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Fantasy Munus Deorum (open)

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Antonius, Lord of Pestilence
Averus Central Forest


The monstrosity's grip on the Lord of Pestilence was beyond compare—the appendage held the blond deity for less than ten seconds and that was enough to draw a rare scream of pure agony from Antonius’ throat. He was no stranger to bodily injury, being nigh-immortal among all spirits that he encountered in his exceedingly long life span.

Yet the defiled behemoth brought Antonius to his limits in a single squeeze.

There was a cracking sound that was almost deafened by the fury of combat. Had it not taken place inside Antonius, the Lord of Pestilence would’ve missed it. His vision swam, black dots obscuring what passed as the terror’s twisted facsimile of a face as the Lord of Pestilence’s mind was vacant. Too much happened in these short moments for Antonius to wrap his mind around, instead it focused on the oddest thought.

‘I wonder if they’ll remember me?’

The arm holding the Yellow Buzzard drew back, to Antonius it happened slowly and he blinked his life away—boyhood to adolescents to linking up with the Empire and eventually meeting Aetius. Death was unpleasant, unnecessary. It was his enemy and a persistent comrade from the first breath of air he drew to what would be his last—what he assumed would be his last, any moment now. His emerald eyes dare not look away from the beast, he was far from dignified but Antonius wouldn’t succumb to mortal fears. Oblivion awaited and he’d swim in the inky blackness that he’d condemned many others to. Still…

‘Will he remember me?’

He’d known Aetius a paltry period of time, especially compared to Antonius and his own maternal figure. It was a blink of an eye, little over five mortal generations, though Antonius was unable to think of a happier time than with the Wind God. Their relationship drifted between parental and fraternal based on one another’s needs at the moment. Though he’d lost sight of Aetius, there was a contentment in knowing that the honeyed eagle had the best chance of escaping. It was impossible to hold the wind.

That thought alone helped Antonius to accept what was happening, his eyes defiant as he saw the deteriorated flesh in greater detail than before. The rancid odor pressed against his nostrils and the Lord of Pestilence struggled in holding his expression. No minor victories for this beast.

Or none at all.

Its hold on Antonius fell, as did the Lord of Pestilence, striking the ground with the beasts hand still clutching at him. The axe given to him by Athlios had returned with great force and freed him. Had it been any other time, Antonius would seethe his distaste at this humiliating liberation courtesy of the metal man and his telepathy. The near death experience suspended these more human qualities as Antonius struggled out of the clawed grip.

The Lord of Pestilence struggled to his knees in a remarkable amount of time, given the circumstances. His tattered shirt had been discarded and lost, revealing the bite wound atop his left shoulder. It was healing as Antonius predicted it would, though its pace lackadaisical. His body sported purple coloration where the beast had squeezed hardest, bruises already forming. Though the worst came when Antonius took his first inhale—a sound nod dissimilar to a wet sock slapping against a tree is what greeted the Divine. He coughed in confusion and a glob of golden ichor fell onto the forest floor. His lips pursed and in moment to moment deduction, the Lord of Pestilence grabbed hold of his right side and cringed.

‘My ribs are cracked and at least one of them pierced my right lung.’

That put fleeing out of the picture. There was no way a fevered up, mauled and now oxygen deprived deity could escape. He glared upward only to be greeted by two peculiar forms. A fleet of birds exceedingly close to his own earlier pecked at the creature.

‘Remarkable. I’d have to entice crows to have them attack something so large.’

The second was a brunette woman jumping between himself and the creature. She announced herself as help to the mortals and gave an ominous warning to the Imperial party. Had he been in better health and a knife been in Antonius’ hands, he was certain he’d stab the woman for the provocation. As it stood, Antonius wasn’t ready for any confrontation and offered a dull nod. Not that he expected she’d notice with her—

‘Her blade is on fire.’ His lips pursed. ‘She’s a spirit, then.’

That complicated future matters.

“You have my utmost appreciation, Warrior Spirit.” The words were earnest in the circumstances he found himself in as he pushed himself onto his two feet. “It seems to fear you?” Antonius muttered, shooting the back of her head with a perplexed stare.

Why did it fear an Averus fire spirit over a party of Imperial Gods?

‘Then again, why does it have the same gift as I?’ This creature was one mystery after another, frustrating the abused and wounded blond to the point of stuffing his concerns.

Conflict roared in the clearing outside this old temple, Svakre flagrantly tossed the Emperor’s gift and shattered it before joining hands with the Fire Spirit in battle. There were others around, fighting it as well. Mortals and other spirits native to Averus who had yet to bend the knee to his Imperial Majesty. Antonius struggled to take a step forward, his chest pounding for release as his mind was dimmed by the prevalent fever. A muted laugh escaped Antonius as he gave a silent thanks to the shattered ribs. If it weren’t for their constant prodding, making every breath agony, his consciousness would’ve slipped into a feverish nightmare.

It might’ve been better if he had been lost to the fever. Sybis screamed as his body was corrupted, broken and reconstructed into some…

‘Monster.’ Antonius’ eyes found the fiend who’d crushed him, identical in its insidious nature and swallowed. His fellow veteran of the war felled. Beaten. And his last warning?

"The gemstones?" Antonius clutched his abdomen. Worry was written across his features as nails dug deep into his naked flesh, drawing thin lines of gold. The Lord of Pestilence shook his head—No, that was unthinkable! Sybis.. Poor, confused and corrupted Sybis. He had to be wrong here.

“The Late Emperor gave this to me.” Antonius murmured. “..Over a century ago, it was his gift. His blessing…”

This insignificant, translucent stone lodged in his body was what gave the nomadic servant of death greater purpose.

He couldn’t throw it away.

He wouldn't abandon it so callously.


Interaction(s): Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus
 

Coyote Hart

Misguideful Moniker
Cicero Tarquinius.png
How mysterious. Despite the fact that the gods assembled evidently knew that the people gathered below them were imperial soldiers, Tevan still welcomed Cicero in with open arms. An unpleasant smirk marred Cicero's face. Who knew that the god of compassion and nature was also the god of naivety? It was also odd that Falarion would also act friendly. At least one of the other gods in the room was more righteously upset with the presence of the imperials. Not that Cicero blamed her -- monkeys couldn't control their instincts after all.

"It's up to you whether you join or not," Cicero called out to the goddess, "But afterwards, if we are defeated, the monster would come after you. And if we can't win, I doubt that gods that haven't received offerings in forever would stand a chance. Just to be factual."

Cicero looked down at the knife that was pointed at his throat, and the simultaneous flames and coldness in the boy's face. There was something about the immaturity and intenseness of the boy's emotion that gave Cicero the impression that he couldn't be anything but a human. His rough words and his rough manner of dress were quite unrefined. Cicero stared at him with an unimpressed look. What a fantastic way to ruin rapport in your first impression. It seemed that some of those who worshipped the old gods could also be savages. It made sense though, it was like the saying 'like father, like son.'

"You talk as if I know everything of what's going on here," Cicero said calmly. While he certainly was nervous at how a knife was pointed at his neck, he wasn't going to let that show. Besides, there was no way that the human would kill him-- Tevan would undoubtedly be disappointed. He stole a glance at his canvas, taking in all the information he could. He spoke, truthfully, "My friend received a letter telling him to visit the Averus Forest and vanquish some demons, I came along for the ride. The demons were scared away by this 'thing,'" he gestured vaguely towards the canvas where the monster that Sybis had become was displayed, "And chased us down here. The Emperor gave us some necklaces, it's likely that it's those that are causing these transformations."

Cicero looked down hard at his canvas. Antonius was frozen in shock, his hands gripping himself so tight that his fingernails broke the skin. Yet he refused to throw away the necklace he wore. The human shook his head. He couldn't blame the god. Were he in Antonius's position, he would be feeling the same dilemma. But he didn't want Antonius to die. His crane flew down and leveled with the god of blight, his voice speaking out to him, "Lord Antonius, Sybis was endlessly loyal to the Emperor. He wouldn't have spoken out against the Emperor's gift unless he was absolutely sure. For now, get rid of the stone, or pass it over to me. I can hold onto it until we've ascertained that it's safe."

Sure, underneath Cicero's genuine loyalty and care towards the usurper god was an underlying alternative motive. If he could get his hands on one of those necklaces, it could potentially mean a weapon against the gods of Averus.

One of those gods, Falarion, had introduced himself, and so Cicero did likewise. Cicero turned a head toward the god of light with a friendly smile, dismissive towards the steel-haired boy who had his knife pointed at his neck. At this point he was just testing fate, and Cicero's heart rate spiked at the knowledge that the boy could lose his cool and just stab him. It was a terrible idea all in all. "Oh, excuse my manners, how rude of me to not introduce myself--" Cicero spared a glare at the ice-eyed boy-- "My name's Cicero Tarquinius. Cicero, not 'Kee-ke-roh' as everyone reads it. I'm glad to see at least one friendly face here."

He turned his attention back towards the steel-haired boy, his voice showing the slightest of shakiness, "Now, could you show some manners yourself and provide a proper introduction and explain why your arm feels like gelatin?"

Cicero hadn't seen the boy use his powers to toss the axe across the battlefield, but his crane had noticed the unusual trajectory that the weapon must've taken. At this point, his question was merely an attempt to gather information.

Lekiel Lekiel SilverFeathers SilverFeathers Basil the Bulgar Slayer Basil the Bulgar Slayer Lioness075 Lioness075
 
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AncientBird

Reptile with wings and plumes.
Tamakai, God of Entertainment and Tricks

The gemstone wouldn’t come off, no matter how hard Tamakai tried. The black tendrils that anchored the gemstone in the monster’s arm were just too tough to break. A countering swat of the creature arm, dangerously missed Tamakai by a beak length yet able to create enough wind to blow the magpie away was a sign that continuing the effort would only bring himself doom.

Tamakai flapped and rebalanced himself in a safe distance, before ascending higher in the air. He started observing the monster again while his old gods fellows continued fighting on the ground and his flock swarming from the air.

The imperialists weren’t just standing idly either. While some sought shelter in the temple, others sprung to action and actually helped fend off the abomination, although Tamakai figured that they probably just wanted to save their own hind for the most part.

The arrival of Solaris seemed to stop the monster in its tracks for a while, something other gods or mortals presenting there couldn’t. It didn’t take long for the fiend to resume its assault, but it was enough for a few of the usurpers to put some damage to it. An imperialist mortal, likely a soldier, had the same idea as Tamakai and tried to pry the gemstone off with his spear, but his effort too, did not work. The one Tamakai recognized as Athlios, the mad god who’s clad in steel had put some kind of tar-like substance over the monster before lighting it on fire. While flame did little to its black, rotten skin, the wounds where it was sliced earlier seemed to be easily charred to ashes. Then came the young rhino god, crashing against the monster with such a force that it made the fiend collapse on its own weight, finally scoring a decent progress.

Although at its disadvantage, the monster still tried to lash out at its adversaries. Even when an arrow was shot through its skull by another imperialist mortal, it still kept flailing around with its arms. However, as it lay on the ground, exposing its face, the magpie flock immediately swarmed. They took turns diving into the monster’s lifeless eyes, pecking and scratching viciously in an unstoppable bloodlust, as if they were trying to either remove the fiend’s eyeballs or damaging them on spot entirely. The monster’s swinging limps managed to catch many of the birds off guard and took their lives, but it didn’t seem to stop the flock’s continuous assault.

Tamakai didn’t get to properly reacting to the flock’s rising casualties when he heard an agonizing cry, coming from one of the usurper gods. He was being corrupted, with his skin starting to turn black and body expanded in a horrible and painful process… And soon, he had completely transformed into the very same monster they were fighting with. The magpie’s eyes widened when he saw that the source of corruption came from the similar gemstone in which the unfortunate usurper god was holding on his body.

“What the… Oh, what evil incarnation have you usurpers been doing behind those fortresses of yours?” Tamaki mumbled to himself as he witnessed the corrupted god, now a fiendish creature of pure evil, turning against his very own comrade that was just earlier fighting for him.

But before the second monster could claim someone’s life, Tevan arrived in his stag form, successfully intercepted the creature with his antlers, pushing it back slightly. Solaris was quick to assist her central god fellow and came to help bearing the weight of their adversary that tried to push back, as well as using her flaming sword to try to dislodge the gemstone in the monster’s chest.

Tamakai watched helplessly as his friends fought for their life. The battle had turned out to be much tougher than he anticipated. The minor god wished he hadn’t lost much of his power throughout the years of hiding and being mostly forgotten… If it was a hundred years ago, he would have already filled the monsters’ faces with his enchanted feathers like a pincushion, or put lethal amounts of poisonous powders in their lungs, or blasting them to the ground with his voice… Something that would promise more chance at victory than just being a distraction.

“Everyone retreat!” Tamakai called to the flock. “You have done all you can! Return to the safety of the temple! I will do the rest myself…”

Whether the magpie flock had successfully blinded the first monster or not, Tamakai wouldn’t risk their life any further. The flock had proven not quite effective against the creature’s protective skin and as the fiends had set their eyes on the gods, they seemed to not care about a small distraction any longer. The magpie flock was reluctant but soon they followed Tamakai’s order and flew back inside the temple, leaving some of their casualties lying on the ground, along with many of the scattered feathers.

Tamakai swallowed his feelings at the sight of his fallen comrades. However, it would be too early to mourn them… He had something else to do… And it had to be quick. The minor god flew back into the temple, glided over the other gods and mortals that had withdrawn from the battle. He landed near a bunch of trunks where many pieces of equipment were stored, transformed and then rummaged through them. There, he found a bow and a pack of arrows… Not the best qualities for battle and more of decorative weapons, but they would do. Tamakai sighed at how low he had become that he had to rely on some arrows and bow, weapons that he is perfectly capable with, but despises of how fussy they are to use…

Tamakai returned to the outside with his arrow drawn. He got as close as possible to compensate for his poorer vision in the darkness of the night and with all his might, started shooting at the second abomination’s head, hoping it would at least cause the monster to stagger and provided Tevan and Solaris more chance to overcome their foe.

SilverFlight SilverFlight Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian AI10100 AI10100 Arnalia Arnalia
 
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Worthlessplebian

Worthless pleb
Svakre, The Onyx Rhino

The ground beneath the Rhino's feet mulched from the power, speed, and weight. Each step a promise of a destruction. The sharpened horn of Svakre sliced through the air as effortlessly as breathing it. His yellow iris surrounded by an ocean of red. The notion that emotion could cloud his judgement never sat well with the lumbering giant. That he would be a slave to such feeble strings, forced to endure. Except it always made sense, even since the earliest memories that made sense to him. It felt like he belonged in this tornado of rage, but his conscience always reminded him to never enjoy the anger. After he had pledged his loyalty to the Emperor, the Black Baron had swore to restrain his wrath-stain. But now, all his work felt worthless. He strived to better himself for an Empire that did not reciprocate his devotion.

His thoughts raced to reach a conclusion. My people. The Empire may have betrayed me, but my people in my city never did. For them, I shall survive. For them, I shall master my rage before it masters me! For them, I shall return.

Crash!

Svakre smashed the fiend's feet, producing a sickening sound of squelching flesh as it tumbled over! Alas, Svakre's position was not favourable, being directly in the line of the falling monster. He dashed to the side to escape, but was not quick enough. His sword hand was mushed under the elephantine weight of the creature. Yanking the God off his feet and himself falling on the ground. Hand broken, forearm fractured, and shoulder joint dislocated. Pupils dilated in pain, but the beastly rhino did not roar. He turned over on the dirt, and punched the foot off his battered arm. He dragged the Abyssal Wake with his broken fingers around the handle. He had managed to get far before the monster began its' panicked flail with the multiple scythe hands.

Despite his condition, he managed to swap his hefty blade to his offhand. A slight reduction in capability, but Svakre would still prove to be a deadly foe. He waited for an opportunity to strike, but something else had caught his attention.

Sybis' voice cried out! The devilry that devil pulled will not be forgiven... Unfortunately, Svakre could not punish that bastard as his eyes beheld an eerie horror. His suspicions had been confirmed by seeing that cretinous spymaster be mutilated by the stone that he wore! Bones breaking, flesh tearing, muscles straining as he—now it—transformed into a mirror horror of that beast.

The Monster Spy had been stopped by a new god that arrived. Svakre saw his opening.

He began to spin and spin and spin then tossed his ebon sword sky high! The blade spun and Svakre timed his jump attentively, looking to grab his sword right as the handle matched his direction. His jump had been successful, and the blade's momentum carried him into a revolving motion, one that he continued using his musculature. His sword arm flailed helplessly, still dislocated from the socket. Svakre had transformed himself into a flying buzzsaw, intending to dig deep into Sybis' cranium.
 

AI10100

Expert Lurker

Felix Valerius Sergius
Location: Outskirts of the Divine Forest
Interacting with: Frozen Thyme Frozen Thyme

The gemstone kept itself burrowed in the skin of the monster— black tendrils keeping it in place even with a direct strike. Felix had never seen something like that before. It was possibly near impossible to remove it by itself. Taking out the entire arm might be for the best. Either way, he had no time to think as Lord Svakre toppled the monster over and its looming body was sent down— toppling over to them. In a split-second decision to save himself and his horse, he held out a hand and the air behind him solidified into a small wall and the monster collided with it first. It gave him only a sliver of time to get out of its range before it broke through the air barrier and crashed onto the ground.

The beast began to thrash around in its fallen state, its limbs lashing out to grab, scratch, and slam against anything unfortunate still within its range. Not wasting any time, Felix put up another barrier of wind— this time it held strong against the strikes. It didn't quite matter that he was putting all his cards on the table. The questioning could be for later. What was more important was—

Before he could make another move against the thrashing monster, commotion had erupted from the back. "Lord Sybis...?" He muttered to himself as he watched the man twist and deform soon after warning the other gods about some form of stone. He had remembered seeing some of the gods earlier throw away stones earlier but he hadn't thought of it before. They had something similar to the monster? Apparently so as, right before their eyes, Lord Sybis transformed into the veined, dark monster that had been hunting them.

He tensed as he watched the monster charge toward Rufia. It would be far too late for him to reach her. It seemed like the fire goddess from earlier had the same thought process as him as she ran toward them. However, a stag quickly put a stop to the monster. Another god? Felix's attention snapped back to the felled monster before him. It had not been distracted like he did and it continued its thrashing.

A cornered rat was at its most dangerous.

Felix just wasn't sure which one was the rat in this situation— them or the monsters.

He understood that his horse would be a valuable asset. However, for now, he needed it alive. He hopped off of his horse and ordered it closer to the rune temple. The training it had gone through made sure it had understood such verbal commands and made sure that it knew when to flee and when to stay put. He just hoped that if things go wrong, Cicero would have enough sense in himself to take the horse to run.

The goddess with the sickle charged forward, claiming that they needed to sever the arm with the gemstone to hopefully put a stop to one of the monsters. The other half of the group was too busy with the being that was once Lord Sybis. Regardless of whether they were enemies or not, Felix was spurred on by the command. As the goddess practically danced around the flurry of blows, Felix commanded the air around him to follow his movement— creating a shield around him. With each strike on the shield, it threatened to break but Felix couldn't pay attention to that.

The goddess struck and he quickly followed up with his own strike on the same spot. They needed to attack it faster. Before it could heal. "I think we need to do it faster!" He called out as he rolled out of the way of another strike, the shield around him weakening faster than he had expected. It would have paid him well had he used it more frequently instead of being uncertain about it. No use regretting it now, he supposed. As the gemmed arm came down to slam at him, he stepped aside and attempted to slice through the black mass, hoping that the enchantment on the spear was weakening it enough for the goddess to cut it off. Before he could do anything else, however, he had seen another hand thrashing into him far too late. He brought up his spear, commanded what little air he could muster to soften the blow, and took it.

Unlike the gods around him with their durability and resilience, the blow had sent Felix back, skidding against the ground. He laid there for a moment or two— a bit disoriented, probably bleeding, likely suffering from internal damage from that one hit. He tried to catch a breath but felt a sharp sting across his chest. This couldn't be the last breath he would take. Not in this damnable forest. Not when his duty hadn't been completed yet. With a wheeze, he climbed back up to his feet, vision swimming slightly as he turned his attention to the transformed Lord Sybis and the full assault the other gods were bringing about. He then turned to the first monster that was being kept occupied by the other goddess. He still had to move. He had to help somehow.
 

SilverFlight

Tende altum, volare altius
The first creature, under the onslaught of Aluma, Felix, Tamakai and Svakre weakened. Its eyes were now ruined and it crawled blindly. With each strike a its wrist the limbs was cut deeper and deeper until, with one last swing, it was cut clean off. After that, the monster degraded quickly, the tendrils losing strength. It lost its footing for a final time and crashed to the ground, unmoving.
Frozen Thyme Frozen Thyme AncientBird AncientBird AI10100 AI10100


Where Solaris had used her burning sword to slice through the second creature's underbelly, a mass of black entrails spilled forth, writhing with the black tendrils that had plagued the first creature, now charred and dying. The scent of the dark mass burning nearly made Tevan wretch. The smell was horrible. The creature staggered, losing balance and Tevan shoved it over. It hit the stones with a wet crack, flailing its arms and legs, raking them against the ground for purchase. Tevan narrowly missed a claw which would have torn his side clean open. Luckily, he received just a scratch, but still, golden ichor trickled down his fur in a steady stream. He drew in a hiss. It had cut his hide so easily…either he was weaker than he thought or else, that monster was much stronger than it should have been.

He barely had time to think more, as just when Solaris and Tevan had cleared the monster’s deadly reach, a figure came hurling down from the sky. Svakre’s massive form collided with the creature’s head, his sword embedding itself deep into the creature’s skull and neck. The beast’s ugly maw hit the ground hard, the sword going clean through. Pinned like this the beast flailed and writhed, though Tevan saw its strength ebbing too. Tevan had seen how the other died, and with an effort, he focused his power. Vines grew up from the cracks in the stoned to wrap around the creature’s arm. Tighter and tighter until there was a crack. The stone shattered, still embedded in the creature but powerless now. Finally, the god known as Sybis could rest.

They had won, but Tevan looked around. Not all fighters had made it. Several of the Imperial gods had died the way the emperor intended.
Cicero took the first chance to flee, once Antonius and Aetius were slain, leaving Ralis, Falarion and Siuhaydis alone in the temple.
Of the small party that had fled to the Rune Temple, only one god and two humans remained.

Tevan was breathing heavily. Holding off the creature had taken all of his strength. He glanced at his allies, and then at the Imperials they had just leapt in to save.

Svakre was the closest, and, after Tevan made sure the humans on the battlefield were still alive, he spoke to the rhino god.
Well fought, though, I see you are wounded. I…think I can help. If you will let me.
He spoke loud enough for his allies to hear, making his stance clear at least. Today, here, he would not fight.

SilverFeathers SilverFeathers Lioness075 Lioness075 Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian Arnalia Arnalia
 

Vulpes lagopus

Pretend this is something clever.
Solaris

Fortunately- if such a thing could be called fortunate- Solaris was accustomed to the stench of burning flesh, and so was not overpowered by it. As Tevan toppled the creature's bulk she rose and retreated from the range of its thrashing limbs. Immediately afterward the skull, already pockmarked by Tamakai's arrows, was punctured by a blade descending like a thunderbolt, alongside the crushing weight of the Imperial god. Thanks to Tevan's vines, the fell stone was finally broken.

At last, the battle was over. Tevan's offer of aid came as no surprise, though Solaris hesitated to affirm it, scrutinizing the Imperial. He did not look a fool, at least. "We stand little to gain by crossing blades now. I will not raise mine against you, so long as yours remains sheathed." So saying, she extinguished the flames wreathing her own weapon, let the metal cool, and returned it to her sheath. Then she turned to survey the battlefield. She had been too late, after all, to save the injured one, and the armored one also had been struck down. The spearman appeared dazed, and... oh, Ælfweard.

Forgetting all else, she ran to where he lay, knelt down, and felt for a pulse at his wrist. Nothing. He was dead. Solaris sat back on her heels, eyeing the deep gashes mangling his front, and his bloodless face, the fine features that been such a source of pride in life still unmarred. Capable enough, when he wished to be, but wild, vainglorious, and resistant to correction, the Petty Spirit of the Western Wind had seemed bound and determined to give her all manner of headaches in those days. Minor headaches, to be sure, but the effect was cumulative. For all that, she had never despaired of teaching him wisdom, nor in her wildest dreams did she anticipate his treachery.

No matter his misdeeds, she would not give up on one of her own so easily, and had been determined to bring him round again. Now, the very revelation of his mistake came at the cost of his life. Once again, she was too late. If only she had paid more heed to hints of a mysterious friend from afar. No, perhaps if she had been more gentle, or more strict, from the start... But whatever she or any of his old compatriots might have done, or not done, to avert this fate would remain a mystery. So, too, would the motives she'd tried in vain to fathom lie buried with him. Gently, she reached out and closed the staring eyes whose empty gaze fixed on the sky above. Swayed by false promises, lured into evil ways, used and discarded... what might he have become had he not been lead astray? Wasted potential was what galled her the most even before the war. Compared to the years she herself had walked the mortal plane, he was, after all, so very young.

The fire that rose within her then was not the fire of righteous indignation, but something wilder- a primordial echo of the days before Law, when the clash of might against might, vengeance upon vengeance, was the sole determinant of order. She would not- must not- succumb. Master yourself! You, above all, ought to know that unbridled anger cannot serve true justice. Surely, there could be no more wretched creature than this so-called Emperor, a demon several times over if not for his evasions of the natural order. Yet she could find no pity in her heart for such a one.

Clenching her fists tightly, she made a silent vow. Usurper. Tyrant. Though I know not your name, I swear, upon the blood of your people and mine, that I will take your head. With the heavens as my witness, I swear it! Sighing heavily, she stood, reluctant to tear her eyes away from the body. Though she swallowed the lump in her throat before speaking, her voice was uncharacteristically thin and wavering. "First... no, once we attend to the wounded... we ought to bury the dead. It would not be right... to leave them lying here."

A moment later, a change came over her, and she suddenly stood erect, eyes glinting like cold steel in the sunlight. She turned to the remaining Imperial god, the one who had distinguished himself with his devastating charge and dealt the final blow to his erstwhile comrade, and sized him up once more. Did his strength draw from such barbaric practices as the usurpers had brought with them? Somehow, she did not think it of him. She sensed a warrior's pride, not unlike her own. Still, she would not let down her guard. "After that business is attended to, we would do well to ascertain the truth behind these stones. We share a mutual interest in this matter. Surely you will not be opposed to an exchange of information, now that you are... dispossessed of former ties."

SilverFlight SilverFlight AncientBird AncientBird Arnalia Arnalia Frozen Thyme Frozen Thyme Lekiel Lekiel AI10100 AI10100

Special Mentions: Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian
 
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Lekiel

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

Pale flaxen hair fanned out like a halo behind his head soaked in liquid gold. Somehow, splayed against the backdrop of the trampled dirt, it reminded her of shimmermoss that grew along the rocky slopes surrounding Lirael. They were a rare occurrence, but a mortal would have seen it at least a handful of times in a lifetime even if they weren’t looking.

Unseeing eyes stared into the void of darkness in the heavens, body twisted and pierced. His pale skin was fair and smooth, even by a deity’s standards. Though he lay broken on the ground, there was still a certain sense of dignity in his regard. Fallen nobility. Beautiful even, for the goddess could appreciate such things. All her years in the oblivion of imprisonment, his face had been indelible in her mind for whenever the numbness had set in to blot out her pain. It carried her through the visage of her tormentor, the source of her rage. The deceiver who’d taken everything from her.

She had her vengeance. Though not by her hand, perhaps by the lack of it. Slain by the contrivances of his treacherous disposition. As vile as a bishop could be, he was not the king.

She felt hollow. Not for any regret that she’d willingly wished him doom. But for the fact that her greatest anathema for a century was now gone; and he hadn’t known she was alive. What might he have said to her had they met under different circumstances? It was he had taught the age old goddess one of the greatest lessons she, of all people, should know. Change can be painful too. For that alone, he’d deserve her blessing.

“Aa’ menle nauva calen ar’ ta hwesta e’ ale’quenle. Vanya sulie.” She whispered parting words and reached forward to close his eyes from where she knelt by his body.
*Liraelian - May thy paths be green and the breeze on thy back. Fair winds.

As she stood to her feet, she heard a noise to her side. It was Solaris bidding yet another fallen god farewell. Ælfweard. She knew him. But though they were of the same element, he was likely closer to Solaris than herself.

“They chose this path.” It was more a matter-of-fact, than words of spite. Her voice was quiet but audible, but whether it was to herself or for her sister goddess to hear was unclear.

"First... no, once we attend to the wounded... we ought to bury the dead. It would not be right... to leave them lying here."

“A fire perhaps, sister,” Siuhaydis partially agreed, commanding the winds to gather dried twigs, dirt and leaves to cover the bodies. She would not deign to touch them, even if they had been fellow deities, but whether or not Solaris agreed or Tevan ended up burying them, she let the two to decide.

As Solaris left to speak with the remaining Imperial god, Siuhaydis turned towards the lone spearman. Observing the battle earlier had revealed some rather interesting developments. But as she drew closer, she could see that he was not unscathed and decided that her curiosity could wait. For all the rage the Northern Tempest could hold, she knew when it was time to embody the winds of renewal.

Siuhaydis approached Felix measuredly and if he did not react with hostility, she would place a steadying hand on his arm.

“You fought well,” she paused for a moment, ruby lips half open expecting him to offer his name though she would continue anyway if he did not, “how badly are you hurt? Tevan might be able to help if you. . . do not mind.”
 

myk9ma

Member
Nasrin had been traveling slowly over the last few days. The weather was warm, and the skies clear, even though she had that constant yearning to move forward, she couldn’t stop herself from admiring the flowers and grasses that grew all around her. If she concentrated she swore she could feel them growing, a faint energy much like her own heart beat, constant and calming. Here and there she would use her new found power, gently coaxing a bud to bloom, then placing the new flower in her hair and thanking the plant for the gift. When she found an edible plant she would eat a few, and store the rest, making sure to never take more than half total.

Eventually she had arrived at the Rune Woods, she had stopped in awe to admire the lush greenery before entering. Her grandmother had often told her that everything had a will of it’s own. Nasrin had always believed her, but had never felt it more clearly. With every gust of wind the forest sighed, the faint hum of insects the forest whispering secrets. She took most of the flowers in her hair and weaved them into a crown that she placed around the trunk of a nearby tree before weaving it closed.
“Please accept my gift and grant me safe passage through your boughs. I will take just what I need to live, and disturb as little as possible. I do not know why I have been called to this place, I only hope I can help.” She closed her eyes and gently placed her head against the tree.
When she stood back up she thought the forest seemed a little brighter, a little more welcoming, she shook her head, it was probably her imagination. She took a deep breath and stepped into the woods.

She walked the crisscrossing animal trails, making her way further into the woods. She traveled slowly… very slowly. It seemed like every other step she saw a new fantastical plant or animal. She couldn’t stop herself from admiring everything she came across. As afternoon gave way to dusk she found a clearing with the softest grass she had ever felt and settled down to sleep for the night. Usually she would try to sleep in the branches of a tree, or clear a small area in some bushes, but she had a feeling that nothing would disturb her here and that she was safe.
She ate the rest of what she had foraged throughout the day, she thought deeply and decided that she deserved it. She carefully opened the main pocket of her back pack and felt the cool air hit her face. This was one of the special packs that had been blessed by Tushsar, her parents had given it to her for her 20th birthday, it kept things in the main pocket cold so that it kept better. Looking at what she brought with her she chose a mango at perfect ripeness and bit into it savoring the unique flavor. She regretfully closed the pack, now was not the time to eat all the produce she brought with her. She laid her head down and quickly fell asleep.

She woke with a start to the sounds of crashing and yelling in the distance. She quickly got her things ready and ran towards the noise. Something in the forest felt… wrong. Something unnatural that sent a shiver down her spine, she ran faster.
She broke into the clearing to see the aftermath of the life and death battle. Her eyes widened looking at all the corpses, yes those were definitely corpses, littering the ground. Her eyes paused on the half formed monstrosities on the ground and swallowed back the bile that threatened to rise. It reminded her of when a fox had gotten into the chicken coop, but worse so much worse. How did- she shook her head and got rid of the thought. That wasn’t important right now, those that were alive were injured. She quickly took out the few medical supplies in her pack and stuffed them into the hands of the nearest person, not even taking the time to register who it was.
“Take these! I will go find more medical herbs!”
She turned and ran back into the woods. She managed to find a bit of what she needed and used her power to grow as much of it as she could. She finally had to stop when she felt light headed and weak in the knees. She ran back to where everyone was gathered,
“I’m… Back…” She managed to let out in between gasps. She caught her breath a bit then continued, holding out stems of a plant with groups of small white flowers. “Yarrow crush the leaves and flowers and put it on wounds that won’t stop bleeding first then any other wounds you have. It will help stop the bleeding and keep it from getting infected.” She held up some twigs in her other hand, “Sweet Birch bark we can make a tea that will help with the pain.”
 

AncientBird

Reptile with wings and plumes.
Tamakai, God of Entertainment and Tricks

The battle was finally over… Both of the abominations had finally crumbled to the ground, lifeless and broken. Tamakai panted heavily after shooting arrows nonstop for quite a while, pulling string after string that his fingers felt like they were about to come off. Glancing around, the minor god observed more casualties on the field. Most of the imperial gods were slain, their bodies scattered around like potatoes that spilled from a basket.

These imperial gods once announced themselves the enemy of the old way. By their emperor’s will, they branded Tamakai and other old gods as savages that must be eliminated and be forgotten from the face of the earth… By their emperor’s will, they hunted the old gods down and then swallowed all that the old way’s held dear… And now, by the command of the emperor they valued, they ended up wasting their life away… Either by their own foolishness of mingling with foul creation they didn’t thoroughly understand, or by a nasty treachery planted upon them unknowingly.

A part of Tamakai wanted to mock them for all the pain and suffering they once caused, to dance upon their corpses and tell the world of their pathetic end, but the others reminded him that these imperial gods died fighting to protect their loyalist mortals. Because of their intervention, all of the imperialist mortals had survived the monsters’ assault. No matter what side of the war they are on, to sacrifice oneself to protect those that are weaker is a commendable act that needs to be praised. For that, Tamakai decided to leave them be and to receive a proper mourning from those that grieve their passing.

For Tamakai, he had something else to attend to. Separating himself from the others, Tamakai walked slowly back to where he battled the first monster.

There on the ground, heaps of feathers scattered among the dew filled grasses. Lifeless bodies of the magpies lying around were no different than those of the imperial gods earlier. Tamakai looked at them with a placid expression before kneeling down next to one. He gently patted the dead critter with utmost fondness.

Geris flew from the temple and landed on Tamakai’s shoulder. A few of other surviving magpies joined them as well. The minor gods gave them a sad smile before looking back at the ground.

“Fare well, my friends.” Said Tamakai to the dead magpies. “You didn’t have to, but you chose to assist anyway no matter how dire the situation was. Although you lost your life here, you did so in the name of Averus, to stop evil from devastating our home.” Tamakai paused, wiping out a bit of tear that started to build up. “Sleep then, my friends… Sleep and dream for eternity.”

With the end of his speech, Tamakai picked up a handful of dust and scattered it all over the place. As the dust subsided, the minor god stood up. He would leave their bodies there… There was no need for any elaborate burial, for the forest will soon claim all the birds and their bodies will provide food for other critters in need. Tamakai had already sensed some watchful eyes of foxes and civets lurking in the grove somewhere, waiting for their feast.

Walking back to the group, Tamakai encountered a young woman, a new face who seemed to have stumbled into them for whatever reason. She seemed to be in slight panic over the scene of death and injury and started shoving stuff in Tamakai’s hands, in which the minor gods recognized as some herbs.

“What the- How did you get here… Well, it doesn’t matter… Don’t go running back and forth into the forest, child!” Warned Tamakai to the young woman. “Night may be waning, but it’s still dark and there might be more of the abomination that attacked us lurking in the darkness somewhere. These herbs and medicine should be enough, thank you very much… Now you’d better get inside the temple and wait with the rest of us until morning arrives.” Added the minor god as he walked toward Tevan and passed all the items to him, who would be much more knowledgeable in using them than Tamakai is.

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Worthlessplebian

Worthless pleb
Svakre, The Onyx Rhino

The rotating disk of Onyx cut deep through the creature's cranium, yet still it lived. The soles of Svakre's armoured boots bit into Sybis' putrid skull. The Black Baron clung desperately to the hilt of his trusted blade, body adjusting in tandem with the monster's anguished spasms. He even managed to jostle the sword, eviscerating whatever manner of grey matter remained. Except this damnable beast still would not die! It defied him, it denied death! The Emperor's accursed magicks struck a chord with Svakre. How could it not? What better servant than one whose passion becomes intermittent with instinct, a servant with the durability to survive a thousand blows! But as the Rhino King's mentor would proclaim: "Even the surest security is only as successful as its' weakest component."

This adage was immediately proven when the Stag God's botanical power entrapped the deformed form of Sybis with roots and vines alike. Svakre leapt away as to not be ensnared alongside this disgusting horror. His legs took the brunt of the force, not wanting to risk further injury to his impaired arm, but they held strong. His yellow orbs saw the thrashing that former God did, all that struggle in vain left Svakre soured at the thought, but the deity would not question the effectiveness of the Stag God's actions.

His eyes widened when the decrepit stone that Sybis possessed cracked from the coiling strength of the natural. Then the life of Sybis ebbed away, not too dissimilar from the unexpected death of a raging river. It fell to the ground, as did the other one. This had marked the ending for the senseless conflict. Svakre's knees trembled with pain and fatigue, but he remained up-right.

The Stag God approached, offering aid to Svakre's wounded arm. An unmistakable glare landed on Tevan, as if Svakre angrily recounted his memories to discern the deity's identity. It even penetrated the God's featureless helmet. Svakre finally released the hilt of his sword. His left hand gripped his right wrist and moved his dislocated arm in front of him then reset with a crickety-crunch. His teeth grit from the overpowering pain. "Hrgh, never gonna heal right." He mumbled under his breath. With renewed locomotion, he pointed his shattered hand and fractured forearm at the Stag God. "If you so wish." He told the Deity. Normally he would not accept the aid of an enemy, but these are abnormal times. Abnormal affairs ask atypical allies.

Whether the Stag God restored Svakre's arm or not, his next inquirer would be the Sun Goddess. Her visage scrutinised Svakre's very essence, but he did not falter. He returned the favour. Unlike her however—or what Svakre most likely assumed her thoughts would be of him—he admired this warrior maiden, adorned with the skills for combat and endowed with the courage to utilise them. A vibrant breath of air in his lungs. Yet he believed he shared an element of kinship with this warrior maiden.

It is not difficult to discern the righteous anger in one's soul, especially when one is more intimate with it than family. But what caught his attention, was her mastery—or apparent mastery—of it, had Svakre not expended his reserves then he already would be spiraling down the path of wrath. He could learn from her. She returned and Svakre waited with bated breath.

"Ties... That is one word for it." An unbridled bitterness stained his tongue. "My belief in the Empire's ideals," Svakre raised his left hand, he glanced longingly into the emptiness of the palm. He returned to their gazes. "my actions for it, rendered inert and without value by his act. This travesty of trust would do well with punitive recourse." His lips expressed his thoughts aloud. "You will accrue my aid in this task, but" his hand waved to the few mortals that remained: Rufia and Felix. Cicero had disappeared into the dark forest, proving where his commitment remained. "My loyalty will remain to them and the people under my care." The emphasis on his people had been clear as crystal, his faithful followers in Kornekrin. Ones that he was forced to leave behind on this devilish errand.

Finally, Svakre spared a thought for his deceased allies. His gaze looked at them. They were dead. And my heart feels nothing for them.

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AI10100

Expert Lurker

Felix Valerius Sergius
Location: Rune Temple
Interacting with: Lekiel Lekiel Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus

It was over.

And yet, Felix could not find it in himself to celebrate the win. In fact, nothing could have prepared him for what he would see afterward. His lords— more importantly, Lord Aetius— had fallen. Even with the other goddess rushing to the remains of his Lord, he approached slowly, steadily, using his spear as a crutch. Each step felt heavy and his body ached with exhaustion and pain. But he did not stop until he was before his god's fallen body. He had neither the energy nor the will to tell the goddess to unhand his god. It didn't matter. Everyone had a right to mourn. Old grievances became inconsequential in the face of death.

He fell to his knees near the God of Air, the spear falling onto the ground beside him. His eyes glazed over with tears. Many would weep the loss of their god— without him, no one would lead Provincia Borealisia. How would they react to the fall of their lord, he wondered as his mind swam with both pain and misery. Of grief and exhaustion. His family would surely be furious, knowing that Lord Aetius had fallen around Felix and he was still alive. They had sworn their lives to him— and they would face death for him over and over again if they must.

And yet here he was.

Iron filled his senses— blood surrounding them, the golden ichor escaping his lord's body, crimson liquid dripping down his mouth.

Death.

The Valerius family was convinced that the gods do not truly die. They will come back, eventually. As long as they kept to their beliefs, as long as they continued to pray to them, their lord would come back to them. But for now, Felix knew that Lord Aetius and the others required a proper send-off. He barely heard the goddess from earlier mention that they should bury the gods' bodies. He was glad that even they would allow them to properly mourn their losses, no matter how temporary. "A burial." He muttered, grabbing his spear to push himself up but finding so little strength and his body that he had barely budged from his position. How pathetic. "I will help. I need to honor them." Regardless of his physical condition, he must persevere. This was not an option. He required himself to do it.

He had no business involving himself with these talks of stones. Felix hadn't even been aware that the gods had possessed such a thing before this fight. He felt lost. His duty to Lord Aetius had been put on indefinite hold. His duty to the emperor was shaken due to these recent events. Had this been an attempt on the lives of their supporters? Their most loyal generals? It was painful to think about— nearly impossible. However, even Felix needed to face the facts before them. And if it was true? What then? What would become of a servant like Felix? What would become his purpose?

He had barely noticed that someone had approached him until a hand had been placed on his shoulder. He jolted before biting back a groan of pain from the sudden tensing. He looked up— something seemed so familiar with this woman. However, his brain was already working overtime to properly process what she was saying. "Bleeding." He said first, bringing a hand up to his mouth and wiped it off. "Internal too, maybe." Tevan? Tevan. He would help? "I would be thankful... if he can." Because he was not prideful, too aware of his own mortality to know when to search for help. "And it is Felix. My name. Or Sergius, if you so wish."

In the distance, he could hear of Lord Svakre's conviction. The Emperor had betrayed them all. He gazed at his lord's corpse once again. His loyalty was to Lord Aetius and the Emperor had sent them on this suicide mission. If the Emperor could do it to their generals, what more to those under them? It was clear to Felix what he was required to do.

 

SilverFlight

Tende altum, volare altius
I do wish.” Tevan replied to Svakre with a nod. He crouched as a stag and then stood, on two legs as a human, his white hair pearly in the light of the moon. His freckled face was friendly and calm, and he took Svakre’s arm gently in both hands, examining the extent of the damage.
It just might heal up right, if you keep it still.

Tevan drew in a deep breath and closed one of his hands into a fist. When he opened it again, tiny, twinkling points, like grains of sand glittered in his palm. Carefully, he tipped the grains over Svakre’s broken limb. From each point, where it touched the golden-stained skin, the grain sent out thin white fibers, almost invisible in the dark night.

Don’t be afraid, there will be no trace of them when it is finished.
Tevan focused his magic, and watched as carefully, the little threads began pulling things back into place, sewing up flesh, drawing sinew, vein and even bone back into the right places.
You have a strong loyalty to your people. That is very admirable...I too, would do anything to keep my people safe. You…likely know me as Tevanus, but I am afraid I am not familiar with your name.”

After a long, focused silence Tevan swallowed; a bead of sweat formed on his brow. He was not strong enough to do this, he realized. Still, there were others who needed his help too.
Once the bleeding had stopped, Tevan reached for the earth, long tendrils of thick grass grew up to rope themselves about his hand. He transferred them to Svakre’s injured limb, creating a makeshift sling, strong but comfortable.

You will need to leave it like that for the night. I’m afraid with my power now, it is the best I can do.
He barely had time to turn when Tamakai dropped the supplied in his lap.
Wha—who gave you these?” Tevan was baffled. These herbs were all good healing plants, cut right as well. He didn’t think any of the other gods had the skills to collect them. Tevan craned his neck to look past the trickster god and caught sight of an unfamiliar girl. He hadn’t noticed her at all before, but then, it was hard to, given he was busy trying to fend off the giant creatures.

He felt something strange looking at her. Something familiar? It was hard to pin it down, and his head was already swimming from the overuse of his power.
There was still at least one mortal with serious injuries. Tevan rose to his feet slowly, swayed a bit and then started forward.
I am here.” He greeted Siuhaydis, and then he looked Felix over.

If I may.” He asked before he put his own hand gently on Felix’s other shoulder. His hand grew warm for a moment, and then he spoke.
You will be in pain for most of the night, but if you rest properly, my magic will have you back on your feet by morning.” As Tevan focused his power, his thoughts wandered. There was so much to ask these strange mortals. Healing this one, Tevan could tell there was something different about him, though, just what it was beyond his power to find. He had seen the magic however, and Solaris was right, when the party was settled, and rested, they would need answers.

I-I’m afraid I do not have the strength yet to command the earth.” Tevan whispered, when his healing work was done. “So, if we make graves, we must build them as mortals do. With our hands. But…might I suggest we begin that task at dawn? The light and the rest will do several of us a lot of good.”
Tevan took a step back, and then stumbled, suddenly dizzy. He needed rest too. Through his clothes, the ichor from the wound on his thigh glittered.

Then he remembered the herbs in his hand. The girl.
Tea. If we can fetch water for the tea, it will help the pain. Where is that mortal girl?

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myk9ma

Member
Nasrin was still trying to catch her breath, and could only stare dumbfounded as the large stag turned into the form of a man. Her jaw dropped at the beautiful sight of him healing his companions. Then she heard his name, Tevanus... Tevanus? The Tevanus?!
"A-ancestor Tevanus?" Her voice came out as barely a whisper. She tried to match up the stories she had heard from her grandmother to the great being in front of her. White hair? Check. Freckles? Check. Majestic bearing? Check. Incredibly familiar feeling like she was looking at a best friend she had not seen for years? New, but welcome. Nasrin could barely keep her composure. Her eyes then darted around checking everyone else closely. Her grandmother pounded the descriptions of every ancestor and and god that the family knew into the heads of every child of the family. Nasrin would often be quizzed after dinner and was only allowed dessert if she could answer every question correctly.
Flowing blue hair, silver eyes that cracked with lightning, and one of the most beautiful faces she had ever seen. That could be none other then Ancestor Siuhaydis.
Brown hair, blue-grey eyes that seemed to cut into her very being, and a powerful stance that could not hide her strength. That would have to be Ancestor Solaris.
Red hair, and pale blue eyes, with a thin build. the women's appearance did not ring any bells for Nasrin.
A scar across his nose, and he said his name was Felix? That was not the name of anyone she knew.
Silver hair with blue highlights and bright blue eyes. It took her a moment but that should be Ancestor Tamakai.
The largest man she has ever seen, with a bushy brown beard, and bright golden eyes that she could not look at for long. She did not know many of the gods as well as the ancestors, but searching the back of her mind this seemed to match the description of Svakre

Nasrin scrambled to get what she needed out of her pack, and took stock of the flowers in her hair making sure to pick only the best ones. She quickly ran by stopping by each god for a moment.
"Ancestor Tevanus, this is an apple I picked from our best tree, it has been kept cool and fresh until this very moment." She gave him a wide smile, and gently placed the apple in his hands. (As long as he accepted it.) She had to purposefully pull herself away to move onto the next person.
"Ancestor Siuhaydis, there is currently no time for a song or dance, this is not incense but is the best smelling rose I found on my journey." Looking up close at her face she blushed slightly, and carefully passed the flower to her hands, making sure she wasn't pricked by any of the thorns. (As long as she accepts it.) She moved to the next person.
"Ancestor Solaris, this sunflower is the child of the tallest and strongest flower I passed while traveling." She gave her a warm smile and simply handed over the flower trying to copy her strong stance, (As long as she accepts it.) Before moving on.
"Ancestor Tamakai, these wild blackberries were the sweetest of all that I found." She passed him a small pouch filled to the brim. (As long as he accept it.) She looked at the magpie on his shoulder as raised her hand for second wanting to touch the soft looking feathers. But she pulled her eyes away sadly and moved on.
"Great god S-Svakre," She stumbled slightly, then pronounced his name slowly making sure she got it correct. "I could never have guessed I would meet a god like you here, otherwise I would have brought something more proper." She bowed slightly while passing him a small spring of thyme, hoping he would accept it. "In the language of flowers, Thyme stands for courage and strength." If he takes it she would give him a warm genuine smile and move on. (If he does not, her smile will falter slightly, but she would gently put the thyme down in front of him before moving on.
She gave each of the, what she could only assume, humans a yellow rose. "They mean friendship, it is nice to meet you!" She gave both of them a large smile. "Though we met in difficult circumstances I hope that we can be friend I am Nasrin. I will get water and start the tea."

She ran back into the woods towards a small creek she had heard when moving towards the clearing with everyone in it. She took a small pot out of her pack and while waiting for it to fill she splashed some of the cold, clear, water on her face trying to ground herself. She had just met some of the most powerful being in existence, she knew she should probably be nervous but she was just too excited! Countless questions ran through her head; How deep does the earth go? Do clouds feel like fluffy? What does fire taste like? Do bird get cold? What does a rhino feel like? Agh, has was she supposed to know which one to ask first? She shook her head and brought the pot back to the clearing. She started a small fire, and set about making tea.
"It should be done shortly, just make sure you only drink one cup though because it can upset your stomach."

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Arnalia

Junior Member
Rufia Dolabellae

Everything that happened did not matter.
Not the earth shattering charge of Lord Svakre, whose cry of fury reached the sky, not the sudden appearance of what could only be two old tyrant—a stag and an armored woman—saving her life from the monster. Not even the fact she nearly died. Nothing.

For she was witnessed to the end of her gods.

The first friends she made, the ones that kept her company when life at the temple was tough at first. At the time she confided all of her sorrows to them, the weather being too hot, her superiors dismissing her as a spoiled noble girl, the others acolytes not liking her, and the way her nearly zealous faith made most southerners shunned her for what they considered as weird and annoying. She did mellow, but her faith did not. It had burned strong enough for Rufia to try and convert old gods followers in hiding. Every new adherent making her giddy for months. Those that refused, the rare one that had made so much sense it disturbed Rufia, who could only rationalize their faith as misguided but sincere. The one that made her rethink her fidelity to the Empire, had nonetheless never shook her faith in it gods. They were her only family when her father—who only loved the gods as much as himself—got rid of what he considered a burden, which Rufia always knew had been her. A useless daughter, not strong enough to become a soldier, not intelligent enough to be remarked by a prestigious academy, and not even charming enough to tempt more powerful nobles to take her as a concubine let alone a wife.

The gods, her anchored in life, could die. They could abandon her.


The battle was over. They were alive.
But for Rufia they had lost.
They had lost everything and more.
She looked at the ground eyes cloudy and slowly, sank to her knees, losing the grip on her bow. As the adrenaline disappeared she felt dizzy, numb all over, her chin quaking as she restrained her tears. Immediately Rufia covered her face with her hands, trying to control her ragged breathing.

She did not have the courage to look.
She did not have the courage to look and see what remained of those she had thought would always be there for her. For how could she ?

How could her eyes look at what Lord Sybis had become ?
His face, pure terror, would not leave her mind, and his words- Oh! Lord Sybis she lamented. Even his last words were for them, for their safety and life. She was no soldier and thus only prayed and made sacrifices to him on behalf of others, yet she felt for him and them just as strongly. For who would guard them ? Encourage them and keep them safe in harrowing battle ? In battles were victory seemed all but impossible ? Who will make sure that wars were costly but those who fought them could live to see another day ? To who could worry mother and father pray to guard their children fighting ? Who will allow them to return home safe ?
Who would do that now ?

How could she stand to see Lord Antonius, his dignified face the one that had saved millions of life in the Empire and prevented plagues and diseases everywhere he went. The one from which all children of the empire could learn from his priest how to make bandages and heal wounds. The one that generously shared his knowledge with healers all over, allowing her sick mother to see another day when one of Lord Antonius numerous travelling priests helped her with a remedy the destroyer of diseases had invented himself. Now his priests would have no new stories of miraculous healings to inspire the sicks and wounded to hold on to life. Who will protect the empire from diseases ? Invent new remedies and concoctions ? Who will guard it as well as he did ?
Who would do that now ?

How could she bear the view of Lord Aetius, his beautiful and youthful face now smeared with blood, the charming smile she hear so much about now gone. The festivals, the plays, the songs, the dances, the out of this world parties he was so adored for, gone. Never would little girls and boys be able to dream about attending one like she did when little, daydreaming about being a princess. The festivities and cheers invented by him, ones Rufia remember like it was yesterday. Those rare days when she did not have to hunt nor forage, for she could gauge herself on meats, fishs, dried fruits and cakes with honey, all freely given, until her stomach bursted. Those rare days the only were her father would be lenient and let Rufia do as she pleased as well as being a little softer to her mother. Who will bring wind as well as cheer to the common people ? Who will love mortal as much as he did ?
Who would do that now ?

How could she support to think about the consequences the dead of Lord Athlios would have ? Albeit more foreboding she saw little backward towns with dirt roads and old wooden house transform into thriving cities at the height of technology when he arrived. Before she went to the South, every days she could see another shop open or a house be remade anew as the familly head had found work in the numerous construction being made. What would happen to all of his workers ? To all the marvelous inventions he had planned ? Who will improve the North now ? Guide it and nurture it potential ? Believe in humans capacity as much as he did ?
Who would do that now ?

As her mind and thoughts began to swirled a voice snapped her out of it for a moment.

"They mean friendship, it is nice to meet you!" She gave Rufia a smile she did not see as she looked at the yellow rose. "Though we met in difficult circumstances I hope that we can be friend I am Nasrin. I will get water and start the tea."

The sweet feminine voice said as Rufia barely had the time to nod and attempt a small smile that cracked as soon as it appeared when the young woman left. She took the yellow rose in her hand. Friend ? Images of all the acolytes that she considered friends flashed before her eyes. What would she tell them ? What would she tell her Temple ? That all of their gods were dead ?! That she was there and had failed to protect them ?!

She paused for a moment and her eyes widened a bit. Wait. Not all. She tentatively raised her head and saw Lord Svakre, wounded but alive. She could almost not believe it as she saw the god falling under the monster but here he was. Breathing. Alive. Thanks the emperor at least one was alive ! Rufia faltered a little. Was it really thank to the Emperor ?

Lost in her thoughts she had not hear anything the others were saying until now, but even the young girl knew that those stones had been given by him. That Lord Sybis—Peace be with him—last words were a warning to destroy them, he also had one. Rufia furiously racked her mind for any logical excuses for this carnage. Calmer but not yet ready to move she slowly shook her head in disbelief as the most plausible but unthinkable explanation creeped her way into her mind.

Deep down she knew the truth, the reason her beloved gods were dead, all the signs were here and naive as she was she had missed them. No big escort, no arms or materials provided, and most glaringly the whole mission as a whole. Why send such important gods for what was only rumors and hearsays ? Far away from their territories that needed them and more vulnerable to attacks away from it ?

If not to dispose of them

The Emperor, the god of gods, ruler of this land and absolute authority of all temples including her own, the one she prayed and sacrificed to first as a sign of respect, had betrayed them.









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Lekiel

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

”I am Siuhaydis, rest easy now Felix.” The goddess replied, her voice warm and comforting like an evening summer wind.

As she watched the earth God work his wonders on the wounded soldier, Siuhaydis found her focus straying more to the battered imperial soldier. It wasn’t that he was comely to the eyes, quite the opposite in fact; his armour in shambles, body worn, cut and bruised. But as worse for wear as he looked, she’d a feeling that such afflictions were the least of his worries.

The Goddess of Air found herself drawn past his scarred nose to the eyes, fine lines betraying the constant determination and unwavering spirit that no doubt was a mainstay on his features. But that had faded in light of recent events, leaving behind something akin to the lost. One who’d their world ripped out from under their feet.

Perhaps in a time long past, she’d might’ve been aloof. Distancing herself from the struggles of a single mortal, an unfortunate but necessary stance, lest she get mired in a bog of neverending short term struggles. But maybe the Goddess of Change had indeed changed, or perhaps there was something about this Felix that drew her to him. A something that felt eerily similar to the bond that she had shared with that… forsaken wretch who’d betrayed her, similar. . . But yet different.

“I-I’m afraid I do not have the strength yet to command the earth.” Tevan whispered, breaking her reverie. “So, if we make graves, we must build them as mortals do. With our hands. But…might I suggest we begin that task at dawn? The light and the rest will do several of us a lot of good.”

“You have done well Tevan, my words were misplaced dear brother,” Siuhaydis smiled wryly, guilty for accusing her fellow God for weakness. At his comment about his weakened state, she was about to agree but held her tongue. For Tevan had spoke of their weakness so openly infront of the enemy. She glanced at Felix. It took her a second to decide that now was not the time to be circumspect.

“Perhaps we are still recovering from the imprisonment. I too do not feel quite whole yet.”

Siuhaydis continued to keep Felix company even after Tevan was done. With her wrath sated, her thoughts were again in full motion as they were wont to do. The carnage that had occurred, it seemed by design. Something about stones and the odd looking ornaments tied to the abominations. Clearly the imperials were caught off guard. Would’ve been slaughtered even, if not for the others. And as much as the wound in her side dug deep, she felt sorry for her erstwhile foes. Loyal to a fault. Death and betrayal for their devotion. It was something which the goddess could not comprehend. Something she detested and drew her ire. This emperor was the root of it all. A rot on the land that had to be cut away.

The goddess was once again so lost in her thoughts that she’d almost failed to notice the appearance of another mortal. At least not until she’d approached her, emanating warmth and carrying an offering.

"Ancestor Siuhaydis, there is currently no time for a song or dance, this is not incense but is the best smelling rose I found on my journey."

Though taken aback and not a little confused about her sudden appearance and strange honorific usage, the goddess nevertheless accepted the proffered gift graciously, offering a smile in return at the blushing girl. She brought the fragrant blossom up close for a whiff, allowing it to disappear in her hands into little wisps of light.

“May your steps be light and the winds fill your sail young one. Thank you for the gift.” Siuhaydis offered the girl a blessing as she accepted the gift.

 

Vulpes lagopus

Pretend this is something clever.
Solaris

Gods are not meant to fall came an ironic reprise of Solaris' earlier thoughts as she watched the kneeling soldier bid farewell to his former lord. Ælfweard had never ceased to be a friend of the common people, it seemed, even after his rise to power. This was a private moment; she would not intrude. "They chose this path," Siuhaydis stated simply, having reached some resolution following her private ritual. What had this foreign god meant to her, Solaris wondered, sparing a second glance for his tall form, which bore a sense of nobility even his grotesque injuries could not fully disguise. Rumors had reached her during the war of a blond god of pestilence wreaking havoc first in Tevan's domain and then in the far North, joined by Ælfweard, following a fraught confrontation at her own border. If this was he...

What did you give him that I couldn't? she demanded of his still and silent face. No answer came, nor ever would. Alone, she must piece together whatever lessons might be gleaned from the past.

It was not the nature of the Lady of Change to nurse a grudge, yet her antipathy had doubtless been well-deserved. Solaris knew well the surest way to bring the Northern Tempest to her knees, and so could venture a guess as to what her sister goddess had been forced to endure. Far be it from her to invoke such tortured memories. That was her tale to tell or keep as she chose. She would not pry. Though she had not leant her aid in battle, Solaris did not fault her. The goddess' changeable emotions did not always accord with those around her, but had her friends been seriously threatened, she would surely have stepped in on their behalf.

At the suggestion of a fire, Solaris merely nodded, deliberating as Siuhaydis turned her attention to the injured mortal. Though fire might deter any beasts lurking about, burial would be more proper. Most creatures seemed to have fled.

As she appraised the other warrior god, he seemed to do the same to her, though she could only guess at what had been decided behind his inscrutable helmet. He spoke then of ideals, for which he had served the Empire until his trust was betrayed. She nodded her firm assent to a course of retribution. More intriguing still was his dedication to the peoples entrusted to him, including those who had accompanied him on this journey. Here was an honor worthy of respect. This one, at least, had not forgotten what it was to be a god.

"I, too, understand this well," she answered, after Tevan also expressed his approval. Loyalty to his own domain was commendable... though it was built on stolen lands. This was an injustice, but to rectify every injustice in this case might threaten the foundations of order. What could be done? After one hundred years it was not reasonable to expect Averus to be restored to its former state. Indeed, the old law would seem as foreign to mortals now as the Imperial law would have in the beginning. For now they were united, but if this alliance were not to fragment the moment the Emperor was deposed they ought not to interfere with this formidable warrior's dominion. A policy ought to be developed for such cases. In the end, her duty was to ensure wise and just rule, not dictate the peculiarities of local government. Perhaps that bridge could be crossed when she came to it.

Whether he recognized them was not clear, but Tevan seemed to think he might, mentioning his name more as courtesy than introduction. So, she followed suit. "If you recognize my compatriot, you must also know me as Solaris, Goddess of the Sun. And..." she continued as Tevan worked his healing magic on his injured arm, looking to where the red-haired archer knelt with face buried in her hands, "If you will not object to a word of advice from such as I, I would ask that you speak a word of comfort to those mortals who accompanied you. This bereavement is unlike any other. You, alone, are their Lord now. They can look to no one else. You must show them the way forward."

How did it feel to be so vulnerable, and to see one's protectors fall? How had her followers felt when they saw her surrender? Not all were as brave as one High Priestess with eyes like shards of ice...

Once the sling was completed, Tamakai appeared with a collection of herbs, drawing attention to a new arrival- another human, with the same strange quality Ralis and the two Imperials possessed. If she wanted for any evidence of Fate's hand, here it was. She watched the young woman bustle about, but pulled her attention away as Tevan rose unsteadily, watchful should he need support. Clearly he had already overexerted himself, but she knew well it would be futile to try to dissuade him from helping anyone in need.

Without his command of earth, building graves would be a tiring, time consuming task. Despite her weariness Solaris was resigned to it, but she could not do so alone, and few were in a state to offer assistance. Resting first would be necessary. Daylight would also ease the undertaking. "Very well. We will lay the fallen to rest at dawn." It would be fitting, in a way- the sun setting on life in this world, rising on life in the next.

As if summoned by Tevan's query, the newcomer made a reappearance, flitting between each of the gods present, beginning with Tevan, offering some suitable gift for each of them along with a strange greeting. Too dumbfounded to reply, Solaris accepted the sunflower mutely. Even the Imperial, whom she addressed as Svakre, was not left out. Though she was surprised to see him, she did not question his presence among them, nor, clearly, did she see the Averus gods as enemies. And why did she call them Ancestor? It was not impossible for a god to have offspring, but none of them had done so. Most curious.

Mind brimming with questions, she watched the girl as she ran off once again to prepare the aforementioned tea. In the meantime, she twined the stem her gift between her fingers. This finally overcame her resistance and drew her into memories of times now lost. She could almost smell the sun-baked earth and grasses of the Eastern Plains; see the dark silhouettes of dancers against flames, their sprawling shadows matching every wild step; feel the stiffness of a quill and the crackle of new parchment. Its brief exile concluded, the dull ache of regret took up residence in her heart once again. Even so, she could scarcely despise such a sincere gesture.

When, at last, the girl's frantic activity wound to a halt over a heating pot, Solaris approached and crouched down beside her, lending a little of her power to the fire so that the water would boil more quickly. "Your tributes are most welcome, child. How came you to know of us, and why do you call us 'Ancestor'?"

SilverFlight SilverFlight Lekiel Lekiel Arnalia Arnalia AncientBird AncientBird AI10100 AI10100

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AI10100

Expert Lurker

Felix Valerius Sergius
Location: Rune Temple
Interacting with: SilverFlight SilverFlight Lekiel Lekiel

Upon her introduction, Felix was filled with a surge of shame. Siuhaydis. That was why she had looked so familiar— he had passed by the statue that had been erected in honor of her previous accomplishments. While he knew that she had been a cause of destruction, he also knew that she had been a kind goddess before. One who had protected his ancestors before she had fallen into the mindset of tyranny. But, right now as Tevan headed toward him to heal him, Felix began to think that he might have been fed lies. If the Emperor could so easily get rid of his own generals like that, why would he trust anything in their history?

And despite being Imperials, these Old Gods had still helped them. That had to count for something. A certain kind of warmth spread from where Tevan had placed his hand towards his entire body. He wondered, for a moment, if it was the magic or if it was fondness. He didn't dwell on it for any longer than that.

"Affirmative. Thank you, Sir Tevan. I will pay you back for your kindness." And yet despite that, Felix could not bring himself to call them through such titles. At the end of the day, they were not his gods.

It would be a sleepless night, he figured. As Tevan and Siuhaydis spoke about their lack of power, Felix decided to turn his attention to himself. The magic hadn't taken its effect yet. Any attempt to move felt like he was trudging through mud all around him. He hadn't felt this exhausted in so long. Even during his demon hunts, they weren't this bad. He was never caught off guard this horribly before. It was shameful but he was at least thankful that whatever had given this power over air had saved him multiple times during that fight. Without it, he was confident he would have been nothing but a splatter on the floor.

Even after Tevan had left, Siuhaydis stayed. It felt... comforting. In the back of his mind, he knew that there was something to say. A show of respect, of sorts. Perhaps more gratitude? Perhaps even a search of what the truth was?

Before he could make up his mind, a girl he had not seen before had approached SIuhaydis and offered a flower before scampering off to the next god. "Was she with you?" He voiced out in concern. She certainly did not come from his group. The Forest was dangerous and was no place for another human to just be walking around to grab flowers and whatnot. And yet, she seemed perfectly fine... if a little rattled from the number of gods in one place.

However, she eventually came back with a yellow rose and passed it to him. He reached out to grab it, gritting down his teeth as a sharp pain shot through his arm and to his entire body. "Likewise, Nasrin. Thank you." He looked down at the rose once again, thumbing its petals. Friendship. He looked towards the temple. He hadn't seen Cicero come out. He doubted he was there anymore. For all that man was, Felix at least knew that Cicero would have come out already and questioned his wellbeing if he was still there. As long as he was safe. As long as he was alive, Felix did not mind.

He shifted his position so that he was sitting more comfortably, at the expense of a few grunts and pain. As Nasrin went on to brew some tea, Felix let out a sigh. "It was supposed to have been a simple recon mission." He said, looking down at the ground. "I wonder what stories the Emperor will spin now. Was this what had befallen you and your compatriots, Lady Siuhaydis?" Curiosity had won out. Were they also besieged by gods-turned-demons during their fall? The Emperor seemed perfectly capable of doing it at any point in time, after all.

 

Worthlessplebian

Worthless pleb
Svakre, The Onyx Rhino

Svakre's head was raised as if his towering height had not been enough to look down on the Stag God. His damaged and war-scarred arm held firmly in Tevan's grasp, his sorcery began to manifest itself. Aurum kernels that glistened with shining benignity. It was then that Svakre remembered the quintessential identity of the Stag God. Tevan a Central Deity, or perhaps he was THE Central Deity. Such spontaneity caught Svakre off-guard, his knowledge had been from his mentor before their pathetic fall at the hands of the Empire and subsequently, what little information he could scrounge that wasn't ablated away from the records.

The miraculous healing had almost escaped his attention if it weren't for the reknitting of his muscle and sinew, the remodeling of his bones held an abnormal disquieting innervation. It was not pain, but an altogether different sensation that filled his neural wiring. Beads of sweat colder than the dark night trailed down his neck. His nostrils flared as the Rhinoceros Lord exhaled uncertainty from his body. The process resulted in his arm being dressed by a thin sheath of whiteness that held his arm together. His history accustomed him to injuries and the methods to their healing, immediately his arm became rigid like stone as he looked once more to Tevanus. "I am Svakre, though my enemies knew me as The Onyx Rhino.." Confidence with a shroud of pride over it.

His arm was then enwrapped by the soil and the vegetation, another parting delivery from the Stag God. Unquestionably kind of him; to aid a foe that seconds ago would have sundered him, had circumstances not be altered by the Emperor's imbecilic idea. His uninjured hand tightened with fury, pectoral becoming stiffened with the frigidness of hate. But the Solar Goddess Solaris' words anchored the raging rhino to hearth of the Earth. "Yes, my memory is keen of you. I was but a calf of divinity when I first heard of your tales from my mentor." A nod alongside his response. "Your input holds much weight," His golden eyes trailed over to Rufia and Felix. His tired legs carried him over to the distraught priestess. An armoured knee was placed next to her form. Svakre looked ahead into the dim night. "Priestess." There had been a totality in the way he addressed her, but also understanding. "Your heart aches and your loyalty bruised. As a priest, you outpaced your duties; went above and beyond what many would call necessary. And how were you rewarded? A dagger lodged in your back." Svakre's head travels upward to gaze at the stars. "As have I." He sighed longingly at what can never be taken back. "But the world will continue uncaringly at our dilemma, dismissive of your plight. But know, now and forever more, that I will be alongside you. And they," His helmet-covered head turned to look at her, radiating a warmth that was cold to the skin but warm to the soul."departed as they are now, will be there with you. Their physical remains are there, but their spirit will always reside within you. So I tell you now to rise. Rise with the fire of Athlios, be as cunning as Antonius, and shine bright with the fervor of Aetius. For in doing so, you honour their memory. And when even one person remembers a friend or God then they are never truly gone. And with this, you put your faith in me and I put my faith... In you."

His off-hand wraps around the little priestess. "But I am not a fool to believe this will ease your spiritual agony. Only you can heal yourself, and when you do then I will wait for you to rejoin this new cause." If Svakre had never been sincere before, then let this moment be the most sincere he has ever been to anyone. He rouse from his knee and gave a final look to Rufia, clasps unbuckled and for the first time since their incursion into this forest, Svakre revealed his face. A smile of confidence flashed before the shade shako returned to Svakre's head.

The Rhino God moved once again to find Felix. The Wind's Hunter resided alongside the higher Wind deity. How ironic that Aetius' loyal beast trapper now rests with his master's polar opposite in their domain. His acute ears picked up the tail end of their discussion between the Wind Goddess and the hunter.

"Very likely," The answer is obviously bitter tasting, but it was the truth. "The next ploy would be for my followers and the followers of our fallen to be either assimilated, ostracised, or destroyed. But if the Emperor believes us to be dead then he will become decadent and lazy in his efforts. And I know intimately that my worshippers—not as large as my peers—would try to resist for as long as possible. But without me, they would surely befall to peril and I will follow suit. For what is a soldier without an ally near him? Or a general without troops to command. Thus I ask you, Felix, will you entrust me with your skills?"

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AncientBird

Reptile with wings and plumes.
Tamakai, God of Entertainment and Tricks

The new young mortal seemed to not heed Tamakai’s warning, or perhaps she was being distracted by whatever she was digging out of her belongings. The young woman then proceeded to go up to everyone in the area, gods and mortals alike, and offered them various items. When she came up to Tamakai once again, she offered him a bunch of blackberries.

"Ancestor Tamakai, these wild blackberries were the sweetest of all that I found." Said the girl before she ran off, heading to the imperial rhino next to greet and offer him something.

“Err… Thank you, I am pleased by your offering, child… May Averus bless you.” Spoke Tamakai after he snapped out of his confusion after receiving an unexpected, yet welcomed gift from this stranger.

“What a peculiar drop of sunshine…” Spoke Tamakai to other old gods in the vicinity. “She seems to sincerely worship both us and the imperial god. I have never seen any mortals who do that… Also why did she address us as ‘ancestor’?” With his word, Tamakai shot a few of the blackberries into his mouth. They were indeed very delectable and fresh, better than those Tamakai would gather from the wild briar patch whenever he was bored. The rest of the blackberries were dissolved and turned into energy in which the minor god absorbed.

Tamakai overheard the conversation between his old gods friends and the imperial spear man, who he had caught his name as Felix. Felix had revealed that his party was ordered by the emperor to come on an investigating mission in the Divine Wood and that he had no idea of what the emperor’s true intention was about… From what Tamakai heard, it seemed the emperor hadn’t been quite honest to his underlings. He seemed to fabricate lies and spun the stories of what had really happened during the empire’s conquest to these newer generations of mortals. No wonder how this spear man and the others of his party eagerly came here without a doubt and ended up facing such devastation…

“For your answer, no… These abominations had never shown up before.” Said Tamakai as he walked in on the conversation. “But I am not surprised if this is one of the schemes your emperor had just thought up in the hope to eradicate the old way once and for all.”

The minor god loomed over the imperial spear man. Tamakai’s eyes were reflected by the memory of the past and intensity of his emotion as he looked at Felix.

“I don’t know what lies and fabrications your emperor has been feeding you… But ever since his predecessor first stepped into Averus, he and his culture had only ever thirsted for conquest. They rooted up forests after forest, sought every way and created any contraptions that would allow them to gain power… Subjugated and dictated people of free will into working dogs that do not question. Not to mention the way he allowed his gods to take the sacrifice of innocents’ lives, willing or not… Do you know that we gods of the old way couldn’t do the same even if we or our subjects wanted to? Taking people’s life will eventually corrupt us, mutate us into horrifying demons that have no wits and self control. Yet, the imperialist gods got away with such practice for all these times…” Tamakai paused, then continued on with his words.

“Some of the minor gods abandoned the old way and sided with the empire because of this. I do not exactly know the reasons for every one of them-” Tamakai stopped to make a quick glance at the rhino before continuing on. “-But from those that I do, they thought that the usurpers had found a new power and that they had successfully triumphed over the laws of nature. I for one, do not believe as such… It’s just eerie…And wrong, even without a moral point of view… And now the empire has even created the gemstone that turned the bearer into abomination!...”

Tamakai then turned around, yet he still glared back from the corner of his eyes. “I do not expect you to believe in an old god like me… That’s what your society has been teaching you your entire life, yes? But I hope you are at least able to figure out what to do next now that you have seen some questionable thing with your own eyes… For a bird-” Said Tamakai as he nodded at the dead body of the abominations. “-that is enough reason to take flight…”

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SilverFlight SilverFlight Lekiel Lekiel Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian
 
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Arren_Wraith of Dragons

Wraith of the Dragon
Stilf leaned against a tree. His side was but a raging fire. His arms lead. His legs but weak saplings bending in a hurricane. The hilt of his sword was bloody, slipping from his trembling fingers. His fear but puffs of smoke, there, but unseen. He slashed through the undergrowth, grunting with effort. The snarling of a beast followed behind him.
Why am I weak now, he thought bitterly. After all my campaigns, after all the battles, now I run from a beast?
His pride buckled under the thought of retreat, but his experience told him that he would lose in the forest. Slashing through the trees, the image of his mother and his sister flew through his mind. Strength seemed to flow through his limbs, and the pain slowly melted away, like smoke from a smoldering fire. He cut through the brush, focusing his mind on each step, daring not to trip, for that would mean his life. He could hear the heavy, passionate breathing of the beast behind him, and a plan formed in his mind. He could do it.
The trees started to thin out, and he became aware of a clearing up ahead. Straining his newfound strength, he blasted past the last tree, the beast but arm's length away from him. Putting his left knee forward and digging his heels in the ground, he came swiftly to a stop. Swinging his sword with brutal strength he charged at the beast, cutting it clean in half.
Falling forward, he caught himself and leaped up, sword at ready. But when he saw the beast lying dead, the power that inhabited him seemed to vanish. His pain came back, and so did the exhaustion. Looking up, he saw people, talking.
Stepping forward, he reached out a hand.
Help... Me...
Darkness enshrouded his mind and he sank into a torturous slumber, his sword falling with a brutal clang, soft to his failing mind.
 

SilverFlight

Tende altum, volare altius
When Svakre gave his name Tevan returned the grave introduction with a smile. “Then, perhaps, given the circumstances, I may call you Svakre.”
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'Sir Tevan?'” The god repeated, trying to dampen the mirth in his eyes. He hid a small laugh behind his hand. “There is no repayment, dear one. Or, that title at least was payment enough.” He chuckled again, unable to contain it this time. It was not a time for laughter he knew, but, in the time before his imprisonment, the god of compassion had learned to take joy where it was found.
AI10100 AI10100

Nasrin returned with her gifts. Tevan blinked down at the mortal girl, and at the glossy, fresh apple.
An offering?” He held out both hands and his fingers closed about its cool skin as she left it to him.
Tevan smiled. “I accept.” Slowly he raised the fruit to his lips and bit. His eyes lit up as he tasted its sweetness.

It’s wonderful!” The apple shimmered, and then it vanished. He could feel the strength return to him a little. The act of generosity had given him power. The feeling spread through his hands and up through his heart, ancient and familiar.
myk9ma myk9ma

She stopped at each of the gods, and then, to Tevan’s surprise, she offered something to Svakre. Tevan hadn’t the slightest idea what the stoic god would do, Tevan knew the empire took their power from mortals in a…more destructive way. He waited and watched with curiosity.
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Once she had made her rounds and busied herself making tea, Tevan gave her a warm smile. “It would please me greatly to be your friend.”
Something drew him to her more than the others, though all held that odd pull. He wondered if she had powers too.
Felix asked his questions and as Tevan settled at the fire nearby, he pondered them. Tamakai was one of the first to answer and Tevan knit his brow as the trickster spoke.

Tamakai peace, please. They have been through much tonight. We do not need to bring past wounds into our words.” He looked at the Imperials, gods and humans alike, but he did not see enemies.

Every being has their own story, and this shapes the choices they make, until you understand the story, you cannot understand the being, and it is unwise to pass judgement.” He turned back to the questions Felix asked.
AncientBird AncientBird

On the large creatures Tamakai speaks true, we encountered nothing like what you faced.” He told them gravely. “Only it is odd that any mortal should be wandering here unaccompanied…I feel…a strange pull toward her…to you all, actually,” He spoke to their human companions. “But the draw is stronger for only one. Tell me Nasrin, where is it you come from?

He turned back to Felix. “I fear the best way to learn more of what happened would be to find a village, and one of those black eagles the emperor uses to send reports…he does still use them? It has been so long, I can no longer be sure…

Svakre’s prediction of the fate of his own people made Tevan frown. “I do not want to see your people destroyed.

Tevan was then silent for a moment, thinking of a great many things. The mortals, the creatures, and the imperials seemingly left for dead…there were many questions here, Tevan couldn’t help but wonder if somehow, they were linked.

As far as I’m concerned,” He began slowly, but loud enough so the group heard him. “I have lost the war I fought so long ago. I have no wish to start it again…not if doing so will bring more misery and suffering to the mortals I swore to protect. I cannot speak for the other gods in this matter, however, the happenings here are...alarming. I would know more of what the emperor plans. I propose that we rest, in the morning, we bury the fallen, and begin the journey South to the nearest village, gather information. It would also allow the four of us old gods to ah…become accustomed to the changes made in our absence. Then…perhaps I have a new destination that may provide us some answers regarding those curious stones.

Arnalia Arnalia Vulpes lagopus Vulpes lagopus Lekiel Lekiel Worthlessplebian Worthlessplebian Lioness075 Lioness075 AI10100 AI10100 myk9ma myk9ma Frozen Thyme Frozen Thyme AncientBird AncientBird

He had only just made his proposition when a figure pressed through the thick underbrush…another mortal, and he was hurt.

Well, that is what normally happens to humans who try to traverse this forest at night.” Tevan rose from where he had been resting at Nasrin’s fire. Thanks to the young mortal’s gift he felt well enough to use his powers at least a little more, and knelt to see to the man’s injuries.

Either a demon, else just a regular beast. It is dead, if the blood on him is anything to go by. No serious injuries, else, nothing that I cannot repair.

Tevan used his gift lightly, and then, he lifted the full-grown man in his arms as easily as one would lift a child. Tevan’s human form was not tall, and it looked almost comical, yet he set the stranger down by the fire gently, using his gift to grow a pillow of soft moss.

More humans wandering in the woods…it is almost as if they really were drawn here…
Arren_Wraith of Dragons Arren_Wraith of Dragons
 

Vulpes lagopus

Pretend this is something clever.
Solaris

On witnessing Svakre the Rhino-God's surprisingly tender words to the young priestess, Solaris was struck by a series of apparent non-sequiturs. First, there was kinship. Such sentiments would scarce have rung clearer from her own lips. If he had heard tell of her in his youth, he must have been an Averus native... one untainted by the depravities of human sacrifice, yet, a traitor. What could drive an honorable warrior to side with this corrupt regime? Deception, clearly, had played a part, but she had witnessed little of honor or nobility in their bloody conquest- certainly, none worth admiring. Did he, perhaps, foresee defeat and side with the winners, in order to protect his own? That, she could understand. Understand, if not condone.

A brazen smile in the face of looming strife was illuminated in a brief glimpse of Svakre's proud visage- certainly, one to inspire confidence. Honor was a quality of conduct, rather than principle. One could fight honorably even in service of an unjust cause. How this contradiction manifested in his case was an enigma to be probed in due time. For the moment, compatible goals sufficed for an understanding.

Connections were drawn between the Central Gods' defeat and such machinations as they had just witnessed by the one called Felix. Tamakai spoke his piece, sharply elucidating the miseries he had witnessed at the hands of the Empire. Though emotion guided his thoughts, he was not wrong- yet Tevan was also right, in that now was no time to challenge or hold to account. These unfortunate witnesses must come to terms with these events on their own, and understanding would sooner make allies than confrontation.

Having observed the other gods' acceptance of Nasrin's offerings, Solaris, too, relinquished her hold on the shape and form that stirred her memory, only too glad to ease her fatigue. As Tevan made note of the influx of mortals radiating strange energies, her eyes came to rest on the red-haired priestess. The Earth God was drawn in particular to this kind child who came bearing gifts of nature's bounty along with the scent of soil, Siuhaydis seemed to have developed a rapport with the soldier who had withstood the abomination's attacks by some invisible means, and Solaris felt beckoned by the very one who had set fire to her arrows. A pattern was evident, but as to what it could portend... Solaris turned her questioning gaze to the stars above, even knowing the attempt to fathom heavenly designs tended to bring more confusion than clarity.

Anticipating a grim fate for his own subjects and those of the other forsaken Imperial deities, the Rhino-God requested fealty of the now masterless soldier. "I, too, would not wish the innocent to suffer," she said. "I will lend what aid I can, toward that end." Yes, Averus was not, first and foremost, a political system, or a body of laws, but the people whom these were meant to serve. Was it possible that others, like Svakre, had not forgotten this? Might others be persuaded to their cause? They could not yet know.

Tevan's plan was to head south to gather information on the current state of affairs and to follow a lead regarding the stones. "I second this course. As always, I will do as I must. I hear the cry of injustice from from every corner of Imperial dominion. I cannot yet walk the path of peace, while the blood of innocents stains the soil of Averus, her people are crushed beneath the yoke of oppression, and her spirit begs for vengeance. Reconnaissance is the first step in war." Tevan would act as a force of peace and preservation, as he should. Siuhaydis could embody both destruction and renewal, passion or passivity, and it was never certain how she would sway. Solaris knew where her path lay. As a wildfire burns away old growth to make way for new life, so, too, would a century of evils be purged in the fires of conflict. There was no other way. But she would not force this burden on another. "However, I lay no claim on any of you. Whoever wishes may follow me in this course when the time comes." Her gaze rested for a moment on Svakre- they were of one accord in this, she presumed. "Regardless, I believe this mystery of the stones is of central importance."

She greeted the arrival of yet another peculiar human with more bland acceptance than interest, a sign her tolerance for new developments was wearing thin. Now was the time to rest, reflect, and plan. There were many questions to ask of Svakre, not to mention the priestess, but those had best wait until morning. Once the new arrival was taken care of, she rose from her place beside the fire. "It would be prudent to set a watch tonight, not least for the sake of any other mortals who may be wandering about, as well as any beasts that might take an interest in these remains. It is also high time we see to our friends inside the temple. I propose we turn in and continue all discussions tomorrow. I will take first watch."

That said, she turned, strode to the edge of the courtyard and began to patrol the perimeter, alert for any sound or sign of movement amid the trees. She was tired, so very tired, but sleep would be impossible amidst such a maelstrom of thoughts. Mysteries upon mysteries! Foremost among them was the riddle of the stones. Intuition suggested this might be at the heart of the Usurper's ill-gotten power. To create abominations, and to prevent their creation; to warp souls, and to preserve them... Surely, there was a connection. If they could grasp that thread, they may, in fact, have the key to unraveling the whole scheme.

An enticing thought, indeed.

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myk9ma

Member
"The Ancestors liked my gifts, the Ancestors liked my gifts!" Nasrin sang to herself in her head. She felt like she was floating on air. Long has she heard tales of the Ancestors and now she had met them in person. Her brothers would be so jealous, and her grandmother... Her grandmother would either weep with joy, or pull her aside to berate her for being too casual in front of them. Probably both.

"Your tributes are most welcome, child. How came you to know of us, and why do you call us 'Ancestor'?"

This question made Nasrin stumble for a second. I mean why did she call her mother "Mother" or father "Father"? While trying to figure out how to explain to the Ancestors how they were Ancestors, Tevanus spoke to her.

It would please me greatly to be your friend.”

"It would please be greatly as well!" She smiled warmly outwardly, while inwardly she was screaming in joy. While the Fallah family revered all the Ancestors and Gods, Tevanus was usually given special consideration since her family mainly survived on farming. Besides, his stories were always the best. Her brother Abzari could suck it! He always talked about how he must of been blessed by Tevanus seeing as he could grow any plant, and claimed that his always tasted the best. Well guess what? She was friends with Ancestor Tevanus. She was pulled out of her thought by another questions

"-Nasrin, where is it you come from?

She didn't catch anything the Ancestor had said before her name... She hoped it wasn't important. "I come from The Fallah House, its south and little bit west from here, near a river. If you need somewhere to rest and regroup it would be the perfect place!"
The tea was finished so she began passing out cups to everyone while packing up her things and making sure the fire was completely out. It looked like they were going to move into the temple for the night. "I am unsure of the others, but I was definitely drawn here. It was an aching feeling deep inside, as if I had something I needed to do but couldn’t quite remember.” She paused for a moment trying to think of how to describe it. “Like when a storm is coming, so you need to get the flock in. But you can’t remember which pasture they are in, so you start running around trying to find them. But you know if you are too slow, they will scatter and fall prey to the cougar you know has been seen nearby. You know that kind of feeling…” She had just finished explaining when she realized that that might actually not be a very known experience.

“Anyway-“ Nasrin tried to think of a way to change the subject. “If anyone needs any help getting into the temple let me know, I can be a shoulder to lean on. Both figuratively and literally.”
 

Arnalia

Junior Member
Rufia Dolabellae
Rufia looked up as she hear heavy footsteps.
Lord Svakre knelt next to her and looked ahead into the dim night. "Priestess." There had been a totality in the way he addressed her, but also understanding. "Your heart aches and your loyalty bruised. As a priest, you outpaced your duties; went above and beyond what many would call necessary. And how were you rewarded? A dagger lodged in your back." Rufia swallowed, chest tightened at the painful truth. Svakre's head then traveled upward to gaze at the stars. "As have I." Sighing longingly at what can never be taken back. "But the world will continue uncaringly at our dilemma, dismissive of your plight. But know, now and forever more, that I will be alongside you. And they," His helmet-covered head turned to look at her, radiating a warmth that was cold to the skin but warm to the soul."departed as they are now, will be there with you. Their physical remains are there, but their spirit will always reside within you. So I tell you now to rise. Rise with the fire of Athlios, be as cunning as Antonius, and shine bright with the fervor of Aetius. For in doing so, you honour their memory. And when even one person remembers a friend or God then they are never truly gone. And with this, you put your faith in me and I put my faith... In you." Rufia eyes widened and she nodded slowly, shedding away some tears she couldn't control. Svakre off-hand wrapped around her. "But I am not a fool to believe this will ease your spiritual agony. Only you can heal yourself, and when you do then I will wait for you to rejoin this new cause." Rufia did not need to see Lord Svakre face to feel how deeply sincere he was. He then rouse from his knee and gave a final look to Rufia, clasps unbuckled and for the first time since their incursion into this forest, Lord Svakre revealed his face. A smile of confidence flashed before the shade shako returned to Lord Svakre's head. Now aware of his faith in her, Rufia gave him a soft smile, grateful she put a hand on her heart and bowed her head slightly, visibly touched by his comforting words.
As he left, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes again. Rise with the fire of Athlios, be as cunning as Antonius, and shine bright with the fervor of Aetius. She repeated in her head and slowly opened her eyes. "I promise I will strive to be as good as you....dear gods." She muttered still somber.

Securing the yellow rose alongside the fake flower crown she always wear, Rufia picked up her bow and made her way to the others near the fire. Just as what she assumed was the tyrant gods Tevanus, with his white hair and tanned skin—who looked more like a woodcutter than a deity—the one that saved her in his famous stag form spoke with...Nasrin ? Was it ? Rufia eyebrows raised slightly at the mention of her family name. Fallah ? The name almost rang a bell for her, almost. She remembered her father teaching her about multiple families important in the empire. But it had been so long since she needed the knowledge that her memory was blurry. All she could figure was that Nasrin was probably not a commoner nor a priestess either by the way she outed herself as a worshipper of the old way by calling some of the old tyrants "ancestors"—something she knew some old gods follower often did, to hide their worship, and feel connected to their gods—going as far as giving them offerings.

As she listened to Nasrin speaking about a pull Rufia froze. She felt the exact same way. An incessant need to venture into this forest despite it cursed reputation, as if a rope was wrapped around her and someone tugged it with more and more force. Urging her to come but always seeming to expand the deeper she went into the forest. Although it was stronger near the brown haired and armored woman who had also saved her. Rufia barely had the time to hear her say she would take the first patrol that the woman was gone. The pull had always bothered her. For why would a priestess sworn to the Empire be compelled to go into the place were her gods mortal enemies resided ? If not to curse them, but since SHE was the one that felt the need to seek this place....Didn't that make her the curse one ? Rufia rubbed the side of her forehead and sigh.

Directing her attention to the man the stag god placed near the fire, Rufia looked at the god, at first glance he seemed fine but she remarked some signs of tiredness on his face. And all of that because he helped the ones that took away everything from him....Why ? She pondered. She opened her mouth slightly, as if wanting to speak, but then Rufia abruptly turned around and went to fetch Epona. After hugging the mare as if she didn't see her for years, she guided her to the camp and settled her for the night. Taking away some supplies she had, her eyes looked at Tevanus again and then Rufia briskly walked to the temple. I must prepare some spots for everyone to sleeps she thought.







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