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A brief glimpse of the eastern realms on Khios continent  ;D:

Come Dawn From the Night

Summer, Month of the Gaia Reborn 

Year 857, the Ascension of Kings 

Ember Hearth Palace in the city of Anahir, capital of the Old Myrian Empire

"Dreaming again, my love, of the Hanging Gardens of Heaven?" 

Amid black skies, a crescent moon shone brighter than the other countless stars surrounding it. Observing, Azat Zakarian kept his eyes to the heavens, every wink of light in the distance like beacons calling him into the gentle embrace of death. Somewhere in the tapestries of starlit voids and the celestial bodies scattered throughout it, dwelled death's herald, a great raven said to blot out moon and stars to take away the souls of legends. It could not be his time. His twenty-fourth summer was ending, and his fiance lounged beside him on the lone palanquin hidden in the garden. Her weight pressed into him, her head sinking into his chest like she sought to replace his heart with her own caring soul. 

"You ask me as if you've never wondered what lies beyond this shining night sky?" 

Head tucked into his chest, her laughter was almost contagious, tickling him without mercy. Yet when she lifted her head to answer him, Azat could not quite bring himself to look her in the eye, and face the reality she believed twinkling in her bright gaze. She massaged his broad shoulder with a gentle hand, luring his gaze toward her anyway. Azat looked to her, and found the gaze of curious golden brown eyes, bright like the precious stones found in the Amber Gold river. Her unblemished skin, the shade of a savannah lioness' burnished pelt, took on a pallid aspect beneath the moonlight. Streams of chestnut hair came cascading down her face in wavy coils, her features neither gaunt nor statuesque, but more soft and inviting to him. 

Her night robe contrasted with the matte black of his clothes. Her flowing silk gown was such a pallid shade of lavender, it caught moonlight upon its creases until they shined with a pale radiance. 

"I cannot say the fate of something so distant concerns me at all. At least not in this moment. Should I be jealous of the goddess? You seem more interested in seeking her amid the stars than watching them with me."

Azat smiled at her jest, playfully dismissing her subtle accusation with a soft shrug. Her weight became heavier upon him, when her romantic lean came pressing in, and she fell into him. 

High walls of trimmed hedgerows rustled across the Iryllian moorlands, secluding the Sadoyan Sanctuary from civilization. A scraping of leaves scattered on the cobblestone lured him from his inward musings. A humble shrine, built of smooth granite floors and open alabaster stone archways to let natural light shine into its emptied space. Azat always came here to contemplate and brood to himself in solitude. Goddess Jumanah's monument, chiseled into breath-taking life by artisans forgotten to time, granted him a solace he could not find throughout all the Autumn Realms of the Old Myrian Empire. 

In the sanctuary's heart, Azat watched the heavens glimmer from a sole palanquin of dark marble erected at its heart. Built on a dais enclosed beneath a domed ceiling and open archways, the opening hollowed into the dome of the ceiling let the crescent moon shine down on them. A soft wind ruffled the matte black satin of his night robe, so gentle to touch that his bride-to-be, Lady Sameh Sadoyan, had almost fallen to sleep in its embrace. His Saroa were of similar shades of color, baggy breeches of rougher and thicker material, still folded into many more creases from the wind's caress. The night wind too sifted cool, invisible fingers through his mohawk of lustrous black hair, slicked back in abundance down the length of his scalp, where it ended in a wavy cascade, bundled into an intricate braid. On both sides of his skull, where his hair was shaven clean off, became cold from the wind's ghastly breath. 

"I am uncertain. Goddess Jumunah is said to be the most beautiful woman throughout all the Autumn Realms. One glance from her can reduce any man to throes of lust. Who could say if I could resist and remain loyal to you, if she had chosen me?"

Sameh's laughter came more mocking this time. She sobered after a moment and her voice resumed its loving aspect. "Our Goddess is a stoic mother. You are a mere child compared to her, Azat, as are we all. If she had chosen you for anything, have you ever thought that your prize maybe right here in the Autumn Realms, right beside you?"

Overhead, the skies softened from black to the bluish hue common in the early hours of the morning. Braziers burned from the archways, creating a halo of light around the sanctuary's perimeter. Across from him on the other side of an emerald bed of grassland, a marble fountain overfull with crystal waters, glimmered beneath the last rays of moonlight. Goddess Jumanah lounged upon her palanquin of stone built in the fountain's heart, hems from her flowing silk dress dancing along the fountain water's surface. 

Her monument in the fountain was symbolic. It represented the distant realms nearest to the Opal Sea, the Goddess of Portent & Omens unearthly domain. Where the laws of reality ceased to exist, and the essence of the realms of heaven flooded into the mortal sphere. 

"I have thought about that many times. I know that is the truth behind the myth. If the goddess believes me a child, then I must be her favored son to be gifted her most treasured daughter's hand. But a man can dream, can't he? Of realms that mortal eyes can not see, and the eternal comfort rewarded to those who must endure on this benighted world of Thearus. Until her mysteries are revealed in death, all us mortals can do is hope for better days."

Many folk thought the gods crafted legends meant to inspire Old Myria's younger generations. Azat had gleaned as much from his ancient blood father Zulfiqar during his adolescent years. An inexplicable emotion stilled his unrestful heart for strange reasons he couldn't quite describe. He did not know why he found solace in coming to the sanctuary in the dead night. Something about praying beneath the Crescent Moon brought him comfort despite death's constant threat. Hearing the mourning cries of the wind rustling through the Iryllian countryside distanced him from grief. Jumanah's song of harmony overcame him like a blessing, delivered straight from her lips, even though her utterances were only silence. 

Unspoken words remained the only language a dead deity could speak. 

Sahem’s meek voice broke the tranquil spell woven over Azat. It snapped him out of his reverie. 

"Such a child, Zakarian." Sahem said, "always will you be." 

Sahem's laughter mocked him playfully. A muse daring him to cast his burdens aside to focus his world on the temptress before him. Azat wanted to mimic the emotion. A fervent desire to become several years younger burned inside his chest, though Azat admitted a child was the last thing he felt like. 

A melancholy burdened his ability to smile and banish his concerns away with another hearty laugh. From the subtle pause in her breathing, Sahem glimpsed the weariness threatening to break him down like a crumbling pile of stone. An embittered war with no end in sight had broken men who were far stronger than him. Warriors more capable and of legacies whispered in the hushed corridors of grand mausoleums. 

"is it childish to find solace in the presence of something far greater than we are? Jumanah is far beyond my comprehension, born somewhere in the heavens beyond the reach of her mortal children. She is so ancient and enigmatic. How could such a creation of limitless power remain so benign and fair in her wisdom? Of anyone born on Old Myrian soil, you of all should appreciate the harmony Jumanah brings to the mundane world."

Sahem said, "It's not that, Azat. It's just that every time I come with you to this forgotten shrine, you sit there and watch the monument with such a glint of imagination in your eyes. It's like you're dreaming of some grand adventure waiting for you after your story comes to a final close. Do you really think that... what? You'll fall asleep on the night of your death and wake up on the shores of the Opal Sea? Do you think the Gates of Heaven are really waiting for us in the far eastern realms, beyond all civilization? Wake up, my love... time to rise with the new morning. Your unborn children are almost here, any week now. You should cease your dreaming of the desolation and of some divine oasis hidden at its heart... Azat? Are you listening to me?" 

"I wouldn't rather be anywhere else than here, beside you. But my elderly father, Zulfiqar, always used to tell me that believing in only what lies before you is to find despair. What lies before us is every reason humans have searched the stars for greater powers to begin with. Should I fall on the battlefields of Carth, far away from you, then it is my childish faith in crafted legends that will make my passing easier. For myself and each of my kin, who would grieve my death. Even if Jumanah and the Ascended Pantheon she is from is nothing more than a false myth... don't you think easing the burdens of those who must suffer in our stead is worth that alone?" 

At that, Sahem said nothing for a moment. 

Yet when she spoke, he found her answer like a key to the beating heart in his chest. 

"It is worth a hundred lifetimes... it is the reason that I say nothing more than playful jests. I would rather you dream and live inspired, then hope for nothing and live embittered. Your sons will be the same way. I only hope they come to embrace more practical thoughts that can help the Autumn Realms we live in. One day, they may reign over all the Old Myrian Empire, and you'll have lived the life of a glorious king, retired by that time." 

"How do you know our twins will be boys?" Azat arched his brow. "From what I know of House Sadoyan, male children have always been rare. Sometimes they are not seen for several generations."

Sameh smiled, "I have only my intuition, but I believe Jumanah has gifted me with two boys... just to make you happy."

He tried in vain to hide his knowing grin. "Of all the treasures I could reap in this life, I think nothing else would make me happier aside from our marriage."

Sameh looked up at him, grinning. "What do you think they will become in the future?"

Azat pretended not to know the answer. "I don't know... maybe one day they will become princes, as you said. Men of wise intellect and fair in judgement." 

"Do you really believe a word of what you said? You know they will follow in your footsteps. Both will take up the sword to continue your legend and honor the Zakarian name." She sighed. "so long as you are their father, Azat, that will be their destiny. I can feel that truth burning in my blood." 

"Does that truth frighten you, my love?" Azat asked. "it doesn't have to be so, should you wish that?"

"But it wouldn't make you happy, Azat, would it?" Her laughter returned, bright and cheerier than he had heard it before. "Else the Goddess would have given me daughters instead."

"Our twins could still be daughters, Sameh."

"Just promise me..." Sameh reached out to him, her open palm lifted out, almost to touch his face. "Promise that only you will teach them the way of the sword and of being men. Promise me you'll oversee their lessons, no matter the education. Promise me you won't let them set foot on a battlefield until the day you think them ready to fight by your side, and not a day sooner. Not even after the day they come of age... Azat?"

In silence, he returned her embrace, resting his head on her inviting palm. After a brief contemplation, he pledged his oath. "My duties as Ara and Aslan's father shall never tire, not when the dawn rises in the east and the sun sets in the west, and for every cycle to come afterward for the rest of our days. They shall not know war or death until their time has come when I know they have surpassed me in all things. Of this, I swear to you, my wife and love, until the day fate would declare my oath fulfilled."

As dawn broke over the Old Myrian Empire, Azat and his lover watched the sun crest the rolling hills in the east, where the spires of Anahir, the capital city, reached out toward the skies, dwarfed by the grand halls of Ember Hearth Palace, and the Sadoyan Sanctuary that overlooked it all from its great height, concealed by the hedgerow walls behind it. 
Projects Blog / Re: Chronicles of the Brush: Iyanden's Journey
« Last post by Myen'Tal on Today at 11:01:29 AM »
Thanks to all of you for the kind words  :D!

I still have some steps I want to take that model through, but I like how she has come out so far.

I started working on the Banshees last night, and made some decent progress.

The Discussion Board / Re: How's Brexit been treating you?
« Last post by PaxImperatrix on Today at 05:03:41 AM »
Thanks Pax :).  I really appreciate it.  In fact, The Netherlands is one of the countries that I am keeping an eye on because the universities there do deliver some degrees in English and British students used to attend quite a few Dutch universities prior to Brexit to avoid paying the ridiculous fees that they have to pay over here.  That particular job is not one I can do (I know nothing about law), but I am certainly looking out for Political Science/Politics posts abroad.

You're welcome. Perhaps this one would be a better fit? I'll stop bombarding you with job openings now. :)

As for the articles you've shared, the word bleak about sums it up. It's amazing to me how many Brexit voters still stand by their decision after all that's happened since 1 January this year.
Projects Blog / Re: Chronicles of the Brush: Iyanden's Journey
« Last post by dog_of_war on Yesterday at 07:42:24 PM »
Looking great. Love the colour choices. Good luck at the competition!
The Discussion Board / Re: How's Brexit been treating you?
« Last post by Irisado on Yesterday at 07:25:40 PM »
There's a job opening at my local university if you're interested. You'd be able to teach EU law in English. Because it's a part-time position you would have time to spare to learn Dutch to open up more career opportunities in the future. Not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but there are many more to choose from. Here's the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service's website for more information on coming to the Netherlands as a UK citizen. I hope this helps. Feel free to PM me if there's more you'd like to know that goes beyond the topic of this thread.

Thanks Pax :).  I really appreciate it.  In fact, The Netherlands is one of the countries that I am keeping an eye on because the universities there do deliver some degrees in English and British students used to attend quite a few Dutch universities prior to Brexit to avoid paying the ridiculous fees that they have to pay over here.  That particular job is not one I can do (I know nothing about law), but I am certainly looking out for Political Science/Politics posts abroad.

In further Brexit developments, the French Government has come out and stated what I suspect Macron's inner circle has been thinking for some time: Perfidious Albion: why French faith in Boris Johnson has nosedived | Brexit |.  France and the UK have had many diplomatic disputes in the past, most notably over the war in Iraq earlier this century, and repeatedly over reforming CAP in the EU, but this is going to a much higher level.  This is damning stuff and the criticisms of Johnson are entirely justified.

Outgoing Lord David Puttnam sums up the state of the UK post-Brexit: David Puttnam hits out at government as he quits House of Lords | House of Lords.  His analysis is spot on and combined with Brexit polarisation continuing to divide the country, the picture looks very bleak.
Projects Blog / Re: Chronicles of the Brush: Iyanden's Journey
« Last post by Dread on Yesterday at 03:43:50 PM »
I knew youcouldnt stay away from the water elves for long. Its gonna be nice when finished.
Projects Blog / Re: Chronicles of the Brush: Iyanden's Journey
« Last post by Lord of Winter and War on Yesterday at 09:05:06 AM »
Very cool!
Projects Blog / Re: Chronicles of the Brush: Iyanden's Journey
« Last post by Myen'Tal on October 20, 2021, 11:25:34 PM »
Started painting a model from the Idoneth dire chasm warband for a competition  :).

The Discussion Board / Re: How's Brexit been treating you?
« Last post by PaxImperatrix on October 20, 2021, 02:51:53 PM »
This study from one year ago says yes.

'OECD figures and national government statistics have shown that the number has risen continuously since 2010 with an exaggerated spike since the Brexit referendum in 2016. The Oxford in Berlin/WZB British migration study interviewed UK citizens that have left the UK for Germany over the last 10 years, examining the reasons for their migration. The study data reveals the great sacrifices and risks many British citizens are taking in order to find some form of certainty in their lives after the Brexit vote. The results clearly show that for those Brits leaving the UK after 2016, Brexit was the main motivation.'
(Full text)

Similarly, a study by Adecco found that one in three 16-35-year-olds are considering leaving the UK to work elsewhere in Europe. That doesn't mean as many as one in three will leave, of course, but the writing is on the wall.
The Discussion Board / Re: How's Brexit been treating you?
« Last post by Kage2020 on October 20, 2021, 02:28:25 PM »
Which raises the interesting question of whether "brain drain" is going to impact the UK? A lot of my former colleagues are miffed at Brexit and what the current status means for their research, so many seem to have been looking for other pastures.
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