrak to drag her to the docks. "I know just the boat!"