BZPRPG - Eastside Zakaz

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  • Posted 2021-08-28 19:46:29 UTC
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  • Zakaz Map
    Regions | Locations | Blank

     

    The Mountains:


    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 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.

     


    The Rift:


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

    And there is Antidermis everywhere in the Rift.

     


    Other locations:

    • Zarrava: an anarchic pirate port on the northern coast, ironically one of the few places where Skakdi and Lesterin can be found living side-by-side.
       
    • Fortress of the Nakihl: the home of the Nakihl occultists, nestled in the remote western spur of the northern Crown, reachable only by passage of the mountains or the Burning Steppes.

  • Posted 2021-08-28 19:50:25 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 20:35:29 UTC
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  • IC: N'ashka Akkataka - Irnakk's Tooth

    N'ashka awoke to the feeling of clawed feet jabbing into her back. Wrapped up in what could hardly pass as a large rag, N'ashka rolled over, and tried to look up at the figure, shadowing her from the hot sun above the pair in an alleyway. But she did not see the figure, the sun, nor the alleyway. N'ashka could only see darkness, in all directions. She nearly jumped, before realizing she had awoken this way before, and N'ashka didn't like to be startled by the same thing twice. 

    "Move, ya' hag. You're in my storage locker."

    "This is an alleyway."

    "How would you know? With ya' missing your eyes and all." The voice was quiet but dismissive. N'ashka, having only days ago lost her eyes to one Garsi warlord before hearing the death of her husband, her fellow wives, and her three beloved children, was no longer the great warrior “Ash;tak” (or “wife-of-the-blade”) as the other women called her: She was now a starving, blind, and tired street urchin, destined to live out the rest of her days in abject poverty. She rolled back over, curled up on the stony ground of the alleyway.

    The male voice grumbled, and then kicked her hard in the small of her back, just below her exposed spine. She let out a grunt, and felt something thin and sharp press against the back of her neck. The voice was much closer now, maybe just above her ears, much more intense then before.
    "I told ya' to move, hag. Now get."

    * * * * *

    N'ashka shuffled through the stony street, overwhelmed by the sounds of carts, footsteps, and growling voices coming and going. Irnakk's Tooth, where N'ashka was born and lived for years, seemed completely alien to her now. Afraid to even take regular steps, she hobbled along, one arm feeling in front of her for any obstacles or pedestrians. She fumed, feeling shame that she couldn't even walk through the streets, let alone defend herself against the Skakdi in the alley. There would have been a time - just days ago - when she would have broken his hand for daring to aim a weapon at her, but now things were different. Now, it took all her concentration just to find a firm wall on the other side of the street, where she leaned against it, feeling the subtle marks and weathering on the palm of her hand. With her free hand, she padded for her broadsword hilt, the blade collapsed and concealed on her hip. She breathed out hard, angry that she could no longer wield the thing.

    After a moment, she turned towards the sun, feeling the heat on her face, and began walking again, sliding a hand against the buildings as she went, cursing to herself, wishing that warlord Ipsudir Garsi's neck was in her clawed and bony hand instead of the rags she now clutched in fear.

    OOC: Open for interaction!

  • Edited on 2021-08-28 22:02:11 by Palm
  • Posted 2021-08-29 23:40:40 UTC
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  • IC: Arms [Eastern Spur, Fort Khy;Barr]

    From atop his throne of twisted scrap metal and charred stone, Arms grunted in satisfaction.

    "..."

  • Posted 2021-08-30 04:23:17 UTC
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  • :i::c: - TARROK

    I will write now of the events that occurred to me the last time I visited Irnakk’s Tooth, and of my meeting with N’ashka Akkataka.

    I had met her before, many years ago, when she was still Ash;Tak, the wife of the warlord Lahkenn, and a fierce warrior in her own right. We never exchanged words, but I saw her, standing full of honor at her husbands side, when I visited her fortress, and had heard the legends told about her on my way there. The traders I was hired to guard regaled me with tales of blood, decapitations, and the romantic first encounter with her husband on opposite sides of a battlefield. I had respect for her. She and her husband, I thought, could be Skak;Dii with a few more successful wars. 

    When I saw her for the second time on the streets of Irnakk’s tooth, I almost did not recognize her. She was eyeless, scarred, and dressed in mere rags. She had a hand against a stone wall, and was stumbling along the side of the street, completely blind. I found myself frozen, staring at her in disbelief, not quite able to reconcile the Skakdii I had seen with the Skakdi I was seeing.

    I found myself unable to forget the sight and continue on, for I was not certain it was she, and my the need to find an answer forced me to cross the busy street toward her. If I turned away I would likely never see her again, and I needed to know if the great Ash;Tak had truly fallen so low.

    I stopped a few paces away from, watching her struggle along the road’s uneven cobblestones, trying to decide how I should approach such a wretched person with the respect I still believe she was owed.

    “N’ashka Akkataka,” I finally said, “Or does my eye deceive me?”

    :m_o::m_o::c:

    @Palm! (My BZP is broken, I can't properly @ people) I hope it's okay that Tarrok has met her before? Lmk if you want me to amend anything.

  • Posted 2021-08-30 05:33:02 UTC
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  • OOC: @Visaru that's sick, let's do it!

    IC: N'ashka Akkataka - Irnakk's Tooth

    N'ashka froze, immediately placing a hand on the hilt of her collapsed broadsword, and using her free hand to reveal thus underneath her rags. The voice was deep and strong. She tried her best to show she was still a threat, and betray no fear in her expression. She had killed many Skakdi this large - if the direction of the voice was anything to go by - but the chances of her doing so on noise alone would be seriously difficult. She gave a huff and spoke sharply, "I won't beg, boy," she challenged. "If you've come to kill me, I won't go easily. You might learn a thing or two about death in the process."

    She listened as intently as she could, N'ashka truly didn't know how many people were with this person, if any at all. She grit her teeth, hoping if this person was dangerous that they were alone. There was no telling where an attack could come from.

  • Posted 2021-08-30 06:05:16 UTC
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  • :i::c:

    By her response, I could tell at once that it was indeed she. And I could tell too she was not cowed by her fall, not enough to plead for mercy, at least. That was good, I thought. Irnakk did not have her yet.

    I have heard enough threats to tell she was posturing more than she was truly dangerous, but even so it was a worrying enough threat that I removed my long sword-hammer from my back. I certainly did not take a step toward her. Instead I spoke again, keeping my tone measured.

    “I have not been sent to kill you, although I would relish the chance to face such a warrior. I have heard tell you have sent more than two hundred souls to Kino-Ur.” I let the compliment hang in the air, waiting to see how she would respond. I had no further query for her, no business to be done, but I certainly was not going to turn my back on a Skakdi with her hand on her weapon. 

  • Posted 2021-08-30 06:29:26 UTC
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  • IC: N'ashka Akkataka - Irnakk's Tooth

    "I didn't count from the beginning, I wouldn't know." She said in a bit of a cooler voice. N'ashka wasn't about to totally drop her guard, but the fact this voice had not yet attacked her, plus his calm tone, indicated at least he wasn't here to kill her. Unless of course he was toying with her. She let go of her rags, letting them drape over the blade and her hand, which still held the hilt. N'ashka was still on edge, but decided to try a different tactic.

    "I do not recognize your voice. What is your name?"

    OOC: @Visaru

  • Posted 2021-08-30 06:42:45 UTC
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  • :i::c:

    "My name is Tarrok," I told her, tapping the base of my weapon against the cobblestones and letting the two syllables of my name resound like a magic incantation, imbuing all of my virtues into a single word.

     "I escorted a crew of traders to your fortress a few years ago. They told me who you were, and I saw you when you and your husband met with them to do business. That is how I recognized you, although your fortunes are so much poorer now I could not say for certain it was you at first." 

  • Posted 2021-08-30 18:43:11 UTC
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  • IC: N'ashka Akkataka - Irnakk's Tooth

    "Poorer indeed." N'ashka said through grit teeth, before letting out an indignant snort. She wasn't even certain what her next move was now. There weren't exactly many places for her to go. No friends or family to speak of outside of the now dead or disbanded horde. A complete reset to life, except without the gift of sight. She grumbled, feeling her fear begin to give way to further frustration again. "Tarrok, tell me. Was this crew of traders your own, or were you a hired man?"

    OOC: @Visaru

  • Edited on 2021-08-30 18:46:49 by Palm
  • Posted 2021-08-30 22:34:37 UTC
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  • :i::c:

    I felt my face twist into a classical Skakdi grin. I have heard also heard enough propositions to know when I was about to be hired on for a job. Perhaps it was my instinctual ability to sniff out work that had led me to her, not curiosity. Although curiosity and instinct are often one and the same. When you don't have steady employment, it pays to be curious.

    "I am no trader," I boasted, "I was their security. I am a professional blade for hire, and not a cheap one either. I have been in turns assassin, bodyguard, guide, and even emissary. I have no set terms, but the punishment for breach of contract is always the same." I didn't need to elaborate on the threat. Skakdi mercenaries are well known for killing their employers if the terms begin to look unfavorable, although I only rarely excercised my right to do so.

  • Posted 2021-08-31 01:13:10 UTC
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  • ignore this lmao I don't know directions

  • Edited on 2021-08-31 01:22:32 by Mel
  • Posted 2021-08-31 01:36:40 UTC
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  • IC:

    Clickety clack, clickety clack.

    The little Rahi was nimble and clever, turning tricks at her every command. What a magnificent little beast. It had probably gotten too close to the smelters, if she were to guess. Its bones looked scorched. But it was still intact enough to skitter about at her whim so it had probably broken free just long enough to die. A grim fate not uncommon on Zakaz. Freedom was fleeting but it was all, in the end, there really was to fight for on this rock. The power to be free of someone else, to breathe the air truly the master of one's own fate before descending into Kino-Ur or the Pit. Or whatever truly hellish existence awaited the dead. Assuredly there was no peace. After all, in death everything became her servant.

    The tiny beast skittered closer at her command and placed what had been its little paws on the edge of a small piece of paper to pin it in place. She rolled the other edge herself and extended the bundle to it, allowing it to carry the paper back towards the smelters that had killed it and ignite the end. When it was returned to her hand she allowed the wretch its rest, whatever that might be, and brought the roll to her lips with bound hands. 

    Haaaaaaaa.

    That was something at least. Whatever the new master of Khy;Barr might be at least she'd been allowed her cactus after he'd had her cut down. The previous had been content to leave her up on the wall. She didn't know what point it served. He didn't want her dead. He wanted her skills. And he didn't dare. There were too many whispers. Concerns that her pact with something Else might wreak some havoc on the world when she passed, or perhaps a fear that she simply wouldn't die. That like that most famous Nakihl she would persist after he body had ceased.

    Nonsense, of course. Whatever the Skathi said she was no Nakihl. Nor was she a slave no matter what her previous- or current- master believed. Her servitude was a temporary arrangement, a transitive state of being that had come and gone before. Warlords came and went and still she remained. Perhaps that was why the man had her suspended. He recognized, no matter what he said to his band, that he was not truly in control. Upon the wall, immobilized, was the only place he could see her. Monitor her. Keep her far, far away from him until he had need of her and then return her to the wall as quickly as possible.

    The Skathi remembered how they came to power, deep in the tales they passed down was a warning; what had happened once could happen again. What bluster.

    Hufffffffff.

    Vana truly wished that they would give up on the manacles, though. She eyed the chain between her wrists lazily, watching the smoke curl off the end of the dried cactus between her fingers. Enough slack to allow her a little movement. Not enough to allow her any room to maneuver. Her shoulders had begun to roll in, before long it would affect her posture. They could at least bind them behind her back for a few hours a day. Allow her to stretch them back out.

    "Someone," She said aloud, puffing again and blowing the smoke back into the room in front of her. "Could at least let me stretch. Won't do the man in charge any favors if I pull something as soon as I do his bidding, now will it?"

  • Posted 2021-08-31 07:14:58 UTC
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  • IC: Verakastian - Fortress Khy;Barr, the Foundries

    “Be quiet, you… you witch…” he muttered to himself, his own bruised hands rubbing over each other nervously. 

    The two Kaiakan brothers, Larex and Corlius, moved in unison as they tipped the massive, glowing crucible over on its side and spilled its molten contents into the waiting molds. Verakastian flinched and took an unconscious step backwards as glowing goblets of searing liquid metal splashed up too close for his liking, leaving smoking trails in the air.

    This was the thousandth time he’d watched the brothers do this, and the thousandth time he flinched anyway. His eyes still watered behind the shaded goggles he wore.

    His own words felt caught in his throat as he once again heard the jangling sound of manacled arms behind him, the other nearby Lesterin taking another drag. He’d meant to say them aloud, but changed his mind at the last minute, thinking better of having to put his back to either her or the molten iron. He didn’t even want to look at her, even if she’d never be able to tell which direction his eyes were pointed behind his thick lenses.

    Always made sure to give her a wide berth. Was he superstitious? Maybe. The technology of his ancestors and their ebon-clad confederates intrigued him; but he’d sooner dive headfirst into the crucible before him than get close enough to her to find out whether that power was (super)natural or otherwise.

    Finally, the iron began to cool; white-hot light fading to yellow to orange to red. The Kaiakans bent low to grasp the carrying poles of the iron-mold, wordlessly carrying it off behind the smelters, outside of Verakastian’s view. He heard the thunk-thunk-thunk of an impact hammer moments later.

    Why was she here?

    The acrid, earthen smell of miracle cactus smoke - the smell of an ovuk-taht, as some locals called it - wafted over from behind him, overpowering even the ferrous musk that constantly permeated the foundries of Khy;Barr.

    Of all places to be.

    He tugged at the loose ends of the bandages encircling his own arms, wincing as Vana’s manacles clanked once again. The scars were still too fresh on his own limbs. Smoothing the strips of stained cloth over as best he could, he took a breath of cactus- and iron-tainted stale air, and spun on his heel.

    She sat there, half shrouded by darkness, her dark colours blending in almost too naturally with the stone wall behind and shadows engulfing her. Wisps of smoke danced wildly through the space above her head, blown this way and that by the odd currents of the foundries.

    thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk

    His legs seemed to scream in protest as he approached the other Lesterin; even still, he stopped himself far away - ridiculously far for a conversation, but close enough to make his voice heard over the-

    thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk

    She took another drag.

    “Have you not any quarters?”

  • Edited on 2021-08-31 12:46:57 by Perp
  • Posted 2021-08-31 13:33:32 UTC
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  • IC:

    "I could go back up on the wall, I suppose."

    Yellow. Yellow tinged the smoke wafting about with every word, and that meant Verak. Feebly pulsing yellow always seeped from his words. But courage he'd summoned at last. With difficulty. Every step seemed to cost him, and he came to a stop far— comically far— away. But turning to face her took greater spine than he'd managed before and she felt obliquely proud of him. Vana eyed the other Lesterin and drew in a long drag, intentionally blowing out a long plume in his direction.

    "But someone would have to put me back up there. Good luck finding the help." The chains on her wrist clanked as she suddenly pulled them taut, her wrists a scant few inches apart. In the fingers of her left hand she held her ovuk-taht, and in her right a box of najin matches. "I've not been assigned any quarters. I'm sure I could clear a few Skathi from a room, stake my claim. But I can hardly strike a match with my hands bound, can I?"

    "Right here is the only place I can get a light, unless you'd care to unshackle me." Hufffff. "You're always so tense. Want one? Take the edge off?"

  • Posted 2021-09-01 04:09:02 UTC
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  • IC: Arms [Khy;Barr]

    The massive form of the fortresses current and foreseeable warlord loomed behind Verakastian, his approach impressively quiet given the monster's bulk.

    "Leave soon."

    "Prepare."

  • Posted 2021-09-01 05:31:28 UTC
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  • OOC: @Visaru

    IC: N'ashka Akkataka - Irnakk's Tooth

    "I trust you have some skill then." N'ashka let out a little grin. Images flashed in her mind's eye - brandishing her weapon, leaping off her mount, cutting down anybody who would dare step in her path. She shook her head to herself. "You were right to say poorer, Tarrok. My family is gone now. My home and my money too. It would be disrespectful to ask for your service, but I do wish to ask you this."

    N'ashka took two steps back, opened her cloak, and brought her sword up into the air where the blade activated, pieces clicking into place until it revealed itself in its full form. Spinning it around deftly, she put it tip first to the ground. It hummed as it vibrated in the stone, ringing low and quiet. "I have my life, and my strength, if not my eyes. As far as I'm concerned there are only two directions left for me to take now. I take the life of the woman who took everything from me, or I die trying." She levelled her head to where she believed Tarrok still stood. "Would you spar with me?"

  • Edited on 2021-09-01 17:29:30 by Palm
  • Posted 2021-09-01 06:02:34 UTC
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  • IC: Verakastian - Fortress Khy;Barr, the Foundries

    Grimacing, the Fa-Lesterin coughed lightly as her smoke drew swirls around his head. He lifted a hand and dissipated the remainder with a brief wave.

    Here she was before him - the Necromancer of Khy;Barr - feared She-Witch and Raiser-Of-Armies - still bound like a common slave.

    Perhaps a reflection of his own status, not long ago. She, sitting - manacled. Him, standing above, free from all but his own ambitions.

    Yet she was the one who terrified him with the simple proferrance of a narcotic. His head was swimming. Was it the smoke? No. It must be the foundries’ fumes. Or the heat. Yes, definitely the heat…

    He opened his mouth to reply, but he only got a single syllable out.

    “I-”

    A loud, thundering step. He felt the vibration through his shins. His guts turned to ice and the nape of his neck shivered in response.

        "Leave soon. Prepare."

    His eyes grew wide (thankfully hidden behind the goggles) and he stood stock-still, like a muaka ready to pounce on the nearest kinloka. Yet, he was no predator.

    At last, he broke free from fear’s grip, and turned slowly to face the latest warlord to command Fortress Khy;Barr. He had to take a step backward - towards her - just so that his neck wouldn’t snap through trying to look up at the immense being.

    “Y-yes master. At once.”

    He then bowed his head in respect, as he was so accustomed to doing. It was not clear if that was something Arms actually understood or cared about.

  • Posted 2021-09-01 17:44:02 UTC
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  • :i::c: - TARROK

    Her goals, her boasts, her offer of employment, all that I expected. Her invitation to duel was a surprise. I could not discern her goal or her terms, but it did not matter. She wished to cross swords, and despite her injury, I saw she was still filled with glory. I could not refuse the chance to test myself against her, to best this minor legend.

    “I was not lying when I said would relish the chance to face you.” I scraped the base of my weapon across the stone as I reversed the grip, turning it into a sword with a hammer head at the base of the hilt. It was a ritualistic way of readying my weapon, and also a way of alerting her to my location. If we were to duel properly, she should know where to aim her sword.

    The passerby on the road behind me were beginning to slow, hoping to receive a little entertainment from our duel.

    “There are Sarke pits nearby, but I am ready to cross blades now. We already have witnesses about us to awe.”

  • Posted 2021-09-01 18:59:47 UTC
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  • IC: N'ashka Akkataka - Irnakk's Tooth

    N'ashka's face betrayed no emotion. She wasn't expecting awe as she was certain to lose, no doubt. But if she could even deflect a single strike, that would be a success. "Here is fine, audience or not." N'ashka lifted the broadsword out of the stone street, brandishing it with both hands. She spun it, indicating she would use the flat end of her weapon, and would be no true threat to Tarrok.

    She stepped forwards, bringing up the blade as if to aim for an upwards strike from the left, but it was a feint. She spun her grip, and the blade followed suite, moving towards Tarrok's mid-section from the right instead.

    OOC: @Visaru

  • Posted 2021-09-01 20:54:35 UTC
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  • :i::c:

    Despite the heft my weapon, I was still strong and swift enough to readjust to the feint, raising my blade into her sword’s path. The flat of her weapon deflected off the sharp edge of mine with a clang. If my weapon was activated, it might have cut her’s in half. But she had made it clear from the way she held her sword we were not aiming to hurt each other, so I kept my blade off. We were testing each other, pushing at each other’s skill. I would not harm her, but I would not coddle her either.

    I kept the edge of my weapon held defensively in front of my body as I stepped in and swiftly lowered the hammer head on the bottom toward her belly, aiming to hit her hard enough to knock her off her feet. 

  • Posted 2021-09-02 16:02:38 UTC
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  • IC:

    "Quit torturin' th' poor lad, witch!"

    It was an impressive thing, a voice being able to ring out so profoundly clearly over the din of the forging going on nearby, but ring out it did. It took a moment for the owner of the voice to come into view, though—not only did he have quite a bit to move around to join with the small group, he also had to get around Arms just to be seen. He gave an appreciative nod up at the hulking warlord of the fortress. "Armsie," he said by way of greeting, a toothy grin beaming out under the nose of his mask. Then, raising the oversized mechanical claw that was his right arm, he clapped down hard on Verak's shoulder.

    "Verak, boy, I've told ye once an' I'll tell ye again, ye dinnae need tae humour her like this. Yoor time is yoors, laddie, an' ye can dee wi' it as ye sees fit tae." He turned, grin falling as he looked at Vana—neither hostile nor afraid, but certainly not impressed. "An' ye need tae quit smokin' them reefers o' yoors. Makes ye right bloody impossible tae unnerstand, lass." Grin returning, he looked back around at the group he was standing with.

    "Now, it's I hae got tae make a run doon tae th' stills tonicht, an' get me cuts for th' bottlin'. Wha's th' body wha'll gang doon wi' me? Verak, lad, I hope ye ain't afeart tae help me cairie some jaurs an' bottles, richt? Wha else'll help me?" He looked up at the massive warlord, with a small nod.

    "'Ceptin you's, acourse, Armsie."

  • Edited on 2021-09-03 10:54:10 by Pteronura Brasiliensis
  • Posted 2021-09-02 17:32:31 UTC
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  • IC: {Khy;Barr, The Temple of Guns}

    "SHO'GAKK!" A booming voice calls, carrying clear over even the insistent hammering of machinery on pig iron and steel. Massive lungs and a trained diaphragm drive the sounds of thunder through the air as a grizzled Vo-Skakdi snaps to attention, pausing his grind of a long barrel. "YOU HAVE THE FLOOR FOR THE REST OF THE DAY! ALTERNATE SHIFTS WITH VICHENKO UNTIL WE RETURN! CURNOKK IS LEAVING AFTER LUNCH TODAY— HIS RUNT IS GREETING THE WORLD! AND IF GHOLAK SLACKS, CORRECT HIS POSTURE!"

    Behind the towering source of the voice, a distinct bonk of wood hitting the stone flooring could be heard, air swooshing as a gaunt figure mimed the strike with a little too much further.

    "Understood, Crew Chief!" the lightning-flavored brute barks back, handing his work off to a runty junior apprentice, and taking position near the head of the foundry, overlooking them all. As he draws close to the larger, younger Skakdi he is filling in the void of, he sees him off with a nod and a pat upon the shoulder. "Ancestors guide your conquest, Dinsmokk."

    "And may they take pride in your forgeworks, Sho'Gakk." the gesture is mirrored, however instead of a hand filled with scars, the shoulder was struck by naught but metal.

    Satisfied that he is leaving the floor in capable hands, the burly Skakdi of Ice, horned and dangerous as any ever was, ambles down from the rafters and rejoins the motley group of Lesterin and Arms, wearing his thoughts on his face, teeth showing in a smirk that made up for the patched eye cutting off a window to the soul. It is no pretty thing to behold, but far uglier is the collection of bones standing behind him, wearing the rictus grin of a polished skull.

    These twin spectres, one of death and the other of life, loom over Verakastian and Vana even from afar, painted a dull, fiery orange by the glow of molten iron. The Skeleton looks curiously at the Rahi the witch has under her spell, nudging it with his stick, but the Skakdi pins the bundle of nerves before him with a prying eye.

    "It seems the freedom you so coveted has still left you craven, gunsmith." his voice is as pleasant as rockfall. "You jump at every shadow from the flickers of the fire. Can you not see? We would descend upon the witch in a second and feed her to the forges if she tried to take housing from the workmen. This is the arrangement that keeps one of your people safe from our long memories. Perhaps an ovuk-taht is what you need, to quell your fear. Or the Distiller's brandy. Regardless,"

    The tooth in his head seems to drink in the red of the forges. A throaty bellow floats through the air from the production floor, hammers pounding in time with the tempo of its subharmonic rumbling.

    "You should rejoice. Under no Skathi would you three have this chance to see the sun. Take solace in Arms."

  • Edited on 2021-09-02 17:42:20 by Razgriz
    get em boneman
  • Posted 2021-09-02 17:48:34 UTC
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  • IC:

    "Aye, an' Bonesie too! Now we're all thegither an' ready tae gang away, then." G. Lenfiddich turned and beamed his grin at Dinsmokk. "An ye say that, lad, but I'm sure ye can mind th' time I drug that misert predecessor o' Sho'Gakk's, Gerrack;dii, yon time I drug him on oot o' th' fortress when he thocht he could yank me shackle an' hold me doon below. Sun were mighty nice, that morn."

  • Posted 2021-09-02 17:59:09 UTC
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  • IC: {Khy;Barr, The Temple of Guns}

    "Gerrack came up under Bonema." Dinsmokk notes, seemingly content to let the aforementioned day be left to the past, even with one of the blood of Seprilli recounting it to him. "The blind lead the blind in his day."

    Behind him, the Blind stands, blankly staring at the scampering creature they had refused to acknowledge at their feet.

  • Edited on 2021-09-02 18:07:40 by Razgriz
  • Posted 2021-09-02 18:00:35 UTC
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  • IC:

    Real rich to call her unintelligible.

    The colors blended, now. Melded and fought for control, washing out the yellow and burying it in reds and and blues and vibrant amber. The colors wreathed her, wreathed them, and they had nothing to do with the ovuk-taht. No, she always saw them. Their hue and their shape, their intensity and their vibration, they gave her such wonderful insights into the minds around her. The voice said everything, obviously, but it said everything too. The pitch, the speed, the extra little quiver in a word when she was getting under their skin. Verak's always sounded that way, certainly, but it was useful for other, less susceptible sorts. 

    "I'd love to help, Lenfiddich, but alas." Her manacles clanked again, intentionally brought tight just as she brought the ovuk-taht to her lips for another drag. "I can't help so much with so little room to move. I do remember Gerrack;Dii, come to that. And I remember the fool that used to be one of your colleagues, Chief."

    Vana's lips curled back in a smile that showed just a little too much teeth for a Lesterin.

    "I remember the sound his neck made when I broke it. It was such a lovely, silver sound. And I saw the sun just fine when your Skathi leader trembled putting in my chains." Another drag. "I'd happily help, Lenfiddich, if the boss would dispense with my restraints for a time. And if you could find it in your heart to share a little brew, I'd dispense with the smoke too. I think Verak needs it more than I."

  • Posted 2021-09-02 18:10:15 UTC
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  • IC:

    "Blind's a guid wird for him, too, efter th' joskin tried me patience a wee bit too thin, trying tae yank off me arm! Bonesie there wouldnae let me hae any meat for an ook efter I dug me claws intae his skull." He turned, glancing down at Vena again.

    "I thocht I told ye tae quit tauntin' th' lad."

  • Posted 2021-09-02 18:18:45 UTC
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  • IC: {Khy;Barr, The Temple of Guns}

    "Indeed, how unpleasant. So fortunate that my brother never saw far enough to learn his impending doom. Perhaps this servitude shall open his eyes." 

    The skeleton of the leader that had enchained her waddles after the Rahi, stick raised high. Dinsmokk watches it go, as if observing dust blow across a mountain path. The witch is trying to get a rise of him, but so often does the heretic when faced with a god to be. She can thrash against her chains for the sake of small victories, but just as the burnt weed that fills her lungs, it is naught but a convenient distraction. 

    "But fools often remain shortsighted fools, don't they? The fortress will run in working order as we depart, I have seen to such."

  • Posted 2021-09-02 19:27:29 UTC
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  • IC: Arms [Khy;Barr, Forge]

    The massive monolith of muscle watched in silence as his lieutenants gathered around. It was not for naught, as a skeletal, though not quite as skeletal as the fort's previous warlord was now, Skakdi approached the assorted group lugging a large sack, one that rattled with the unmistakable sound of weaponry.

    Arms accepted the pack without a word, hefting it onto a shoulder before turning towards the assembled group.

    "Going."

    Arms knelt down, the floor beneath groaning from the shifting weight, to position himself directly in front of Vana. A clawed appendage reached out, and grasped the chain between the manacles with a forefinger and thumb. The was a brief moment of unmoving, as he simple stared forward into the Lesterin's eyes, before the chain snapped in half, and Arms rose once again.

    "Come."

  • Posted 2021-09-03 00:36:28 UTC
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  • IC: Verakastian - Fortress Khy;Barr, the Foundries

    Karzahni. That’s where he was. This must be Karzahni…

    The moment that Gohkar stepped out from behind Lord Arms, Verakastian felt yet another jolt pierce its way through his heart.

    The Distiller was, by far, the one of Arms’ top lieutenants that unnerved him the least - be it his general easygoing attitude towards Verak himself, or the fact that he mostly (mostly) kept to his own passions in much the same way the Armorer did, or…

    Mata Nui, he could never understand half of what this man was saying. And he just… clammed up, every time, for fear of misunderstanding a phase, or an intonation, or pronunciation... Knowing just how explosive Lenfiddich could be, it wouldn’t surprise Verakastian that saying the wrong thing in response to what he perceived to be a sentence would result in serious harm to his person. He almost never opened his mouth around him. He couldn’t help but feel that his warm smile and brotherly attitude was but a guise, his eyes hiding barely-contained malice.

    But at least he wasn’t-

    "It seems the freedom you so coveted has still left you craven, gunsmith."

    No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no-

    Anyone but him, please. He’d rather be within arms reach of Vana than be close to-

    The skeleton was with him. The deathshead visage of the warlord who had once enslaved him, prattling around behind his living brother who wore such a similar face to the once that had occupied Verakastian’s sight in his final moments. Reduced to nothing but a puppet.

    He shuddered again, watching its unnatural movements. The old warlord was not long dead before Dinsmokk had raised him again, the body’s flesh still decaying over the months as the bones continued as if nothing had happened. One day, the rest of the flesh had simply disappeared, the skeleton picked clean, the faded ivory spotless.

    Verakastian, under no circumstances, intended to find out where that necrotic tissue had gone.

    And now, here he was, surrounded on all sides by those he feared the most. His worst nightmare. Had the foundries’ heat not already caused him to perspire, the beads of sweat would’ve been a tell-tale sign of his terror. That, plus his body language, tone of voice, hand tremors, heavy breathing…

    It was about the time that Arms bent low to release Vana’s bindings that he found enough drive within himself to push past Gohkar, muttering “I must go” or something to that effect and called after the two Kaiakan brothers.

    THUNK-THUNK-THUNK-THUNK-THUNK-THUNK

    “Corlius, Larex!”

    They shut off the impact hammer and wordlessly turned to face him. Verakastian took a few moments to catch his breath and steady himself.

    “Where- where is your brother...?”

    Larex and Corlius’ expressions twisted in puzzlement, before they both casually pointed at each other, still silent.

    “No! No. You- hrrng. Y-your other brother.”

    They blinked, and then finally spoke in unison. “Moh?”

    “Yes, Moh!

    They shrugged. He sighed.

    “Well, find him! We are…” he turned to look over his shoulder at the motley group assembled behind him, half hidden by shadow. Wincing, he removed the goggles and rubbed at his eyes, smearing the lines where his eyewear had kept out the carbon on his face. “...leaving Khy;Barr. Temporarily. You three will stay here, and-”

    He lowered his voice, ensuring the others would not hear him. “...and make sure the skathi do not burn Lord Arms’ library in our absence. Understood?”

    Once again, they paused as if in thought for a moment, before nodding in unison.

    Mmh… he grumbled, before turning back to whence he had come, and slowly returned to the four others.

    He wasn’t counting the skeleton.

  • Posted 2021-09-03 10:38:46 UTC
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  • IC:

    "Yer habberin', laddie. Ye've gat tae git a haunnle on that if we're tae gang awa on aventur. Bis, thare's nocht tae be afeart of wi' me tae gaird ye!"

  • Edited on 2021-09-03 10:49:46 by Pteronura Brasiliensis
  • Posted 2021-09-03 21:44:03 UTC
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  • IC:

    Vana tensed when the new lord of Khy;Barr crouched before her, a subtle contraction of her muscles to readiness. The small Rahi she had resurrected turned, rearing up on its tiny back legs and stayed deathly still. It was a moment utterly fraught with tension, one in which the Lesterin hung on the very brink of violence. Not because she expected to win. But because she would, she was certain, not be the only one to lose. Her eyes met with his, the tension peaked—

    Crack.

    And the chain snapped. A single link, nearly dead center of the length between her wrists, broken with the slightest twitch of his fingers. First she was relieved she would live another day. Then her eyes widened, infinitesimally,  at the gravity of her new situation. Then she laughed. It was a genuine sound, full of glee and mirth but rusty and inflected from long disuse. It was as though her body was remembering in that moment how to laugh, just as her shoulders stretched and rolled. Her hands were free. The manacles remained, clinking with her every move, but who cared? They were no longer joined, and the sound as they broke had been gleaming silver. A peal of perfect sound, ringing in her ears and her eyes.

    "As you command, my lord," The Lesterin said as her laughter abated, closing her left hand on the wooden staff on the stone floor next to her. For so long it had been her leverage, an aid to her movement without the hands to balance herself. Now she could brace with her own hand, clawed fingers of her right gouging the floor as she pushed herself to her feet. There was a genuine happiness to her eye, an unusual spring to her step. She dropped the ovuk-taht on the floor, as promised, and ground it beneath her heel. "Where to, and how quickly?"

  • Posted 2021-09-04 18:20:14 UTC
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  • OOC: @Visaru

    IC: N'ashka Akkataka - Irnakk's Tooth

    The sound of metal on metal rang through the air.

    N'ashka felt the familiar feeling of her blade against another's, vibrating through the hilt and into her hands and forearms. She tried to imagine the position and angle of Tarrok's blade, but found this difficult. So difficult, even, that she forgot to anticipate Tarrok's next move. N'ashka heard him move, something hardly perceivable, and then immediately felt a great weight strike her midsection. She pushed out a great breath, and was knocked backwards, tripping over something - stone, perhaps? - and falling flat on her back.

    N'ashka heard the sound of some laughter from passing pedestrians, and felt her cheeks begin to flush. She kicked herself onto her feet, nearly losing her balance again before righting herself, shaking her head to try and tune out the nearby sound. N'ashka put up her blade again, this time in a defensive stance, focusing hard on Tarrok's position, trying to imagine what he might do next.

  • Posted 2021-09-05 02:05:14 UTC
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  • :i::c: - TARROK

    I was disheartened to see her let my blow strike her without even an attempt to dodge. Her blindness was debilitating, and I felt a rush of gratitude for the one eye I still had, happy that I was not entirely cut off from the world of sight like she was. As I watched the former legend scramble back to her feet, I circled slowly around her. A small crowd had formed around us, mostly Skakdi wearing leering grins, eager to see some blood. I wondered if any of them recognized the former wife of the blade, if anyone else felt the melancholy I did at seeing personified how far a Skakdii could fall. 

    There was no honor beating her swiftly, as I now knew I could. I saw the move I would need to do so — a silent swing of my hammer, knocking her legs out from under her and getting my blade at her throat in one clean spin. But instead, I let my mind shift back to my old days as a Sarke fighter. I could put on a show for the passerby while testing the limits of N’aska’s disadvantage. I certainly did not intend to let her win, but I planned to at least draw out the combat. 

    I stopped my circling and silently crept back in the reverse direction of my earlier pacing to move to an unexpected angle. Then I swung my weapon at her legs, but let the head of the hammer scrape across the cobblestones at it neared her shins. I wanted to test her: Would she react in time? Could she anticipate where I had moved to? If she could not dodge even this, I thought then, she would not be worth my services, regardless of her former glory. There was no hope for her. 

  • Posted 2021-09-10 01:48:39 UTC
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  • IC: Arms [Khy;Barr, Forge]

    "Down."

    It was unclear if this was a command to their current posture, or something else entirely, until the massive being simply turned, and began to take one ponderous step after another towards the staircase which lead deeper away from the hanging fort and deeper into the mountainside itself.

  • Posted 2021-09-11 21:46:05 UTC
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  • IC: N'ashka Akkataka - Irnakk's Tooth

    N'ashka began to let out a long drawn-out breath, waiting for the next attack. However, it did not arrive as anticipated. Was Tarrok simply waiting? Or, was he in the process of repositioning? N'ashka grit her teeth, and listened as hard as she could, muscles taut. She couldn't hear any movement until - shk!

    Metal on stone, undeniably.

    N'ashka inhaled sharply, and spun on her feet, twirling her blade so that it swept around her in a wide semi-circle towards the noise. Much to her surprise, the two weapons met low to the stone floor with a loud clang! N'ashka wasted no time celebrating, and focused on the sensation in her hands. She felt the hammer - not fully persuaded away - sliding up the edge of her sword towards her hilt. She kept pushing, hoping to ensure the strike would miss entirely, and that she could force an opening. With a great huff, she shoved with her full might, imagining the hammer-ended weapon being pushed away from Tarrok's center and to his side.

    Without a moment of hesitation, she pounced, stepping forward and swinging the sword again, but in the opposite direction, hopefully to strike his mid-section.

    OOC: @Visaru sorry for the hold-up, Vis!

  • Edited on 2021-09-11 21:47:01 by Palm
  • Posted 2021-09-12 02:32:08 UTC
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  • IC: Verakastian - Fortress Khy;Barr, the Foundries

    Standing a good distance away from the others, Verakastian watched the massive Warlord turn away from the assembled group and begin his grand exit. It was hard to imagine Arms doing anything that wasn’t automatically grand due to his stature. After a brief moment of looking between the four-armed behemoth and the assembled duo of Lesterin and the duo of Skak- Karz, he just said he wasn’t counting the skeleton! ... The singular Skakdi and that Nakihl abomination, he stormed off in a huff, eager to get away from his, er, compatriots? The word soured on his tongue and drove a stake of ice straight through his heart. He would have to keep vigilant now that Vana was unbound, and not to mention Dinsmokk’s apparent camaraderie with whatever-his-name-was with the accent (Verakastian could never determine what he was actually called because everything spewing from his mouth sounded like a handful of alphabet soup noodles tossed haphazardly into a pitcher of ale punctuated with the occasional consonant) or perhaps his biggest problem to fret over were those three imbeciles that he had working some of the most crucial equipment to his pinnacle of indus-

    His thoughts jumbled together into a tangled mess as he inadvertently hurried his pace into a light jog in an effort to get away from the odious trio that had all ambushed him here in his sanctuary at once. He was so distracted that he nearly bumped into Arms’ leg (what a weird couple of words to put together), but stopped himself short before doing so. Not that it would’ve mattered if he did - Arms was more likely to register his contact upon him like you would an insect upon your-

    “I’m so terribly sorry, my Lord, but if I may inquire… you know, as to where we are going? Or what we are setting out to do? Surely you don’t need my presence on your journey… right? I mean, there are so many things that need to be done here at Khy;Barr - so many things! I can scarcely count them all on my fingers, which, I suppose, would not be a problem for y- ahem, I digress! But I implore you, m’Lord, I am needed here if our operations are to prosper, and I must say these past few months they have been prospering - yes, indeed, prospering! For the Broker has secured twice as many shipments this year as compared to the last! A testament to my hard work, as you can see, and surely there must be better candidates to accompan-”

  • Posted 2021-09-12 02:42:37 UTC
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  • IC: Arms [Khy;Barr, Forge]

    "Heh."

    "Little child come too."

  • Posted 2021-09-12 03:30:11 UTC
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  • IC:

    adenine guanine thymine cytosine adenine guanine thymine cytosine-

    Amidst the inky sea of esoteric words in her anarchist's cookbook, those four had been tantalizing Deuandra for days - weeks? The thought of their bodies being no more than alchemical constructs, chimeras cobbled together from four mystic substances she could not taste, touch or snort, was unfathomable. Most people were quite attached to their bodies in an abstract sense; they hated the idea of them being damaged or decaying, but if they were to break a limb or sleep wrong on their back, it was their back's fault, their back bothering them, as if they were somehow now a victim of this stupid back they were lugging around. Under those circumstances, they considered their bodies little more prisons for their minds and souls - or, since the world was really the ultimate prison, their bodies were but individual cells.

    Cells...cells! What a genius name! 

    She would have to write that in the book at a moment when her hands weren't occupied. With her dominant hand, Deuandra was mixing up the draught that Arms had requested from her. Neither she nor her patron were really sure what would happen if they mixed these ingredients together, if truth be told. They both had vague ideas of what certain ingredients did from her residency as chief alchemist of Khy;Barr, but most of her time here had been spent shoring up or modifying recipes her mother had penned when she had the book. One day it would be her turn to create anew, and with every broth she made she wondered if that would be it, the first step towards her own magnificence. Curiously, she took the utensil she was using to mix the potion and took a long sip. Mmm. Deuandra smacked her lips. It was tasty, but...she was hardly even feeling a buzz, let alone strong enough to take her quadruple arms and rip Skakdi apart in a bloody frenzy. It seemed like this one was a failure, too.

    With her left hand, she was keeping her music player powered, humming along to its beat as she concocted and experimented. It helped break up the monotony; her lab was usually a quiet place, hazy with fumes or Vana's smoke. More than once Deuandra had passed off some substance or another to smoke that she was sure might kill the other Lesterin, but so far it seemed like there was nothing she couldn't soak and smoke in an ovuk-taht. Deuandra kind of admired that, in a way. But she didn't like the way Vana looked at her. Especially when Deuandra herself was under some ill effect or another, and the necromancer appeared to her with a hundred leering eyes like a housefly. No, the lab was best with just her, her humming, and her vocalizing.

    -wanna- She fired off an imaginary Zamor four times, spinning and humming as she rotated from one end of her messy countertop to the other -wanna take your guanine-

    PEW PEW PEW PEW

    Was someone really firing a Zamor in here?

    What was that noise?

    It was weird she wasn't feeling any stronger. Arms tended to be pretty patient with her failings, ɟoɹ ɐ ʍɐɹloɹp' ʍɥᴉɔɥ lǝp pǝnɐupɹɐ ʇo snsdǝɔʇ ʇɥɐʇ ɥᴉs qɹnʇᴉsɥ ǝxʇǝɹᴉoɹ ɥᴉp ʇɥǝ ɯᴉup oɟ ɐ sɔᴉǝuʇᴉsʇ˙˙˙ǝʌǝu ᴉɟ ɥǝ ʍɐs ʞᴉup oɟ ɐu ᴉllᴉʇǝɹɐʇǝ ouǝ˙

    Wait, huh? Deuandra blinked groggily behind her goggles. Ohhhh...

    "Hahahahaha."

    Iʇ ʍɐs sʇɐɹʇᴉuƃ ʇo ʞᴉɔʞ ᴉu' Λɐuɐ¡ Λɐuɐ' ɔoɯǝ sɯoʞǝ ʇɥᴉs¡ Iʇ,ll ʇnɹu ʎon ᴉuʇo ƃnɐuᴉuǝ¡

    She hoped ɿɘʜɈɘϱoɈ ##### ɿɘʜ qɘɘʞ oɈ ɘldɒ ɘd blυow ɘʜƨ in front of Arms.

    PEW PEW PEW PEW

    They were footsteps; Arms' footsteps! Huhuhuh oh. .ɘmiɈ ƨiʜɈ ɿɘʜɈɘϱoɈ Ɉi qɘɘʞ ɒnnoϱ ƨɒw ɘʜƨ woʜ ɒɘbi on bɒʜ ɒɿbnɒυɘႧ

    THIS ONE 

    WAS NEW 

    TO THE  P A L A T E

    "Arms?" The Lesterin cleared her throat and repeated: "Arms?" as the footstep-gunshots echoed closer. "I just need a few more minutes!"

    vana vana take your guanine

    -Tyler

  • Edited on 2021-09-12 03:41:07 by Haman Karn: A Magical Girl