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Fantasy Munus Deorum (open)

Sub Genres
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  2. Adventure
  3. Historical
  4. LGTBQ
  5. Supernatural
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AncientBird

Reptile with wings and plumes.
Tamakai

"With pleasure, Boscer." Replied Tamakai as he slightly bowed to the central god. He then turned toward the goddess of autumn. "I agree with you, Aluma. If we follow these spores, we would likely find Tevan and the others in no time. They are pointing toward the direction my magpies have given me after all." Said Tamakai as he started walking, leading the other two on the trail of spores.

"So, you remember that day? The day of the great invasion that the imperialists stormed the Cardinal Shrines and imprisoned you and the three other central gods…” Tamakai started telling the story, something he really loved to do. “…The usurpers emerged victorious that day, with the rest of us minor gods and our followers either being dispatched or forced to hide. Upon the remains of those who opposed them, the empire of the usurpers has grown strong and prosperous. Mortals that once worshipped us were pushed from the old way and embraced the empire's culture instead." Said Tamakai, narrating about the aftermath of the old god’s defeat.

"Oh the poor, honest people of Averus, once used to peacefully offer their faith to the land and nature... Now they have to go by, by sacrificing the most valuable objects they could find... Taking the life of beasts or even themselves to appease their new 'gods'…. And if they were caught openly opposing the empire’s way… You could have guessed by now who would be the next to become a sacrifice.” Tamakai stopped to pick up a strand of grass to chew on, a usual habit when he put up his story telling act.

“We old gods have not got it good either… Within a hundred years, we could do nothing but abide in the dark corner... Our powers waned away from what we used to be. Some like I and Aluma have had our luck to live on, intact and well… Others, not so fortunate. Remember Tarapene? The goddess of mud and dirt? Once a beloved, benevolent soul who granted mortals the best materials for pottery… With her followers crushed to nearly nonexistent and herself tortured to the brink of death, she had given to the feral mind and form. Now she is nothing but a monsterous turtle, ambushing for anything unfortunate enough to stumble upon her den and dragging them to their watery grave…” Said Tamakai as he quickly used a long stick to draw a picture of large turtle head with an open gape on the ground at the side of their trail.

“Then there’s Rieve, the innocent goddess of insects, a closed disciple of Tevan. Heart broken and gave in to her sadness, emerged as a mad incarnation of swarming locust and biting fleas. She had disappeared from our sight but left behind a massive swarm that destroyed many of the crops and infected mortals with disease in many parts of Averus… It was such a terrifying sight to behold. There were insects everywhere and the sound of their beating wings filled the entire sky, just like that buzzing noise in front of us… Wait, buzzing noise?!”

Tamakai stopped in his tracks and looked forward. He signaled Aluma and Boscer to hold their ground.

The noise of flying insects came closer. A small swarm emerged, as well as a horde of beetles scurrying by. In the middle of the darkness ahead, an eeries lantern could be seen and began to move closer and closer to the group. Soon Tamakai could make out what's coming toward them. A small body of a familiar goddess, yet different and almost unrecognizable.

“Rieve?!” Tamakai gasped at the sight of the lost goddess. Once a small, beautiful little woman, the insect goddess in front of Tamakai leaked the sensation of pestilence and sickness. Her attire was in shambles and her skin soiled by whatever filth she picked up along the way.

“Tevan” was the first word she uttered.

“Rieve… Ladybug… I haven’t seen you in many decades…” Said Tamakai, still shocked by the sudden appearance of the insect goddess he was just talking about a little while ago. The trickster god tensed up, not sure how Rieve would perceive her old acquaintances, for she could have already gone insane and dangerous, like Tarapene…

Rieve looked at them and as soon as she spotted Boscer among the group, she started tearing up. "You're free... This means Tevan is free as well...!"

Sight of joy came from the goddess as she started hopping around like a cheerful child during a festival. Tamakai froze in place but then he reminded himself that Rieve must have already seen the spores trail… And with the trace of Tevan finally putting her back in a good mood… She might be safe to approach.

“Yes, Ladybug… Tevan is back! All of the central gods walk the land once more. We are just on our way to reunite with them.” Said Tamakai.

The group welcomed back the goddess of insects who had seemed to become stable and resemble her old self once more.

“Excuse me... I believe I need some catching up on what's happened...?"

Rieve asked, possibly curious about the ‘urgent’ matter the group was discussing a while earlier. “Well, there are some important matters going on, but let’s not burden yourself with it for now, yes? Once we meet up with Tevan, we will speak about it. I am pretty sure Master Stag also needs some catching up himself as well.” Replied Tamakai, trying to brush the bad news off from Rieve, for he wasn’t sure if it would bring up some ‘things’ in her again.

Frozen Thyme Frozen Thyme Hazmat44 Hazmat44 Ari Number Two Ari Number Two

SilverFlight SilverFlight
 
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SilverFeathers

Ruler of the Sky
Ralis Crasmere
Divine Wood - Cardinal Shrines

Fate, huh. His turquoise eyes flicked strangely at the sudden comment.
He didn't like thinking about something so arbitrary and out of control, yet he answered the woman regardless. The connection he felt with her and the stag, was something he could no longer pretend not to notice, as much as he wanted to. "Ralis." He called back plainly, not slowing down his movements in the slightest. Although something definitely tugged at him to stay or go back, he refused to listen to it. Instinctively, he felt that if he did, he would never again be able to go back to his peaceful and ordinary everyday life.

It seemed that they too unfortunately felt the same pull, as he watched the not-so-wounded deer trot in front of him, pleading him to stay. Even as he grandly introduced himself with a bow, Ralis' face only scrunched up into a frown. Eyeing the flourishing little flowers for a moment, he tilted his head to the side before responding. "So for treating your wounds, you give me this sick joke in return? Why are you pretending to be a dead god? Do you admire him that badly?"

He scowled, trying to quickly determine what the point of all this was. Glancing towards the brown-haired woman, he realized that she perfectly fit the description of Solaris too, bronze armour and all. Ah I see. Everything seemed to click inside his head all at once. He had heard passing rumours of a God of Tricks, this was likely just one of their little games. Immediately, his neutral opinion of everyone here plummeted immensely.

No longer caring as much for what these people had to say, he responded half-heartedly to the latter of the stag's words. "I know it's dangerous. I didn't want to be here either, especially at this time. But there's something I have to do." Ralis explained vaguely with disinterest in his eyes. His offer of protection was also odd, though if one were pretending to be the god of compassion, it was somewhat fitting. "Escorts, huh? In your current states, if you don't weigh me down it'd be a miracle, even if you do have the powers of gods." He eyed them both, disregarding the lion because well, he didn't seem to feel any connection with them, and had no reason to escort him too. As he looked at them however, he couldn't help but feel a slight prickle of guilt towards his own words. After all... they looked like they hadn't had a pleasant time as of late, apart from the lion. "I'm not leaving this forest yet anyway... If you really must know where I'm headed, it's the Cardinal Shrines. Don't ask why. Because I'm not sure why either." He couldn't help himself from explaining a little further, before finally marching past the group, and leaving them far behind with quickened steps.

---

"What... how, why?"

He couldn't help but stare in disbelief at where the Deity of Earth once stood, remnants of ivy and stone still littered around the sudden empty space on the ground. "I thought they couldn't be moved..." He couldn't help but mumble, before discovering flustered hoof prints trailing into the distance, from a very similar direction to where he just came from. His mind immediately blanked, before he recovered some semblance of wit and muttered to himself. "Isn't this too elaborate to be a little game or illusion?" He couldn't help but scoff, still in utter denial... though facing the truth he could already more than guess at, was inevitable for him.

Immediately urged to investigate, he rushed north-east to Solaris' temple, the image of a certain brown-haired woman still fresh in his mind, and found a very similar scene. The lack of that statue, one he had disdained wholeheartedly for that pose of surrender, shook his very core. Helplessly, he continued to dash west towards Boscer's temple, and found the very same absence. Somewhat resigned and still in a daze, he finally wandered towards the northern temple of storms, half-expecting the same situation. Yet not only did he see the same lack of a statue, he found a... person.

In that instant, an old singular quote rung through his mind.

"Alice, let me tell you a secret. I know our family prefers the deity of fire and all, you included, but I actually quite adore Siuhaydis. I mean, values aside, look at her, isn't she just so elegant and beautiful?

At that time, Ralis couldn't help but scoff. Godly beings could easily manipulate their appearances to however they pleased, so it wasn't anything special for one to achieve an appearance mortals could only dream of. Rather, to give oneself an elegant appearance was likely a useful tool for them in gaining more followers and offerings. Hence, he didn't feel it was anything as awe-inspiring as his sister made it out to be. Though, he pondered, at the time, if his dear sister was actually projecting a little envy towards the goddess. With the scars that littered her body and the toned muscles she had gathered over the years through arduous training, she could likely never achieve a similar flawless, fairy-like appearance. It was just... yet another price that their family chose to pay for their stubbornness.

Still, regardless of whatever he helplessly thought and responded with back then, Ralis couldn't help but be stunned at the current state of the woman standing desolately by the entrance. Caked with dust and dirt, cerulean hair tumbling messily, with a terrible despair in her dull silver eyes that even he could discern in the fading light levels. Her knees and hands seemed injured, though she paid no heed to it. She... seemed so frail and alone, so very different to the portraits, history books and passed word of her past. Yet, she was still very much recognizable... as Siuhaydis, the Goddess of Air, Lightning and Change.

Likely, that recognition was aided by the fact that he felt a similar feeling from this woman, to the pair he had left not too long ago. That strange connection, that pull that seemed to come from his very core. Ralis honestly hated how he had finally managed to walk away from the pull of the previous two... only to walk into her. Did he really have no choice in the matter? In fate, as that... Solaris, mentioned? It seemed he now had no choice but to believe that the central deities had returned... and he had a compelling and unavoidable bond with them.

Sighing with an utter mixture of emotions weighing him down, he finally realized he had been staring at the goddess for an uncomfortably long amount of time. Looking away after coming back to his senses, he once again pulled off his backpack and got his medical supplies out, though as he began approaching her, he forcefully and abruptly halted himself in his tracks. Blinking erratically, he thought about what he was actually trying to do.

Unlike with what happened with Tevan, Ralis didn't feel as if he could just nonchalantly go up and treat this woman's injuries... Especially since she was such an important figure. You didn't really need permission from an animal to treat it, so he didn't hesitate much back then, but this was different. Very different. "Do you... want to be treated?" He hesitated, unsure of how to commune with a goddess. Was he supposed to bow down? Hell no. But what if she strikes him down with lightning for his impudence? Ralis was stuck in a brief dilemma, with his hands holding the half-empty healing salve and leftover bandages in contemplation. "Oh, right. Your friends will be here soon. I'll just uh... Leave these here. They'll help you out. I mean, one of them is the whole god of compassion and all." The sudden solution that popped into his head made him breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Ralis left the supplies a little ways away from the goddess, being a little reluctant of getting too close, especially with his thoughts in such disarray, before his eyes slowly locked on to the other spore trail. One that would inevitably lead him to the last central deity, Boscer. As much as he wanted to just go over, say hi, and call it a day, deep down, he knew that could never be the case.

"One hundred years. The four deities awakening." He mumbled out loud to himself. "I mean, it's cool and all that I'm witnessing history... But why am I here?" He scratched his head and ruffled his hair furiously in frustration.

"Well, might as well meet the last of them I suppose." He gave up thinking in the end, and started dazedly but determinedly marching down the other trail. His head was still struggling to comprehend everything, though he tried to keep his mind in check, and focus on the current situation. Boscer huh... I hope he isn't as injured as the others, because I've got nothing left. He sighed tiredly, it seemed this night was going to be a long one.

Lekiel Lekiel SilverFlight SilverFlight Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus Lioness075 Lioness075
 

Vulpes lagopus

Pretend this is something clever.
Solaris
Divine Wood/Averus Central Forest - Near the Cardinal Shrines

"Ralis," the mortal introduced himself, without the least sign of halting. Hmm. Very well.

In her single-minded focus, Solaris had forgotten not to expect a linear report from the ebullient Light God. One could almost see the wheels turn behind her eyes as she sifted the relevant from the irrelevant in his stream of chatter. It was a kind impulse, to spare her feelings, but not what was needed. Still, it was his way. He had an ability to put others at ease that she did not possess, and, by the same token, his very kindness could become a liability. One to face the darkness; one to hold the light. All gifts were needed to maintain balance. Softened as his account was, she saw her expectations confirmed, on reading between the lines. Tyranny reigned, and worship of the cardinal gods was abandoned. Only that could explain their weakened state. More mysteries lay unresolved, but she deemed it better to question another when the opportunity arose, rather than hound Falarion for details.

"You need not varnish the truth with me, Falarion. It is as I thought. You've done well. Though such a burden should never have fallen on your shoulders, you have my gratitude for serving the people these past hundred years. I... I am sorry I was not there to fulfill my duty. As for the similes, I'm not opposed to hearing them, but perhaps they can wait until there are less pressing matters at hand."

With the arrival of Tamakai's magpies, Solaris sensed a quickening. Events set in motion were hastening to a point. The true guardians were gathering. A new day was dawning, and they would go forth to meet it.

Meanwhile, Tevan thought to introduce himself to Ralis- she had noticed he did not seem to recognize them- with an offer of escort. Instead of joy, this was met with suspicion, mistaken for a cruel jest. Such bitterness told her far more about the present state of affairs than Falarion's explanation had. A scowl creased his forehead, then his attitude shifted to one of indifference, as he doubted they could be of much use in their condition. Well, he wasn't wrong. Finally, citing a mysterious quest of his own, one which led him to the Cardinal Shrines, he turned and made a decisive exit.

Though she still sensed that their paths led to the same destination, she had no means to prove herself to this mortal, nor any compelling reason for him to place his faith in her. "Do as you will," she said. "May the heavens protect you."

After he had disappeared from sight, she remained silent a few moments, mulling over the exchange. Were all humans of this age so doubtful? They would be hard pressed to gain support, were that the case. Yet, who could blame them? One hundred years was a long time in mortal reckoning, and their protectors had not understood the threat of the Usurper until it was too late. Aside from that, there was something strikingly familiar about Ralis' eyes, something she couldn't quite place. He hadn't given a surname, but if he lived nearby, it stood to reason he belonged to a clan with which she was familiar. In any case, he seemed a capable sort, and they would likely be nearby, should trouble occur, along with their old allies. Speaking of which...

"We'd best be getting on. The magpies flew in that direction. No doubt Tamakai is aware of our presence." She strode ahead, the other two in tow, and after a minutes' brisk walk another group came into view along the spore-lit path. Tamakai was there, along with Aluma, Rieve, and... Boscer. Three of the four pillars, reunited.

"Well met, friends!" she called as she hastened to meet them.

SilverFlight SilverFlight SilverFeathers SilverFeathers Lioness075 Lioness075 Hazmat44 Hazmat44 Frozen Thyme Frozen Thyme AncientBird AncientBird Ari Number Two Ari Number Two
 

Lioness075

Everyone's fighting some battle of their own.
Sun Wukong.png
Name: FalarionMinor God: Light
Affiliation: Old godFavorite Offering: Anything cat-related

As excited as Falarion was to answer Tevan's inquiries, the god seemed as easily distracted as Falarion when he rushed after the human leaving their trio. Falarion had shrugged off the human's reaction, Ralis as he soon announced himself to be, as Falarion knew not all humans were very religious these days. He had learned quickly to not pressure anyone and to let them come to a faith of their own choosing, or to never come to one at all. He could not blame the humans for ignoring deities these days, especially with how the usurpers handled everything. They gave all deities a bad name.
Thus, the irritation at Tevan pretending to be himself also came as no surprise. Falarion felt himself inwardly wilt slightly, as he felt like he could sense a growing darkness within this man. He wanted nothing more than to cheer him up and maybe even present one of his new similes, but he held himself back with what little willpower he had left. Which was practically none these days.

The human rushed ahead to the Cardinal Shrines and Falarion's eyes lingered on his retreating form. He worried how Tevan would take such a reaction and quickly tried to change the subject.
"No need to fret, Tevan! All of us are doing well! I mean, most of us anyways. Rieve has, uhhh, seen better days. She's still alive! Just a bit...different is all!"
His expression brightened as he continued, "And Tamakai still needs to teach his magpies how to have some fun. I could sneeze near one of them and get pecked for existing!"
"Incredibly enough, Aluma still maintains her cornucopia and has not dropped a single bit of food from it."
Falarion paused and tilted his head to the side thoughtfully when he said, "There was this one time, though, were I tried to steal some of the food. She seemed in a dour mood, so I thought a game of tag would cheer her up! But I think she misunderstood me and was even more upset instead."
He winced at the memory, still feeling a bit guilty for the misunderstanding.

Glancing up at the canopy when some magpies flew overhead, Falarion growled at them. "Stupid birds," he muttered under his breath.

Listening intently to Solaris' response to his report, Falarion shrugged and replied, "It is my way, Solaris."
Hearing her apology, Falarion was quicker to respond, "No need to apologize! It was not your fault nor your choice."
But then the mention of his similes had the childish side of Falarion reemerging and he grinned, "Oh yeah? I can't wait to share them later then!"

Hearing some chatter as they approached the Cardinal Shrines, Falarion reverted to his human form and stood up on his two legs a bit shakily. He had spent a lot of his past hundred years in his lion form, so the human one required some getting used to. If he were to meet all of the central deities along with other humans, though, he wanted to better look the part. Even if his human form was casually dressed in a button down and slacks. He had never understood the appeal of wearing any shoes.

Trailing after Solaris, Falarion smiled widely at the sight of the others. Then he saw Tamakai and pretended to scowl while crossing his arms.
"Oi, you still haven't taught your magpies how to relax, birdbrain!"
The two had enjoyed teasing one another and finding more entertaining ways to pass the hundred years. Even though there were sometimes misunderstandings still, mostly on Falarion's part since he took little seriously, they had become something of good friends. As it were with most of his relationships, Falarion never took enough seriously and had a tendency to rub others the wrong way.

Despite being in the presence of another central deity, Falarion had mostly been excited to see Solaris and then Tevan. He would never say it aloud, but he had always sort of lacked a stronger connection with the other deities, especially the one associated with water. He just hated getting wet, so the two rarely meshed well.

SilverFlight SilverFlight SilverFeathers SilverFeathers Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus AncientBird AncientBird
 

High Moon

Relic of a Bygone Age
Aetius, Lord of The Winds, Herald of Spring

Averus Central Forest - Outskirts, Imperial Camp
The young spirit blew a stray strand of hair out of his face with annoyance once the Lord of Disease decided to involve the other two in the conversation but joined in regardless. "There is no such thing as a safe place for us within these woods , not for you..." he said, emphasizing 'you' by pointing towards all of them with a circling motion. "... and certainly not for me, not anymore at least."

The spirit's face fell for the briefest moment when thinking about the possibility of visiting the spiritual resting place of his once patron lady but soon the sly smirk characteristic to him was back with a vengeance."You know I'm not one for family visits, they are stifling and rarely do they go according to plan." and he sure had a feeling deep down in his figurative bones that just such a visit would be a disaster indeed, the unease within the spirit had not ceased for a moment since stepping foot into the woods. "Also what am I going to do? Stare on the macabre remnants of some one long departed while waiting to be struck down by some rebel in hiding? Or perhaps some demon that is out for blood? Wouldn't blame the poor monster if it went for my ichor first to be honest, probably has enough wine in it to give a killer hangover to an elephant." he ended with a chuckle." No, let’s not dally the sooner we are out of the woods the better, every second counts."

The younger blond took the cup handed to him with a muttered "Thanks" that was nigh-silent, while throwing an annoying glance towards the elder god clearly not too happy with the elder's previous comments concerning their circumstances, as he took seat beside him, making sure to sit in a way that would not tarnish the beauty of his cloak. "Not bad, but certainly no replacement for the sweet nectar of the North.” he said after a brief sip from the honeyed ale.


With that said, he turned to answer the question of the overly glorified tincan. Flashing a bright smile. "It is not out of the question that we'll be set up by illusions and mirages my dear name-fellow, albeit I doubt any of us here is foolish enough to fall prey to such simple tricks." he spoke, putting emphasis on the affectionate title "Yet there is wisdom in staying wary, the spirits are known to cause mischief, and they'll not hold back against us for without a doubt they know who we are and who we serve. It's only a matter of time before we are set up by some sort of trap."


As the conversation went on and the Lord of the Eastern Border took the helm, talking about the dangers of the woods from his own knowledge,, the blond spirit nodded his head, agreeing with the words of the Eastern Lord. "Not to alarm anyone but he is right, We are being watched by hundreds if not thousands of unseen eyes, I think even the Emperor would be hard pressed to have this many spies in one place." humored the spirit. "That bird over there could be watching us for his master, or perhaps it's the bugs on the tree barks, listening intently to relay all they hear back to that cursed woman! Rieve!" hatred seeped through his words with the mention of the Blight gods name, eyes flaring with resentment before stifling once again as the spirit gulped down a rather hefty amount from the ale. "I doubt anything here is strong enough to kill us but I'm not so sure about the mortals." muttered the youth, staring down into the remnants of the ale within the mug.



As the conversation lulled, the Spymaster began talking about the news from the corners of the Empire, about the Ziggurat project that he himself thought of as a rather… Outdated in fashion by several centuries as an architectural project but then again who was he to question the Emperor’s will, so he listened on with a bored expression on his face yet his bright eyes lit up with keen interest when the Spymaster mentioned the new opportunity to expand his fief, the pair of bright green shifted from the ale at hand to the elder blond once more, searching for silent confirmation to see if he was thinking along the same line of thought.

When Sybis called their names forth, with the promise of a gift from the Emperor himself, Aetius stood up, calling forth a gust of wind to give a regal sway to his crimson cloak for the perceived occasion yet once the Spymaster handed them pieces of rock as the Emperor’s supposed gift, disappointment was more than visible on his face, with the confident smile turning into a grimace. "The emperor is..." inspecting the stone on hand with visible disinterest, "as generous as always..." he grumbled, mostly to himself. Staring to the rock at hand seemed to only worsen his anxiety even more for some reason so making sure the piece of rock, as unimportant and irate as it seemed, was pocketed safely, Aetius walked towards the edge of the camp, looking out into the dimmed forest "Something feels wrong here..." he said, turning once again towards his companions. "... And not even the booze is keeping the feeling down." His eyes trailed the tankard that he’d left abandoned with a hurry in his initial anticipation of a reward, the honeyed mead wasted on the soil. “Tell me Svakre '' called Aetius, for the first time putting on some strength to his voice to be heard. “You are a man fond of the wild, no? Doesn’t something seem off to you as well?” he called out, as he once more turned his back to the camp to stare out to the darkining woods that by the minute resembled the abyss far more than the quiet forest it was.

Interactions: Basil the Bulgar Slayer Basil the Bulgar Slayer Athanas Athanas Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian SilverFlight SilverFlight
 
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Hazmat44

Ignore the radiation. I do that all the time.
Supporter
Boscer took deep breaths, processing the information he had been given. Tamakai was strange, and a trickster, and a bit of a liar when it came to shirking responsibility for the consequences of his pranks, but this... this was nothing to joke about, not even by his standards.

One hundred years. A century's worth of time spent in whatever forced torpor he had been in, and it sounded that the world had gone to hell for it. Sacrifices of beasts and humans alike, daily torture... how could they have prevented it? What could they have done to keep it from happening?

Nothing, he realized. They could have done nothing.

He was aware of survivor's guilt, was aware that it was dishonesty to oneself. Even then... he could not stop that insidious string of pain from stabbing at his heart.

"Thank you for your honesty," he solemnly told Tamakai, astonished that his own voice had not broken. "Your duties shall not be forgotten."

As a vicious buzz filled the air, Boscer's eyes turned forward, forward to a figure he had not seen in a century and even longer. Rieve had been tainted by her age and by the time that she had spent in that monstrous fugue, but it was still undeniably her.

"Greetings, Rieve. I... you have been missed." He forced the words out, wondering how better he could phrase them to carry his feelings across. "These are not the best of circumstances to meet, but nevertheless..."

He shook his head. Now was not the time to reminisce upon old feelings, even if he'd never quite been able to look them in the face. A small part of him wondered if he was being hypocritical and should simply confess to get them out of the way; a slightly louder part told him that Rieve was undoubtedly disinterested in him, and it would be best for everyone if those feelings went and died. As always, the latter voice's advice was taken.

Another familiar face approached with a voiced greeting, and he seized upon the opportunity to distract himself. "Well met, Solaris. Have you yet found Tevan? His advice would be well-appreciated at the moment."

Falarion was also there. Boscer ignored him. They hadn't exactly... meshed well, to put it politely, in the past.

He snuck a final glance at Rieve. Her present form had decayed, yes, but her beauty still shone to his eyes, and the opinions within him began to battle once more. How was it that even in these circumstances, he still struggled with this old passion? It was best left forgotten, and best left unmentioned.

He didn't even notice as the water trickling his neck receded, ever so slightly...

AncientBird AncientBird SilverFeathers SilverFeathers Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus Ari Number Two Ari Number Two
 

Arnalia

Junior Member
Rufia Dolabellae
Sacred Forest/Imperial firecamp

This journey was anything but what she expected.
She saw her gods up close for the first time and now she was privy to what seemed like a highly important discussion reserved for the gods only. After telling Felix to be cautious, she decided to go back and now sat at a respectful distance from the fire and her gods. She fancied sparkling things but lately fire made her strangely more attentive to the pull in her chest. She strove to avoid it as much as she could.

"It's quite intimidating being in their presences, isn't it?" Cicero turned to her and said.

Rufia looked at him and shaked her head. "You don't say, I'm used to formality with my superiors but nearly had a heart attack when I saw them," she sign.

Cicero continued "I wonder if I had the audacity to pitch in my two cents if they'd strike me down where I stand."

Rufia grinned and lightly patted his shoulder as she said "Don't worry if they do I will convince my temple to make your body a sacred relic," she smiled, "I will make sure that everyone know how brave you were, Oh! Cicero Fearless God Questioner," she chuckled quietly.

Since he arrived later Rufia didn't had a chance to chat with Cicero. He and Felix seemed close which immediately made her trust him. Thank to him, Rufia anxiety dimmed a bit, now she wasn't the only one at a lost with the gods.

But something felt wrong. The pull bothered her still but it wasn't that.
It was the wood. Or more precisely, it silence. The forest quiet annoyance vanished and was replace by the nerve wracking lack of any noise at all.
Her experience as a huntress kept nagging Rufia that this was a bad sign. For this silence was one made by predators.

She glanced at the gods, and hear Lord Aetius thinking the same. Not wasting any time she turned to Cicero and whispered "I wanted to chat more but....this silence isn't normal. I just...know it isn't. I propose we stay on our guard until Felix come back. I will take my bow and watch over this part of the camp," she got up and looked at him, "Please Cicero if you don't have any weapons stay near our Divinities, okay?," she gave him a smile, took her bow and quiver and walked in the direction where Felix went.




AI10100 AI10100
Coyote Hart Coyote Hart
Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian
High Moon High Moon
Athanas Athanas
Basil the Bulgar Slayer Basil the Bulgar Slayer
 
Antonius, The Lord of Pestilence
The Central Forest


Despite his company, Aetius appeared even more anxious. That was bothersome, usually the lesser blond was eager to enjoy his company and provided the necessary chatter to fill the air for hours. On occasion, Antonius would only nod and smile, the rare laugh escaping his lips, as Aetius prattled on about his sophisticated lands just North of his own. The God of Wind was ever vain, starved for the praise of others and Antonius would not deprive him of such kind words. He greatly enjoyed what the God of Wind provided to the people as well—perhaps his subjects lived best among the divided fiefdoms, should his own dominion be discounted. Aetius was nearly as proud as the Lord of Pestilence and steadfast in the bitterness of the North. Seeing the lesser blond in such a quagmire unnerved Antonius, making his stomach knot up with dissatisfaction. Between the two of them, it was his job to be the gloom cloud and Aetius the swift wind that cleared the skies of all doomed weather.

The Lord of Pestilence scoured Aetius’ words for a convenient change of topic, a means of invigorating Aetius. The mention of familial gatherings got Antonius’ mind reeling back an odd ninety eight years.

“Your rapport with your own kin is rather turgid.” The elk horn rim of the wooden mug kissed his lips and Antonius welcomed the sweetened honey down his throat, its color not dissimilar to that of the gods themselves. Perhaps that was the start of his fixation with it. “What was her name—”A tan finger tapped his lips in mock thought, “—Notus! The Southern Wind!”

He recalled the mildly vexing lesser wind spirit, her poisoned words and burning scorn for Aetius. She’d come for Aetius after the war, when rumors of his ascension and usurpation of the Air Goddess were cemented into the new Imperial Holdings. “What a woman she was, so outraged at her ‘brother’ she nearly took my head for merely standing in front of where yours was!”

To Antonius, it was a memory of their last united conflict—not to say the duo were apart after that. But they never marched into battle together after Notus’ defeat, Antonius sheathed his sword and found a plow instead as Aetius’ mind took to masonry and building a grand North. As macabre as the notion was, Notus’ final hours were a fond enough time in Antonius’ deep past where he was still drunk off the successes of their invasion and the domination of Averus. His smile was wide, his white teeth flashed with a glow of glee and Antonius let out a nostalgic huff of air.

“Those were exciting days.” His eyes were off the lesser blond for a moment and they found Svakre. “Were you not the kind of spirit to linger in these hallowed groves? Young as you are, I've always thought you were the type to thrive in these thickets, surviving by your own strength against the wild.” Antonius finished with a flick of his wrist. "You make it sound like you were a stranger to the many shrines of your kin."

If Antonius were native to Averus, he’d certainly have ensured his holdings were close to the woodlands. He could understand not being directly inside of them—as far as Antonius enjoyed nature and its glories, he found comfort in the constructs of man as well—but being apart from the Central Forest entirely was a curious thought in itself.

‘Perhaps that is why Svakre has no qualms serving the Emperor.’

“Svakre—” Antonius forced himself to pause as the God of Poor Eyesight spoke of warnings, joining all the others in this party of having intense trepidation of these woodlands. Antonius gave a shallow smile that was diminished in seconds. “I truly do not suspect we have anything to cower from. Four—” His eyes found Sybis and glowed with interest. “—Five deities of whom the Empire worships and holds in high admiration against this land sacred to no one, home to withering ghosts and starving beasts. Come, not even the mortals are afraid!”

His hands waved to the nearest of the mortals, both sitting close by the fire and chittering among themselves. Antonius was ready to continue on his tirade before an onyx eagle swept through the tightly woven tree line and into Sybis’ waiting grasp. The news of a revolt in the East came to a shock to Antonius but he was likewise unsurprised to hear it was put down in the same sentence. A smile snaked its way to his lips and the Lord of Pestilence brought the rim of his mug back to his lips, sipping on the mead as more good news was given. The Ziggurat project was a spectacle of modern engineering and proof of the Imperial Lineage’s superiority over Averus. However, the time put into it was increasingly curious for the Lord of Pestilence. Antonius had his own building projects, as did all of the usurper deities, but none were more tenaciously chased after than the Ziggurats.

‘Perhaps Adamantus will divine me their purpose next time we meet.’

The general’s promotion was a celebration to be had and Antonius made a mental note to write to Adamantus later. The notion of dividing the Western Lands under Adamantus was a well of opportunity that Antonius intended to sip on. He wasn’t allowed to scheme in the present though, Sybis brought out three identically round, translucent stones and held them carefully for each of the native Averus gods to claim. His mouth dried at the sight, emerald eyes seeking out Sybis’ necklace before he palmed his abdomen.

“What an honor,” Antonius muttered, disbelief flooding the Lord of Pestilence. Bestowed upon each of you. It seems that the Emperor has now accepted you, fully and forever.” His eyes found Aetius as the God of the Wind took his gift with great ignorance. “Allow me to bestow my own wisdom, as the elder of this honored troupe.” His words were a hushed whisper and his eyes fixated on the unique orbs presented for these traitorous deities. “Once taken, do not part with them. Not in the confines of your own home or in the throes of passion.”

For a century, Antonius had assumed the role of superior deity courtesy of being owner of this gift when others clearly did not. It was secret to him and few others, but it distinguished the Lord of Pestilence from the rest of the lesser spirits that flooded the ranks of the Empire, eager for opportunity with the new masters of the land. This development shocked Antonius only for what it spoke—the Emperor now saw the lesser spirits of Averus as equal to himself and the original Imperial deities. Aetius, he could envision as holding the same rank and weight as him, but Svakre and Athlios? Antonius’ already bothersome innards coiled with disgust.

‘It’s the will of my master,’ Antonius was forced to accept this decision


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Frozen Thyme

There’s a little witch in all of us.
Aluma, Goddess of Autumn
Aluma gulped heavily, slowly turning to face the broken goddess. Her jovial demeanor faded. Painful memories surfaced...

She who shepherded insects and she who enhanced the harvest were like two sides of the same coin, capable of working in tandem if they wanted. Because Aluma would not bless the fields of tyrants and could not approach those in usurper gods’ territories without fights ensuing, they were vulnerable to the insects Rieve commanded. Those insect plagues and the ensuing famine and pestilence caused much collateral damage. The horror of this revenge plot tarnished Aluma’s perception of fair Rieve. It remained that way for over fifty years.

Still, seeing a spark of the old Rieve behind that defiled exterior brought a bit of warmth to the autumn goddess. It gave Aluma hope that, one day, there could be some semblance of normalcy after a century of aggression and strife. “I remember Tevan’s old technique of creating and following spore trails,” Aluma finally piped up. “He must be coming closer.”

As if to confirm this, a faint glint caught her eye. It was none other than Solaris, clad in her trusty armor as always. Falarion was not far behind her, throwing out wisecracks. It wasn’t quite what she expected, but a welcome sight nonetheless. “Well met, both of you,” Aluma replied with another curtsy. “Judging by the direction from whence you came, is it a fair assumption you visited the southern shrine on your way here?” She peered past them in anticipation.

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Athanas

You needed someone to blame, so you cast it on me.
The abuse that the forest provided to his senses only worsened as natural light dimmed and waned. Sybis, at least, set up camp rather quickly, allowing Athlios to quickly write that off of the mental list and refocus his attention elsewhere.

Such as…the avian spies that Svakre had managed to spot. Controlling these creatures is a fairly common power for spirits to have. Athlios was not worried, or at least, more worried than he was before-he already knew they were likely to be ambushed, and to be proven correct before witnesses would only help his credibility. He was, of course, greatly concerned about the poor spear-and the brave mortal holding it. Such wondrous artifice was much harder to replace than brave humans, all respect for Felix aside.

“Both of you are far too relaxed considering the threat we face. Even if we take the imprisonment for granted, spirits, demons, and cultists outnumber us. Our power is great, yes, but levity will only serve to lure us into a trap. Especially now, that we are aware at least someone knows of our location.” Athlios was clearly bothered at Sybis’s and Antonius’s insistence on completely disregarding the perilous nature of these woods. By the tyrants, Antonius was not even armed!
Aetius answered his query in his usual jovial fashion, also failing to grasp the severity of the situation. His answer was not exactly reassuring, but Athlios always had a good eye for spotting illusions, small details and discrepancies. He supposed, he could verify the accuracy of his own map on the return trip.

The mention of the term name-fellow did cause him to chuckle a little, despite himself. Considering his name meant Wretch in a now-forgotten tongue, Aetius would perhaps should not be as proud as he seemed to be. “I see, Name-Fellow, I see. I trust you will be keeping an eye out, then. For us to get lost would be, at best, a complete waste of time.”

As Aetius went on to speak of the accursed blight god’s name, Athlios felt his own rage boil, growling under his breath. A truer personification of the tyrants there never could have been. Killing her own people just to spite their conquerors, forcing mortals to serve her for a chance to be spared the coming onslaught. Yet, her usefulness was far beyond what she could possibly have envisioned. Before her attacks grew, the Church of the Thrice-Cursed Prophet was a fringe cult few cared about. But after decades of constant abuse, it’s numbers had swelled by victims and avengers, and it now rivaled many of the regional militias in strength. His guilds, too, had been given additional funding by the emperor, with which to procure medicines to aid in the coming plagues. And of course, her cultists were always useful when enchained.

Rieve had single-handedly done more for Athlios’s cause than a million preachers ever could, and he should thank her for that. But this would not spare her from the grisly fate he had envisioned. She still was a lesser tyrant, and she still would die, or far, far worse…

The news that came to Sybis were interesting, and Athlios nodded, content with what he was hearing. The newly suppressed revolt was bound to have left the eastern governor with an abundance of prisoners-a small tribute would be more than enough to convince him to transfer them into his own hands, where they could be made useful. Slaves to the Gods, they wanted to be, so he would make like a crossroads demon, and grant their wish. He could already see the reports with the swelled numbers over the increased productivity.

Then, reports on the structural integrity of the Ziggurat project. Athlios of all people could understand the beauty of worth of such imposing structures, reminders of the power of man and industry against the uncharted wilds of tyrants. Yet the Emperor had been cryptic in his intentions, and he had no clue as to their purpose.
The news regarding the western lands were indeed also greatly appreciated. The lands to the west were much more fit for development than the ones he had in the mountains. If his influence were to expand there, he would be able to cut down on the trading costs entirely! Productivity would skyrocket! Surely, he could convince the emperor of this.

And then…the stones. He saw the three stones, and he suddenly felt a pang of terrible pain encroaching upon his head. He stumbled backwards, as if though shoved.

“Please…do not do this. I have no quarrel with you”
She was bloodied, smelling of sulfur and acid, remnants of his terrible assault. The ruins of what could have once been her temple were still smouldering.
“Blame, them, not me. I never wished for it to come to this, but you are my only salvation. They have cursed me, they have cursed me terribly, for I sought to free the common man from their tyrrany.”

“Please”, she tried again, her eyes wide and pitiable. “Please, you are not yet a demon. Resist the madness! Please!”
She chose poorly, and he slammed her head on the earth. “THEY WILL MAKE ME INTO ONE! CAN YOU NOT SEE? THEY DID THIS! THIS MADNESS IS THEIR DOING! THEIRS! AND TO FIX THIS, I! NEED! YOUR! HEART!”

He reached into her chest, with a disgusting, wet sound. She screamed for a moment, only for a brief moment, before there was silence.
“There is no other way. There is no other way. I am so, so sorry, there is no other way. There is-”


He staggered to one knee, a hacking, wet cough overtaking him, grease and ink spilling forth like a torrent from a poorly maintained drain. For several seconds, he remained there, the terrible, cursed memory overloading his features, before he managed to rise.
He was well aware of how puzzling this must’ve seemed to everyone, and he had no good answers to give them, but he tried, anyway. “My apologies, fellows. I fear my name is not as much of a harmless honorific as I would’ve liked. In either case, Sybis, tell the emperor we are greatly honored to receive this token of his favor.”

Without further delay, he grasped one of the items, throwing it around his neck quickly, as if afraid it would dissipate or be retrieved by Sybis at the sight of his state. Feeling a tiny bit more relaxed now that the option was not there, he rummaged through his pack for a brief while before he retrieved a lantern, held in his lower back arms. Lighting it produced an eerie blue glow that was nonetheless much brighter than the normal light of a lantern.

“We can discuss all that at a later date. Let’s not tarry further, especially now that our location is known. I shall take the middle of our formation. Svakre and Sybis should lead-One to be aware of the obstacles, and one to crush through them. Antonius can take the rear-if we are ambushed, he can endure the surprise attack”


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AncientBird

Reptile with wings and plumes.
Tamakai

After welcoming Rieve into the group, Tamakai and the others advanced forward, following the spore trail.


It didn’t take long for Tamakai to finally see several figures ahead of him. First to come over to them was a goddess with glorious brown hair clad in her golden armour. Tamakai’s eyes widened in excitement. It was Solaris, one of the other central gods, alive and well on her feet after being stuck in a kneeling statue back at her shrines for a hundred years.

“Greeting Solaris the Blazing Eagle. It is such a joy to see you again. Although the usurpers may have subdued your power, your beauty and the fire of determination in your eyes seem to remain untouchable!” Tamakai replied to the fire goddess’s greeting and presented her with a bow. Although Tamakai found Solaris to be too rigorous sometimes, he does have a lot of respect for her for always looking out for the weaks.

“And as you can see, I have brought quite a group with me.” Said Tamakai as he stepped aside to reveal Boscer, Aluma and Rieve.

Next came a familiar voice… "Oi, you still haven't taught your magpies how to relax, birdbrain!"

Tamakai’s smile widened. “Ah! Falarion, there you are! I was about to hand you an invitation to visit Marando at his house tomorrow together… But due to the current circumstance, that would have to be postponed for the time being.” Said Tamakai as he approached his fellow minor god who shares a great deal of passion for everything fun and exciting.

“Also, apologies for that magpie’s kiss on your nose, my golden friend… You see, they can be a bit rascalious in some situations, plus you may have tackled a broody one, so they were extra cautious. Nonetheless, I can arrange a substitute for you... Geris!”

As Tamakai called, Geris the magpie who had been following Falarion’s group for a while flew down to the minor’s god demand and landed on the lion god’s shoulder. “Keep the Golden Lion company for a while, will you?” Said Tamakai as he patted the magpie’s head, making it chattered in reply.

Then Tamakai’s eyes were drawn to the last member of the group… A familiar stag standing in the opening of the forest. As Tamakai started to smile, his eyes began to wet.

“No word can possibly describe how joyous I am to see you again, Master Stag.” Spoke Tamakai as he wiped the leaking tear from his eyes. Tevan, of all the four central gods, was the closest to Tamakai. Although he wasn’t much of an active fun-seeker like the minor god himself, he always welcomed his company and was at least tolerating of Tamakai’s shenanigans (or may even love it?).

Upon noticing his own emotion, Tamakai chuckled. “Well, so much for being a cheerful trickster, am I right? At least we all are reunited again in the very same grove.”

Tamakai then proceeded to transform and flew toward Tevan, landing on one of his antler tines, something he used to do all the time hundreds of years ago. “Well, I suppose it isn’t too much for me to reclaim my favourite seat?” Tamakai cheerfully asked Tevan.

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Worthlessplebian

Worthless pleb
Svakre, The Onyx Rhino

The behemoth warrior did not take too kindly to the spymaster's apparent lackadaisical attitude towards an excursion. Still, he cannot fault the man's reasoning, but as the adage goes "He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared." Poetics aside, the Onyx Rhino waited over the fire that Sybis had started. Its' dancing flames mesmerised the warrior, pulling him into a calming meditation. Aetius' incessant mewling ensured no peace amongst them. Svakre is unbothered by the prideful facade of Aetius, except his cowardice grates him fiercely. Worrying about the forest while accepting an offer of a drink, then continuing to ramble as if he aimed to alert all to their presence. Antonius did have the right idea of suppressing the idiot's fear by getting him to remember if only to buy precious seconds. But Antonius' words were unintentionally hilarious.

"HAHA!" A disgusting bellow from Svakre's stomach. "You believe this twerp to live in a forest or a field? Dullard as I was, even I knew that this Godling lived amidst the mortals." Comment made, Antonius did decide to interject and or add on from Sybis' tiresome tirade. His silence is mercifully gained by the convenient messenger eagle. Nothing but expected news, Svakre even predicted that General Adamantus would be promoted, which means the Onyx Rhino is a few coins richer now. His helmeted head turned when Sybis suddenly paused. The Obsidian Baron could feel the surprise that jogged through the spymaster's mind. It is also this time that Svakre could swear he heard a beast stalking them from the shadows. His attention remained on the Emperor's servant who decided to hand them: Athlios, Aetius and himself a stone of unknown origin. The Rhino grasped this gem. Foregoing wearing it or anything of the sort. Slipping it into a pouch that Svakre had on his side.

Sybis let it slip that his Majesty expected an occurrence that prompted an eye roll from the ruler of Kornekrine. A revolting development when Antonius decided to shower the trio with praise, not even masking his internal disgust at the decision. Or so Svakre believed, which made him smile though the helmet never showed it. Burning eyes did turn to the wind deity which asked if something was the matter with the forest. "Is it really so obvious?" Svakre asked, his sense of smell and sound almost playing tricks on him. There is, without a doubt, something here. It didn't help that bucketed God had, what amounts to, a nervous breakdown.

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SilverFlight

Tende altum, volare altius
The stag seemed to wilt under Ralis' hurtful words. His ears flopped back and he hung his head. He was certain they weren't that weak. Still, the human had made up his mind, and Tevan watched regretfully as he made his way off into the forest without them.
Tevan rose then, on his four legs, put on a brave face, and followed Solaris and Falarion in the direction the magpies had flown. Something felt wrong leaving the mortal boy, but if he was still in the woods, perhaps there was still a chance they could uncover what was so special about him.
Tevan distracted himself from those thoughts with Falarion's report. His eyes grew wide with concern when he mentioned Rieve's new condition, and his stories brought a smile to his muzzle.

When they arrived, Tevan brightened a bit at seeing the other group of gods. He appeared from behind Solaris and Falarion, poking his antlered head out from the line and finally stepping out onto the cracked stone of the water temple base. Tamakai was a blessed sight indeed. Tevan would have shifted into his human form just to give the trickster a fierce hug, but the weight of the bird on his antler tine was just as good, familiar, and welcome.
"Tama...I am so sorry...I wasn't there to protect you.."

He saw Aluma next and dipped his head gently (taking care not to disturb his new passenger). "Aluma...you look well."
He stepped forward then, and lowered his chin gently to her shoulder. "I have been away far too long."


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*~*~*

Sybis gauged their reactions carefully. He gave a half smile to Aetius, who seemed less than thrilled.
"If you think the emperor has ever bestowed something without genuine value you are a fool. I would take Antonius' words in earnest. You should not let it out of your sight."
He was started out of his lecture by Athlios, who staggered and coughed as if he had been struck, all in response to the simple stone. Sybis was aware of the god's rather sordid and tortured past, but he was reluctant to comment on it, and the god himself recovered and went on to behave like nothing at all had happened. At his mention of pressing on Sybis made a face.

"We just set up camp. Perhaps you can go on, but I know for a fact mortals need sleep."
His eyes trailed out into the forest where they had gone. The darkness was setting in now, and the mist had crept right up to the edge of their campfire's light.
"If you do decide to press on however, I will not be going with you. My orders were to bring you to the outskirts of the forest, and hold a position until your return."

The creature in the forest paused. Then crouched, then sprang. A blood curdling screech echoed up through the trees as it attacked, aiming it's wicked jaws straight at Felix's throat.

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Then more sounds could be heard in the forest, the breaking of branches and the sounds of heavy paws. There were more of them. Eyes appeared in the darkness, and maws dripping with a strange glowing liquid.

They circled the camp, planning out an attack. It only took one to charge and then they were all upon the group.

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Vulpes lagopus

Pretend this is something clever.
Solaris
Divine Wood/Averus Central Forest - Near the Cardinal Shrines


Though it was a relief that Falarion bore no ill will in regard to her absence- not that she would expect it of such a generous soul- to say it was not her choice... Well. What lead up to her imprisonment, and what followed, she had not chosen. Surrender, she had chosen, for better or worse. There was no need to discuss it now.

Tamakai met her with an effusive greeting, perhaps overly so. Were she not accustomed to it, she may have grown flustered. Truth be told, she felt the furthest thing from worthy of such adulations at the moment. But far be it from her to refuse a kindness, freely offered. What could she expect from a poet, after all? "I see your tongue is gilded as ever, Master of Magpies. Your kind words are appreciated."

"Indeed. Tevan should be right behind us,"
Solaris replied to both Boscer's and Aluma's queries, standing aside lest she block him from view. For deities of opposing domains, she and Boscer had always gotten on well, aside from an unresolved debate concerning the relation of gods to their duties. He was a stimulating conversationalist and an able sparring partner. Aluma she had always respected for her orderly mind and efficient manner. She returned the ever-poised Goddess of Autumn's curtsey with a dignified nod. "It is good to see you both again."

In the meantime, Falarion and Tamakai resumed their characteristic banter. They made a natural pair, those two, which Solaris appreciated until their antics got out of hand. Still, human morale was important, and she was willing to tolerate the occasional mess so long as those needs outside her area of expertise were accounted for.

"And Rieve..." At a distance, and obscured by the group, the goddess' diminutive form had prompted recognition, but closer examination revealed little of the Rieve she knew. Falarion's description had not prepared her for the reality. "...You've... changed." There was no delicate way to state her observations, so she deferred. The little Goddess of Insects' profound admiration for Tevan was well-known. Perhaps grief had twisted her into this form over the last century. If so, it was a mercy she had not become demon, poor thing. Some souls were more fragile than others. Even so, the looming prospect of such a transformation, if nothing else, was reason enough to exercise caution, in regard to emotional entanglements. Once reunited with her beloved mentor, Solaris hoped she could revert to her original form.

On Tevan's arrival Tamakai greeted his good friend with such overflowing sentiment that tears sprang to his eyes. Solaris never quite knew how to act in such situations, so she was glad to stand aside while the pair reunited and allow Tevan to do as he did best.

Once greetings had been exchanged all around, she addressed the gathering. "By the pattern of events, I would presume Siuhaydis is not far off. We should make our way toward the Northern Temple. While we walk, it would do well to ensure the three of us are up to date on what has passed. Falarion has told us something of the Usurper's empire, but I would like to hear each of your perspectives."

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AI10100

Expert Lurker

Felix Valerius Sergius
Location: Outskirts of the Divine Forest
Interacting with: Coyote Hart Coyote Hart Arnalia Arnalia

Felix never failed to appreciate Cicero's presence— but he was more thankful now than ever that he decided to come along. While it was true that his friend wasn't the combative type, Cicero was an excellent information gatherer as well as a decent company all around.

He looked at the paper crane on his shoulder, a small smile on his face, as he rode off. Whether or not the priestess was a good shot, Felix's job had been to protect and escort her. Bringing her closer to potential danger would be directly opposing that directive. Felix was confident in his skills, but Cicero had a point. Unfortunately, he was just one man and he had no chance against his usual enemies alone.

Well, he supposed having a band of gods who have fought with the tyrants of old were perfectly capable of fighting these demons themselves without breaking a sweat. But Felix didn't have any power over them and he was rather sure that if he were to try and coordinate with them, he would be crucified on the spot. Not that Felix would even dare to do it. He was Lord Aetius' servant, and that's what he would remain as.

His horse whinnied uneasily as he drew further away from the campfire. He urge the horse to stop and looked into the darkness. Had it always been this dark? It was almost dead silent except for the wind and the distant chatter of his group. He looked down at his horse who seemed to be ill at ease— something was definitely wrong. It was generally a rule to trust the instincts of animals. If they're off-putted, something was definitely around to hunt them.

So he squinted through the dark and tried to listen.

There. The sound of something slithering on the ground. A snake? It sounded... heavier. Was it something else? He couldn't be sure around the Central Forest. For all he knew, it could have been a spirit in disguise. Or, it could just be a snake. But snakes wouldn't usually go towards a populated area. He let out a sigh. It could still be one. He paused in thought, for a moment. He urged his horse back before dismounting it, a good few inches away from where he was. Tentatively, he grabbed his spear and held it in his left hand before bending down to grab a loose piece of rock.

He rolled it in his palm for a moment, wondering if this was the right thing to do. If it was just a normal snake, it would slither off into the darkness. If it was aggressive, he could just skewer it with his spear. if it was a spirit of some kind, then he'll just pray he could hold out long enough for the gods to get to him and defeat the spirit themselves.

With a resolute nod to himself, he was about to chuck the pebble when something came out of the darkness— fangs bared and catapulted straight towards him. Felix dropped the pebble and held the spear vertically to block the strike. It was only through the enchantments of Lord Athlios that he hadn't gone stumbling back and instead had enough strength to redirect the demon to the side.

He was now facing the group only moments before the demons were set to pounce. "Pack of demons!" He called out. Though it was already obvious, he had called upon it by instinct. His eyes dropped down to the demon that had recovered from his throw. There was no way that he could beat that on his lonesome. He could get Rufia to shoot at it— after all, it had its back turned towards the group. However, other demons had made their presence known to attack the rest. He needed to hold out.

The demon pounced once again and Felix used his spear to keep the beast at bay. He lunged, aiming to strike any spot of the demon's hide to chip away at it. However, the demon dodged and used it as an opportunity to strike once again. Felix forced his body to drop to a roll to avoid it before recovering and keeping his spear pointed straight at the demon. This'll be a long few minutes. That liquid really didn't look all that inviting to be bitten by and he was holding his strength would hold out long enough for one of the gods to come to his aid.
 
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Arnalia

Junior Member

Rufia Dolabellae
Outskirt of the Imperial camp


She felt shivers down her back and prepared her bow, ready to shoot at any moment.

The now dark wood trees seemed to curled up toward her, as if bending down to trap her. Her instinct told her to run, and fast. But Felix could be in danger...it's been some time now, he should already be back, No?
Her heart told Rufia to go on, she looked back at the camp and bite her lips. Just a little bit she thought, she would stay within earshot of the others near camp while advancing toward the direction Felix took.

Mustering her courage she marched on, her shoulders tense and arrow ready to fly at whatever she believed caused her to be so guarded, the silence intensifying her bubbling anxiety.

A noise, like a heavy snake slithering, made Rufia snap her head toward the sound and drew her bow. Gods above and below, protect me, she muttered as she walked faster, protect your servant, for your enemies are mine and mine are yours, Rufia eyes darted left and right her heart racing. Huh? She could SWORE she saw a big shadow on the left. No she knew it, she knew, Something moved, her chest tightened and her fingers went numb. She took one step to the left and then another, Oh Gods above bring me strength, bring me courage, bring me-

And a demon jumped at her from the right.
"AH !, screamed Rufia as she tumbled down. The demon growled, a gross liquid spitting out of it mouth, slowly it prepared to pounce, Oh gods, Oh gods, Oh gods, OH GODS, she turned and crawled backward, Oh NO, no, no, no, no, NO, her hand frenetically searched for her bow, palm only finding an arrow.

The demon leaped at her.

And Rufia saw nothing but red.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAH !" a shattering yell echoed as fire erupted out of her hand as the now lit arrow stabbed the demon. The creatures let out a guttural roar as fire devored it head and made it roll around in an effort to extinguish it. In vain, the fire seemed to grow larger and larger until it consumed the beast and only a melted body was left.

Rufia watched the whole scene frozen in place. Her eyes wide, mind blank with fear and heart hammering.
Once snapped out of her daze she used her trembling hands to get up, chest heaving up and down and took back her bow and quiver.

She must find Felix. Rufia looked back at the disappearing camp. Her brows creased in worry, Will the others be fine ? she know her gods are strong, but Cicero......NO! No, now is not the time.
Felix is alone, he NEED help the most.


Taking a deep breath, mind made, adrenaline and determination spurring her on, she ran toward the outskirt of the forest.









AI10100 AI10100
Coyote Hart Coyote Hart
Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian
High Moon High Moon
Athanas Athanas
Basil the Bulgar Slayer Basil the Bulgar Slayer
 
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Lekiel

Two Thousand Club
Supporter
Siuhaydis, Goddess of Air, Lightning & Change

She was in the midst of examining an ancient rusted blade when the dark haired mortal abruptly stumbled into the clearing. Upon seeing her, he froze and stared almost as if he wasn’t quite expecting Siuhaydis to be standing in the midst of her own temple.

The dagger slipped from her grasp to clatter dully on the stone as the lithe goddess straightened herself up, brushing away some of the dirt that clung to her stola. At one time the deity of Air might’ve cared more for appearances, with her magic and painting hands she'd seek an appearance most comely for herself. Others might’ve mistaken such comportment as telling of vanity; an unhealthy obsession with her own beauty.

She did nothing to quell the whispers. They were certainly right, in a way that she'd care for beauty, though it wouldn’t have mattered to her even if they weren’t. Siuhaydis Ael`ara Shora loved beauty in all its forms. A connoisseur of art, it was easy to tell how much detailed work was put into every ticking contraption, or the careful blending of dye pigments spread in harmony against the fabric of a marvelous tapestry, or the hours spent training to perfect the elegant movements and poise of a dance choreograph.

A pang of loss clenched at her still weak heart. Liirael was no more and with it her beloved followers who brought the Almara`damri, Festival Of Expression, to life in the valleys of the Northern Mounts at the start of summer. It was what had made the northern peoples a hardy but prolific society. What had become of them in her absence?

Silver eyes lifted, just in time to catch the mortal looking away to rummage into his backpack. At first she thought he’d intended to give her an offering but as he came forward with his proffered hand, Siuhaydis saw the bandages and salves.

"Do you... want to be treated?"

She blinked at the sound of his voice, momentarily caught off-guard at his gesture. It was a curious thing to say to a goddess, or to anyone you just met in the depths of the Divine Wood. Did he not know who she was? Not that she’d find it offensive, Siuhaydis wasn’t one for such things but his demeanor, a mixture of reverence, confusion and gawkiness tickled at her heartstrings even if it made it difficult for her to decipher him; for the first time since she awoke, she’d begun to feel more herself again. But alas, she’d hesitated for a second too long as the human appeared to have already decided that the best option was to remove himself from the situation.

"Oh, right. Your friends will be here soon. I'll just uh... Leave these here. They'll help you out. I mean, one of them is the whole god of compassion and all." Friends? God of Compassion? So he did know who she was afterall.

Barely open lips hinted at the unspoken words as she retracted whatever she was going to say when the young man turned away to face the spore-lit path. Siuhaydis tilted her head to the side, her cerulean hair cascading to one shoulder as she observed the man. Whether it be this peculiar character or the goddess’ own shifting moods, her spirit had shifted from the verge of lachrymose to growing curiosity and amusement.

"One hundred years. The four deities awakening." The human was mumbling out loud to himself. "I mean, it's cool and all that I'm witnessing history... But why am I here?" He scratched his head and ruffled his hair furiously in frustration.

"Well, might as well meet the last of them I suppose,” and with that, he’d start walking off on the trail towards the west still somewhat in a daze.

The goddess hesitated for barely a second before she took one last look at her dilapidated temple and then hurried after the man. Her footfalls were light and already her bruises and wounds had begun to heal as her divine form restored itself. Even so, she felt a certain weakness within and knew there was a long way to go. She’d caught a few words that the mortal let slip that drew her attention, but for now, her curiosity would have to wait.

“Would you care to humor me with your name brave mortal, tis’ only fair since you know who I am despite the-” her voice faltered for a moment, but as quick as the wind, she regained her composure, “-passing of years.” If Ralis would turn to look at her, he’d find the goddess back to her human self once more, with no visible marks marring her fair skin.

Back at the now empty Altar of Storms, where Ralis had laid down the last of his bandages and poultice of fragrant crushed herbs, the latter would suddenly disintegrate and disappear into the wind.

En Route To The Northern Temple
“-While we walk, it would do well to ensure the three of us are up to date on what has passed. Falarion has told us something of the Usurper's empire, but I would like to hear each of your perspectives."

A cool voice would suddenly interrupt the Goddess of Fire as she led the growing entourage towards the North.

“My dear Solaris, have not the years quenched your distaste of my presence that you’d deign to leave me out of your discourse?” Though the words were accusatory, those who looked up would find the Goddess of Air with warmth in her eyes, a puckish smile playing on her lips.

“Tevan, Boscer,” the goddess acknowledged the remainder of her fellow central gods with a hand clasped over her heart and a slight dipping of her knees and head in half-bow, half-curtsey.

“Aluma, Tamakai. . .” Siuhaydis turned to the rest, acknowledging the two most fondest to her - the patroness of autumn for their shared home and penchant for festivals of which they shared many together, and the lord of magpies for their mutual love of the arts, plus she’d always found his antics most amusing.

“Falarion,” a warm friendly smile for that one, “and Rieve” a bittersweet smile for this one. Siuhaydis held back an internal sigh at the sight of the deity of insects. Whatever had become of her, she hoped she’d get better now that the four of them were back. Silver eyes sought out more from the crowd that had gathered, turned downcast for but a moment when she noted the absence of many.

She hoped they were simply too preoccupied to be here.
 
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Coyote Hart

Misguideful Moniker
Cicero Tarquinius.png

"I suppose I could go out in a fiery burst of valor then," Cicero laughed in response to Rufia's offer. He didn't want to kick the bucket just yet though. There were so many questions that Cicero had unfinished, so many things that he wanted to accomplish. Perhaps he would openly question the gods after he had everything in order for the afterlife. At Rufia's declaration that she was going to go watch over a different part of the camp, Cicero nodded, "Good luck and godspeed."

The poet had to agree with Rufia's assessment. Things were too quiet. If not for her pointing it out for him, he would have assumed it was just the forest being eerie. But now that he reflected on it, it was much quieter than their trek. Something was definitely wrong.

Cicero pulled out the stopper of a vial of ink and poured it over a paper canvas. From the dark depths of the ink, images began to emerge: The foliage, Felix's shoulder. Cicero was looking through the eyes of the crane. It was still a bit odd to Cicero that he was capable of this. Of course, like any boon, he embraced it openly. And in the shadows, there was a monster. Before Cicero could warn Felix, the monster lunged at his friend.

Cicero leaped to his feet, just in time for the tiger-like monsters to attack. His paper crane, which had fallen off of Felix's shoulder during his dodge, whirled to life, flapping its tiny wings to whiz around the encampment. From the canvas, Cicero quickly gathered the positions and number of demons. It wasn't looking good for the group.

"They have us surrounded, and Felix is in trouble," Cicero declared. He shifted closer to the armed members of the group, as his lack of weapons made him a near helpless target. With a swipe of his hand, a flurry of poems filled the air around them, dissolving into dust as he sacrificed some of his writing for the gods that were in his presence, "Aetius, Antonius, hear my prayer!" Despite the situation, Cicero was calm, calm enough for him to remark to the God of Pestilence with mirth, the first time he had spoken to a god, "Perhaps, Lord Antonius, the reason why we mortals showed no fear was because we were blind to the danger that lingered just outside of our little minds."

A monster leaped at Cicero, and the poet swerved to the side to avoid the brazen attack. But completely unarmed, Cicero could merely take a step back in an attempt to lure the monster away from its brethren. The monster, which quickly recovered from its failed attack, slashed its gleaming, dangerous claw at Cicero, which Cicero once again calmly sidestepped. But the monster had another move up its sleeve, pivoting around to deliver a solid kick into Cicero's chest, sending him flying back and knocking the air out of his lungs. He crashed heavily the ground. Before the monster could make another attack, Cicero threw a cloud of poems out from his sleeves toward the monster, obscuring its vision long enough for Cicero to scramble backward several steps so that he was safe in the presence of the gods. With a shout, the poems turned to dust, "Athlios, Svakre, I beseech you to receive this offering!"

"I pray that I've given ample offerings," Cicero commented to the gods. The poems that he carried on him were all meant for sacrifice, although he had never thought that he would be offering them up in the midst of battle. Confident that the gods could help protect him, Cicero instead turned his attention to his canvas. At this point, the crane, which had buzzed ceaselessly around the encampment, circled to Rufia's position, just in time for Cicero to see an eruption of flame. There wasn't any time for Cicero to address it, all that was important was that Rufia was unoccupied. He shouted into the canvas, the sound which got transmitted towards the beak of the crane, "Rufia! Follow the crane, I'll lead you to Felix!"

The crane buzzed through the air towards where Cicero last saw Felix a a guide for Rufia. As Felix's figure appeared on Cicero's paper canvas, he shouted into it, "Felix! Are you alright?"

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SilverFeathers

Ruler of the Sky
Ralis Crasmere
Divine Wood - Near the Cardinal Shrines

Whilst racking his brain for whatever he could remember about the lost God of Water, Flow and Harmony during his march onwards, the faint sound of discreet, encroaching footsteps slowly caught his attention. Slowing down subconsciously, quickly figuring out the only culprit that could be chasing after him from that particular direction, he casually turned his head back to admonish the weak patient, "You really shouldn't be-" only for his words to be interrupted mid-way with widened eyes.

"You," He began vaguely, almost at a complete loss for words. "...Do all gods heal that fast?" He couldn't help but blurt out the first question that popped into his head, somewhat dazed after witnessing the sudden revival of the stunning goddess his dear sister admired. Ralis couldn't help but admit that she really was like a painting come to life... it seemed those surviving tales from more than a century ago hadn't been fabricated exaggerations after all.

Snapping out of his daze, he finally registered the fact that Siuhaydis had asked a question of her own as she caught up with him. "Ralis." He responded as perfunctory as was his reply to Solaris, thinking it only fair. Though, now that he thought back on it... his name was likely on some sort of bad list after he had called Tevan a fraud straight to his face. Well, at least he hadn't given them his surname.

Pondering the matter idly, he continued forward, though he couldn't help but remain acutely aware that a goddess was travelling the same path as him. Perhaps he was supposed to feel incredibly blessed or in awe... but his own emotions seemed much more complicated than that. He could differentiate the fact that he was indeed in awe, being in the presence of such an almighty being, but he also felt a horrible, hostile mixture of distrust, hatred and confusion that he struggled to lay to rest. After all, these weren't just any old gods... but the four central ones he had disdained and spat upon for so much of his life. To be here, and suddenly start acting chummy with all of them as this irritatingly persistent connection so wished, was something that sharply fought against who he was.

Realizing his frustration was reaching its peak again, he breathed in deeply to calm himself, just in time to catch the cerulean-haired figure from beside him pull forward. He hadn't even noticed the growing sound of chatter from the forest ahead until now, though, instead of continuing forward, he chose to observe for a little bit first. Resting his hand on the trunk of a tall tree, he counted the figures in the clearing, both the familiar and the unfamiliar ones.

Tevan, Solaris, both he recognized from earlier, stood alongside a sunset or autumn themed woman, a blond man with a similarly-coloured tail, an ominous woman wielding a lantern and an older man with water trailing from his crown, who must be Boscer. Both Tevan and the golden figure sported a dark-coloured bird of some sort on them, one perched on the former's antlers and the other on the male's shoulder, but Ralis couldn't exactly tell if they were gods/spirits too. He somewhat assumed that they were, seeing as this seemed to be a grand reunion between them all after losing contact with each other for at least a century.

It was a warm sight to see, especially after the woman he had somewhat accompanied here, who had now turned lively and vibrant from her once pitifully weak and lost appearance, joined in on all the fun. Ralis wasn't so daft as to intrude on the moment, nor did he really know what he was doing here, hence he just continued to observe. The whole situation of watching from afar a group he didn't and would never belong in, somewhat brought back discomforting childhood memories, but those were easily brushed aside. Maybe he was just imagining it, but perhaps due to their connection, seeing them happy made him a little happier too.

Lekiel Lekiel SilverFlight SilverFlight Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus Frozen Thyme Frozen Thyme Lioness075 Lioness075 Ari Number Two Ari Number Two Hazmat44 Hazmat44 AncientBird AncientBird
 

Lioness075

Everyone's fighting some battle of their own.
Sun Wukong.png
Name: FalarionMinor God: Light
Affiliation: Old godFavorite Offering: Anything cat-related

Content to see all four of the gods together once more, Falarion stepped back and let them have their moment. He was happy to tease Tamakai or make quips where he saw fit. A wide smile was permanent on his face, overwhelming joy at seeing the gods breathing and interacting once more. He kept switching his gaze primarily between Solaris and Tevan, even smirking when Tamakai flew onto his antlers.

He was ready to respond teasingly to Aluma, but conversations seemed to ebb and flow this way and that. He found himself getting a bit lost in the chaotic flow and decided he would simply focus on his good friend, Tamakai. That made it a lot easier for him to keep track of what to say.
He felt himself get hyped up at the mention of visiting Marando, knowing how kind and welcoming the elderly man was. He absolutely loved the tea he made for them each time they would visit. Alas, Falarion knew with current events as they were, it was unlikely they would get a chance to do so anytime soon.
He tapped his chin thoughtfully and responded, "It's unfortunate we can't visit him for the time being...but I'm sure things will be plenty exciting for us in the mean time!"

Hearing Tamakai's apology, Falarion grinned and shrugged.
"Eh, I barely felt the peck to be honest."
He puffed up his chest and flexed his muscles very unnecessarily.
Tamakai then sent Geris to Falarion's shoulder and he smiled at the little feather chatter box.
"Look, I don't know which one of you I tackled earlier today, but can you relay to them that I meant no harm? I can't help it, I just really like to have fun, but I don't mean any harm by it..."
Falarion trailed off, uncertain of what else to say to Geris. Curiosity got the best of him, though, and he cautiously raised the opposite hand to gently pet the bird. His eyes widened when he realized just how soft the bird's feathers were.
"Man, how many baths do you take on a daily basis to be so soft like this?"

As the others conversed and greeted one another, Falarion stretched out his arms and let out a yawn before shaking his head as if he were still a lion. Unfortunately, this just spooked the magpie, who promptly took flight.
"Ah, whoops, sorry!" He called out, feeling a bit lonely now.
It was then that Falarion heard some faint noise behind him and he turned around to see the human from before leaning against a tree. He was still in the shaded part of the forest, so his presence was likely unnoticed by most.

"Oi! Uh, Ralis was it?" Falarion asked while tilting his head to the side. He cautiously walked towards the human, but mindfully stopped a few paces away. He remembered how he had interacted with their trio previously and was wary that he may not feel comfortable around his kind.
Rubbing the back of his neck, Falarion scrambled to think of some direction to take this conversation so that it would not fall flat between them.
"I don't believe I heard much of your reasoning for being here before I arrived earlier. Is there some particular reason for you wandering through here today?"

SilverFeathers SilverFeathers AncientBird AncientBird
 
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High Moon

Relic of a Bygone Age
Aetius, The Lord of the Winds, Herald of Spring.
Averus, Central Forest, Outskirts, Imperial Camp.

Part - I Contemplation


Antony’s comment about his relationship with the other spirits amused the spirit, easing the foreboding feeling a little. “Well you know Antony, my fellow kin never really appreciated ingenuity, always preferring to keep to the old ways. It was a relationship of conflicting opinions from the day I came to be.” Aetius sighed, audibly weary, yet a small smile did form on his lips. “As they say, one can’t choose their family, and for all their faults they still do have their good aspects.” and they sure did, even though only a few of them really remained in speaking terms with the up-start god, their companionship was much appreciated, scarce as it was due to circumstances and conflicting allegiances.

Yet once more the air of ease did not last long as the Lord of Disease uttered a name. Now, it had been a while since he thought of that name, it was not one he was fond of remembering, for it was reserved for mourning. 'Notus' the second eldest among the Wind quartet that once was. She had been a great spirit, charismatic, beloved by the people of the land yet what Aetius had really admired of her was the endless bravery she showed, no matter the foe and hot headed, far more so than Aetius ever could claim to be, such had been her undoing.

Not long after his elevation from an Auxiliary Tribune to a proper Imperial Prefect and officially recognized among the ranks of the Imperials as the successor of the Averasian Goddess of Air, Notus had barged right into the castra, decimating the guards on duty that day in a fit of wrath, none of the legionaries had been a match for her furry, Aetius had offered her a place among the ranks of his new prefectural court, yet such a proposition had only worked to enrage the unrelenting spirit far more than she had already been, any sign of hurt, disappointment had been wiped off her face, replaced by pure rage. Antonius was right in two regards. First of which was that the fight between the pair of Imperials and the Wild Spirit had been a long and hard one, worthy of the ballads sung by the many bards, and the heroic sagas of the Imperial Poets. And second that there was no doubt in his mind that had it not been for Antonius being there alongside him that day, she would have had him killed off for good right then and there, consumed by the rage uncaged, yet even that harsh truth didn’t ease the pain of what happened to her.

She might have been misguided in her beliefs yet her resolute nature was nonetheless admirable, part of the reason why he had her name deified as a part of his cult after her untimely and honestly unnecessary demise. Now all that was left of her was a false name and a counterfeit legacy manufactured by none other than himself. How he missed Æthel, no amount of marble statues he commissioned in her image, nor how many festivals he dedicated to her memory could ever replace the loss


He opted to just nod along, not commenting on the whole ‘Notus’ issue, preferring to focus elsewhere.

That elsewhere being the Lord of Rust, who, by the looks of it was going through a bout of hysteria more befitting a raving mad prophet than a proper god among peers, not that he was out to judge, if anything he had always thought himself rather eccentric, just like the rest of the Air Elementals, which had a tendency of being moody and unstable perhaps as a consequence of the nature of the element they represented yet with the recent display it seemed like Lord Scrapmetal had him beat in that department by quite the margin too. “Bold plan, Master of Steel, bold plan.” commented the youth, clearly unimpressed.

When the Spymaster spoke up once more, talking about the Emperor's intentions, the best he could manage was to return a tight smile in turn, for voicing his rather... Unorthodox opinion on the subject within the Imperial Upper-Class, would be nothing less than committing treason.

Antonius's comment sounded more ominous than it sounded reassuring to his ears, the tone was deadpan and he was sure that the congratulation was hollow. The choice of words, 'now and forever' also didn't sit well with the rather free-living spirit. He had joined up with Antonius as an over-glorified mercenary of sorts, to be bound to one persons' will was dreadful even as an idea, especially of a kind he had no real love for, was troubling beyond belief. He could really feel the migraines worming their way right into the centre of his head with just how foul this whole enterprise had turned out to be. All he knew now was that, whatever it was, the stone was of a foreboding nature and had to be gotten rid of, consequences be damned.

Once the Lord of the Rhinos decided to speak up and insult his highness, he didn't even give the weak and misdirected "jab" of the hulking oaf much thought, deeming getting into an argument with such a base being beneath him. Especially when in such a sour mood. Now was neither the time nor the place to start a fight within the group. Only responding with an annoyed huff, albeit he would certainly not forget such an insult. No upstart opportunistic animal would get away with calling him a ‘twerp’ and a godling, as well as pushing slander against his name.

Even the simpleton of a god agreed with his assessment of the situation in the forest, which worked to unnerve him further, the beastial oaf might have been of questionable intelligence and character but there was no denying that he knew of the wilds.


PART II - Ferocious Steel

So as a precaution, lithe fingers wrapped themselves around the hilt of the legendary sword, ready to bring the blade that had cut through numerous rebels in the previous years into the fore once more, the blade flashed with the light of the campfire, half out of its sheath.

He heard one of the mortals, probably yell "demons", from the sound of it, it was none other than Felix Sergius, Master of the Hunt that he had just sent forth to scout for dangers moments prior, Aetius cursed his foresight, for once he’d have liked his suspicions to have been unfounded.

Out of sudden, the beasts of the forest were upon them, a planned ambush, coordinated by a pack nonetheless, certainly a feat for such mindless creatures, within a second, the finely forged blade was out in it's full glory, cutting through the air, swift as the wind that the spirit claimed mastery over.

One of the shadowy beasts came at him with unexpected speed, yet Aetius did not waver, the beasts were fast, but if anyone was going to keep up with their nimble nature, it was none other than the self-proclaimed God of the Winds, with the aid of favourable winds, he rolled down, dodging the beast’s initial strike. steadying with ease Aetius stood up from the ground within a moment, to take a better look at the creeping foe, he could see that they resembled one of the many exotic beasts that the game masters imported from all corners of the world to keep the crowds entertained during the many gladiatorial games that the province hosted. A panther, rumoured to inhabit the fabled foreign jungles far from the Averi mainland. Ferocious beasts that were a spectacle to witness and so would the battle between the host of gods and the beasts of the forest.

The Lord of the Winds fought with a certain flair, while others would stand firm, drawing strength from the steely form, Aetius was the opposite, relying on speed and athletics, striking from one side one moment and the other the next. Throwing-off foes, who’d never be the wiser where the next strike would come from. “Stand together!” cried the young spirit. “Panthers are sneaky beings, they’ll creep behind you!” He could hear the warrior-poet sacrificing in his name as well as others, yet he could not accept such a matter of principles, as principles remained principles even when threatened by force.

One of the swift beasts prowled just ahead of him, looking for the slightest opening to strike, tearing into the beast, initially keeping his own against the primal beasts, Aetius’ stride would turn with a sudden development. Wild ember eyes meeting with fiendish yellow in a clash of wills before both struck at once. Razor claws meeting Northern steel with a loud clash, neither managing to overpower the other before stepping back, eyeing eachother once again but something happened right then.

A bright illuminating flash of light caught his eye and what he saw was almost impossible to believe. Aetius' watched, standing as still as if everything within the living world came to halt. Fire, spontaneous fire, magical fire, fire of a kind he hadn't seen in a hundred years time. The momentary reflection of the fire gleamed within the light embers of Aetius' eyes. Amazement, awe, disbelief and maybe a hint of yearning then the ember faded alongside the initial flare of the fires, leaving their place to a pair of green, completely filled with disbelief, regret, anger, and above the rest, utter fear. All melding into an expression of pure horror. His resolve for battle almost seemed like it evaporated in a mere moment.

One of the demonic beasts sensed the weakness, swooping down upon the distracted spirit with all its might, vicious, savage claws cutting through the elegant clothes with ease and deep into the ethereal flesh. The buckhide strap holding the scabbard of the sword was ripped apart, Caught up with the sudden pain all Aetius could do was stumble forth, his prized Spatha falling from his hand, down to the bloodied earth with a soft clatter. Bestrided by the wound, Aetius gathered all the strength he could and rolled sideways to the right, ichor dripping down upon the earth with each movement, all air of panache lost it was now just pure survival instinct taking over. finally winding up beside a tree trunk.

He could sense the beast coming at him once more, perhaps to finish the job, gritting his teeth together to will the pain away as best as he could, Aetius The beast lunged once more... Only to fall upon itself, hitting its head right into the tree trunk, its prey having dissolved into the thin air, only a wisp of green, tinted with the occasional hint of ember floating away.

Wounded and filled with fear, the wisp thought about fleeing, yet his unseen sight landed on the comrades he would be abandoning with his flight, especially Antonius who seemed to be in a no better position than himself, perhaps even worse as he was unable to flee with ease like him and then onto the mortals, one of which was of his flock. Fighting for his dear life, barely holding back the onslaught of the monsters despite years of practice. His decision was made, no being, mortal or immortal could endanger those within his protection and go unpunished for their misjudgement. And punished it would be, by none other than Aetius as the single Tribune of justice.

Re-manifesting once more Aetius darted with great speed towards his fallen weapon, managing to grab hold of it just as the monstrous beast was getting its wits back together, not waiting a moment more to avoid giving the animalistic fiend the advantage again, Aetius hurled upon it with full force, leaning on pure instinct, cutting deep into the creature with a swift slash of his sword, followed by another. savagely striking one blow after another, fiend-blood gushing out into the earth, mixing with the spirits own blood that kept pouring down from his fresh wounds. The bloodied sword gleamed in the air ready to be brought down to deal the final strike but the beast fled with haste, the blade only striking the earth.

The beast roared, a sound of pain and rage that would have left any lesser man crumbling in fear, but Aetius, or what remained of the civilized persona within the savage spirit did not flinch the slightest, if anything the beastial roar of the hunter now prey only emboldened the murderous intent that lay behind the wild, ember eyes of the bloodied war-eagle.

both wounded and exhausted, fighting for their own existences. The beast panting and growling, while Aetius fared no better, his breath coming out in pained gasps through gritted teeth. The beast striked for the first move, jumping up, baring it’s vicious teeth, intent on devouring it’s enemy, be it with the acidic-poison of it’s breed or with the full might of its razor sharp teeth alone which proved its undoing, the sword was thrust up just as the fiend leaped, the bloodied blade piercing right into the beast’s immaterial skull, firmly lodging into it. The animal fiend went limp, swaying left and crumpling down with its full weight. Giving a breather to the warrior spirit yet there was no rest for the sworn-sword, as wounded and exhausted as he may be, pulling off the spatha out of the demon’s head, he carried on, off to aid his old commander, his own essence trailing behind in splotches of ichor.

Interactions: Basil the Bulgar Slayer Basil the Bulgar Slayer Athanas Athanas Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian

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AncientBird

Reptile with wings and plumes.
Tamakai

Another familiar voice caught Tamakai’s ears. The soft and pleasant voice of another central goddess who Tamakai was also in a very good term with.


“Suihaydis, Lady Tempest! Long have I waited to hear your voice of a skylark once again… And your entrance couldn’t have been at a better time!” Said the trickster god as he lowered his head and spread his wings to show respect, while still perched atop Tevan’s antlers. Suihaydis the goddess of air has always been a great audience to Tamakai’s performance, whether it be his arts or his humorous shenanigans, thus Tamakai holds quite a respect for her, however due to the goddess typically holding her station in the north out of Tamakai’s usual range, they didn’t get to interact much outside of special occasions and festivals.

“Now that we have all reunited the four central gods, I am pleased to tell the events that had happened through my perspective of a hundred years… Apologize in advance, Aluma, Master Fish, for having to listen to my rambling for the second time.” Said Tamakai as he nodded to the goddess of autumn and the central god of water.

And then there Tamakai went again, began to tell the history of what happened since the triumph of the usurpers, starting from the fall of the central gods, the the rise of the empire and their culture that swallowed the old way, the struggle of the people of Averus and about the loss of many old gods and spirit. (Tamakai intentionally left out Rieve who was presented there this time, but he did nod in her direction a few times.)

“… And finally, before I have noticed the disappearance of Tevan’s body. I was alerted to the presence of the imperialist party in the forest. I had thus investigated them and found a rather large, but not too numerous group of imperialists by the edge of the Divine Wood where they as of now had settled a camp.” Said Tamakai, wasting no time to tell his other fellow gods who hadn’t known of the news he found.

“There were heavily armed soldiers and some of their recognizable ‘gods’. I do not know their intentions, and it has become too dark for my magpies to keep lingering around them any longer… Still, they had not been so prepared in intruding upon Divine Wood like this in a long time. Whether it’s coincidental with your return or not, I thought it’s worthy to be acknowledged.” Spoke Tamakai, his voice was serious and formal.

But then, the magpie’s attention was drawn to something else, his manner immediately changed. “Well, well, well! What have we here? A mortal!”

Said Tamakai as he flew off his perch on Tevan and flew straight toward the mortal who was lingering at the side, passing over Falarion who had earlier approached him. The magpie minor god landed right on top of the young man's head.

“The magpies did tell me there was a mortal among the awakened gods, they said he was trying to heal Tevan. I was wondering where he was… And here you are!” Tamakai then proceeded to dip his head down to look the young man in his eyes, cocking his head curiously. “What’s your name, young one? Where have you come from? I have never seen you around before… Are you any of us’s followers?” Asked Tamakai, shooting a barrage of questions at this new found mortal.

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SilverFlight

Tende altum, volare altius
6d4eabc71777909485186574d6ae466e.jpg
"Sui!" Tevan brightened as the final of the four appeared in the clearing. "You're safe too! Oh, I am so glad. It's good to see you."
Surrounded by friends, the forest god felt stronger already.
It wasn't long before the mortal became known to them once more, following behind the wind goddess.

"His name is Ralis." Tevan answered Tamakai happily, then looked to the others. "And it's true, he helped me when I panicked, and wounded myself in a thicket of thorns." As Tevan walked forward his body changed. He became a young man with snow-white hair, and soft blue eyes. He clasped his hands in front of a worn, green linen shirt.
"I sense there is kindness and compassion in this mortal, even if he seems conflicted about us. And....and I think we need to protect him."

Something happened then, something changed in the forest and Tevan sensed it. He put a hand to his temple and winced.
"I...I sense demons...Falarion, can you smell them?" He looked to the only other deity he knew had a keen animal sense like he did.

Tevan furrowed his brow. "We should find a defensible place to rest until daybreak."

He had heard Rieve's name, but had yet to see her, worried, he cast about the clearing, looking for her.

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*~*~*

The demons had descended upon them without mercy. Sybis hit the ground hard as one of the beasts landed on top of him. Claws raked his leather breastplate, unable to penetrate the boiled hide. A dagger to it's midriff forced the creature back, leaving a raking trail of ichor down the god's arm. He swore colourfully.
"We have to get those humans out of the forest before they're torn to pieces." He growled.

Sybis started off into the woods, he dodged another cat, slashing at it as it went by, gazing the creature's arm and rolling clear.
"Felix! Cicero! Rufia! Get back to the fire! Stay in the light!" He bellowed, knowing it may just draw more unwanted attention his way.
A burst of red light and searing heat made him flinch and raise an arm in defense.
"What in blazes?" It hadn't come from the direction of the camp, not where the gods had been, it had come from...No, that wasn't possible.

He caught sight of Aetius go down with another of the demons on top of him, and with a cry, rushed to help.
He wasn't needed however, and to his relief he saw the killing blow and the wind god heave the demon's carcass to one side.
He caught up with the other god, his face grim.
"You're hurt." He stated bluntly, though there was concern laced into it. "Let me stay close, I'll guard your injured side."

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Frozen Thyme

There’s a little witch in all of us.
Aluma, Goddess of Autumn

Delight flashed on Aluma’s face as the final two central deities filed in, along with a human. “Regardless of hardship, we have much cause for celebration. Everyone is finally here,” she announced.

With the other gods peppering the mortal for questions, Aluma felt the need to intervene. “Everyone, please. We would be wise to listen…” She stared at Ralis for a moment, scrutinizing him. The way she looked consistently through him while requesting no further questions, it was clear she wasn’t judging his appearance. “There is something unique about you, but… I see turmoil, as well. Once we reach a safe spot, tell us your story, Ralis; we will find our answers then.” Her fingers slipped into the cornucopia and returned with a bunch of grapes, which she held by the stalk and presented to the human—a small reward for his good deeds thus far.

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Worthless pleb
Svakre, The Onyx Rhino

Sybis, Antonius had disregarded the Rhino's words. Now they were stalked, a predatory hunger circled their faint fire. Hoping to feast on their entrails, their bone marrow, their very vitae. Spymasters shouldn't sling security like this. If Svakre was a paranoid-prone dog like Athlios, he might have suspected treachery. Or a test. Either way, it does not matter as the demonic beasts, that Svakre sensed had finally moved from the Stalk to the Kill. They burst from underneath the umbral blanket. Their skin, leathery. Their eyes, flaxen in colour. Teeth and claws, a sickly teal. All packaged into the structural power of an apex feline. No understatement, many here could die to their ferocity. And, as Svakre's nose sniffed the air, their virulent bite. An interesting opponent, all things considered.

There is no more time for thinking, as a demon rushed him. Its paws kicked up dirt in their rabid attempt to reach him. The feline leaped at his throat, maw wide with the thirst for a God's throat. Svakre had no intentions to allow that to happen. His hands uncoiled from the blade's grip, immediately swinging his fist—body too— to deliver a dazing blow to the panther's chest. It tumbled away from the ground. It hacked, even heaved blood. It wobbled to its' paws before Svakre descended upon the creature. A sinister coil enveloped the predator's neck and rump. The Rhino lifted the accursed demon off its' feet, holding it above his head. It struggled to get free. Hopelessly. It roared a cry of furious help. Svakre, deathly silent, pulverised the creature's back on his knee. Whatever amount for bones in the demon were jellified. Its' neurons fired the last signals, causing the muscles to spasm in disarray. The last gasp of life itself.

Time, as it appeared, irreversibly slowed down as a red gleam hooked Svakre's attention. It had been... mesmerising? His shifty eyes turned slowly to glimpse. This fire... It came from Rufia? This development confounded Svakre, but the course of action was clear. It had been crystallised, the moment the light entered his pupil. Securing his monstrous sword, Svakre dashed with tactile care as to not hurt or kill Rufia. "Stay near me, young Adherent." He mouthed.

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