Apprentice and Inquiry

This is a post I wrote up for a roleplay I’m taking part in called Godhood 3. Julius is one of our player’s big villains, and this post leads up to said villain’s trial and butt-kicking at the hands of my main character, the goddess Onore.

It’s all for a game, has not been touched since the original post (beyond some quick grammar and spellchecking that I wasn’t even that thorough on), and it’s about 1600 words.

Enjoy!

Alucio was used to getting strange looks from passerby. Even back home in Lampide, there were many who did not trust the Inquisition. He couldn’t say he blamed them – after all, the Inquisition had very near absolute power. It was human nature to be wary of something that you could not stop. This, however, was much darker and foreboding. This didn’t look like the unease of someone whose entire livelihood and well-being could be upended by the words of another. This looked like a pack of wolves, circling and waiting for a moment to tear you apart. They were not welcome here. He doubted they would even be tolerated as foreign visitors if they made too much of a ruckus.

“Oh sweet!” Lukas exclaimed, pressing his hands against the shop’s window, green eyes wide with excitement. “This lamp is Qalistani! And… is that Dancer pottery?! It is! This is awesome! Can we get it?! It’d look great in the chapel back home!”

His apprentice seemed blissfully unaware.

“Lukas,” Alucio said evenly, stroking his beard, “I realize you have a passion for art, but we are not here to sightsee.” He glanced. “And that is not Dancer ‘pottery’. I’ve been to Ilen. Dancer work is… very distinct.”

“…… Killjoy.” Lukas pouted and pulled away from the window. The young man had been a Lightbringer before the Inquisition had found him. He had a real passion for artwork of all kinds, especially paintings and songs. His dusty brown hair was messy and unkempt, as if he’d never taken a comb to it in his life. He was not quite as tanned as his master, having lived most of his life in a studio, but his training had bronzed him before too long. He wore the large hat and black longcoat that was the mark of his office, but Alucio could see some paint marks on it.

Alucio had not changed much since the battle of Lampide(1). He still had that gas mask and his beard was a bit more gray, but he was showing few other signs of his age. “We’re not here to sightsee.” He repeated, pointing to a sign in the door.

Solars not accepted, it read.

Lukas stared at it for a few seconds, then sighed and pulled back. “Right.”

Alucio looked down the street at the people milling about, “The locals don’t really care about us one way or another. The warlord here – Maximillian Eustace Fotheringham, he calls himself – is, however, a little execution happy.” His eyes narrowed at Lukas. “Especially where we’re involved. We’re just lucky to have secured an appointment so he knows we’re coming.”

Lukas cocked an eyebrow, putting hands behind his head as they started to walk towards the center of town. “Then why haven’t the Legions come down on him? It’s not like our Lady would take such a thing lieing down.”

“No,” He agreed, “But Fotheringham would put his people in harm’s way rather than face Her wrath.”

“Probably.” Lukas admitted. “Warlords aren’t known for being peace-loving and kind to their subjects.”

“So we’re here to attempt a peaceful transfer of power, rather than to simply crush him underfoot.”

“‘Peaceful’.” Lukas said dryly, looking down at the two matched swords his master had asked him to bring. “Riiiiight.”

“Or persuade him to be a good neighbor and to stop arresting or executing our citizens.” Alucio pointed to a stone building at the end of the road, the only stone construct in the entire village. “We simply need to persuade him that working with Lampide is smarter and more profitable than working against it. I’ve done my research, the man is arrogant, not crazy.”

It was at that exact moment than someone’s leg came flying out of the stone building and plopped down in front of the two Inquisitors. “THERE! ONLY ONE LEFT FOOT NOW!!! THE NEXT BITCH BETTER KNOW HOW TO F$#%ING DANCE!!!”

Lukas stared at the leg. “You sure about that, Master?”

Alucio sighed. “Less than I was.”

“I love a lady’s who’s touchy, really I do,” Lukas brushed off a servant who was reaching for him. “But the hat stays on.”

“Was reaching for weapons.”

“You were reachin’ a little high for my swords.” He muttered, handing them over. “I’m gonna want those back.”

“Is fine. Just for meeting with master.” The servant said before bowing and allowing them entrance to Fotheringham’s “throne room”.

Fotheringham had originally been a simple mercenary in the countryside, like any other in the Lampidan grasslands. The village he now ruled had once been considered ripe for conversion to worship of Onore. Many of the villages here had, in fact – strangely most of them had some belief system that appeared distantly related to the sun goddess’, and in some cases outright identical. Others, it seemed, had ancient prophecies that told of their coming, perhaps delivered by a masked man, or a doctor(2).

This village, however, had been hit hard by Restless attacks, and had no desire to be ‘grouped together for the slaughter’ or some nonsense, Lukas didn’t remember. In order to preserve themselves during the mistbourne invasion, they had refused Lampidan aid and requested the aid of a brilliant mercenary tactician by the name of Volkan Brighteyes. Brighteyes had successfully defended the village, but in time his subordinate poisoned him and took his place as leader of the band. The band had then settled into the village permanently, declaring the village as permanently under their protection.
That was not the official story, of course. But only a fool completely believes the ‘official’ story.

The man before him now looked like he had enjoyed the benefits of being ruler of a village for far too long. The man was slovenly and unkempt, his beard a tangle and his belly rotund. He had a pair of attractive women to each side, each with their expression neutral. Lukas doubted they were much more than arm candy.

“You will not kneel in the presence of Lord Fotheringham?”

“No, my lord. I’m afraid we kneel only to our mistress, and you are not she.”

The warlord’s eyes burned. “You will speak to me with respect, sun-kisser!! You are here at my pleasure.”

“My lord, with all due respect, your pleasure would have both I and my apprentice strung up by our intestines. We’re in this place because you do not want the Legions to come down on your head and talking to a pair of Inquisitors is more likely to get you something out of this arrangement.”

Lukas didn’t know much about diplomacy but he was beginning to think ‘all due respect’ actually meant ‘go **** yourself’.

Lord Fotheringham (Lukas was also fighting the urge not to snicker) raised an eyebrow at that, but something in the Inquisitor’s tone made him drop the matter. “I already told Julius I’m not interested in being a slave to Onore’s whims. I’ve sent him troops, but I demand more if he wishes more.”

Alucio nodded. “Which is why we are here from Lampide itself to offer a direct partnership with our lady instead.”

Frothingham scowled, rivulets of sweat trickling down his ugly mug. “Call it watcha want, Inquisitor. I ain’t blind, you’s types always talk about protection and pardnership. But I seen through it!” He jabbed an accusatory finger into Alucio’s face. “You’s gonna put your taxes and your soldiers out here in mah village to take it from me!”

“Firstly, taxes are necessary for the maintenance of the roads and our legions, we do not do them for fun.” Alucio said evenly. “Secondly, Initiates and foreign powers do not pay taxes, only cities that have officially joined our nation.”

“They also can’t earn Solars in your cities.” Fatteningham snapped. “I dun my homework.”

“You don’t let anyone in this town use Solars anyway, what do you care?” Alucio pointed out. “If anything it encourages your citizens to stay here, away from the cities.”

“I-”

Lukas tuned out his master and the annoying warlord as his mind began to wander a tad. As he did so he winked to one of the lady bodyguards, who simply returned a glance of cold stone.

He knew how this would play out: Farting-in-ham would eventually promise to lift the ban on Solars so that the people could trade properly with Lampide for food and supplies, in exchange for having no Inquisitorial or Legion interference. He’d seen his master’s work often enough.

Moreover, though, this would signal the end for Fotheringham.

The economics and culture of Lampide would become the dominant force in this town. Lampide was a powerhouse, and anyone in their right mind would want to trade with them. A vase here, a story there, a happy wedded couple over there… Slowly but surely Lampide’s culture would begin to subsume this village’s. Brighteyes was a great hero worth remembering, and the people would remember his greatness, and find Fotheringham’s wanting. There would be no trust left for the old mercenary, but plenty for Brighteyes and Onore.

After all, Lukas thought as Fotheringham laughed uproariously… The Sun burned the wicked away.

“Master, who is Julius?” Lukas asked as they left town.

“Our next target.”

“…Wait, you didn’t know who he was when we were in there, did you?”

Alucio turned his eyes to glare at his student. “I assure you, Lukas, that that is a temporary arrangement. For now, I simply needed Fotheringham to believe I was there in opposition to a man he didn’t like.”

“…Neat.” Lukas tilted his hat. “I’ll write a song about that trick.”

“I thought you were a painter?”

“I can do both!”

(1) The Battle of Lampide was one of the largest events in the game up to this point. It consisted of a massive invasion on the city of Lampide by mist-zombies and monsters born from the corrupted heart of the planet (long story). Lampide called in all of her allies, from the magical Dancers to the mysterious Joybringers. Ultimately Lampide was victorius, but at great cost. Alucio was a man with a long gray beard and a deep tan.

(2) This isn’t just plot convenience, by the way, the events leading up to those belief systems and prophecies were actually planned by myself and another player.

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Soldier and Slave, Part 1

I did a dumb and forgot to prepare a post ahead of time for today again, so I had to dig through some stuff I previously wrote. I doubt it’ll make sense out of context, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

“The Housemen are not trusted anymore.”

Idalia looked up from her greatsword, her whetstone pausing. Solange was looking at her caste’s necklace, a setting sun inlaid with the numerals of a clock. Solange had remained scrawny, and though she wore chainmail it didn’t make her any larger or more imposing, nor did it take a trained soldier like Idalia to notice that she would far prefer to be out of it. Her black hair was oily and unkempt, and the equally black tattoos on her face stood out against her pale skin. Her armor was emerald, as was her cape. It was probably important to her Legion, somehow.

Idalia’s armor was silver with blood-red trim, her own legion’s colors. Her armor was half-plate, and while her hair was messy and black as well, hers was cropped short. She smiled at her sister. “Speak your mind, Solange.”

Solange’s expression was unreadable. “Ever since Ilos decided to stay within the House, there’s been talk circulating that our caste should have gone with him. We continued to visit to get the tattoos, and… well. Some doubt our loyalty.”

“Like who?”

Solange laughed and looked to her sister, her smile back. “I appreciate you’re trying to keep me all sheltered still, Idalia, but I’m not deaf. I hear the things people say. ‘Iceskin’, ‘Deadeyes’, and other such idiocy.”

“If such things bother you, then pretend they don’t exist.” Idalia ran her whetstone along her blade again.

“It’s just sad there are people who think like that here in the capital, is all.”

Idalia shrugged. “I guess it’s a little worrying.”

Solange slid her necklace back under her chainmail and turned back to her table. She was drawing up designs for some new weapon for the Inquisition, Idalia knew. She smirked and placed a hand on her sister’s shoulder. “Mother has you sweating up a storm, I see.” She snickered. “So much hard work in a drawing. Don’t strain your fingers, now, you might break a nail. Then who will draw the prettiest art for the Inquisition?”

Solange smirked as she drew in another line, a long barrel taking shape on the weapon. “I’m surprised you can properly pronounce ‘Inquisition’, dear sister. Have you been practicing?”

Idalia feigned a gasp and backed up. “Me talk good much!”

Solange laughed.

Idalia ruffled her hair. “Stay safe, kid.”

“You too, sis. It’s a rough forest.”

Idalia left her sister’s room and shut the door behind her.

Eliana was even less light-hearted when she went to visit. She was already waiting at the door to their small home, a slight scowl on her overtly pale face. Her hair was bright white and draped down to her waist, and she had a bow as tall as she was strapped to her back. “Idalia, this is really something I should be doing.” She said without preamble.

Idalia shrugged. “There’s a monster out there that needs destroying, so I’m gonna go destroy it.”

“Because mother told you to.”

“Yes. And?”

“Onore is our leader, that does not mean she is infallible.” Eliana replied, folding her arms.

Idalia had her own frown now, her eyebrow cocking.

“Fine, she’s closer to it than I am,” Eliana relented, “but this still feels like a mistake.”

“Lampide needs me, Elly.” Idalia said coldly. “Nothing else matters.”

Eliana sighed and started to walk away.

“Elly.”

She stopped.

“When I get back, we’re gettin’ mead, alright?”

She was quiet for a moment, then nodded. “As you wish.”

Idalia pulled experimentally on the saddle strap, making sure that it was tight and secure. Satisfied that it was, she placed one foot in the stirrup and pulled herself on. She turned to her fellows, eyes cold and bleak.

“Let’s move out.”

The thunderous sound of a dozen horses galloping through the gate was like a furious prelude to a storm.

Script for Let’s Play Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos Part 1: The Talking Bird

I wrote a script for my Let’s Play here after three or four attempts to improvise failed miserably. Here’s the script:

Hello everybody, I’m HalfTangible and this is my playthrough of Warcraft 3, Reign of Chaos. If you don’t know what Warcraft is, well A), how did you get here, and B) Warcraft 3 was a High Fantasy RTS released back in 2002. It was the sequel to Warcraft 1 and 2, and is in my humble opinion one of the BEST DAMN GAMES THERE IS.

Warcraft was developed by Blizzard Entertainment, who you’ve probably heard of before. They developed Starcraft, World of Warcraft and Diablo, all good games in their own right. Warcraft originally only had two factions: the human Alliance and Orcish Horde. However, in the third installment this expanded to include two new factions: the Undead Scourge and the Night Elf Sentinels. Each faction has their own unique strengths, weaknesses and playstyle, which we’ll get into when we start up.

[Go into the Campaign screen]

We’ll be playing through the campaign on Hard mode, because I am a bit of a masochist. Now, before we begin, a couple of things to note.
One, I tend to slur my words and trip over myself a bit, for which I apologize.

Two, this game is told mostly through gameplay and cutscenes, but there are occasional full-on cinematics such as these here. I originally tried to record the cinematics for you to set the mood properly, but the game client and Fraps crashed when I attempted to do so. So I’ll be putting the cinematics up on my channel and probably link you to them here – turn on annotations and I’ll put ‘em up.

Third, while I have played it a lot, it’s been a few years, and I am hilariously bad at this game. I intend to see this through to the end, however, and I promise not to show you all the times I get my butt kicked.

Maybe one or two, for the lulz.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

[Start – Change to second page]

Hello Thrall!

“What kind of nightmare was that?”

Ha! Wish my Nightmares were that awesome.

[After the cutscene]

Yes, Thrall, play along with the talking bird. Truly, the voices in one’s head never lead you astray.

Now, I’ll try not to talk over plot-relevant scenes or voiced events like that.

However, in case I do, I have turned on subtitles for your convenience, as you may have noticed once the narrator started talking.

If you’re familiar with Starcraft, Dota, or any strategy game, you’re probably familiar with what all he’s saying here: left click to select, left click and drag to select a bunch of units, double click to select all units of that type, etc.

[Gets to the Horde Camp]

I’ll get more into Thrall’s backstory during the orc campaign proper, but here’s what you need to know for now: Thrall is the current Warchief of the Orcish Horde, the main Orc faction, as well as chief of the Frostwolf clan. As you may have read already, he’s a Far Seer, the Orc faction’s spellcaster hero. Heroes are absolutely critical to Warcraft, and we’ll get to why here in a little bit.

[Finds the grunts]

Wait, so this guy singlehandedly united all of the orcs under his banner and he has three BASIC TROOPERS as his honor guard?…Not even upgraded basic troopers, either!

So yeah, this is the orc grunt. As I said, grunts are the basic foot soldiers of the orcish horde. Now, each faction has their own strengths and weaknesses, and the Orc’s main strength is how powerful their units are. They’re usually more expensive in terms of resources, but their raw strength makes up for it.

[List stats]

For comparison, the human footman does 12-14 damage and has 420hp. But enough blathering, let’s move on.

[Gnolls]

“to defeat this foul creature-“

Oh yes, the gnoll. Truly, the hyena-person is the most evil of abominations.

For the record, we later encounter a monster sewn together from different corpses, demons, racists, and the cult of the damned. BANDITS are fouler than these jerks.

[Thrall levels up]

Okay, this is why heroes are so central to this game. Your units are powerhouses, but they can’t shoot lightning from their hands. Heroes in this game level up with kills and become absolute powerhouses at high levels. The max level is ten, but the campaign limits your hero to a certain level per mission, presumably to keep the level’s challenge.

[Go after the Murlocs]

The Murlocs and gnolls here are called creeps – hostile creatures that basically exist for xp fodder. They’re not actually part of any faction, they’re just jerks who attack whatever’s there to attack.

[Nightfall]

OH NO! NIGHTFALL! WE’RE DOOOOOMED! DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!!!

Yeah, so this game has a day/night cycle, which I find incredibly cool. Units can’t see as far at night, and the night elf faction gets all sorts of special powers at night, but we’ll get to those.

[Ogre]

Yeah, this doesn’t happen with every creature. If we weren’t already running so long I’d show you the mud golems on this map. Seriously, this is supposed to be the prologue. Let’s hurry this up.

So, quick summary: at the bottom right corner of the map there’s a small area with some golem creeps. They don’t sleep at night, which is pretty much all they’re here to do: show that some creeps don’t sleep at night.

[After talk]

Spirits? Oh, that explains it. He’s not crazy. He’s a drunk.

So yeah, that was the first mission of the prologue. Next time, we rally the Horde and bring them all together in one place. And nothing at all will go wrong. Nothing at all.

This is HalfTangible, signing off.

Prototype Scene: The Aurora Wood

[This is a scene from my current rough draft for Chronicles of Hodra. This is one of several scenes to occur in the Aurora Wood from last time. In it, the Hodran are just about to attack the Horos main base. The Horos have been driven back quite a bit at this point, and are starting to lose faith in their commander, and rightly so. He’s an idiot.

I’m not sure if this scene will stay in the book, or if it will play out exactly in this manner.]

Where had it all gone so wrong?

Sagia remembered when they had first come here. The excitement, the confidence, the assurance of victory had long ago passed, to be replaced by fear, uncertainty and paranoia.  The Copai she had under her command were restless, and she understood perfectly well why. An animal will jump at every shadow, and a Nightworld had many shadows to jump at, even for Horos.

“What if we collapse that tree?” Copai 7 suggested. “It could block the path off, or maybe we could try and collapse it on the Hodran?”

Sagia looked to ‘that tree’ and bristled with irritation. There wasn’t enough room to place one of their Zodia mechs in the area they were guarding, so two watch towers and a small patrol had been set up. Normally they just would have leveled the crystals, but supposedly the Hodran considered it a sacred grove or something and wouldn’t attack it. She understood, but having a logical reason why you’re open to attack isn’t even remotely comforting.

At least she had twelve Copai with her. Perhaps they could be her meat shield.

“Wouldn’t work.” Copai 4 replied, pointing to the trunk. “We’d only be able to collapse it from the trunk. They’re small, quick, and live in these trees. Block the path, they’ll just climb over it or go around, and the metal men will be slowed down. Try to collapse it on them, and they’ll be inside before it lands.”

The Horos were on the run now, and everyone seemed to know it. The Hodran were animals like the Copai, and yet the Horos had been driven back. Foul sorcerey could explain quite a bit of their setbacks, but not all. It was fairly evident to her and the rest of the Horos on-base that Capric was simply incompetent.

“Well what about-”

“Would you animals cease your innane prattle?!” Sagia snarled. “You exist to serve, not to think.”

The Copai bowed their heads. “Yes, mistress.”

Sagia was quiet, trembling as she looked away. “Set up the tree to collapse anyway. Maybe we’ll get lucky.”

The planet wasn’t cold enough to make her tremble.

Sagia was beginning to doubt the mission. She would never question the Lady, of course, but she questioned how her commanders had chosen to follow Her instructions. Capric seemed the bumbling fool. Their forces were constantly thwarted and outmaneuvered, like children trying to build a particle accelerator (granted, not much room to talk, she didn’t manage it until 7) and there was absolutely no reason for it. Capric had grown eccentric, too, talking to himself in empty rooms, yelling at his aides for no apparent reason, and generally growing more unstable by the minute.

…Who was in command after Capric, again? Was it Taura? Her hand unconsciously dropped to her crossbow. Perhaps she would do a better job than this miserable-

There was a slight hum, two loud cracks, and darkness swallowed her.

She pulled out her weapon, snarling at the sudden change. The Copai were scrambling as well. She could hear them grabbing their daggers and clubs. She could hear thumps as her charges hit the ground. She fired at the minute sounds of paws on grass, but was disappointed to hear Copai 2 yell out in pain.

She had just enough time to wonder how they had turned the trees off before consciousness left her.

When you wish upon the mist

Prompt: Start a piece at the end and work backwards. Begin, as they say, with a bang (literal or otherwise). Start as big as you can.

He’d been lucky to get this mountaintop retreat for them both – his sister was being uncharacteristically generous, considering she didn’t approve of Olivia.

Mason deliberated for months on a way to properly show his love, but eventually just decided to keep it simple. He’d gotten on one knee and just asked, alone in the quiet woods in the mountains.

She’d been unable to get out ‘yes’ fast enough, it seemed. Mason had never been happier in his life.

The day after, a purple mist had passed over their valley and into the house. Mason had been awake to see it, though Olivia had not been. It had passed over them both, seemingly without doing anything harmful, before vanishing off into the distance, taking the noise of the animals with it. And this was BEFORE the earthquake.

It had certainly been a strange week for weather, but the two lovers were just glad to be going home at last.

Every year on Christmas Eve their local church held a mass, and the two attended, deciding to announce their engagement to Olivia’s family then, and Mason’s the next day.

There was no one there, and realization of this fact dawned slowly on them both.

They started ith the streets and country roads before moving deeper into the city. They looked through stores, big small and incorporated. They searched through buildings that still had power, through abandoned apartments and police stations with locked cells.

Not a single human being for miles.

Eventually he found an excuse to split up with Olivia – something about covering more ground – because he already had a guess of what was going on.

Words were echoing in his ears, and his heart was pounding.

“I’m not exactly financially secure right now, and Olivia… Her family won’t stop pestering me, and really, I don’t want to deal with them right now. I just want to spend time alone with the woman I love.”

The car door slammed in the empty woods. The path was largely undisturbed. Mason’s lungs were burning as he raced through the trees, remembering exactly where he’d gone.

He’d remembered a small passage in the tome about wishes going haywire if the spell was disrupted in some way, and given the recent earthquakes it was likely. So naturally, he was confused when he arrived. The ritual circle was completely untouched. Mason slapped his blood against the altar, too angry to think straight. The mist coiled again, and Clausan stepped from the parting mist.

“You called, Master?”

“What the hell have you done?!”

“What you asked.”

“This is-”

“-Quicker than you expected, I know. I’ve been busy. Only you, I, and the girl remain.” The creature grinned.

“What did you do to them?!”

“I did exactly as you asked.”

“How is this what I wished for?! I didn’t want the world to end, I wanted time alone with my love!”

It said only one thing as it faded into smoke.

“Did you think there were no consequences for services such as mine?”

And as he looked up, he realized with horror the mistake he’d made.

The sun and stars were gone.

Well for obvious reasons, it doesn’t look backwards to you. But I’ll write this one one sentence at a time in reverse.

Except for this: “Anything powerful enough to give you everything you want has the power to take it all away.” And this: “Great, I waited till the last minute again and am finishing a blog post at 2am. Bet this will be embarassing to look at later.”

Games Daughters Play

Solange twisted the sides around on her cube, tongue sticking out between her lips as she fully concentrated on the hunk of wood in her hands. A Housemen she’d met on her latest escape- er, unplanned vacation had given her the cube, and told her to “create order from the virulent chaos.”

The twelve year old’s response was to smash the cube, put it back together and say “Like this?”

Solange had gotten a new cube, and had it slowly explained to her that she was supposed to turn the sides. Now she looked around the cube’s sides, trying to determine the quickest way to put the cube back into its proper shape. But for real, this time.

Six sides. Nine squares on each side. Each square had a pair of runes, and when put together properly, the cube formed a poem. (At least, she thought that was what it did – the Housemen hadn’t been very clear) But for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out the tale. Heck, how was one supposed to put together a poem from this anyway… And where did it start on this bloody cube?!

Eliana tugged on Solange’s legging. “Play with me!”

“Fire born, fire day, death night…” Solange grumbled, still looking at her cube. “Should’ve asked for a hint. This poem makes no sense…”

“PLAY WITH ME!!”

“And all the sides look the same, how’re you supposed to tell where it starts?!”

Eliana pouted and moved over to Idalia and Dawn. Idalia was standing with her fist closed and near her shoulder, her open palm lower. She was… Eliana didn’t know, learning a basic stance from some fighting style or something. But who cared? Eliana wanted to play NOW.

“-just surprised Housemen came up with it, is all.” Idalia was saying.

“No caste has a monopoly on ideas that benefit them.” Dawn said calmly. “Turn your feet a li-”

“PLAY WITH ME!!”

One moment, Eliana.” Dawn said, moving Idalia’s other hand. “Hold that position for as long as you can. Your stance is everything, Idalia.”

“It hurts a little…”

“It’ll be uncomfortable for a while, but eventually it will require no effort.” She turned to Eliana, smiling. “Now, what was-”

“PLAY!” Eli grabbed the woman’s hand and dragged her to the side.

“Eliana, it’s not that big a OW stop squeezing!”

Idalia watched Dawn get dragged off and sighed. She then looked to Sol, keeping her stance as still as she could. “Getting any closer on that cube thing?”

Solange didn’t answer, twisting the cubes’ sides.

“Typical.” Idalia grumbled, turning her head back around. “Can’t even say ‘**** off’.”

“Language, Idalia.” Solange said, twisting the cube’s sides again. “Maybe if I… no, that moves water day out of position… wonder if the poem is-”

“Oh for the love of…” Idalia growled. “It’s not a poem.”

Solange finally looked up to Idalia and cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean?”
“It’s not that complicated – you get each of the six sides to have only one of the left elements on them, with the right in the same position on each face.”

Solange blinked, then looked down at the cube. She performed several quick twists. Idalia looked ahead, keeping her breathing under control. So the answer was ‘no’, apparent-

“Done!”

Idalia’s head immediately shot around, moving out of her stance and grabbed the cube from Solange’s hands.

“Hey!”

Idalia looked the cube over. Indeed, Idalia had solved the cube ridiculously quickly. She looked at the girl, blinking. “How did you do that?”

Solange frowned. “Gimme the cube back and I’ll tell you.”

Idalia tossed it back to Solange, who caught it, glaring at Idalia. “Okay, now tell me how you solved it.”

Solange gritted her teeth.

“…What?”

“You think I cheated.”

“Never said that!”

“You thought it.”

“I didn’t think anything.”

“Oh, I’m sure that’s mostly true.”

“Excuse me?!”

“Enough.”

Idalia and Solange both looked up to see Dawn standing over them. She picked up the cube and looked it over. After a few moments of silence, she looked to Solange. “How did you accomplish this?”

Solange scratched her head, grinning sheepishly. “Er, I spent so long looking for the poem I uh… kind of memorized what every square was on the entire thing… and where? And from there it was a matter of simple math.”

Idalia could’ve sworn she imagined it, but for a brief moment she thought Dawn’s eyes had widened and her mouth dropped. It must have been her imagination though, because in the time it took to blink, she was just smiling motherly again.

Motherly, eh… Idalia kept her smile to herself. She wondered if Dawn would take one of them home one day – scratch that, she wondered when that would happen and (more importantly) if she would keep coming back.

“That’s brilliant.” Dawn tossed the cube back to Solange. “Could you show me?” She glanced at Idalia. “Dear, you need to hold that stance for as long as you can.”

Idalia smirked with amusement and moved back into her stance. Solange looked back down at the cube and saw (with some small bit of irritation) that the cube was messed up again. Eliana tugged on Dawn’s dress, still pouting that nobody was playing with her.

Lord of Change – Part 7

Ouran gazed at the sand beneath his feet, feeling the grains between his toes. He had assumed the form of a young human for this outing, with dark black hair and deeply tanned skin. He knew that if he looked in the water he would see a black mask around his eyes – it was the only thing he couldn’t change anymore, which he supposed was okay. He liked the mask. Simple, but striking.

Besides, he’d learned since then what he’d gotten in exchange: Not only were his transformations more stable, simpler to pull off and less tiring, but all of reality was his to shift and change.

“So what happens now?”

He looked down and to his left to see Sihlk, in the form of a wolf with hooves for some reason, trotting alongside him with light purple fur. Her ears flopped around a bit while she stared up at him, awaiting an answer from the newborn god.

Ouran shrugged. “I really don’t know.” He admitted. “I mean, I guess I’m supposed to… go out and use this power, right?”

She cocked an eyebrow, making it glow luminescent for dramatic effect. “Shouldn’t you do what you wanna?”

“Yes, Sihlk, that’s the problem. It’s not like I want to sit around and do nothing, but I honestly have no idea what to do. I’m free of my past, but I have no idea what to do for the future.” They turned and moved off of the beach, further inland towards the forest

“Make Althra a grave?”

“I hated her.”

“With her name changed to ‘Moron McWitchenstein?”

“Too much work for too crude a joke.”

She shifted into a horse. “Declare war on Creator-Father-Mother?”

“… WHY WOULD I DO THAT?!”

“I dunno. Seems like fun.”

“……”

“For you, I mean. I’d still be on its side.”

“Gee Sihlk, suggesting I go get myself killed for fun and adding you’ll be trying to kill me too. You’re a great friend.”

Sihlk shrugged. “Turn into a school?”

“I’ve lived maybe a year, I shouldn’t be teaching anyone.”

“I meant the building.”

“I don’t wanna sit down in one place for a year with a bunch of bratty messy children inside me.”

“Well, we could go look after the human tribe we left behind? With Althra gone, they might be willing to worship you.

“Ehhhh… Even if I liked the idea of worship, I’d be kind of a bad leader.”

“True.” Sihlk admitted, raising a hand to her chin as she stood up onto two legs. “How about we just go someplace?”

Ouran sighed and looked down. “Go where? I know nothing of the world…” He cocked an eyebrow. “And for whatever reason you won’t tell me?”

“What fun would that be?” Sihlk frowned, sprouting a tentacle to rub at her chin. “Ya know, I’ve heard that in the north, when a person has lost their whole past and has no future worth mentioning, they go out onto what’s called Bjor’Pered…” She bounced, suddenly grinning broadly. “Yeah!!! ‘Wander like our goal’! We’ll go a-wanderin’, righting wrongs and telling stories of what we see! We’ll have our ups and downs, and get to be utter hams with cheesy lines like ‘At the end of the day, we’ve all seen the sun set’! It’ll be great!”

“…Why?”

“If you have to ask ‘why’ you’ve missed the point already.” Sihlk grinned.

“I mean, why are you coming with me?”

Sihlk blinked. “Cuz you’re my friend.”

“So you’ll go off on a journey of who-knows-how-long… because I’m your friend?”

“Of course not. That’s why I’m going with you.” She stuck out her tongue.

Ouran blinked twice, then smirked. “You’re strange.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

Ouran’s smirk turned into a warm smile. “No.”

And so Sihlk, the first Bard, and Ouran, the Lord of Change, began their journeys… Their adventures were many and their exploits legendary. From the calming of the Revenant Storm to dethroning of the Witch-Queen, these two friends would conquer problems mundane and fantastic across the world… but such are tales for another day.

For now, such is the origin of the Wandering God and Sihlk the Bard. 

It may even be true.