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Author Topic: World Building 1 - on - 1: (Portent of the Wanderer, Ver. I)  (Read 773 times)

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Offline Myen'Tal

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World Building 1 - on - 1: (Portent of the Wanderer, Ver. I)
« on: October 30, 2019, 11:41:08 AM »
Latest iteration of my Original Work.

I think I'm on to something here with the improvements ;)
Feel free to give criticism if you disagree :)

Qi Burns & Fades


Sirius, the Baleful Eye of the Heavens, scoured the Valley of Carrion with its feverish heat.
Shimmering rays coalesced from the crystal skies overhead, gathering on the barren oasis before him. Aslan felt the kiss of the desert wind, a brief and unreliable reprieve from the blistering warmth on his bronze skin.

Aslan felt as if he would burst into flames, draped in shimmering robes of cream and crimson with glinting chainmail showing underneath. He stayed by the oasis, anchored beside the barren crater by the presence of his brotherhood, eagerly awaiting his command.

“Pity,” Aslan’s voice rumbled like disquiet thunder in his throat. “You see my warriors?” He gestured toward the nearest of the broken Qi warriors, bound on his knees before the edge of the dried oasis. “We merely sought to test our mettle against worthy foes… Do you see me, Qi?”

Bloodied, battered, and a hair’s breadth away from mortally wounded, the Qi being addressed could scarcely lift his head to look Aslan in the eye. It was all that he could do but glance toward Aslan’s feet and hurl a wade of phlegm at them.

“Your first sin was the pride of thinking yourselves of our caliber.” Aslan sneered. He gave the command to dispose of his prisoners with one cutting gesture.

The single rank of Zarquin Guard, a score in number, hacked their unsheathed blades into the necks of each of their assigned charges. For each single stroke, one kill was made. As blood seeped into the arid sands, the Qarthites planted their boots on the backs of their foes and kicked with mighty force.

Aslan shook his head as he watched the bodies topple into the oasis unceremoniously.

“Unthinkable,” A rough, mocking tongue struck Aslan where it thought he’d be weakest. “You’ve stolen their honor as well as their lives. Whatever could these men hope for in the afterlife now, brother?”

“What do the defeated ever want in death, Azat?” Aslan shrugged. “As far as I know, it is nothing.”

“Careful,” Azat chuckled, making light of the massacre before them. “That old fool Ibrahim might come barking at you if he heard such scornful mocking of the higher powers.”

“I do not speak of gods or Ibrahim’s… elder myths.” Aslan frowned in distaste. “It is regrettable that Qarth must be built off of the broken backs of the helpless. Qi does not hope to stand against the might of the Dominion.”

“Ehh,” Azat dismissed him with a sigh, climbing to sit upon a boulder splattered in gore. “Let the dead know their rest. Let the vanquished have their toil. It is simply the way of things. It’s a cycle you see, one that shall repeat until Qarth too is toppled when we’ve become too weak and frail to stand upright.”

Aslan glanced up from the corpse-littered oasis to stare Azat in the eye. “Things must be truly dire if even Ibrahim can say that you doom and gloom too much. Don’t speak such words amongst the ranks.”

Azat cocked his head to one side and shrugged. “Is there any use in fleeing our inevitable doom? What our hands struggle to build, is never meant to last. How much more ferocious would all of Qarth be if they lived by such words?”

“Enough, wayward brother,” Aslan smiled in spite of himself. “This valley burns, and the Qi Tribes are reduced to ashes. Qarth rises from the embers, as it has done so again and again.”

“Very well,” Azat agreed. “Bones cannot be sown in a land of peace, neither can blood flow in streams into the rivers. Salt cannot be sown without hate or prejudice. The conquered cannot be bent by anything lighter than an iron fist and sharpened blades.”

“Good,” Aslan gestured for the Zarquin to fall into formation and resume their march. “My Zarquin are the finest warriors to ever grace Qarthite soil. You think them ravenous wolves, but they are proud lions to a man and woman. I’m entrusting their lives to you, you understand? Don’t test my patience or my judgement.”

Azat heaved with scornful laughter. “I’ve never relied on either of those, Aslan, and never will. I shall see our mission done. I won’t make promises for warriors who’ve sworn that each day would be their last, if need be.”

Aslan frowned, but hid his emotions cautiously. “If such a time comes nearer too quickly, you know my signal.” A vicious smile graced his scarred features. “Remember, your life is not worth more than any one of them.”

“Just be certain you achieve things on your end.” Azat shot back. He gazed out over the horizon with cold, raven black eyes. “Be swift and remove yourself from here. Come dawn, blood shall come flowing back into the canals of Tu’shik.”

“It is only one head, Azat.” Aslan folded his arms and made to join the departing throng of Qarth warriors. “You need not risk everything to steal it off someone’s shoulders.”

“Arpiar!” Azat beckoned to the score of Zarquin lingering by the oasis. Each of them was marked with several lavender bands tied around their blade-arms. Warriors gifted from Aslan’s own retinue to serve Azat and his mission. “Swifter than wind, is there any man who could glide farther than you across the sands?”

“Your command is my sworn oath.” A lean warrior with raven hair that flowed down in straight locks rushed to kneel down before Azat’s boulder. He cupped one fist in his palm and bowed his head. “What would you have of me?”

“Look to the east.” Azat pointed past the steep slope of the oasis into the valley proper. He paused until Arpiar craned his head in the direction of several settlements dotting the landscape. “You see those Qi settlements? Take this…” Azat produced a pristine scroll of bundled parchment, written over with neat and tiny scrawl. “Go deliver this to the chieftains who dwell there. If none deign to reply to the words written in this missive… well, you may slay them.”

Arpiar inclined his head in agreement. “I shall do ask you ask. If they dare return the missive to me, I shall come back with each of their heads. Of this I swear.”

“I trust in your oaths of loyalty.” Azat waved him away. “Go now and do not return until you have succeeded.”

Azat watched Arpiar stalk away in silence, fetch the nearest horse held in wait for him by one of the attendants, and quickly depart.

Azat beckoned toward the Zarquin once again. “Nishan, you may approach. You have something to say?”

Warily, a heavily scarred brute with short locks of auburn hair stepped forward out of the score of warriors. He knelt on the bloodied sand without hesitation, one fist held in the palm of his hand.

“Azat?” Nishan lifted his head to stare Azat directly in the eye with his one good emerald eye. The other stared into the back of Nishan’s skull, only milky white color staring back. “I only regret you’ve chosen Arpiar to venture forth alone. The Qi shall grow bold when they see only one warrior making demands of them.”

“There is nothing to regret.” Azat shrugged. “Arpiar shall return by nightfall, three chieftain heads his gift to me. I would not ask that you venture forth with him. I have other plans for the Scarred Child, you see?”

“Name your demand.” Nishan’s emerald eye glinted with ferocious bloodlust. “By Qarth, I’ll see it done.”

“Look to the east.” Azat pointed beyond the oasis, in the direction of three settlements. “You see those Qi settlements? Take five warriors and raze each of them to the ground. Torch anything defiant enough to stand before you, and let your swords spare nothing they can cleave through.”

“I understand.” Nishan grimaced, but did not seem hesitant. “Blood and ashes will be all that remain.”

“Good.” Azat waved him away as he did Arpiar. “You’re not as swift as Arpiar. That is why I sent him out first. Now go and do not return until you have succeeded.”

Azat watched Nishan bow once out of respect, then shout out five names, answered by five of the Zarquin Guard. Together, they retrieved their horses held in wait for them, and set out across the dunes.

“The rest of you!” Azat beckoned to the thirteen warriors still lingering by the oasis. “Come gather round this mighty boulder and hear my words!”

The Zarquin formed a loose circle around the boulder. They did not bow, but respectfully inclined their heads. Together they intoned, “Your brothers listen!”

“Listen well, then.” Azat replied. “Qi burns, and Qarth rises from the embers. Oaths you have all sworn, and others we’ve sworn again to see through before dawn’s next light.

“All of you are survivors of great wars… Aslan could count each of you among the first generations to march from the Gardens of Tu’shik, sword and shield in hand, to sacrifice your lives for something far greater than glory or fame.

“Sadly, none of us are so young anymore, are we?” Azat grinned wolfishly and earned rumbling laughter from the stoic veterans. “But good men must sacrifice what little they have, so that great men may build better futures. Courage, iron, and steel are the weapons of good men. Prosperity, equality, and quality of life… these are the weapons of great leaders, tyrants and kings.

“Without the former, there is no latter. So, we wield our weapons against foes that stay the hands of great men, so that they shall continue to wield their weapons unencumbered. I ask each of you, right now, who or what do you swear your oaths to? Shall you sacrifice what you promised for Qarth? What say you?”

“Qi fades!” The thirteen chanted. “Qarth rises from the embers!”

“Good!” Azat thundered suddenly. “When I am brought the heads of three chieftains, their villages ablaze in a storm of smoke and ash—I anticipate warriors of legend, an infamous retinue shall come riding out of Reaper’s Lantern. We have our orders to see them all dead before dawn’s next light. Before the fate of this valley is sealed for centuries to come.

“I need not warriors, I require butchers of steely nerves and iron resolve. For certainly even with the fourteen of us, it shall be no easy prey we hunt. Prepare yourselves for carnage and battle, and a dreary demise if the fates are not with you. May the sun rise for all of you tomorrow.

“Dismissed!”

« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 03:29:40 PM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: Born of Ashes and Embers (Iteration III)
« Reply #1 on: November 6, 2019, 10:01:20 AM »
~***~
 
     Long hours passed since Azat had spoken with the two men he had sent forth. Dusk faded into night. An impregnable darkness crept into the chiseled mountain pass of Reaper’s Lantern. Azat and his entourage of thirteen Qarthite warriors waited till the sun vanished and the stars shimmered in the sky.
   
     They waited out the cold desert night in silence. Only a smoldering flame was allowed at the campfire, but the Zarquin huddled around its warmth as if they would freeze in its absence.
   
     Azat felt the kiss of boredom shift toward a drowsy sleep, but each breeze of frozen air bit him back into wakefulness. The wind bit and bit, until the clatter of hooves on craggy rock finally greeted the Zarquin at the mouth of the mountain pass.
   
     Azat and others craned their heads toward the sound, hands readied on the hilts of their weapons. Cheers erupted from the party instead as a familiar face rode mounted into the mountain pass to greet them. His garb was splattered with blood and his chainmail was battered and rent. In one hand, a blazing torch ate away at the shadows that clung to his face.
 
      The rider tugged on the reigns of his warhorse until the mighty beast reared up to a halt. Arpair dropped the reigns of his mount to tear away a long length of bloodied rope from his back. Azat gazed upon the length of rope that Arpair held up to him so triumphantly, the fearsome heads and matted hair of three chieftains entangled in its bind.

“Arpair, my swiftest herald, what do you return to me?” Azat bellowed with hearty laughter.
“Three chieftains as I had asked? Or did you steal away the heads from unfortunate farmers?”

“My Lord, for you!” Arpair threw the heads at Azat’s feet, his expression victorious. He pointed toward the three settlements on the horizon. “Gaze upon your work, completed!”

Azat casually glanced toward the east, where three infernos blazed into the night like great comets fallen to the earth.

“You do the Lion honor.” Azat acknowledged him with an inclination of his head. A gesture scarcely seen in the darkness of night. He pointed toward the severed heads. “Are you still worthy to fight?”

Arpair grinned through untamed, matted hair. “I fought from midday to dusk, my lord. My armor is damaged as surely as my sword and shield. But they are yours, if you need me.”

“No.” Azat dismissed him with a wave. “You’ve done enough, my swiftest. Ride forth into the night and rejoin with Aslan’s retinue. You will not want to be here when the time comes for battle.”

“As you say.” Arpair hid his skepticism well, but seemed to know well enough not to second guess his commander. “May the sun rise for all of you tomorrow.”

Azat and the others did not watch Arpair depart, but their exhalations spurred him on into the night.

“Douse the flames,” Azat commanded his warriors. “And welcome the embrace of the shadows. We lie in wait for our quarry for the rest of the night. Stay near one another, the cold’s bite will be sharp.”


~***~
   
     “Qi fades…” Nishan recited the mantra to himself, basking by the great inferno his five men weaved across the Qi village. “Qarth rises from the embers…”
 
       Five warriors on horseback galloped through blood-slick roads. They rode in separate directions, their torches setting fire to any unblemished structure from one end of the village to the next. By the time they had ridden to the settlement’s end, the fires had taken root long enough that the Qi warriors hidden amongst them were forced to flee out into the open.
 
      Nishan sighed with great relief that many of the common folk had fled weeks prior. He would not have hesitated, but his desire to slake his bloodlust with that of the unworthy was non-existent.
 
      Nishan watched scores of Qi warriors amass amidst the flames of their burning homes. As was their want, they garbed themselves in the hides of exemplary beasts of the wilds and laced their skin with piercings of their bones.
 
       The Scarred Child gazed upon them and saw no fearful men amongst their number. They barked ferocious war cries and hoisted their weapons high. Nishan watched them from a safe distance, noticed their wrathful gazes studying him in return.
 
       “Warriors of the Qi!?” Nishan thundered. “Have we stolen your spines!? Will you not fight for what blazes around you!?”
 
      The Qi stood their ground, but did not answer him.
 
      “Fine,” Nishan snorted derisively to himself, then bellowed like thunder in a clear sky. “Zarquin, attend your master’s command! Let their blood wet the sands!”
 
      Nishan did not wait for confirmation from his men, but spurred his horse toward the Qi with frightening speed. He unsheathed the wicked sword bouncing on his hip with a shrill cry and held his buckler tight across his chest.
 
       An uproarious wave of cries erupted from the Qi as Nishan bellowed a ferocious war cry. In the corner of his one eye, he caught the silhouette of another horse charging into the Qi from the opposite flank. He spurred his horse to the quickest speed, readying himself to trample men underfoot.
 
      The Qi scattered at the last moment to let the other rider through. Nishan realized too late that it was headed on a collision course.
 
      “Magar!? Hovan!? Avedis!? Change your course!” Nishan commanded. He lifted his hand to announce himself as a comrade, but froze at the sight of a corpse, without either limbs or head, galloping toward him.
 
      The collision slammed Nishan with force enough to throw his own mount into the blackened dirt. His warhorse toppled on top of him with a sickening crunch of shattered bone and twisted muscle. A primal scream tore itself from out of Nishan’s throat, the world before him nothing but a blur of motion.
   
    Several bursts of sudden, agonizing pain lanced into his gut and chest in rapid succession.
           Then the world shifted into hues of permanent black.

~***~
 
      “Nishan!?” Magar screamed in defiance. He flicked his wrist and a Qi’s sword hand toppled away from the wrist. Before the mounted warrior could ride past him, Magar smashed the rim of his shield across the back of his foe’s head and sent him toppling into the dirt after his severed hand. “Where in all the hells could he be!?”
 
      Another Qi hidden behind the facial mask of a fearsome beast rode up to strike Magar down from behind. Magar pulled hard on the reigns to turn, but knew he was too slow. Hovan charged past him at full gallop and unseated the masked warrior with a well-placed thrust of his spear through the Qi’s vulnerable neck.
 
      Blood lashed out to slather Magar’s face, but he saw clearly enough to parry a strike from another passerby.
   
     “Death from afar!” Avedis cried from the shadows. An arrow darted into the back of the rider seeking Magar out. The Qi galloped several paces onward before he fell away into the arid dirt.
 
      “Magar, Nishan’s likely dead!” Hovan cast the torch in his offhand so that the flames exploded into ashes and embers in the face of another foe, interrupting their charge. He rode past the blinded warrior and cut him across the throat. “He was at the other end of the village last we saw! A score of men I saw him charge into! We should fall back while we can! The mission is done!”
 
       “I won’t flee while there’s Qi blood yet to be spilled!” Magar parried a powerful strike from a wooden club, splinters and shards flying from his shield. “Do you hear me!? Your masks do not frighten me!”
   
     “Enough, Magar!” Hovan circled around Magar, his spear warding off a dozen foes closing in for the kill and slaying another pair of the masked riders. “Come, let’s ride! I won't linger to see if you’re still at our backs!”

        “I’ll cover the both of you!’ Avedis loosed volley after volley into the masked Qi. Several warriors were forced to limp out of the fight back toward their blazing village. A handful of others laid sprawled on the earth from his attacks. “Get your hides out of there!”
 
       “Your backs shall break building our cities!” Magar spat defiantly. He wheeled his warhorse around to trail Hovan’s retreat toward Avedis. “Remember these words!”

~***~
« Last Edit: November 16, 2019, 11:47:07 AM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: Born of Ashes and Embers (Iteration III)
« Reply #2 on: November 7, 2019, 09:10:05 PM »

   “Azat!”
       
      “Azat!”
   
      “Azat!” 
 
 
  A singular cry rolled over the craggy rocks of Reaper’s Lantern. The sound crept behind the unturned stones and echoed into the frozen breeze, before it vanished somewhere deep within the impregnable darkness.
 
      A sickening feeling welled from deep within Azat at the sudden taunt. The thirteen Zarquin clustered tightly around him like a living bulwark of flesh, iron, and steel. As their master remained appraising and silent in response to the challenger, so did the Zarquin refrain from ushering even a loud breath.
 
      “Come forth, son of Qarth!” The champion thundered from shadows. “I have brought you a gift fit for kings!”
   
     Suddenly, a lonesome torch blazed into life in the very heart of the mountain pass. Where shadows once clung, a warrior three heads over the tallest men stood, his stance challenging. His form was lean, but rippling with whip-chord, heavily scarred muscle. Swirling patterns of obsidian circles flowed over his trousers.

The stitched together hides of a pair of Lantern Tigers draped the otherwise bare upper body. The hides were crafted in such a way that either tiger head graced both of his shoulders.

In one fist, the freakish warrior lifted a lengthy rope entangled with three bloodied heads. Azat instantly recognized the casualties: Nishan, the Scarred Child stood starkest amongst them. Yervant, one of the five warriors he had sent with Nishan. Arpair, who Azat had incidentally sent to his doom.

The nauseous feeling churning within Azat’s stomach stoked and burned until it became a ferocious fury.

“You say that your gift is worthy of kings?” Azat countered from the shadows. “But you bring only three heads instead of the six that ventured from here. Did the other half elude you somehow?”
The Giant of a man heaved with vicious laughter, his tone brutally short, and his accent barbaric in its coarseness.

“Your fourth head!” The Giant ripped free another loop of rope dangling from his waist. Azat counted the head of another Zarquin entangled in its bind. Azat did not recognize it. “But this is unfit for either of us! You hide in the shadows while I stand out in the open like a fool… unveil yourself, let us speak warrior to warrior.” 

“Azat,” One of the Zarquin tilted his head towards him and whispered. “Tell him to unveil his army first, the deceiving bastard!”

“No,” Azat smirked. “This is not how things will play out… all of you remain where you stand. If I cannot strike down this brute with my own sword… fall back to Aslan and relay what happened.
“And before you fret at your command, I’ll demand your safe passage in return for my head to this brute.”

A chorus of whispered disagreements and denials assailed Azat’s shrinking back as he pushed forward to meet with the giant. The Zarquin cursed themselves, but did not dare disobey their orders.

Azat made a point to clamber loudly over the rocks of Reaper’s Lantern as he drew nearer to his challenger. To his credit, the giant merely held his ground and waited in patience for a silhouette to emerge from the dark.

“Here I am, mighty Qi.” Azat waved his hand and stepped into the torchlight. “You have found me… How do you know of me?” He looked respectfully up and down. “You do not fit your legend very well. None of them mentioned you were a half-giant.”

“Kin and foe alike call me Baal.” The half-giant grinned, showing surprisingly pearl white teeth, too chipped to be perfect. “And I am merely an emissary, sent on behalf of my people to be Qi’s champion.”

“Qi’s champion?” Azat scoffed, then barked with laughter. “Why would you do such a thing?”
“Because Qi fades,” Baal gritted his teeth and rasped. “And Qarth rises from the embers. You threaten to break all of our backs upon the foundations of your empire.”

The laughter stifled in Azat’s throat as he considered Baal’s words. “You speak of an alliance between your people and the Qi? Your honesty baffles me… why would you say this to your enemy?”

“Why does it matter?” Baal grinned again. “When I’ll shatter your spine across my knee and claim your head as my own?”

“Personal combat, then?” Azat asked, then nodded in agreement. “If you should slay me, then allow my men safe passage to fight another day. If I slay you… your men will break anyway. Qi fades, after all.”

“Not for much longer.” Baal frowned. “But I’ve heard your terms and accept none-the-less. Before dawn breaks, the Tribes of the Qi and the Clans of Khanar shall celebrate over your broken corpse.”

A hundred cries, so close in proximity that Azat froze from the abrupt blast of their combined voices, shook the earth with defiant battle cries.

“Qi remains! Qi remains! Qi remains!”

“Shall we begin?” Baal asked. “No point in shirking from the inevitable.”

Azat smiled with that wolfish, confident smirk he had. He spun on his heel and turned his back to
Baal without a word and stalked away. He heard Baal bristle with soft, rough laughter and called for a choosing of several weapons to be brought to him. On the other side of the mountain pass, the Zarquin Guard waited with bated breath.

“Nishan and his retinue? Aripiar too?” One of the Zarquin questioned Azat as he approached.

“Dead.” Azat quipped. “Most of them. Magar, Hovan, and Avedis may still be alive.”

“Aslan would lay this giant low without even blinking.” One of the Qarthites spoke up. “You shall do it in his place, Azat, of that we are certain. Bring honor to the names of the fallen.”

“What do the dead care of honor or any of those things?” Azat countered. “Rather we not bother them with demands to follow the living. Let the dead have their rest… Be prepared for any fate.”

Azat turned his back on the Zarquin Guard and proceeded into the no man’s land between them and the opposing Qi forces. In the center of that empty space, Baal waited for him with a patience born of surety and confidence. Strapped upon the half-giant’s back were several javelins and a shield, a sword sheathed on his hip, and a two-handed great axe gripped in both of his gnarled hands.

Azat unsheathed the wicked sword sheathed on his waist and locked his shield tight across his chest. He approached with caution, until Baal’s misty breath breezed over his raven hair.
 
      Torches once hidden behind invisible men were brought out of the masses of the Qi horde. Practiced in the tradition of blood feuds, the Qi hand picked to bear the blazing lights marched around the combatants until they encircled them in one sphere. Azat noticed their perfect spacing. He witnessed the way they held their torches up high to reveal their stoic faces, scarcely concealing their untamed bloodlust.
 
       In the limelight of the torches, Azat could barely make out the Zarquin Guard clustered together just outside of the arenas bounds. Their silhouettes were unmoving as if they were built from stone instead of flesh. He knew they watched the duelists with expectant eyes.
 
       In the limelight, Baal loomed over Azat, his stature even more apparent than it was before. The Half-Giant gazed off in the direction of the Zarquin Guard, then slowly crept his gaze back to Azat.
 
       “If this were another day and time,” Baal flashed a vicious grin. “I would regale myself with tales of your exploits. Some of your warriors are men of legend. Legends hacked apart under my axe. Know that I acknowledge their sacrifice and honor their courage.”
 
       Azat lifted his gaze to look Baal in the pit of his ocean blue eyes. His eyes reflected a similar admiration. “May the gods call you with the next sunrise. If that is your fate.”
 
       “Have you made peace with your past?” Baal asked. “For I am eager to spill blood and proclaim myself victor.”
 
       Azat tightened his fingers around the handle of his moderate buckler. Obsidian, his wicked sword, gleamed in the flickering flames of the torchlight.
 
       A confident smirk crept its way into Azat’s stoic expression. “Do your worst, son of Kharan.”

        Baal screamed with such concussive force that Azat’s hearing was drowned beneath the whistling tune of deafness in an instant. The sheer shock quickened his scattering footfalls and cleared him away from the first decapitating strike.

Baal pounced forward, his stance like that of a primal tiger. The single-headed axe whirled around the half-giant’s head before lashing out in a great arc. Azat dug his feet in and cut to the left of the rightward swing. The axehead bit deep into the wooden shell of his buckler, raised overhead. Splinters and shards sprayed both combatants.

Azat pushed under the axe and answered Baal with one keening cut. Obsidian glimmered briefly like light glancing over a vein of quicksilver. Baal cried out, the sound more ferocious roar than pained. An arc of blood spurted after Obsidian’s exit from Baal’s flank.

A vicious elbow thrust toward Azat, but he slid across the sands to a safe distance. Baal followed into the movement with a downward chop, then ended the sequence with a low sweep. Azat slipped away from the downward arc without effort, but the end of the sequence off-footed him enough that he tripped over himself.

Azat followed his descent into the sand with a fluid roll. Baal’s crushing boot landed with enough force where he had fallen a moment ago that cracks ran in rivulets in the rock below. Azat pushed himself back onto his feet, but Baal was upon him and sent him flying with a mighty kick to his midriff.
 
      The night sky raged in a blur of motion, but Azat sketched out Baal rushing toward him full tilt. Baal ran him down in the span of a breath and brought his axe down in one momentous blow meant to cleave him apart.
 
      Azat ripped Obsidian free of his own bloodied skin and cut with the reckless precision of a blinded serpent. The blade whipped out toward Baal’s dwarfing silhouette and smacked some part of him with a meaty thwack. The sound was followed by a singing cut that drew an infuriated scream from Baal.
 
       The axe impacted into Azat’s right shoulder, but Obsidian had stolen much of the force out of the blow. Azat still cried out in pain, blood spraying from the rent chainmail and splashing Baal in his neatly wounded face.
 
       A mighty fist clenched Azat by the throat, lifted him partially into the air, then slammed him back into the rock and sand with a loud thud. Azat answered with a strong sweep of his buckler into Baal’s stony jaw.
 
          Baal took the blow in stride and picked himself out of the arid sands of the arena. Fingers clenched around Azat’s throat, he found himself pulled onto his feet with the half-giant.
 
       “Do you see me, Zarquin?” Baal spat flecks of blood through battered teeth. His face was cut and battered to hell, but he smiled as if he had just experienced all the joy in the world. A joy that he could only find in the chaos of battle. “You’ve met your match…”
 
       The Qi watching from the arena outskirts chanted in unison. They called for Azat’s sacrifice. They called for his blood. They called for an end to all that he had wrought.
 
       Azat cut with obsidian with all of his strength, but Baal accepted the ragged wound carved into his ribs as if he hadn’t felt it at all.
 
       “I never told you,” Baal heaved with grim laughter. “Baal is my name, because I am a demon of battle! I finish my foes by crushing their throats with my bare fist, and removing their heads with brutal force… this is sacrifice enough for the Qi.”
 
      Azat tried to spit in Baal’s face, but the leaden force pushing his throat in sapped him of strength and concentration. Blood rushed to his head. His lungs struggled to breathe. The world began to shift into non-distinct hues. His hearing began to degenerate into nothing but chaos…
 
          “For the Twelve Tyrants of Qarth!”
 
        A thick spray of blood slathered Azat and immediately, Baal’s crushing grip slackened into nothing. Azat collapsed upon himself into the blood slick sand. As clarity quickly came back into focus, he made out Baal’s headless corpse half buried in the sand.
 
       “My Lord, for you!” Azat sucked in gaping mouthfuls of air between wretched fits of coughing. Hand on his throat, he looked up to the mounted figure gazing down upon him, sword pointed toward Azat in salute.

“Magar!?” Azat managed a ragged word between heaved breaths.

Magar did not pause to see to Azat’s person, but instead pointed his sword to Avedis and Hovan charging past him at full tilt.

“Tear their ranks asunder!” Magar bellowed to the moon itself. “Litter the valley with their bones!”

Hovan crashed into the ring of Qi, who now fled for their lives. Several men vanished beneath the hooves of his stallion, crushed into the sand. His spear struck like a serpent’s kiss, again and again into any Qi brave enough to stand before him.

Avedis swept in from the left, but kept a short distance. He answered the nearest Qi with a volley of arrows. Goaded by the sudden attack, the Qi sounded their war horns and countered charged blindly into the night. One hundred men clambered relentlessly into Reaper’s Lantern until it seemed as if a living wall were going to drown the Zarquin in a tide of death.

Azat recovered himself quickly and readied obsidian and his shield. Rushing footsteps from behind betrayed the presence of the thirteen warriors who came to reinforce him. He did not have to give the command. The Zarquin Guard locked their shields together, formed a bulwark, and braced to receive the charge.

“Always one to fight on your own, brother!” A wrathful voice that could only belong to Aslan seemed to thunder over even the war cries of one hundred Qi. “But Qarth was never built on the sacrifice of one man alone!”

A dirge of a warhorn sounded behind Azat at the mouth of the mountain pass. The night sky, once dim and ominous, brightened with the light of a thousand flaming arrows descending from it. The tide of Qi writhed and shrank as they were showered by flaming death. The few who remained amongst the hale and healthy in that horde shattered in an instant before the army approaching them from the other end of the pass.

“I’m aware that I did not forbid your death.” Aslan clapped Azat hard across the back as he approached from behind. “But I thought it went without saying.”

Azat managed to grin through his exasperated, bloodied, and bruised features. “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

“Where are all of my men?” Aslan made a point to count each and every living Zarquin with lavender bands tied around their wrists. “You’re missing some.”

“I made no promises,” Azat grimaced. He cleaned the blood out of his eyes with the sleeve of his robe. “Remember?”

“Of all of them, you lost the Scarred Child and Arpriar?” Aslan frowned deeply. “A shame, that…”

“I won’t dwell on those about to perish here today.” Azat countered. “You wouldn’t have come with…” Azat gestured to the seemingly endless column of warriors marching into the mountain pass. “Such an army unless the Qi have come in greater numbers.”

“Worse than that,” Aslan folded his arms and watched the remaining Qi scamper out of the mountain pass. “There’s a detachment of Kharan Half-Giants headed straight for Reaper’s Lantern. I think you met their emissary?” He gazed down upon the headless corpse at his feet. “Quite the diplomats, eh?”

“Hah!” Azat barked. “You could say that.” He sobered. “What would you have of me, brother? You’ve always been Erasyl’s chosen. I’ll lend you my sword.”

“Erasyl executes the defense of the Gorgon dunes.” Aslan informed him. “Select several units from my forces and rendezvous with him. The Qi and the Kharan will be bringing the brunt of their force into that wasteland. They know where we are weakest.”

“And here I thought we’d finally draw swords together.” Azat finally replied after considering his orders. “A shame, truly.”

“Why?” Aslan shrugged. “Erasyl himself shall arrive soon to lead the counterattack from your defense. You’ll fight beside the most exalted of us all. And you know he’d have it no other way.”

“If it must be so, then let it be.” Azat sketched a mocking bow before he turned to depart. “Zarquin Guard, attend your master! I have other business to attend to…”

“My Lord,” Amidst the countless thousands now crammed into Reaper’s Lantern, Magar saluted Azat the moment he turned to face him. “Four worthy kills shall I reap in your name! Each in retribution for the men who died in your service! The dead would sing your praises for avenging them!”

“The dead are reciting the myth of how Magar slew the half-giant at Reaper’s Lantern.” Azat dismissed him with a flick of his wrist. “They care not for the man that nearly had his head ripped off by the giant himself.”

Azat did not glance behind him as the Zarquin Guard chanted his, Aslan’s, and Magar’s name and vanished into the endless throngs of warriors.


~***~

Well, if you've discovered this post, there's a good chance that you've finished reading the first the chapter of Born of Ashes and Embers!!! You've my admiration and gratitude for coming so far! It's been an arduous journey, but I think I've produced a first chapter and story foundation that I'm really quite fond of.

All the criticisms and advice (Mainly from you, Alienscar ;)), and others, I think have really helped me progress. I say that like I've received a lot of feedback from this third iteration :P ;), but what I've received so far, has been positive.

There is no comment or suggestion that I would not hear so long as it's made objectively and fairly. So I am open to all ears.

Special thanks to the lurkers who are still reading ;D. Special rare thanks to those who lent their expertise to aid me further.

If you could not already guess, I shall not be making any additions beyond the first chapter here on the 40k forums or anywhere else.

I'm making good strides in the story's continuation. I'm already through much of the third chapter! Here's to forging more stories! I hope people view all the issues I've chronicled with my writing and learned somethings. There is no greater reward for me than hearing I may have inspired others with a passing interest to stop and think, "That might be cool." Much like I was back in the day ;D...
« Last Edit: November 16, 2019, 11:52:40 AM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Dread

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Re: Born of Ashes and Embers (Ver. III, Chapter I Completed)
« Reply #3 on: November 9, 2019, 01:09:37 AM »
I really enjoyed the read. Good job! Would love to see minis of them.
"Burning thru the universe in search of peace only brings more war. Peace is an illusion, war is reality, that is the way of things"

                            Farseer Gol'Istria of    the Morea Nebula craftword

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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: Born of Ashes and Embers (Ver. III, Chapter I Completed)
« Reply #4 on: November 9, 2019, 10:46:11 AM »
I really enjoyed the read. Good job! Would love to see minis of them.

I appreciate the compliment, Dread ;D! Thanks!

Mini versions of the characters would be interesting!
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Sir_Godspeed

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Re: Born of Ashes and Embers (Ver. III, Chapter I Completed)
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2019, 11:45:13 AM »
It's been a while since I dipped my feet in writing and feedback, but your persistence deserves attention.

First off - thanks for the enjoyable story. While it's the first chapters of presumably several, it does feel like somewhat of a finished arc - though I did grasp for some additional context at times. Even if the conflict was fairly clear, the barrage of names made it a bit difficult to keep it all in order at times.

Speaking of context, I see you called this an original story, but I think I recognized the name Qarth from A Song of Ice And Fire? Is it set in that universe, or did you just borrow the name?


I hope you don't mind me listing a few suggestion below.


Quote
“Sadly, none of us are so young anymore, are we?” Azat grinned wolfishly and earned rumbling laughter from the stoic veterans. But good men must sacrifice what little they have, so that great men may build better futures. Courage, iron, and steel are the weapons of good men. Prosperity, equality, and quality of life… these are the weapons of great leaders, tyrants and kings.

The above paragraph has a second part (from "But good men..." and onwards) that seem like it should be in dialogue marks, since it does not fit with the tone of the narrative voice of the rest of the text. The narrator in the story is mostly very direct and to the point, whereas this line seems a lot more poetic, which felt jarring.

Quote
Then they continued to wait in the cold desert night in silence. Only a smoldering flame was allowed at the campfire, but the Zarquin huddled around its warmth as if they would freeze in its absence.

This might just be a pet peeve of mine, but new paragraphs should generally start with new thoughts, events, etc. "Then" is a narrative conjunction of sort, tying the new thought together with the previous thought, signifying continuity. I would slot with paragraph together with the last paragraph to make it flow more easily.

Quote
“I’ll cover the both of you!’ Avedis loosed volley after volley into the masked Qi. Several warriors were forced to limp out of the fight back toward their blazing village. A handful of others laid sprawled on the earth from his attacks. “Get your hides out of there!”

The first of several minor technicalities, but I believe a "volley" refers to several arrows or missiles being fired. As Avendis is just one person, presumably just letting loose one arrow or javelin at a time (I forgot which - does it mention?) it would not really be a volley.


Quote
“Worse than that,” Aslan folded his arms and watched the remaining key scamper out of the mountain pass. “There’s a detachment of Kharan Half-Giants headed straight for Reaper’s Lantern. I think you met their emissary?” He gazed down upon the headless corpse at his feet. “Quite the diplomats, eh?”

I think "remaining key" is a misspelling, right? Did you mean to put "remaining Qi"?

Quote
The stitched together hides of a pair of Lantern Tigers draped the otherwise bare upper body. The hides were crafted in such a way that either tiger head graced both of his shoulders. Their lolling tongues slid down his arms and their eyes gazed off in opposite directions.

This is another technicality, and I might be wrong in this, but I can't imagine a properly flayed animal skin keeping the tongues in. For one thing, tongues are good food, and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, they are wet tissue, which rots quickly, especially in a desert/hot environment. Generally, pelts like these will be completely devoid of wet tissue. That being said, maybe there is some cultural statement going on here that I'm unaware of - although other readers would be so too.

As you can see, my critique is mostly fitting together some of the minor joints at this point, since the story itself as a satisfying rise and end. The characters, while very much in the "epic" tradition (larger-than-life speaking patterns, philosophical discussions, etc.) feel interesting and show some of their personalities through interaction with each other. I can only hope they'll continue to be fleshed out as the stories go on.

Cheers!

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: Born of Ashes and Embers (Ver. III, Chapter I Completed)
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2019, 02:39:39 PM »
Quote
It's been a while since I dipped my feet in writing and feedback, but your persistence deserves attention.

Hi Sir_Godspeed,

I appreciate you stopping by! That sentence alone means a lot ;D.

Quote
First off - thanks for the enjoyable story. While it's the first chapters of presumably several, it does feel like somewhat of a finished arc - though I did grasp for some additional context at times. Even if the conflict was fairly clear, the barrage of names made it a bit difficult to keep it all in order at times.

Thanks! I'm glad that you enjoyed the chapter overall.

As for the barrage of names, I figured that was going to be something that'd crop up at some-point. But I kind of wanted to experiment with it. I wasn't too happy with the previous iterations of the Zarquin Guard, because I felt that they had become an army of *red-shirts*, rather than something that any of the main characters would care about.

I figured lending out names and personalities to notable figures within the Zarquin Guard, and having them actually play roles in throughout the chapters, would give them more of the warrior brotherhood vibe that I envisioned.

However, the point you raise is a valid one. I did cram several names in the a small space, not even if you include the likes of Qarth and Qi. What would be your advice on trying to balance too-many-names as opposed to no-name-red-shirts? Perhaps I could have introduced them a bit more piecemeal or made them more distinct somehow.

Quote
Speaking of context, I see you called this an original story, but I think I recognized the name Qarth from A Song of Ice And Fire? Is it set in that universe, or did you just borrow the name?

This is a universe that I've created, which is why I called it an original story. That said, and I know this is blasphemy, but I haven't read too much of the ASOIAF series. I did do a quick google search on it and I do realize now that Qarth is a Port City in Essos.

I can definitely see where the puzzlement is coming from ;) :P. The Dominion of Qarth, where this story is set in, was unintentionally given the same name as this Port City in ASOIAF.

I actually came up with the name due to inspiration from Classical, maritime Empire of Carthage :).

Quote
I hope you don't mind me listing a few suggestion below.

Certainly, I've looked over your suggestions and criticisms, and I certainly agree / have learned from them. I'll be making some corrections soon in reflection of this feedback.

Quote
As you can see, my critique is mostly fitting together some of the minor joints at this point, since the story itself as a satisfying rise and end. The characters, while very much in the "epic" tradition (larger-than-life speaking patterns, philosophical discussions, etc.) feel interesting and show some of their personalities through interaction with each other. I can only hope they'll continue to be fleshed out as the stories go on.

Cheers!

I appreciate your critique, Godspeed! It's good to hear that you think I'm on the right path with these iterations!

I know I mentioned that I wouldn't be sharing any further progress on this story.
However, I might share the prologue for further opinions. I'd be curious to know what others think about it.  ;D
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: Ashes and Embers (Ver. III, Chapter I Completed)
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2019, 11:54:02 AM »
I've now posted the most updated version of this chapter, which now reflects the feedback that has been given. I read through the entire piece again, and made subtler changes, additions, and deletions that I hope make the read feel even smoother.  :)


Alright, one last, sneak peak, that has been snipped out of the chronological order. I did this so that I could show some other aspects of the story off.

~***~


        Tabia lifted her hood so that it fell over her eyes and tread gently across the limestone bricks that paved the Grand Canals’ dockyards. A gilded framework surrounded each kilometer length of brickwork, chiseled by generations of the finest artisans so that they worked like a living map, pointing to any nearby dockyard, ferry, storage facility, or administrative headquarters.

   Usually bustling with maritime life, the endless hordes of Qarthite sailors, merchants, and foreign emissary delegations waned into the smallest of trickles as the evening progressed toward midnight.

   Warriors of the Zarquin Guard clustered around the dockyard of a particular ship Tabia rapidly neared. A short man with a vicious voice barked at a group of Kharan Half-Giants nearly twice his size. Tabia gleamed enough of the conversation without trying. She gingerly passed the great Quinquereme by as one of the Kharanites revealed an axe and neatly cleaved the short man’s head almost completely off his shoulders.
   
       The other Zarquin Guard did not lift their swords. Tabia still heard foreign screams as hidden archers shot the Khanites into the crystal cyan waters of the canal. She heard swords being drawn in the distance and a command to storm the ship before she slipped out of sight.
   
       A stranger’s voice greeted Tabia from scant feet away.

       “Jumanah’s light on your path, stranger.” A youthful woman’s cheery voice struck Tabia like a lightning bolt. Tabia gently turned her head toward a wooden bench, where a woman with hair of both rosy red and burnished chestnut watched her with a broad smile.

       “You tread softly,” The woman mentioned with a mirthful smirk. “But you’ll never avoid every eye out here in the canals, understand? Best to tread loudly with a caravan of armed soldiers, if you truly wish to be left alone.”

       “You speak in truths, young lady.” Tabia lifted the hood off her shoulders, a sign of acknowledgement. “But where are your guardians? They’ve vanished in the dark of their own shadows, as far as I can see.”

       “My kin call me Shoushan.” The woman reclined further onto the wooden bench. In the wane moonlight, Tabia noticed the soft glimmer of chain-mail beneath her flowing robes of crimson and cream. “My warriors are taking care of the dispute you just witnessed on that Quinquereme you passed by earlier.”

       “You’re Zarquin?” Tabia felt her heart skip a beat. “Forgive me, sister, I’d not mean to come off as beguiling.”

       “It matters little,” Shoushan lifted a hand in a gesture for calm. When she spoke, Tabia was reminded of the warmth of the hearthfire. Her smile could melt the ice off blackened hearts. “I was only curious about the hooded woman sneaking around my Grand Canal. My only suggestion is that you do not cause trouble in these late hours. My Zarquin can be more forgiving when the heat beats us all into lazy indifference. But at this hour, ill things could betide many a stranger who rouses their wrath.”

       “I am…” Tabia bit her tongue sharply before she uttered the rest of her retort. “I am on my way into the Great City. I am headed for the ferryman.”

       “You were going to say you aren’t afraid.” Shoushan gracefully rose to her feet in spite of her armor. Tabia spied several wicked scars that marred her skin, but only added to the untamed flame of her natural beauty.

       “Curious,” Shoushan encircled Tabia until she eventually came to rest directly before her. “Why aren’t you?”

        “Remove yourself from my path,” Tabia suddenly commanded. “I have the God-King’s authority.”

        Shoushan arched her brow and considered Tabia with a long, cool look. Her bright expression quickly transformed into something stony and sinister. The Zarquin Commander’s hand rested intently upon the hilt of her sword.

        “I won’t hear such lies in the Throne City!” Shoushan hissed. “You have one chance to show me proof. If I judge you a liar, I shall cleave your head off of yours shoulders with one blow.”

         “Calm yourself, Shoushan!” A familiar voice interrupted the argument. Tabia craned her head in surprise at the source. Faki cast the door into the Zarquin barracks aside with a thunderous clamor. “If Adofo heard such threats against the God-King’s--”

        “Adofo is dead.” Shoushan reminded. “Because of this dumb be-atch, if she’s spoken the truth. How could you ask for calm when a dozen of your brothers are dead in the caverns?”

        “Enough, enough!” Faki stepped between Shoushan and Tabia, a torch blazing in his hand. “You should slake that sword of yours on some Kharanites, if you’ve such an impulse to murder.”

        “The Kharanites are our friend now,” Shoushan smiled grimly. “After they learn to submit to our laws, of course. In either case, I won’t stand here and let this woman step a foot inside of Tu’shik. Not over my corpse, she shall not pass!”

        Tabia gestured for Faki to step aside with a dismissive wave of her hand. Faki hesitated, then looked back to Shoushan, who made the same gesture.

        “If this must be settled with blood.” Faki grimaced. “Then just fight to the first cut. There’s already been enough murdered brothers and sisters today.” He cautiously retreated back toward the wooden bench. 

        “Show me your symbol of authority,” Shoushan unsheathed the wicked sword on her hip with a cry that cut through the foggy night air.

        “Are you deaf?” Tabia accused. “Did you hear a word Faki mentioned? Of course I no longer have it! We all fought for our lives down in the caverns!

        “If you do not proof of your authority,” A vicious smile crept onto Shoushan’s lips. “Then no one should be able to validate your untimely demise.”

        Shoushan lunged forward with a powerful thrust, aimed to run Tabia through in the span of a quick breath. Faki’s sword intercepted the blow, but Shoushan feinted and parried in such a way that Faki was thrown over her lowered shoulder and into the cyan waters of the canal.

        Tabia did not pause for either of them to recover. She sketched intricate symbols in the air while Shoushan was momentarily distracted. She uttered the practiced mantra that came to mind and her fingertips suddenly blazed bubbling, liquid fire. Driblets cascaded off of her fingers and left miniature, scorched craters where they hit the limestone.

        “Come,” Shoushan noticed Tabia, recovered her footing, and ran full-tilt toward her opponent. “For the Firstborn! Glory to the Tyrants of Qarth!”

        Shoushan thrust once more, a hair’s breadth away from tackling Tabia to the dockyard floor. Tabia winced heavily from sudden, fresh pain. Blood streamed from the deep cut carved across the length of her right cheek. The Zarquin Commander meant to channel strength into the blow, to turn her graze into a decapitating strike.     

        Shoushan twisted around to fulfill her tactic, but Tabia reached out and planted the palm of her flaming hand squarely on the Zarquin’s chest. The searing heat earned a gasp out of Shoushan, the liquid flame quickly eating through cloth and armor.

        Tabia thundered the trigger word at the forefront of her mind. The miniature flames on her fingertips ignited into a roaring stream of liquid fire. Panic seized Shoushan first, then her feeble screams as the flames took hold became loud enough to be heard across the canal. Her arms, once poised for battle, flailed wildly as she was reduced to cinders.

       The scorched carcass clattered in a heap upon the ground. It was serenely lifeless and silent in contrast to what it had been before.

       “Seven hells!” Faki cried out as he climbed out of the canal. He looked to Tabia with wild eyes. “Have you gone completely mad!?”

      “Be grateful that you’ll continue to breath, Faki.” Tabia lifted her hood so that if fell over her eyes. She continued her hastened walk toward the ferryman’s boat. “Gods keep you breathing till you’re too old to breath, old friend.”

      From the Quinquereme in the distance, shouts of alarm followed in the wake of Shoushan’s sudden death. The sounds of battle echoing from that lone ship still continued well into the night.                                 
« Last Edit: November 19, 2019, 08:36:14 AM by Myen'Tal »
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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World Building 1 - on - 1: Portent of the Wanderer, Ver. I
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2019, 03:30:12 PM »

Portent of the Wanderer, Ver. I


        An eerie cawing of crows carried over the thunderous surging of waves. Veridia’s crystalline blue eyes snapped open to the brilliance of wicked lightning falling from heaven to earth. The skies that bristled with the clamor of Tarithinon’s wrath, were the all-consuming black of raven’s feathers.

   Starless. Absent of the guidance of the celestial bodies. Void of the heavens and the gods that kept them afixed in the firmament.

   The waxing of the tide suddenly crashed over Veridia with beguiling, gentle force. She realized that she had awoken in another of her veiled dreams. Fully self-aware, she felt the wet sand beneath her shift and cave as the coastal waters set in. The call of seagulls circling over the craggy rocks in the distance stoked a sense of placid calm enough to drown her panicked confusion.

   “Bazariah,” The name escaped Veridia’s lips in a faint, mist-wracked breath. “I know of you, creature.”

   An ethereal voice made distinct by a mother’s gentle love, a siren’s luring lullaby, and the enigmatic instruction of a divine touched soul, answered Veridia.

        “You’re becoming adept at our games, Veridia.” The disembodied voice spoke from a distance, as if lost amidst the crashing waves. When it did so, Veridia could not help but feel like an observant eye was glaring upon her from a great height. “The Goddess of Dire Misfortune chose well when she settled her gaze upon you. My pride would swell until this mighty heart would burst in my chest, if you were my disciple.”

       Another waxing of the tide crashed over Veridia and submerged her beneath the waves. She instinctively made to shut her eyes against the impact, but Bazariah’s mere utterance kept them fixed open, entrancing her.

       Waters surged around Veridia in multi-faceted hues of color; deep sapphires and glittering emeralds, inky violets and burning magenta, dark crimson and sunburst yellows. As quickly as the tide had arrived, did it wane and recede once more.

       Suddenly animated, Veridia jerked upright and burst from out of the rainbow waters with a gulping gasp for air.

      A bubbling laughter of the kind that had never graced Veridia’s ears before manifested at her back. Elegant fingers weaved through the golden locks hanging down over her right shoulder.
Bazariah waltzed around her back until she could lean in close to stare Veridia in the eye.

     “Does Nihali know that she has a prodigal daughter?” A thin sliver of tongue the color of dark blood lolled from out of her maw of jutting teeth that curved like the perfect points of a ram's horns. The grounded roots of each tooth gleamed in the darkness, fading into burnished brows toward the center and then into oily blacks at the very tips. They were small enough not to alter her facial features, a reminiscent blend of Elf and Human as if she had been borne from such a crossing.

     Yet, there was an otherworldliness that bled into that pristine face of what Veridia would have otherwise thought divine. Oppressive eyes of oily crimson and viper’s slits seemed to bubble and writhe from within as if blood was boiling underneath. Long streams of raven hair cascaded down her crown of four curving horns that could rival a minotaur’s.

     Beneath her arms were another set of limbs lined with whipcord muscle. Bazariah held them cupped in a way that sketched a strange symbol with the intricate positioning of her fingers.

   An elegant chiton of deep sapphire, laced with the brilliant filigree of ruby, sufficiently concealed a figure half-crossed between lithe and broad, every portion of her nothing but soft, underlying muscle.

   “Of course,” Bazariah’s bubbling laughter continued. “You do not even struggle. You’ve never had the chance to know the meaning of such, have you? I’ve seen many a lost soul dragged away in those waters. They do not seem to want you, Veridia.”

   Veridia glowered back at Bazariah in defiance. She hawked and spat into the serpentine smile on the strange entity’s lips. The wade of saliva seemed to vanish into thin air before it hit Bazariah.

   “Defiant.” Bazariah erected herself, her caress stealing Veridia from out of the sands. She planted Veridia onto her feet with a slight, disapproving glint in her eyes. “I have to admire your zeal. But you’re far too young to raising your hand against your elders, aren’t you?”

   Veridia craned her head skyward simply to look the creature in the eyes. A knowing smile gently crept onto Bazariah’s features.

   “Your heart burns with the fury of the Phoenix.” Bazariah cooed. “Do you desire to pit your strength against mine? Go ahead, extinguish that inferno ablaze in the pit of your soul.

   “Show me what you’ve learned from under Qaris’ shadow.”

   Veridia exhaled an ancient mantra surfacing from the back of her mind. She shut her eyes and her heart skipped one, then several beats. A gust of flames suddenly enveloped her from the feet to the crown of her head. Even Bazariah gasped as the flames scolded her clutching fingers and forced her to relinquish her grip.

   Veridia’s eyes snapped open from where she stood, leagues now between her and Bazariah. A confident grin flashed on her lips. She pointed her fingers in her enemy’s direction.

   An omniscient laughter seemed to roll in from the dunes on the horizon. It surged over the crashing of the tide upon the shoreline. It descended from the skies like thunder in a storm-wracked sky.

   “Yes, little one. Test me.”

   Veridia hurled her open hands as if she were skipping stones across a lake’s waters. As she made the fluid movements, great fistfulls of scorching flames were cast from her fingertips instead. The fireballs hurtled toward Bazariah’s stagnant form like meteors streaking across the sky.

   They descended upon Bazariah with the impact of Rynithian mortar shells. Brilliant, blossoming explosions of sand and flames enveloped Bazariah’s shadowy form.

   “You continue to impress me,” Bazariah’s voice crept up from behind her. “But that is not enough.”

   Veridia rapidly shifted in the sands and hurled another flaming blast toward Bazariah’s vulnerable face. The creature lifted the first of her right arms, the palm open and extended toward the flaming ball of death. Where it had not existed before, a great, forbidden tome forced open between her beckoning fingers manifested. The forbidden text etched upon the pages flashed once and consumed the spell entirely.

   Veridia followed her previous counter with a fluid reversal of her hand. A whip of searing flames lashed out and struck Bazariah diagonally across the face.

   Bazariah cried out in a moment of forgetfulness, a trail of blackened flesh left imprinted from right eye down to the lower corner of the left side of her jaw.

   “Enough!” Bazariah’s command quaked the earth like the laughter of some buried, earthen deity. “Back from whence you came, Veridia. The phoenix burns too hot, but I shall see your wings molt and your flames gutter.”

   Confident, Veridia made to hurtle a lance of liquid fire through Bazariah’s heart. No sooner had she started the gesture, did a force as immovable as mountains seize her by both arms. With her lower arms, Bazariah lifted Veridia’s own limbs until they hung uselessly in the air.

   “You do not have to be my enemy, you understand?” Bazariah’s serpentine smile returned. “You’ll have to forgive me in time for this one!”

   Bazariah flicked her wrist across Veridia’s throat, the ethereal image of a ghost blade forming in the span of the quickest breath. Blood erupted from the wound, and Bazariah gently took the severed head of her body into the palm of her hand.

   Bazariah muttered to the severed head. “See you on the eve of the next dawn, my prodigal daughter.”
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: World Building 1 - on - 1: (Portent of the Wanderer, Ver. I)
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2019, 11:08:17 AM »
So, people are likely wondering why I changed the name of this thread. You guys may also wonder why I added another scene to this thread. I decided that I'm going to add a few random scenes here from time to time, but not too random. They'll all be related to this world that I'm building, hence why I called it a World Building thread.

I should have posted this up with the Portents of the Wanderer Scene, but decided not to as I wanted this post to have it's own slot.

So, thanks! ;D
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Company

 


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