☩ godspeed ☩

Discussion in 'THE TEST CHAMBERS' started by Sir Basil, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. please do not post in here.

    i am just practicing codes.


    #1 Sir Basil, Aug 6, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  2. [​IMG]W I T C H ᛡ H U N T
    ‘You are blood and to blood you shall return.’
    • W E L ᛡ C O M E
      Welcome to the world of Donegal! Donegal is an island of rich history, complicated magic, demons, angels, and complex politics. In Donegal, your character will have the opportunity to change their fate, by gathering allies, helping others, and getting revenge. Survival will be your character's first priority, but tests of morality, quick thinking, and political savviness will no doubt come into play.

      You begin with absolutely nothing, being led in cold-iron chains to their final destination; the Fortress of Lacus Arce in the center of Lodain. There, you will be tried by a panel of All-Speakers - religious leaders - and no doubt found guilty of heresy. You must escape - whether you were falsely accused, or you are actually as wicked as your accusers made you out to be.. And when you do, all of Donegal is open to you. However, as a fugitive from the Faith - you will be hunted. Be careful! Donegal is a dangerous place, and you will face brigands and outlaws, cultists and mages, and crazed witch hunters alike. WITCH HUNT is a game of high stakes, dark themes, and grey morality.

    • W I T C H ᛡ H U N T
      Ten years ago, the Lodainic Imperatrix Regina Deorum converted to the Church of All, and issued a demand that the people of Lodain - and indeed, all of Donegal - find guidance in the one true religion. Since her conversion, many have adopted the Church of All - including her daughter. Her daughter, the newly crowned Imperatrix, Laurentia II, came into a world where her religion was growing in strength, but her empire was not. Lodain was suffering. All of Donegal was enduring famine and plague - Lodain was no exception. Worse yet, the southern half of the Empire, Dornach, Gaul, and Airmyn had rebelled and overthrown Lodainic control. Laurentia was mocked in the streets, and the Church was mocked along with her. Tempers were rising all around her It became clear that she could not turn a blind eye to the chaos erupting throughout Donegal, and the overwhelming possibility of a religious civil war.

      But before there is war, there is always chaos. There were vigilantes, taking the matters of the faith into their own hand. But their effort resulted in the destruction of ancient holy sights, the burning of heretics, and the torture of those who consult with spirits of the Duinnoban - primarily, mages. But there were also the Church's official advocate - the All-Swords that stalked the faithful and unfaithful regions of the world, with a dogged desire to rid the world of any that oppose the Church of All. And there were the mages, of course. The mages, who the Church's tenets demonized, claiming that they were responsible for the demons that now stalked the earth. The widespread panic caused far more violence than the demons ever could. Something had to be done. The Church needed to show that it was a beacon of strength, and that only through its law, could there be peace in Donegal.

      And it is already too late for you. You and a small group of others are victims. Victims of plague, famine, war and circumstance. Ally or enemy of the Church, you have been accused of heresy, and your village has been burned, to cauterize the infection you have brought. Perhaps, you have been falsely accused. Perhaps you were a good person. Then again, perhaps not. No matter who you were before, you now find yourself marching in chains across the rocky hills of Moravia, soon to cross the border into Lodain. Once you arrive there, you will be tried, found guilty, and executed by the All-Speakers. Maybe this frightens you. Maybe you have resigned yourself to this. Or maybe, just maybe you can escape... and take your revenge upon your accusers. The pyres of Lodain have blackened the sky. The witch hunt has begun...

    • T H E ᛡ A C C U S E D
      Ide Mag Shamhradháin / F / Gaul / Mage (Pact)
      Lillian Fairview / F / Lodain / Noble
      Halivon Zeeman / M / Tir-Caredyr / Architect
      Lloyl Ether Remane / M / Lodain / Mage (Spirit)
      Ronan Khinganme / M / Lodain / Mage (Spirit)
      Gaheris Wolfe Leighton / M / Igris - Lochan / Resistance Leader
      Talulla Ni Eoin / F / Igris / Herb Witch
      Jasper Ferrutius / M / Tir-Caredyr / Guardsman
      Cadoc Ulfgeir / M / Gaul / Hired Lout
      Eppenos Gae Bulg / M / Gaul / Druid Mage (Spirit - Blood)

    • T H E ᛡ S K E L E T O N

      Name: (Your character's full name.)
      Age: (Self explanatory.)
      Gender: (Whatever you like. In most regions of Donegal, Men and Women are largely equal. The most notable exception is Lodain, which is a matriarchy.)
      Ethnicity: (Lodain, Myrr, Gaul, Igrisian, Sea Person, Lochan, Islander.)
      Religion: (Church of All, Druidic, Namer, Spirit-Worship -- Or none.)
      Home Region: (Eireen Island, Lodain, Igris, Airmyn, Gaul, Perth, Brigant, Dornach, Moravia, Tir-Caredyr, Eboyr, or Eir-Vaygyr.)
      Known Languages: (Lodainic, Boreus Lodainic, Igrish, Perthic, and/or Gaulian. All players know the Gods' Good Common.)
      Appearance: (Picture or description, please. Or both, if there are additional details in your character that are not represented by the image you have chosen. Please keep with the ethnicities and people types previously established and mentioned.)
      Personality: (Just a brief summary.)
      Class: (Mage, Seeker, Recreants Druid, All-Father, Brewer, Innkeeper, etc.)
      ----- Type: (If a Mage or Recreant)
      ----- True Names Known: (If a Mage. Please limit to 1-3 to start. You will have the opportunity to learn more!)
      Skills: (These can be mundane skills like brewing or cooking, as well as potent magic or special combat training.)
      Weaknesses: ( Fears, failures, and anything your character doesn't excel at. These can be as severe as missing limbs, or as minor as an allergy to peas.)
      History: (A background of your character, including their accusation, and subsequent capture.)

    [​IMG] T H E ᛡ R E L I G I O N
    ‘I shall behold Heaven, but Heaven is not near. ’
    • T H E ᛡ C O N F L I C T
      The central conflict of Witch Hunt is the relationship between the New Faith - the Church of All - and the Old Faiths - Druids, and Namers. the Although the situation has been tense since the Church of All's founding, it was only after the Lodainic Imperatrix Regina Deorum converted to the Church of All that the cofnlict started in earnest. Regina Deorum issued a demand that the people of Lodain - and indeed, all of Donegal - find guidance in the one true religion: The Worship of the Gods that are Many. Since her conversion, many have adopted the Church of All - including the current Imperatrix, Laurentia II. However, there is still opposition to the Church of All within Donegal. The mages in particular have taken a stance against the Church, as much of the Church's tenets demonize all forms of magic, from the widely accepted Pact Magic to the more infamous Spirit and Blood Magic. The Church of All's conflict with the traditional religions is not simply religious, but also political, regional, and cultural, and many have been caught in its wake...

    • A L L ᛡ F A I T H
      The Church of All focuses on worship of the Gods Who Are Many- primordial spirits that have fused into one being. The Gods do not have a name, and are praised for their swarm like influence over the world. The Chruch of All was founded by the Seer - a Myrrish man from Tir Caredyr who was wracked with visions of ten Gods of All, and composed his visions into a many chaptered Holy Book, divided into (so far) 6 books. The Book is called the Book of Voices, referring to the many Voices that spoke to Malachi in his dreams.
      The Church of All is headed by an All-Voice, the son of Malachi, who refused to take a name, saying that he was merely a conduit for the Gods will, and that he spoke the language of the Gods. Beneath the All-Voice in the hierarchy are the All-Speakers, who serve as missionaries, after learning the Book of Voices by heart. The lay brothers and sisters of the church- the All-Brothers/Sisters- are beneath them. All-Brothers/Sisters who are put in charge of a specific chapel dedicated to the Church of All are commonly referred to as All-Fathers/Mothers, and enjoy a higher station that the All-Brothers and Sisters, and are generally the eldest and most experienced members of their chapel.
      The Church of All is expanding rapidly, explaining that the current chaos in the world is because the Gods of All are angry with Donegal. If everyone worshipped The All - the famine and plague would end.That said, even within the Faith there are whispers that specific All-Speakers and All-Fathers / Mothers are corrupt - in the same way that people don't trust specific politicians, but still believe in democracy. Nobody questions the All-Voice, however, believing him to be above petty human sin and temptation.

      Distinguished from the general Church ranks are the militant branch - The All-Swords - the emotional branch - The All-Disciples - and the logical branch - The All-Seekers.

    • T H E ᛡ N A M E R S
      The Enemy is the Church of All's name for the loose coalition of worshippers who adhere to their beliefs- but instead of adhering to the belief that the Gods of All have the interests of making at heart, they believe that Bel, and the other so-called "prime evils" represent the primal powers of humanity. They believe that although these aspects of mankind are not pretty, they are something that all of mankind experiences, and this provides a universal experience that ultimately unifies mankind as a whole. They believe that it is important to act on feelings- positive or negative, in order to move past the emotions, or even use then to further a greater good. The Namers represent all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
      The Namers pride themselves on the individuality of their membership. Central is the idea that an individual must enforce their own meaning on life and rise above the perceived conformity of the masses, and the Gatherings encourage strong-self esteem- believing that pride is what allows man to do great things. Thus, the prime evils are a balancing force to The Namers, and without the so-called sins, there would be no progress. The Namers suggest that they should instead internalize their gods and, therefore, worship themselves; hence the maxim, "I am my own god". Unlike the strict structure of the Church of All, The Namers are not well organized. They tend to form small, tightly knit cults (they call them Gatherings) headed by a priest or a priestess referred to as The Named One. The leader of these Gatherings is always a Mage- magic is respected as the truest form of freedom and is seen as Bel's gift to mankind, since he was the one who brought True Names back into the world. Blood magic is praised highly because unlike the other two forms of magic, that involve being a conduit for the power of a spirit, the Namers believe that the spirit is powered from the blood of the caster, making the caster a source of magic. Education is encouraged as well, but they believe that a member must take it into their own hands. The Gatherings have some aspect of meritocracy- but the Named One is the leader above all else.
      The Church of All is expanding rapidly, explaining that the current chaos in the world is because the Gods of All are angry with Donegal. If everyone worshipped The All - the famine and plague would end.That said, even within the Faith there are whispers that specific All-Speakers and All-Fathers / Mothers are corrupt - in the same way that people don't trust specific politicians, but still believe in democracy. Nobody questions the All-Voice, however, believing him to be above petty human sin and temptation.

    • T H E ᛡ D R U I D S

      The Druids stands on the outsides of both the Chuch of All, and the Namers. This ancient religion is primarily practiced in Gaul, Southern Igris, and Dornach. Although it shares many characteristics with the basic spirit-worship found throughout Donegal, there is one key difference; druids believe that all other spirits are inferior to the King and Queen of the Duinnoban; Ciarán of the Horns and his wife, Mara the Mother.
      Ciarán is always shown with either horns or antlers upon his head in the great rock carvings that litter Gaul, Igris and Dornarch, and he is associated with nature, wilderness, sexuality, hunting and the life cycle. He is in command of one of the two forces that govern all other spirits, and indeed, the entire world; time. He is a dual spirit with his wife, Mara, a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting. She is also commonly associated with bodies of water, as opposed to her husbands forests. She is in charge of fate, according to the Druids, and determines "how the waters will hit the rocks."
      The prevalence of caves and underground rivers within regions where Druidism was prominent led the Gaul's to believe that they were paths that had been carved by Ciarán to serve as a way for his wife to reach him from the sea, and that all rivers, lakes, and inland bodies of water came from the caves that he had constructed for her. Gauls call this network of caves "The Dark Road" or "The Old Road", and use it a way of ensuring that their dead reach their Gods - they scatter the ashes of their dead in the underground waterway, where it will hopefully drift off to reach its maker.

    [​IMG] T H E ᛡ C H A N G E
    ‘Ní mar a shíltear a bhítear.’
    • T H E ᛡ R I T U A L
      Little is known about the Change that is used largely by the Church of All. it is an alchemical ritual with no true magic behind it, and it both psychological and physical in what is done to the subject. No matter the type, all Changed People, when they enter the Duinnoban to dream, can see the region with perfect clarity, and see Spirits for what they really are. Thus, they are ignored by Spirits utterly and are not subject to their influence. For this reason, none of them can perform any kind of magic. Both rituals were performed unofficially prior to the institution of the Church of All, without the religious overtones. These men and women are referred to as "Recreants", and All-Swords hunt them above all else, although there is great desire to bring them into the fold of the Church. There are two types of Change; The Change of Preservation, and The Change of Domination. The Change of Preservation is performed on Seekers of Ecclesiastes and The Change of Domination is the ritual preformed on all All-Swords.

    • A L L ᛡ S E E K E R S
      Also known as the Seekers of Ecclesiastes, the All-Seekers are the scribes and researchers of the Church of All. Many high lords and high ladies had Seekers at their sides, to act as advisors. They commonly work with All-Swords to combat threats to the Church of All. The All-Swords dealt with the demons and sinners alike, but Seekers provided the information needed to confront them. They were minds behind All-Sword muscle, and the two had sort of a sense of kinship between the two of them, the only ones in modern society who had been Changed. All-Seekers often act as advisors, and travel more than even the All-Swords.
      The Change of Preservation is performed on Seekers of Ecclesiastes. The major components involve an extensive reworking of the body, where the potential Changed patient is drained of all of their blood, and it is replaced with a thick, black fluid crafted from dog's blood, ginger, henbane, yarrow, and other ingredients that are known only to the Pain-Tasters - who perform the ritual within the city of Abutetur Vulnerum in Northern Lodain. The transfusion takes place over the course of a month, and usually is performed upon six to twelve individuals at the time. Roughly a third survive the Change of Preservation.The results are not uniform, but some characteristics that are always the same include the change in blood and eye colour. The eyes are always darkened, sometimes with the entire iris being black, and the blood is similarly darkened. The natural pink places on the skin become grey or ashy. Their metabolism slows down to a crawl and their life-span extends unnaturally. Although it has not been documented well, it is supposed that a Changed person could live far more than a 100 years, but as the ritual only came into common practice within the past 10 years, its unknown what the results could be.
      However, some Recreants who have undergone the Change of Preservation have reportedly lived into their early 200s. Possible side effects of the Change of Preservation are generally related to the build up of fluids within the Seeker's body, due to poor circulation and a bad metabolic rate. There is often a change in facial features, including the thickening of the lips, tongue, and nostrils, as well as enlarged internal organs. Many Seeker's experience hair-loss, and many of them shave their heads in response to clumps of their hair falling out. They frequently have nose-bleeds.
    • A L L ᛡ S W O R D S
      All-Swords exist in order to enforce the will of the Church, through force. They are usually orphans who were given to the church. and they have all undergone the Change, a mystery to even those within the church. The Change universally turned their eyes orange, and gave them skills necessary for hunting heretics and demons alike. There are currently five of them, one of each of the regions completely converted to the Church of All (Tir-Caredyr, Eboryr, Brigant, Eir-Vaygyr, and Lodain.) All of them are gifted at languages, and represent their nation with exceptional patriotism. They only answer to the All-Voice himself, and do not have to follow the usual rules and stipulations of the church.
      They are led by a Changed warrior named Salathiel, who reportedly is the only man in the world who has done battle with one of the Prime Evils. He is also called Salathiel the Wielder. Every Wielder had been named Salathiel; they gave up their name when the became the Wielder, taking the name of the first Wielder.. It was said that they had all wielded the sword of an angel; who had come down to the world of men to bestow this sword upon the first Wielder, Salathiel, in the Year 1.He deals with the day to day affairs of the All-Swords and provides guidance morally, spiritually, and often physically through their Change. 

      The Change of Domination is the ritual preformed on all All-Swords. The major components consist of bloodletting and indoctrination, as the memories of the All-Sword's life prior to their position within the church are wiped away, as well as memories of their family. Their faces are scarred by the Pain-Tasters. They are given some strange herbs and potions to eat and drink for the space of a year while subject to indoctrination and heavy religious education from the Church of All. It is known to be a very painful ritual..
      The results are not uniform, but some characteristics that are always the same include the change in eyecolour - all All-Swords have orange eyes. Their eyes are also primed for night vision, as a thin, mirror-like structure at the back of their eye helps reflect light that was not already absorbed by the eye back into the eye a second time. When lights are shown on the All-Swords in dim light, their eyes will reflect the light so brightly that it looks like they are glowing. As well, their metabolism speeds up, and their sex-drive also increases. Perhaps as a result of their hyper-metabolism, those who undergo the Change of Domination have a greatly shortened life-span, only 40-50 years long. Although they do not show their age for most of their lives, the last five years of a Changed person's life involve their age rapidly catching up with them, leaving them decrepit and frail.Other possible effects are heightened senses, particularly the sense of smell, changes in hair color (usually a lightening), and resistance to the elements and harsh weather. Provided that they can keep up with the demands of their metabolisms, many Changed people find themselves no longer tiring, while still requiring sleep. Some side effects from a bad reaction to the Change are a permanent catabolic state, or the opposite, an anaerobic imbalance, with all of the side effects that entails.
      All-Swords take a new Surname when they take their vows. It is dependent on their region. Tir-Caredyry All-Swords take the name Jacob, Eboryr take Isiah, Brigant take the name Sarah, Eir-Vaygyr take Rebecca, and Lodainic All-Swords take the name Ezekiel. All-Swords have some residual memories of their childhoods, but they are confused with the memories of the legendary character who they have taken their surnames from. Their personalities are intact as well, but they have been largely indoctrinated to be loyal to the Church -- no matter the cost of human life. They will do anything to protect hte church's interests, but that can manifest in very different ways. They're a bit like pointing a bomb at an archery target - they tend to inflict collateral damage. Also, every 7 years, they enact a grim policy called "The Cleansing". Nobody knows what this is for - but it leaves behind hollowed-out corpses and burning villages...There is only one All-Sword per region, and they often wear masks
      All All-Swords were buried - if there were remains to bury - within the crypt in Tir Caredyr's grand temple - tombs that were specially carved and designed for each of them. Construction of the tomb began when they were appointed, and ended when they died. . No All-Sword had ever died of old age, not a single one. There were always boys and girls training to be All-Swords, boys and girls who would replace them when their time was finally up.

    • T H E ᛡ P A I N
      Most Pain Tasters simply sold their trade on the streets of Tir Caredyr - they had a talent for inflicting utter unbearable pain upon a person, but a pain that was not lethal, and holy above all things. It was the pain of the Gods Who Are Many that the Pain Tasters gave, and a pain that would render even the most twisted of individuals pure. Though most saw the Pain-Taster's as nothing but leeches trying to make a profit from the church - they were an integral part of the church's structure and always filled the coffers. More importantly; Pain-Tasters perform the Change on All-Swords and All-Seekers. It is unknown how most Recreants came into being, and most do not survive long enough to say; but some whisper that every single Pain-Tasters used to be heathens -- and some still are.
      They wear a black ironwood mask , but painted with white ; making it resemble a skull.

    #2 Sir Basil, Aug 6, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
  3. [​IMG]T R U E ᛡ N A M E S
    ‘I know your name, Wielder’
    • T H E ᛡ M A G I C
      All magic is conducted through the Duinnoban. This is the land of spirits and dreams. The Duinnoban is the place between places, the thing that kept the world of Men safe from demons and isolated from angels as well, the buffer zone between all worlds. And mortal Men went there when they slept, and could see only the flicker and fading of dreams that would shape the world to come - but when they awoke, even those flickers were lost. Supposedly, the Enemy made deals with the demons to peer through the veil, to channel the powers and see the true nature of things. It was dangerous, though, and it was easy for the Duinnoban to send creatures and spirits to possess the dreamers, if the dreamers make themselves available.

      The Duinnoban, as the physical region where people go during sleep, manifests as a seemingly endless battlefield, although the battle had long ended. Sometimes, aspects of the waking world - such as a familiar tree or ruin - can be seen through the orange haze and the smoke, but they often fade away. To those that are Changed, the Duinnoban only appears as this battlefield, but those who are normal, Unchanged, often see the battlefield transformed into something else. Spirit-worshippers often try to interpret these images, believing that the Spirits within the Duinnoban are attempting to alert them to something that will happen in the waking world.
      Many people worship the spirits of the Duinnoban, believing that each aspect of the natural world mirrored in the Duinnoban has powerful magic that they extend to the waking world. In this belief system, they believe that all things have a soul, and a spirit - and that these spirits can be reasoned with. Every mountain, river, spring, marsh, tree and rocky outcrop is inspirited - and ever spirit has a True Name .Learning True Names is a way for the mage to control its spirit - and a way to enhance it. Without True Names, a mage can neither control their magic, and their already not particularly powerful magic is even weaker. In order to learn Names, a a mage must make a pact with a spirit , sacrifice blood, or stumble upon a a tome in the Old Roads with the recorded word. It's possible to learn them from another Mage - but mages generally don't tell others their collected True Names. The reason don't is because any mispronunciation can go terribly wrong, resulting in not just a misfired spell, but occasionally worst devastation than the spell was originally supposed to work.
      Another option is to search the Duinnoban for the true name of an object or a person, by infiltrating their dreams, or conversing with spirits. This is dangerous, because although some spirits take on guardian roles, there are others who take on more wrathful ones. If the mage happened to attract the attention of a very powerful spirit, their magic often runs away with them -- which is exactly what the Church fears. No matter which religion is speaking, all agree that no matter the role that they take, all spirits are exceptionally dangerous - but also the source of all magic. Magic falls into three categories; Spirit, Pact, and Blood.
      Magic in Donegal is Functional; it's magic that works. It can be relied upon to produce a result, though the exact strength and intention of the magic is often vague at best. What is known, however, is that Magic consists of three fundamental parts. The Spirit, The Focus, and the True Name itself. Every mage must have bound themselves to a Spirit, either through a close intra-personal bond, a binding, or blood sacrifice. The Mage does not have inherent magic; a spirit is always present in some way or another, as the spirit serves as a tether to the sources of all magic; Duinnoban. Once the spirit is attached to the Mage, it is forced to reveal its True Name to the caster - or the caster used said True Name to bind it. The Spirit may also know additional Names - but generally, they do not know many. They know the Names of specific elements, or aspects of the natural world. By speaking these Names, they call these elements or aspects into the world, out of seemingly thin air. However, magic in Donegal comes with a price. The price is not simply the spirit attached to the mage - True Names can be physically and emotionally taxing on the Mage as well.
      True Names encompass all the world, magic, and Duinnoban. Everything that ever was, and presumably everything that ever will be has a True Name. Learning a True Name is not like learning a word in another language. The Name needs to be studied and analyzed by the Mage. The Mage must feel the word as if it was there own. Often, this comes down to learning the etymology of the True Name in order to speak it. The Mage must exert their will upon the word, and make it their master. The Mage is physically commanding the Duinnoban by its Name. Although knowing the Name is one thing ; the fact of the matter is that all Magic in Donegal is a command, and thus must be said in the right tone and incantation. Even with a practiced True Name, stress or lack of self-control can result in slightly mispronounced True Names -- which can spell utter disaster.
      Most Mages use a Focus when casting. A Focus is often an herb, an object, or physical piece (hair, nail clippings) of the subject of the True Name. This is often accompanied by a particular chanting, clapping, or other rhythmic time keeping while the Name is said. Focus' are a way for the Name to either be insulated - or expanded. Chewing on an herb, for example; might pollute the body such that the True Name would not recognize it as a target; effectively a magic dead-spot. On the other hand, spilling honey in large quantities might work as a man-made ley-line, giving the magic a substance to work through. Perhaps the simplest way to think about it is that Focuses are conductive or reductive, and while some substances are universally conductive (honey) and some are universally reductive and exclusionary (worm-wood) many Names have unique levels of reactivity to different Focuses. For example; the true name of Salt might not be reactive against a Focus made of blessed water - but it could be strongly reactive to an Iron figurine. To further complicate things, many mages have personal focus objects; where their relationship tot he object causes them to work their magic. A mage who has a beloved childhood toy may use it to work magic through.
      The universal Focus is the Mage's blood. Because the Mage has been touched by the Duinnoban in some way or another, their blood carries an inherent, minor, magical-ness to it. Because the blood is part of the caster, it responds in a way favourable to the caster's intent. Unfortunately, sacrifices of blood work less and less over-time, as the caster's body becomes less of their own - and more part of the Duinnoban's every shifting sands.

    • S P I R I T ᛡ M A G I C
      Spirit Magic is a rarity amongst the magic world; a spirit mage's magical gifts are awakened when a spirit from the Duinnoban takes an interest in a child. The child is affected with unusual dreams, and during these dreams is offered a promise of power and respect by a spirit - either helpful or harmful - in exchange for some influence over the physical body of the child - melding with the child's personality.
      This is not a split personality, nor is the personality remarkably different save that the effect child, when in stressful situations, will be able to call upon magic to defend themselves, or to comfort themselves. With guidance, the child can call upon these powers at will by tapping into the feelings that the spirit they bonded with most responds to. A rarity amongst the magic world; a spirit mage's magical gifts are awakened when a spirit from the Duinnoban takes an interest in a child. The child is affected with unusual dreams, and during these dreams is offered a promise of power and respect by a spirit - either helpful or harmful - in exchange for some influence over the physical body of the child - melding with the child's personalty.Spirit mages tend to move to two extremes on a spectrum; either they wear their emotions on their sleeves, or they are very good at concealing and controlling their reactions, burying their true feelings underneath.
      Spirit Mages, in part because they are so rare, are viewed as dangerous and tempestuous - some believe that they are possessed by demons. Perhaps this is because Spirit magic without training is simply uncontrollable. Unlike pact or blood magic, where a spirit was sought out - spirit magic attaches itself to the wielder. It's said by some, that the spirit wields the mage, far more the mage wields the spirit. The spirit does not want to see its host harmed, and will attempt defend it from physical peril, and attempt to comfort it, On the other hand, it is not usually in charge of the mage's physical functions. The spirit's influence is often very weak - although its influence is stronger when the mage is a child. Even prior to the institution of the Church of All, the Lodainic empire has viewed Spirit mages as anomalies who must be watched closely in order to control them.

    • P A C T ᛡ M A G I C
      Pact Mages are more often and not, a budding scholar who has found the True Name of one of the Duinnoban's spirits. Their curiousity may have gotten the better of them, and they used the Name to call the spirit. Often times, this Name is found within ancient texts kept by the Seekers of Ecclesiastes, within the grand northern libraries. These Name stem from the ancient, primordial language that the first beings on Donegal spoke, and which all Spirits still speak. By speaking the Name, a spirit can be called, and the scholar can use the True Name to command the spirit. By commanding the spirit, the summoner can ask for the True Names of other things in the waking world ; allowing the caster dominance over them.The spirit called may not know many Names - generally, they know the Names of specific elements, or aspects of the natural world. By speaking these Names, they call these elements or aspects into the world, out of seemingly thin air. Speaking the words can be taxing upon the caster, however, and prolonged speaking of True Names and Words can result in nausea, exhaustion, and pain; most pact-mages keep their magic for dire situations only.
      Although their personalities are flexible, most pact-mages have a scholarly inclination, as that was what gave them their powers in the first place. Many are ambitious, and power-hungry for more Words, while others see the learning of Words and True Names to be a nearly sacred practice. The practice of invoking the Name is always accompanied by ritual and ceremony, with a focus on material fetishes and focusing agents to help the caster concentrate, and pronounce the name correctly. They are the most common mages, and enjoy a lack of scrutiny from the outside.

    • B L O O D ᛡ M A G I C
      Like pact mages, blood mages call a spirit from the Duinnoban. However, rather than using a True Name, blood mages spill their blood - or the blood of another - to call the spirit. Depending on what blood was spilled, different spirits can be called. Generally, if it is the blood of the caster, the spirit called will relate to pain, self-sacrifice, or masochism, whereas if it is the blood of another, unwilling subject, the spirit called will relate to murder, betrayal, or violence; depending on the circumstances. The spirit, in exchange for a steady supply of blood, from either the caster or other sources, will lend them power.Unlike spirit mages, blood mages do not permanently have a link with their spirit ally, the spirit will only lend their aid with the spilling of blood. Likewise, blood mages do not command the spirit as a pact mage does; the connection between a blood mage and their spirit is a business agreement, founded upon an exchange of goods for services. However, many blood mages masquerade as pact mages, or rarely as spirit mages, as blood mage is universally reviled, as the spirits called are usually dangerous, and more inclined towards destructive ends than the spirits bound to spirit mages. As well, the amount of blood needed to invoke the spirits' power increases with each request.
      Blood mages have varied personalities, but many tend towards two extremes; ambitious, or desperate. Some people turn to blood magic because they believe it will help them in times of great stress and extremes, wheres others turn to blood magic because they desire power, and are too impatient to learn Words, and the time that they would have been chosen by a Spirit is long past. Blood mages are rare, as many believe the risks outweigh the rewards, and the illegality of blood magic is a deterrent. The Lodainic empire punishes blood mages with death by strangulation, or hanging - if the blood mage's blood is spilled, it is believed their spirit ally will do anything to protect its investment.

    [​IMG]T H E ᛡ P E O P L E
    ‘All of Man, true and black, will kneel.’
    • T H E ᛡ L A N D
      The island of Donegal is a rocky, small island with many great fields and forests, where mankind makes a simple living. The diverse people of the world live in fear of spirits and demons from the realm of dreams, the Duinnoban, but receive comfort from them as well. They live in small towns and fortresses across the idyllic appearing landscape, and farm the rich soil. Some of them sail the bays and rivers, but no man or woman of Donegal has ever traversed the Great Sea, and what lies beyond it is a mystery - if there is anything at all. The popular consensus is that the people of Donegal are entirely alone with their northern neighbors in Eireen Island - there is nowhere else in the world, beyond their small island. There are worlds beyond their own, however - filled with demons and spirits, but in this world, they are the only humans, and they must learn to live with that.

    • C O L D ᛡ C I T E D A L S

      Civilized and imperial, Lodains are part of the fading Lodainic Empire; a matriarchal empire headed by an Imperatrix (Empress). Free-born women in Lodain, (civaes) enjoy full property, voting, and marriage rights, and are not subject to capital punishment. They have a right to trial. Free-born men in Lodain are citizens (cives), but can not inherit property unless they are the sole heir, and their mother has no surviving sisters. They can also not vote, or hold public office. Unlike their female counterparts, they are subject to capital punishment, but they do have a right to trial. Slavery is not uncommon within Lodain, and most wealthy families have at least one slave, usually of Igrisian descent. They lead lavish lives, with many great public works and structures dominating their homeland - however, the current Imperatrix, Imperatrix Laurentia II , has not engaged in much building of her own, and the overall production of luxury goods and public works has come to a screeching halt. The empire is very much in decline, and beneath the fabulous exterior, the cracks are starting to show. The capital city of the empire in Northern Lodain, Moridunum Demetarum, remains rich with culture, and Lodains enjoy a quality of life otherwise unseen in Donegal. Most Lodains, following the Great Conversion of the Lodainic Imperatrix, Regina Deorum, have also converted to the Church of All, and follow its tenets strictly. The most numerous ethnicity in Donegal. Lodains are found most numerously within the province of Lodain, but also extend through Moravia, into Northern Dornach. During the height of the Lodainic Empire, their territory consisted of Lodain, Igris, Moravia, Airmyn, Gaul, Perth, and the Northern half of Dornarch. Their current Empire consists of Moravia, Lodain, and Igris, following the unification of the Southern regions (Dornarch, Gaul, Perth, and Airmyn) against the Empire. The Empire has a tight grip on Moravia, due to their shared cultural background and homogenous population, but relations with their other colony, Igris, are much more strained. Lodains speak The Gods' Good Common, and Lodainic. They rarely to bother the languages of their colonies.

      Native to Eireen Island, where the majority of Donegal's mineral wealth can be found in the form of precious stones; particularly lapis lazuli. They are isolated, and rely upon the Lodainic Empire's major ports for a connection to the rest of Donegal. Islanders rarely leave Eireen Island since the Island is largely self-sufficient; with the people boasting a successful agrarian society in addition to their gemstone trade. Despite the bitter cold of Eireen Island, they have discovered a secret way to grow crops in freezing temperatures - most mainlanders suspect magic is involved, and actively resent their success. The Islanders have a society where there are district, legal assemblies ( Þing) where a chieftain speaks on the behalf of the people under their protection. The chieftains (sing. goði, pl. goðar) represent the strongest power on the Island. The goðar were not elected to their positions, but rather own their title. The position is most commonly inherited, but it could also be bought or sold. The office of the goði is called the goðorð. The goðorð was not delimited by strict geographical boundaries. Thus a free man could choose to support any of the goðar of his district. The supporters of the goðar are called Þingmenn ("assembly people"). In exchange for the goði protecting their interests, the Þingmann provide armed support to their goði during feuds or conflicts. The Þingmenn are also required to attend regional and national assemblies. The goðar gather once every year, at the start of spring, to settle the disputes of the Island, and convene with an Emissary from Lodain (with the title of “Pararius") about the events in the mainland. Roughly half of the Islanders have converted to The Church of All, while the other worship the spirits of the world. Prior to the great Conversion, ever goðar had a Siden (Masc.) or Sidsa (Fem.) at their side; a powerful Spirit or Blood mage that is particularly gifted at seeing the future. Now, many of the converted Islanders call for the execution or trial of the Siden and Sidsas for conversing with demons. Despite this recent turn of events, blood magic was previously seen as an acceptable art, quite different than its demonized nature in the rest of Donegal. Islanders speak Boreus Lodainic - the Northern version of the Lodain's language. There are some pronunciation differences, but the language is largely the same. A few of them speak the Gods' Good Common.

    • H I L L ᛡ D A L E
      Since the early days of the Lodainic Empire, Igris has been part of it, due to proximity more than anything else. However, they have a different sort of society than the structured and imperial Lodains. Prior to the colonization of Igris; Igrisians had many different noble families ruled by an Eril and an Erilessa, who determined the rules of their provinces and of the families beneath them. Prior to the matriarchal Lodainic empire, Igrisians had a relative state of gender equality, with female warriors and leaders prized just as much as men. Igrisians also have a degree of reverence and hero worship for the ancestors of these noble houses; all four of the ruling noble houses were founded by heroes. Most Igrisians are farmers or fishermen by trade, although Darin the White, a bard, is an important cultural figure, resulting in most Igrisians having some degree of musical talent and training. Following the Great Conversion of the Lodainic Imperatrix, Regina Deorum, the Igrisians were one of the slowest to take to the Gods Who Are Many, much like the Gauls, and it has strained their relationship with the Lodains. They have attempted many rebellions agains the Lodains, but all of them have resulted in a bloody slaughter. They actively resent their Lodainic over-lords. Igrisians speak The God's Good Common, Lodainic (usually poorly), and their native language, Igrish.
      Lochans are the native people that survive off of the large central lake within Igris. They are a unique ethnicity and bloodline that has become diluted over the decades. According to legend, the Lochans were descended from Igraine of the Spirits, a powerful mage, and a great warrior named Gaheris. Igraine had spent her life making pacts with demons, pacts that resulted in both her great beauty, and her need to enchant young men and give them up to the aforementioned spirits ; payment for eternal youth and beauty. Ser Gaheris, on the other hand, was a knight in the service of the High King of Igris, prior to the Lodain Empire, whose name had been long since lost to time, and he had been sent to find the sorceress and slay her. But when he came to her cave, nestled in the hills of Igris, he found her sick with Blight. Her spirits had turned on her, after Igraine failed to provide them with a willing sacrifice, cursing her to suffer from the Plague of Plagues; The Blight. Gaheris could not find himself able to kill her, kill this beautiful, sickly woman. But he had been warned that if he was not able to kill her, the vile King of Igris would sacrifice him to the spirits he believed in, in order to give strength to his people and protect them from the enchantment of Igraine. So he told her, famously and oft repeated; "I love you like the moon and stars, but we cannot show what is ours." And so, he returned to the King, and told him that the enchantress was dead, while all the while he was returning to her cave, nursing her through the Blight-fever. Gaheris raised her back to full health with special herbs - now called Love's Stars, in his honour - and soon, she was strong again. Her bound spirits were infuriated that this man - who loved her not through enchantment, but through true, pure love - had helped their servant out from her punishment. And so, her spirits appeared to Igraine and Gaheris in the form of a black stag with a human face - and spoke to her, telling her that she would enjoy what little time they had left - for they would bleed her youth from her. Every day, one for each soul she had taken, she would age nine years. And she had taken many souls. And when her youth was used up, Igraine would die. Gaheris cursed the stag and wept bitter tears. And so, the knight struck a deal with a demon ; for Igraine's eternal life, he would give up his own. The demon-stag agreed, and Gaheris died. Igraine lived, and every day she wept for her lady love ; and her tears eventually became Loch Deora, the largest lake in all of Donegal. She and Gaheris's children populated the lake-side and each of them carried a little magic in their blood.The Lochan bloodline has since become diluted since the days of Igraine, due to breeding with the native Igrisians and thus, mages are less and less common amongst their people. Those with magical talent uniformly have dark brown or black hair and yellow eyes. Lochan mage circles boast the largest amount of natural, Spirit mages as opposed to the other magical gatherings of the world. Most Lochan live and work with the lake, as either fishermen or lake-side farmers. Their ships are said to be the fastest in the known world, and the traditional art of ship building is passed from generation to generation. Lochans speak the Gods' Good Common, Igrish, and Lodainic (usually badly)
      The Gauls are a proud people formerly part of the Igrisian empire; they were instrumental in leading the rebellion of the Southern provinces against the Lodainic empire. Their strong faith in the druidic spirits, Ciarán of the Horns and his wife, Mara, pushed them away from the Church of All, and from Lodain as a whole. Their strong religious unity, and their unflinching support of the spirits as a formidable force led their rebellion to success, along with the resources of Perth, Dornach, and Airmyn. Although they have much in common with the Igrisian people in terms of their belief; reverence for ancestors and heroes, they differ in their nature-worship; which Igrisians do not engage in. They value freedom above everything else. Gauls operate in clans. Powerful families ruled over other families who accepted their protection from their neighbors and from monsters. A clan-chief is referred to as a "ceannard". Many of these clans claim mythological founders, or former heroes ; just as the Igrisians claim that their Erils and Erilessas are descended from heroes. A clan consisted of everybody who lives on the territory of the clan-chief, or on the territory of those who owe allegiance to this chief. The clan leader's position is not a hereditary one; when a leader arises in the clan who is not the chief, he may call out the old chief and duel him to the death. If he kills him, than he may take his place. If the chief dies through other means; his wife becomes the new chief until she too is called out. Gauls are a largely gender-indifferent society. Gauls speak The God's Good Common, Gaulian, and sometimes Igrish and Lodainic. Most Gauls are able to understand Igrish, even if they can't speak it.

    • S E A ᛡ S W A M P
      The Myrrs are native to the swamps and plains of Tir Caredyr and Eboryr. Tir Caredyr's capital city (for which the province is named) is the largest in the known world, save for the Lodainic capital of Moridunum Demetarum. The Myrrs are also the ethnicity that the Church of All originates with, from their great scribe Malachi - who serves as a great cultural hero to them. They are the most devout people in Donegal, and most of their life and livelihood is structured around the teachings of the Church of All. Their government, culture, and customs are determined by the Church of All. They are a superstitious people, who do not trust druids or spirits - preferring their church. The church's prevalence has led to wide-spread education, and most Myrrs can read and write. Myrrs take on a variety of trades, given their partially urban, partially agrarian society. Due to the Myrrs' focus on the Church of All, other races are not trusted easily - unless it has been clear that they have converted. Many Myrrs go on pilgrimage to either root out the evil of the world (heretics and heresy, what they refer to as "The Enemy") or to spread the word of their faith. Alternatively, others engage in witch-hunts - capturing and executing any mages that they believe are consorting with demons and engaging in what their holy book explicitly forbids. No self-respecting Myrr would willingly become a mage - for this reason, they do not have Pact Mages. Myrrs speak the God's Good Common, and at least two other languages; usually Lodainic and another.
      Culturally, the Sea Peoples are a blend between the Igrisians and the Myrrs. Like the Igrisians,the vast majority of them are either farmers or fishermen, and the sea is of great importance to them. Although Lochan's make the fastest and finest boats for lakeside travel, sea vessels from the ports of Perth, Brigant, and Airmyn are prized for their beauty and reliability.The harbor in Perth, Trefdraeth, is particularly famous, and much of Donegal's wealth passes through its waters'. As a consequences of the sea's importance, most of them worship sea-spirits. There is great wealth amongst the Sea People, as their territories have made the most out of their coastal farms and the bounty of the sea. Like the Myrrs, however, their society is structured to accommodate a large middle class and relatively few impoverished and wealthy individuals in comparison, as opposed to other peoples in Donegal. Perth, Airmyn, and Brigant each are divided into six 'Isiarllaeths', which are controlled by either an Isiarll (masc.) or a Isiarlles (fem.) The collective eighteen Isiarlls/Isiarlleses meet once every six years to discuss the region's welfare as a whole, but the six Isiarlls/Isiarlleses from the same province (e.g. All the Isiarlls/Isiarlleses from Perth) meet once a year to discuss their specific issues. Sea Peoples speak Perthic, and the God's Good Common. Perthic is considered to be the most difficult Donegal language to learn, as the pronunciation is very different than the other Donegalic languages. It shares no ancestor with the current tongues spoken in Donegal - leading most to believe that Perthic is the language that is spoken by spirits in the Duinnoban.

    [​IMG] T H E ᛡ T R I A L S
    ‘Some call this Age of Illumination by a different name!’
    • T H E ᛡ A G E
      The year is 10 Q. C. (quia conversio) of our Gods of All. The new age, called "The Age of Illumination" by the Church of All, began in 1 Q.C. , following the conversion of the Lodainic Imperatrix Regina Deorum. However, the first decade of the Age of Illumination has been bleak indeed, leading kings and common folk to refer to it as The Age of Shite, or, more cordially The Age of Trials. Three problems have plagued the Donegal continent for the past ten years, and they show no sign of ceasing.

      A widespread famine has hit the Eastern side of Donegal.The famine is largely due to the collapsing infrastructure of the fading Lodainic Empire. Following the Southern Rebellion, many Lodainic farming practices and infrastructural safety-nets were cut off. The South, which had once been the Lodainic bread-basket, now is hardly functional as farming land, without Lodainic irrigation practices.

    • D A R K ᛡ T I M E S
      A plague known as the Bræðblack has crept across Donegal. Although its origin point is unknown, it is widly believed to come from the swamps of Perth, Airmyn, and Eir Vagyr. Bræðblack manifests in three stages. Initially, it causes painless black masses to spread across the neck. As the disease progresses, these masses ruptured, resulting in large open sores. By the third stage, the flesh around the sores develops necrotic gangrene, and the flesh literally rots off of the neck.

      It is believed it is spread by bad wind and infected breath - intially coming from swamp miasma, emanating from rotting organic matter. The air gets trapped in densely populated cities like those in Lodain and Tir Caredyr, and thus, the infection swells. It is believed that the Change can cure it - as most Changed folk are resistant to diseases - or that the touch of the All-Voice can miraculously remove it.

      Lodain, and the South-Eastern regions of Donegal are still recovering from the war that broke out between the northern Lodainic Empire and Southern rebels. The Southern Rebels largely won - Gaul, Dornach, and Airmyn all won their independence from the Lodainic empire. Moravia and Igris are the soul remaining sattelites of the Lodainic Empire, and many believe that Igris will follow suit. It's worth mentioning that Igris has tried before - but much of their population is enslaved, and they struggle to unify, as Igris has many cultural differences from region to region.

    • T H E ᛡ P R I S O N E R S
      In the beginning,you are a prisoner. For the very first post of the IC, your characters will have halted their forced march across the rocky hills of Moravia. The bridge that leads into Lodain looms ahead of you. It is a few hours before dawn, and your escort - while mindful that you do not escape - are lost in their own thoughts. This gives you a chance for your characters to interact, talk, or do their own little things before they're forced to meet their many makers. Unless, of course, you can escape.
      Soon after the first posts, the characters will be forced to take a stand against their captors - and make their way through the treacherous Moravian mountains. After your escape, the accused heretics will be pursued by the Faith’s witch-hunters. However, fighting is not always the answer in Donegal - the world is cruel, magic is taxing, and the Faith is powerful. Your characters should be planning ahead, thinking about what might become of them, and formulating a way to play the hand fate has dealt them. Donegal’s harsh lands reward innovation, and punish recklessness.
      I expect great things from all of you, and that includes your writing. Write as much as you need to throughly explain your character's actions — at least a paragraph or two. Don’t be shy to write more, and experiment with your character. Open yourself up to change.

    • F I N A L ᛡ W O R D S
      Always remember our definition of low fantasy. Wikipedia calls it “less emphasis on typical elements associated with fantasy, setting a narrative in real-world environments with elements of the fantastical. Sometimes there are just enough fantastical elements to make ambiguous the boundary between what is real and what is purely psychological or supernatural." But for me, low fantasy almost always means that humans are the center of the action, and that humanity's relationship to the supernatural is the central tension. WITCH HUNT will explore all aspects of humanity, and I’m proud of the diverse cast we’ve assembled.
      Keep in mind that your characters don't have working knowledge of one another's plans, so advising people against things, or advocating a character do something in the OOC is largely irrelevant. Trying things is fine. Characters doing what they feel like they should be doing is far more important than the logic of it. This is a narrative, and a character-driven one at that. It's not necessarily about the practicality of their actions, so much as their individual understanding and logic. That's part of low fantasy as well; desperate actions in the face of desperate circumstance.
      All that aside -- Let’s make this RP a saga for the ages! Good luck, and have fun!


  4. Elyan ag Mórgwnystrad
    Male / Twenty Five / Human
    "Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody."

    PERSONALITY Calm, collected, and highly articulate - Elyan is the model coordinator. He enjoys working and speaking with others, and is careful to take their opinions into account. However, he is also a deeply private person, who rarely expresses his own needs and desires. He is, on the other hand, clear on his concerns and thoughts regarding his position. In truth, all of his extroverted, leader qualities are underscored by a quiet, inwardly focused personality. Even when he is speaking, Elyan is usually very preoccupied with what's going on in his own head. He values family and community, and sees selfish actions and kin-killing as reprehensible actions that deserve punishment - although he sometimes finds it difficult to determine the difference between retribution and vengeance. He is careful not to trust too readily, and he does not make oaths without thinking, or make promises that he cannot keep. Although Elyan values physical and magical strength, he finds greater value in human goodness and generosity - as in the past, it has saved his life. He is deeply religious, and eager to spread the word of his Messiah, and the teaching that were once lost.

    BOON Elyan is formally trained as a swordsman, but that is not where his true strengths lie. His true strength lies in his ability to lead people. A gifted, and eloquent speaker who appeals to people’s ideals; his abilities at speaking are only bested by his ability to listen. He excels in swaying others, and preaching the Messiah’s words, giving them their own weight and beauty. His knowledge helps with this - as his dreams have led him to a unique understanding of the world, and given him insight that others might not have. Some say he can see the future - but this is not true. Elyan’s dreams only tell him of the past; of the world of the Messiah — so different than the world of the present.

    BANE Elyan rarely expresses it; but he believes that he is the Messiah come again. This belief manifests not in arrogance, but in a paralyzing fear of failure. He is horrified by the prospect that because of his dreams - he alone knows the fate of the Messiah, and some of the old ways of the Gwerin - and that he is responsible for this knowledge. In some, small way, he delights in this. It gives him comfort to know that he knows more than anyone else about the fate of the Messiah, and he has some self-assurance in his actions. But on the other hand, he believes that this will ultimately spell destruction for the Gwerin; because he is not capable of what the Messiah was, and he sees himself as weak, and foolish. He feels that if he fails his people, that will be the end of the Messiah, and there will be no hope of his return- this is something that he cannot live with. Elyan’s terrified that his dreams will lead him to darker and more dangerous paths than the road he has already travelled. More than anything, he fears the idea that he is not actually powerful or gifted in any way. Because of this, he privately, never expressively, views all people as truly human - and thus, his inferiors. This rarely comes across in the way he speaks, but leads to him believing he must be the person to save others, and he thus - takes on too much. He fears that he is really, and truly, nothing more than human.

    STYLE Elyan avoids direct confrontation when he can. He prefers to rely upon his own gift for speaking, and leading others towards their goals, rather than fight independently. He is not above utilizing his special talents, namely, his Witchwords in order to end fights before they begin. When pushed into physical confrontation, his weapon of choice is a sharp longsword - leaving one hand free to help him balance, and make signs if need be. His signs are generally a way to communicate soundlessly in battle - a carefully worked sign language that is designed to be quick and fluid. He wears medium armor; a breastplate with leather greaves and gauntlets. Although he rarely utilizes it - largely due to inexperience - he also carries a yew longbow along his back, as well as a small dirk.

    WITCHWORDS Witchwords is the common parlance for Elyan's ability to convince others. Although he is a eloquent public speaker on his own, he can magically influence his voice to achieve complete control over the receiver of the Words. Although Elyan can gain control over listeners by merely altering the tonal qualities of the voice, it general only results in his ability to command the listener to follow simple instructions or very clear orders --- which the listener obeys dutifully. However, the Words have some very clear limitations; namely that the Words only last for a few minutes ; and after it wears off, the subject is immediately aware that they have been charmed, and that their will was not their own. Although Elyan can continuously speak his Witchwords to a target, to keep them under his control - that prevents his capability to do anything else, and eventually, the target will have too strong a resistance for the Words to have any continued effect.

    SAGESIGHT Some say that Elyan can see the future. This isn't true ; he has dreams of the past, which he uses to inform his choices in the future. This ability only manifested in Elyan following his year-long sleep after a violent confrontation with his mother. This ability is only strong when Elyan is sleeping ; and from what dreams show him he is capable of interpreting visions of the past -- which may or may not have anything to do with his current situation. While awake, his Sight is far more limited. He is capable of a very limited form of prescience - thoughts, feelings, images into the very near past, but nothing more than that. Elyan fears that he will get lost in the Sight, and be unable to see anything but endless visions of the past.

    HISTORY A thousand years ago, the Messiah died. When he was killed, a sword was placed through him, by Grand King Amaraan. The Messiah's followers were chased away, hunted to the ends of the earth. Some of them stayed, stayed within Timinster - but many fled. They lived in small communities, by the wayside, lost to the world. The Messiah's people - who called themselves "Gwerin", "The People - lived apart. The settled in a rocky, small cove. In this cove off of the Sea of Mene, there was a long abandoned castle that overlooked the white sands. This region, the Mórgwnystrad, or the White Bay in the common tongue, was where the Gwerin made their home, waiting out the witch hunt. While the world changed around them, they preserved their ancient traditions. For hundreds of years, the priests held out hope that the Messiah - who they called Feaseia - would come again. But the Feaseia did not return. They prayed, they held sermons, they whispered his name into the dark, attempting to conjure his spirit - but the Messiah never came. Nonetheless, they preserved their way of life, preserved the Word of the Messiah ; but many of the Gwerin lost faith. Some of them started to believe that he was never a Messiah at all - but simply a false God. Others thought that the Messiah was just a herald of something else - of a different God who was to come amongst them.

    Centuries passed, and despite their efforts, the Gwerin changed. Although they had long been ruled by a collection of high priests, the high priests dwindled. Soon, there was only one chieftain, and one family that ruled them all. Twenty-five years ago, Mórgwnystrad's high priest, their chief and leader, was a man called Duwyn the Black. He was called this for his grim and violent outlook - but he was not always so. Once, he was a man who kept to the teachings of the Messiah - and believed that he would come again. When Duwyn was younger, he had met a witch. She was not so much a witch, as she was the oldest of the Gwerin - so old that nobody knew how old she was. There were stories that she had lived since the days of the Messiah. There were stories that she was the Messiah's concubine, while other stories said that she simply washed his feet and kissed his hands. But from those kisses, she had learned some of the Messiah's teachings. When a man came of age, within Mórgwnystrad -- they went to the witch to learn of their fate. Duwyn the Black was no exception to this rule. He had knelt across from the witch, and she told him many things. She told him what she had told his father, and his father before him, and many men before him. Perhaps it is what she told all men and women of the Gwerin.

    Croí agus lasair , claíomh agus farraige , thit an Feaseia fola saor in aisce. leáigh sé cloch , iompú go luaith , agus líonadh an domhain . As a chuid fola , beidh crann gan toradh beith . bhfuil aon leanaí an crann , ach beidh an crann a bheith ag an flaithis , agus beidh na flaithis a chuid torthaí . Ón dteagmháil ollphéist beidh na torthaí ag fás . Nuair a bhíonn na torthaí ithe , beidh an síol a chur fréimhe . Agus amach go mbeidh an Feaseia ag fás arís . Croí agus lasair , claíomh agus farraige , is é an Feaseia aisling saor in aisce. -- The Witch of the White Bay

    Heart and flame, sword and sea, the messiah's blood fell free. He melted stone, turned to ash, and filled the earth. From his blood, a fruitless tree will sprout. No children has the tree, but the tree shall reach the heavens, and the heavens shall be its fruit. From monster touch shall the fruit grow. When the fruit is eaten, the seed will take root. And out the messiah will grow again. Heart and flame, sword and sea, the messiah's dream is free. -- An Cailleach ag Mórgwnystrad

    With these words in his heart, Duwyn left. He became a great prince - for they had long since adopted the titles of their neighbors, the tradition of high priests cast to the wayside. The story goes that Duwyn had gone fishing with his courtiers, but being a young man, had gone off on his own. He sailed out of the cove, towards one of the great inlet stones that rose out of the water. When he returned to his fishing party, he had a woman in his arms, of unearthly beauty and grace. Her shimmering hair was the colour of starlight, or so the bards claimed, and she had bright violet eyes. Duwyn behaved like a man bewitched around her, and insisted on marrying her on the spot. His father, Henno Longtooth, rejected the marriage, so Duwyn strangled him with a fishing line. There were no further complaints about the marriage. Melsuine bore Duwyll four beautiful daughters, each lovelier than the last. They were named Rhiana, Cwym, Glynna, Dyaeffryn.

    However, the Lady's behaviour was strange. She was not of the Gwerin -- so people were naturally susipicious and untrusting of her. But she did nothing to win their trust, spending her days locked away, never mingling with the people, or learning their ways. Although the old faith - the Messiah's faith - was falling to pieces; Duwyn was still very devout, and held a Mass every Friday night, for the lost leader of the Gwerin. But his wife, the Lady Meulsine, did not hold this same faith. She always left Mass before the Annointment, and took the daughters with her. On one such occasion, The Black Lord became curious about her behaviour, and asked a trusted knight to follow her. The knight followed her from the Mass, and watched as she sunk into the water of the cove, taking her daughters down into the deep with her. The knight watched, horrified, as they took on terrible, inhuman qualities; too many fins, teeth, and eyes. He rushed back to report this to Duwynn. Duwynn was uncertain of what to do -- so he turned to the only one who might have known what to do, the old witch, Cailleach. Cailleach read the signs in the water, she carved runes, and she cut her wiry arms open and whispered the Messiah's name to her blood. She pronounced her verdict; Melusine was under a powerful curse, and had been for many years. She was aegelcuwif; a Mother of Monsters. She warned Duwyn that his unborn child -- for Melsuine was pregnant - was surely damned. But Duwyn begged and pleaded, and eventually the witch relented. She said that maybe she could lift the curse -- but it might kill Melusine, even if it spared the child.

    Duwyn agreed, but told the witch that if she was unable to save his child, she would find himself at the bottom of the sea, along with all the demons that dwelled there. The witch agreed, and began to prepare. She slaughtered a white ewe, and lit juniper and sage boughs. She mounted the ewes head towards Duwyn's castle, and whispered the Messiah's name. The air in Mórgwnystrad was said to smell like funeral spices for a full week. At the end of the week, the witch came to Duwyn, and said that she would be ready to perform the rite. But the night before the ritual, Melsuine went into labour. The child that she gave birth to, the boy, was not born right. He was not as beautiful as her daughters, nor was he as healthy - the witch suspected that he would succumb to fever or cradle-cough before his first week of life. Duwyll, disgusted with the witch and fearful for his child, took comfort with his wife. Melsuine learned of what her husband had planned for her, and for her daughters from a tearful confession. Duwyn had come to terms with the belief that he would have to kill his aegelcwif. She, according to the legends, lay with her Lord one last time, before snatching her children, transforming into a dragon, and flying into the sea.

    The Black Lord's lands fell into disarray, and he fell into grief. the witch Cailleach was tasked with the raising of Elyan. The first thing that the the witch did was perform a through exorcism of the boy, for fear that his mothers' demonic taint had seeped into him. Without his mother for the sacrifice, Cailleach baptized Elyan in lamb-blood, and burnt the lamb's feet in dedication to the The Messiah and their God. Elyan was then entered into the the witch's monastic church, the House of the Messiah. While cloistered, Elyan learned about the Faith and was by all counts a perfectly normal, studious boy. However, when he turned 12, he began to engage in behaviours that Cailleach could not reconcile. One evening, when Elyan had been left to study in the library, Cailleach found him standing over the body of another acolyte. Elyan had slit his throat with a quill-nib. The horrified the witch had sent Elyan back to the castle, and the care of his father - claiming that there was no more that he could do for him.
    When Elyan returned to his father's castle, he found that the Black Lord had let his kingdom run into disrepair. He was taxing his small-folk for more and more lavish ways to stay inside his castle, and never leave. The loss of his wife and daughters had weighed heavily on him for twelve years, and even the sight of his son was not enough to pull him from his depression. Elyan, neglected by his father, flung himself into the process of achieving manhood within his small world. He had committed the Words of the Messiah to memory, along with great works of poetry. He was a decent swordsman, and as was common amongst his people an excellent sailor. Despite his violent entry into the world - and his violence against a young acolyte - these traits nearly became forgotten, as Elyan developed, and grew into a fine young man. He was well liked, well thought of, and held both his fellow men, and the Messiah dear to his heart. But there were always whispers. Whispers that he was as monstrous as his mother - whispers that he was a monster too. But there were other whispers too; perhaps he would bring the Gwerin into a new golden age - and they would be able to return to the world.

    Elyan was seventeen, when he returned to the witch, to hear what she had in store for him. She welcomed him, despite all that transpired. She told him first, that he had changed. And then - she told him many things. She told him what she had told his father, and his father before him, and many men before him. Perhaps it is what she told all men and women of the Gwerin.

    Croí agus lasair , claíomh agus farraige , thit an Feaseia fola saor in aisce. leáigh sé cloch , iompú go luaith , agus líonadh an domhain . As a chuid fola , beidh crann gan toradh beith . bhfuil aon leanaí an crann , ach beidh an crann a bheith ag an flaithis , agus beidh na flaithis a chuid torthaí . Ón dteagmháil ollphéist beidh na torthaí ag fás . Nuair a bhíonn na torthaí ithe , beidh an síol a chur fréimhe . Agus amach go mbeidh an Feaseia ag fás arís . Croí agus lasair , claíomh agus farraige , is é an Feaseia aisling saor in aisce. -- The Witch of the White Bay

    Heart and flame, sword and sea, the messiah's blood fell free. He melted stone, turned to ash, and filled the earth. From his blood, a fruitless tree will sprout. No children has the tree, but the tree shall reach the heavens, and the heavens shall be its fruit. From monster touch shall the fruit grow. When the fruit is eaten, the seed will take root. And out the messiah will grow again. Heart and flame, sword and sea, the messiah's dream is free. -- An Cailleach ag Mórgwnystrad

    But she told him something else as well - who he would marry. She told him that he must marry the Gwerin’s herbalist’s daughter. Herbalists were always loved and respected amongst the people, and had taken on a religious significance; as the herbs of juniper and sage were the funeral spices that they used to worship the Messiah. Notoriously difficult to grow on the rocky soil; the herbalist’s daughter had proven to be remarkably gifted with such an art. Her name was Valdis, and she was believed to be the most beautiful member of the People; with tan skin, huge, dark eyes and long black hair. Elyan wanted to know why he was intended to marry her - and the witch told him.

    Ní thabharfar do pósadh a bheith sásta, agus beidh ort aon leanaí . Ach ní mór dúinn go léir a dhéanamh cad ba mhaith linn is fearr gan mhaithe ár Messiah . Roghnaíodh tú .-- The Witch of the White Bay

    Your marriage will not be happy, and you will have no children. But we all must do what we would prefer not to for the sake of our Messiah. You were chosen. — An Cailleach ag Mórgwnystrad

    Elyan felt he had to. So, he proposed to Valdis of the Boughs, and she was in no position to refuse. They invited all of the People to their month long wedding ceremonies. The old king, Duwyn, cloistered himself away, unable to see his child’s happiness, and the impending nuptials reminded himself to much of the price he had paid to have Elyan. But the truth of the matter, was that the ceremonies were not entirely joyful. While Valdis looked upon Elyan with love in her eyes - Elyan never even looked at her, or spoke to her. His eyes were always elsewhere. He stared at the Gwerin’ s architect, a young man with black braids and a ready smile. He stared at one of the last high priests - an older man with long white hair but an unlined face. Never once did he stare at a woman - and Valdis began to understand. She resigned herself to her fate - and told herself that she would find a lover of her own. But something happened.

    At one of the many wedding parties, Elyan laid eyes on an older, but still graceful, woman in the crowd. She wore a beautiful gown imported from the far reaches of the world, and her long, pale neck was covered in pearls and opals. But the clothes did not outweigh her own, unusual loveliness She had shimmering silver hair and lavender eyes. With her were four ladies, each dressed in the finest clothes who looked exactly like her, but appeared closer to Elyan's own age. Elyan knew that he had to speak with her, as if bewitched. She looked long at him that whole evening - and whispers began to erupt from the banquet. Some said the strange woman looked like the old queen, Melusine - while others said that she was a foreigner, come to destroy the People. Yet others said that Elyan had her as a secret lover. Indeed, the young prince felt his heart fill to bursting ; he was certain he was in love with her. Despite his wife’s pleading for him to come to bed with her - Elyan left her in the middle of the night. He went to the strange Lady’s room, and begged the Lady to tell him her name. She told him that she would tell him if he came with her across the sea, to a rock in the middle of the cove. Elyan, overcome with love, agreed.

    They rode away together in a silver boat, carved in the shape of a sea-serpent. The four ladies rode with them, and never said a word to Elyan. But they did sing - a beautiful, entrancing song. They taught him to sing it as well, and just as he learned it, they arrived at the rock. But Valdis would not have this. As soon as her fiancé left her - she rushed to her father-in-law, the old king. She explained what had happened, and described the mysterious woman that he had gone with. Duwyn was furious, so furious that he nearly strangled Valdis, until she bit his hand. With that bite, the Black Lord’s senses returned, and he pulled his sword from the wall, and went after his son - but did not find him in the Lady’s room. He knew, though, where he had gone. Where else could he have gone? Melsuine was a monster that had come from the sea - from one of the great inlet stones that rose out of the water. Duwyn the Black took a ship with him, and Valdis, and sailed out across the sea. A great gale rose, but Duwyn had sailed the sea all his life, and went to the rock.

    When they arrived, they found Melsuine and Elyan both. Elyan laid on a stone carved with runes, and Melsuine stood over him; a sword in her hand, primed for his heart. Her four daughters had quartered a goat. One daughter placed the head of the goat on their brother’s head, blood pouring down his face. The other three had placed the goat’s legs adjacent to each of his limbs. They had wrapped sage and juniper around his body - bound tightly with nettles. The nettles had sprouted red boils along Elyan’s skin, but he did not seem to notice. The smell of Alarune clung to the air. Alarune, Valdis informed the Black Lord, was a plant that was said to only grow from where a hanged man's blood had dropped. It’s leaves, when mashed into paste and forced down the throat, were known to create visions that were almost real, and left the consumer helplessly trapped in dreams. Duwynn’s face went pale with rage, and he gnashed his teeth, biting at the side of his sword with his teeth. He charged at his once-wife, sword raised high. he four daughters began to sing their song again, and a storm began to brew above them. Lightning forked down on the ground and Melsuine's true form was revealed - a pulsating mass of teeth, eyes, and sea-creatures. Duwynn slashed and cut at her many twisting limbs. Valdis crawled away from the violence, towards Elyan’s bound body. She pulled the goat’s head from his face - and it was all bloody. She wiped the blood from his face, and began to unbind him, the nettles stinging at her hands. True Love - - a pretty concept, with little merit — was ringing in her heart. She placed a kiss to his lips, in the hope that he would wake. He did not. She sucked what she could of the Alarune from his lips, and dragged him from the stone, to the edge of the beach. She plucked strings of seaweed from the water, and wrapped them around his eyes, to sooth his dreams. The fighting raged for a long time, and the storm clashed above them. The song began to die down, verse by verse, as the sisters were cut down. Eventually, Melsuine’s monstrous features faded away, revealing a broken, ugly, old woman, with only a few teeth in her mouth and warts all over her naked body. Blood poured from her body - she was surely done. But she wasn’t done. She reached out to caress Duwynn’s face, and then, twisted his neck. They both died, their blood mixing with the water.

    Valdis pulled Elyan into the boat, and they returned to the shores of Mórgwnystrad, the white beaches. She dragged her fiancé onto the shores. He did not wake - and would not wake for another year. The marriage feasts were cleared away. Valdis nursed him through these years, although she knew that when he woke, he would not care for her; and she would be as unhappy as before. The witch Cailleach came to the palace, and helped Valdis. She told Valdis many things, teaching her how to help Elyan. But Elyan still did not wake. The Gwerin managed on their own, with guidance from their priests. They didn’t need their unpopular Duwynn the Black, they didn’t need a king. But there was no golden age. The soil turned ashy and acidic. Soon, the Gwerin could not grow wheat, let alone juniper and sage. The famine began to pick them off one by one - and worse, a few foreigners had discovered them. They had seen foreigners before, of course. But not foreigners like these one. These men had come across the sea, from Penman - the City Beneath the Arch. They were mercenaries, who ate the Gwerin’s food, raped their people, and burned down their church. The castle held, for a long time, while these mercenaries ravaged the village.

    For the better part of the year, they were ruled by these mercenaries, while the people in the castle ate through their stores. But in the village, the food was running out, and the people were dying. The mercenary’s leader, a man named Uddyr Many-Scars decided that it was time to move on - he would enslave the population, and sell them to the highest bidder within the city of Timinster, knowing that they could fetch a good price there. Uddyr prepared his men to go - but he would not leave without raiding the castle. And he did - the guards were exhausted, the walls were crumbling, and Uddyr broke through. The mercenaries scoured the castle, until they came to the room where the witch Cailleach, Valdis, and the unconscious Elyan rested. The witch and Valdis did what they could to protect Elyan - and themselves - but Uddyr’s axe was great. When they lay dead, Uddyr prepared to drag Elyan from his bed — and only then did Elyan’s eyes open. He spoke something - something that made Uddyr’s axe drop from his grip; and made the mercenary kneel before him. Uddyr cursed him, calling him a witch, a demon, a monster — but Elyan paid him no heed. He cradled Valdis in his arms, pulling her body from the ground. He walked through Mórgwnystrad without being harmed - but seeing the violence that had been wrought against the Gwerin. His people were in chains, or dead and bleeding - piled in burning mounds. His lands were ravaged, the ground scorched to its roots. He walked through it - and not a single mercenary raised an axe against him.

    Without a word, Elyan buried Valdis in the ancient Mórgwnystrade way - that had been passed down from the funeral of their Messiah. The stories say, at least - that when he went down to the beach, to place Valdis in the sea, a spring of juniper and a handful of sage washed onto the beach. He burned them, and he held the woman who was never his wife under the waves until her bodies bloated with salt. When she sank, he told Uddyr Many-Scars to release his people - and that he would be sailing to Timinster. The mercenary had no choice but to agree - he was bewitched to do so - and they sailed across the sea, marched on foot, and walked to Timinster. He commanded that Uddyr Many-Scars return to where he had come from — and walked into the city alone.

    Elyan found that the treatment of the Messiah, and the Messiah’s people was different, here. But like finds like, and he soon found what he called the Gwerin - even if they had long forgotten their own names, and traditions. Elyan tried to help these subjugated, these hidden Gwerin - he taught them the ways of his people, and told them stories of their shared Messiah - stories that they had forgotten. Although many of the traditions had been lost to both of their peoples, Elyan found himself speaking stories that had not been told for thousands of years, stories that had come from his dreams. Soon, the Timinster’s Gwerin told him of the Sanguine Dirge ; and Elyan situated himself amongst them. His extreme faith to the Messiah, his unique heritage, and his developing abilities made him a valuable member of the Dirge - and he rose swiftly through the ranks, becoming what he called Cinnire - a word untranslatable in common; but it could be sussed out to be a person who led an animal by the head, while the animal walked the route it had never walked before.

    Often, Elyan thought of what the witch had told him. He told no others, but it always echoed in his head. From monster touch shall the fruit grow. When the fruit is eaten, the seed will take root. And out the messiah will grow again.

    #4 Sir Basil, Aug 11, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016

  5. I O R V E T H


    They say all elves are beautiful, that they are born thus. He didn’t feel beautiful now. He felt dead, inside and out. His fingertips felt numb and hot, feverish. Blood poured from his mouth, staining the leaves beneath his feet. The clovers, the hollyhocks, the ivy, it all was just a blur of green and brown, as his feet moved underneath him, pushing him forward. The blood-drool ran from the sides of his mouth, foaming on his lips. A bit of red-fabric flopped uselessly against his cheekbone, and it was caught on a stray branch of a linden tree, tugged away completely. It was like a curtain coming up, to reveal the show; a flushed socket with an angry scar. Where it bisected his lips, his teeth glistened, the blood making them shine all the more brightly. Even in the forest’s shadows, blood had a light to it, something that could not be put out. The man cursed - but it came out a wet gasp. The sweat on his cheeks and chin gave his tanned skin a sickly shimmer - and he was sick. He was sick, and exhausted too, but there was nothing that could but done. He was sick, and tired, and not beautiful anymore. But it had been a long time since he was born - and since then, he had become ugly. Being ugly didn’t matter, anymore.

    The elf clutched at his chest, his heart hammering, and sides heaving. The bark of dogs, their snarling and the gnashing of their teeth still echoed through his head, playing endlessly in his ears. The rain beat down hard and heavy against his spine. He could hear it through the trees, the patter of raindrops hitting the broad, arrow-shaped leaves of the linden tree. His fingers twitched, remembering his own arrows, longing for the bow again. But they had snapped it - they had snapped the wrought mother-of-pearl inlay, the supple yew wood, the spun-ragweed string. He could see the wood crack beneath him, in-between his splayed feet. His vision was swimming, and the pumping of his blood drowned out the sounds of the rain, of the dogs, of d’hoine shouting his name - Iorverth, Iorveth, won’t you come back with us? He growled, a low guttural sound that made the blood in his mouth gurgle. He spat out a mouthful of red and foam, and began to move again - slower. His feet were shaking beneath him. His back prickled with arrows, their fletching getting caught amongst the loose vines and branches of the trees. But he had to keep moving - if he turned, even for a moment - the dogs would leap out, the d’hoine would laugh. He couldn’t take anymore laughter.

    The elf began to move through the trees - his balance unsteady, feet shifting beneath him. The rocks and branches of the forest were slick with rain. The woods were thick - with old gnarled trees, heavy with moss and ferns that had sprung up amongst the old bark. Wormy white mushrooms peeked their heads out from amongst the layers of leaves on the ground. The chatter of beetles and the rummaging of grubs were unbearably loud to the elf’s ears; but it could not drown out the sound of his heart hammering away inside of him. A breeze drifted through the woods, making the branches shed a weight of their leaves. The slightest touch of a falling leaf against one of the arrows in his spine was enough to make him gasp in pain - a sharp inhale of breath that made him lungs burn. He continued through these nameless woods, edging down a hill of underbrush and wrinkled roots. White birch trees, in the corner of his eye, looked like dryads, extending their hands towards him, begging him to stop, begging him to rest with him. But he could not stop - he was alone, here, alone with the d’hoine, alone with the dogs. This wasn’t the Brokiloén, as much as he wished it was. The pump of blood, the fall of the rain, the clatter of the badges on his chest - taken from the corpses of the same sort of men that were following him; men. D’hoine from Rediania, Temeria, Kaedwen - the lilies, the red and white, the unicorn. He wished for a unicorn. But wishes were shit.

    The elf slid down the hill - unable to support himself on the slippery mulch. His feet seemed to move of their own accord, one in front of the other in a dizzying blur. He stumbled. His knees hit the ground - hard. He grunted, and coughed. A bit of bile, a bit of blood, a bit of foam. It stuck against the leaves. In the bloody smear he could see his face. He brought his hand down upon it, smashing the leaf to pulp. He didn’t have time to look at himself. The elf knew he wasn’t beautiful. It wouldn’t help him. He pressed his hand firm against the earth - pushing himself to his feet. His legs swayed. There was a strange, vibrating sound that stuck the air - a reverb. The elf knew what it was. An arrow whizzed past his shoulder. Red-fletching. The elf could not stop himself. He turned his head, and looked back. The hill ran with water - the leaves swirled about it in a breeze. Under the shadows of the trees, even with the blur of his vision - the elf could see the two dark shapes on the hilltop. He could hear the barking and snarling again, the hounds baying at their masters. D’hoine, his hunters and his enemies. He stumbled forward a few feet, before he hit the ground again - stomach first, knees crunching beneath him. He had lost too much blood.

    The d’hoine moved down the hillside, their feet mashing the leaves beneath them into a slurry of organic matter. He could hear the sound of the arrow being notched, the tug of the bow string. He could hear the scrape of steel against steel, as one of the d’hoine drew their sword. The dogs were bounding down the hills, down through the leaves, through the ferns. They came to him, with their yellow teeth, their jowls dripping with drool, their nostrils flexing as they breathed in his scent. The elf hissed at them, but it would not stop them. One of the dogs began to lick the blood off of arms, and he could feel its teeth grazing through leather, slicing through his skin. He let out a strained, gasping sound. He would not scream out, not here. He was not afraid, despite his breath hitching inside of him, despite the sheen of sweat on his face. That was from the sickness and the fever, eating him up inside. The d’hoine slid down the hill after their dogs. One was fat, the other was slim. They both wore cracked and battered Redanian leathers, painted red and white breastplates glimmering in the dusky forest-light. The fat one had a better face - but he had disfigured himself with a tattoo of a knife under one eye, and a dancing girl on his neck. The slim one had a broken nose, and protruding teeth that made him look more like a hag than a man. The fat one carried a sword, the thin one, a bow and arrow. They both were smirking, the bow of fat and fleshy lips, and the peeling skin of horse-teeth. Iorveth spat at their feet. In his vision, their faces spun together, merging and meshing into a short-lived, fast-breeding maggot. The maggot laughed.

    Shite, he’s an ugly one.” The elf found himself unable to look away. His one eye was wide and glassy in his face. It was greener, here - reflecting all of the woods, all the life within the forest. It reflected a man’s face, but it could only see insect - no, not insect. Even more base - a carrion-crawler. “Ploughin’ knife ear led us on quite the chance, didn’ he?’ said the maggot, in a hoarse, scratchy voice. Another voice replied, deep and smooth - the maggot’s bloody maw stretching and pursing, “Aye, that he did. Get his arms — there’s more in it, if he’s alive.” The maggot laughed without a face - just that bristling, squelching mouth. The same voice continued; “Better hurry - he’s gettin’ pale.” The maggot lurched towards him, and bits of its rubbery flesh outstretched to him - hands, capped in leather gloves, reaching out with a rope. The ugly face of a man with horse-teeth, and a shattered nose. The elf let out a breath. He was going to die here - but not to these d’hoine. He was not afraid.

    The elf’s hand moved - in a blur. He reached to yank an arrow from his shoulder. He howled as the shaft shattered inside of him, but his hand kept going, unburdened by the pain. The wood was sharp and splintered, the wicked tips of wood racing - racing towards Horse-teeth. Horse teeth tried to leap out of the way - but his attacker was an elf, faster than wind, faster than any d’hoine would ever be. Sticking out from the man’s neck, nestled in the bosom of the tattoo-girl, the arrow found its mark. The blood spurted out - spraying wildly across the elf’s ugly face. He could taste the d’hoine’s blood mingling with his own. It tasted like oil in his mouth, slippery and sticky - but musky too, with a acidic undertone. It burned at his mouth. It was his turn to laugh - laugh as he watched the d’hoine scream and clutch at his throat, gasping and wheezing as his throat flooded. His bow lay neglected at his feet, half-buried beneath leaves. The man sputtered, and fell to his knees. The elf had always been a good shot.

    The fat Redanian came closer - sword clutched in his hand. He shouted at the elf - but all his words smeared together in the ugly sludge of the common tongue. His grip was too tight on the sword, and his hand was shaking - he wasn’t afraid, he was angry. He brought with him the fishy smell of human sweat, the stink of cow and dog. The dogs. The dogs were snapping and barking, tearing into the flesh of the man before the elf. He could hear the snap of leather, and the clink of plate, from the dogs rooting around inside of the d’hoine. When their muzzles came up from him, they were streaked with blood, their fur matted with bits of bile. The smell of carrion, rot, and shit rose up from the corpse. When it came down to it - it didn’t matter that he was their master. A hungry dog will always take what’s already dead. The elf might have felt dead - but he wasn’t dead yet. The sword was brittle iron, the blade notched from many casualties. He smiled, wide - his mouth a bloody gash across his face. He wasn’t beautiful. He didn’t have to be.

    The fat man raised his sword. The elf could see his mouth moving - he was saying something, but he couldn’t make out the words anymore. His ears were flooded with the sound of his heart beating, slowing to a crawl, the hum in his fingertips from exertion, the wind through the trees, the crackle of leaves under the fat man’s feet. He could hear nature singing all around him, he could hear the iron coming down, cutting through air and aether. But the elf did not hear the blade sink into flesh. He had truly fallen to the ground, laying on his back. His fingers closed around something beneath the leaves, and the elf brought it to his chest - long before the blade could come crashing down on him. He rolled through the underbrush, gasping, and panting, face streaked with dirt and bits of leaves in his hair. The sword connected with hard earth. The fat man grunted, and swore. As he straightened, yanking the blade from the ground, the elf looked at his prize. The shortbow , d’hoine-made, and not expertly - elm, and rigid. It did not matter. It was a bow, and he was still Aen Seidhe. He had no quiver, he had no arrows, none save for the three still lodged in his back. He pulled himself to his feet, legs shaking, knees pressed against one another, bow in one hand. And his other - his other hand went to his spine. He was going to die here, but not to d’hoine. He would kill them, and the dogs would eat him too. He would avenge himself.

    The elf snapped an arrow from his back, and the world went dark. Everything was black and bright, pain that ebbed in and out. He could hear his breath in short, ragged gasps that hitched on his ribs. He could hear the sound of the leaves, crunching, the laughter of the d’hoine. He could hear the songs of the woods, rising up from the branches and the trees, singing to him. Va fail, va fail, Iorveth. He could feel the arrow in his hand, his fingertips pierced by the sharp splinters. He could smell the stringy lamb on the fat man’s breath. He was close, and the sword was too. He nocked the arrow, and closed his eye. He could not see anyway. It was all just light and colour, and his hand on the bow, pulling back the string. He drew to his shoulder, and he could hear himself screaming from the pain, even though he swore that no d’hoine would ever hear him scream again. He let the arrow go, and he heard the scream that followed it. he heard the sound of gasping, of shrieking, of a wet slosh, and then, a thud. He heard the stirring up of leaves. He heard two heart-beats, and then, only one, which was slowly, slowly, coming to a stop. He swayed. He fell. Va fail, Iorveth. Va fail, Dol’Pontar, he thought. His head hit the ground. He could hear a song.


    The elf blew hard into the flute, so hard that it made the scar on his cheek ache. No matter how hard he blew, it still didn’t produce a sound. There was not even the dull, reedy sound that came with a congested pipe - there wasn’t any sound at all. The flute was the absence of sound, it seemed to suck all of the sound from the room - when it “played’”, he could not hear his own heartbeat. He could not hear the elves in the woods around him, he could not hear the birdsong or the fox mewls. The elf heard nothing. He grimaced, and shook the flute, as if there was something stuck inside of it. But there wasn’t - and he knew there wasn’t. The fact of the matter was that it hadn’t played in half-a-year, and would never play again. He tossed the flute away, lips curling in distaste. It rolled over his bow, unstrung, sitting beside a bedroll that wasn’t slept in.

    A quiver of arrows leaned against the tent’s corner, the hard leather case was wrapped in squirrel pelt, with an elaborate embroidery of red vines encircling it. Some of the arrows were freshly fletched, and tipped with chipped flint arrowheads. They were painted a deep green. But other arrows were not of Aen Seidhe make. Some of them were of iron, with hard-wood shafts, and crow-feather fletching - done by a recruited washerwoman with steady hands. They had long lost their human smell - a fresh coat of green paint would do that - but the elf remembered pulling them from Redanian corpses. A village wasn’t far - and stories circulated. The elf had heard the stories. A gossip would tell of elves with squirrel-tails hanging from their hats - a child would say that they shot golden-fletched arrows, and the mother would warn her brood that elves fed monsters human corpses, to earn their friendship. He didn’t care much for the stories - certainly not enough to move his camp. Let the d’hoine fear us, he thought. Let them try to find us.

    He looked down at his hands. The vine tattoos curled from his neck, down his right arm, to spiral around his thumb and forefinger, ending above his second knuckle. His fingers looked knotted and bony, like old-growth wood, the wood in Brokiloén. The vines were crisscrossed with nicks and lines of scar tissue, disrupting the flow of the lines. He traced the leaves along his arms, seeing where the stopped and started again. He heard the notes of a song, playing somewhere - the same song that he had played many times before. The elf looked away from his hands, staring at the offending flute in the corner. But, it sat silent and still - incapable of playing a song with, or without elven assistance. The elf grit his teeth in his mouth, lacing his shooting glove around his arm.The vines peeked out from the edges of the glove. The elf scowled at the sight of them, and looked away. Sunlight was pouring into his tent from the crack between the flaps. It was bright, and clear. It was time.

    The elf reached for the quiver, and the bow along with it. The bedroll and the flute remained, as he tugged himself from his tent with a grunt. He pressed his vine-fingers against his chest. He could hear the rattle within him. His ribs hadn’t healed right, not since that day in Dol’Pontaraevon. He grunted, and squinted up-towards the sky. The sun was shining brightly down at him, the breeze was blowing fresh air into his face, and the birds were singing. It would be idyllic, if he couldn’t smell cow-manure and iron-forging on the breeze as well. The elf grimaced, and pulled himself to his feet, staring at the small camp he had established. Ursten was not far, but there were already stories about the Ursten woods - that they were haunted, that princes and queens had hanged themselves in the woods, and their spirits now haunted these old trees. The elf had never seen a ghost with a noose around its throat, and considered these stories to be nothing more than the whimpers of d’hoine. But the rumors had hid their camp better than any trees, any shadow.

    He put his foot down, and strung his bow, before hanging it over his shoulder. He began to walk through his camp. It was nestled between two huge trees, likely older than he was. Between the two of them was strung a rope and wood bridge - and concentric planks of wood spiraled around the trees. Tents crowded together in colonies around the trees massive branches. Bits of meat and fish dried on racks set between the boughs, and he watched as his kin pulled bits of jerky from them, claiming their breakfast. The night scouts were returning, their faces painted with blood and charcoal, ground marigold and parsley - brown and green streaks that concealed them in the woods. They weren’t an army. There was less than a score of them in Ursten’s woods - but they were enough to harass the Redanians. The elf leaned against a tree, scarred face twisting into a scowl as he did. His back hadn’t healed right either. None of him had healed right, not his face, not his ribs, not his spine, not his flute.

    The hanse approached him, and their leader - a tall elven woman - pressed her fist to her chest, and bowed her head curtly in a small salute. The elf nodded towards her, and the elven woman’s posture relaxed. Her lips pursed in a self-satisfied. Her name was Elle - Alder, in the common speech. She was beautiful - she looked like how humans imagined elves. She had thick black braids, gathered by a garland of leaves, an angular face with sharp, clever green-gold eyes. She was slender - and dressed in light leathers, with a green woolen cape - with stylized red and gold leaves sewn into it. Her face-paint had smeared, and he could smell a carrion smell coming up from around her. The flies buzzed around her, their hum rising above the camp’s chatter. Under one arm, she carried a head, the blood from its severance staining the side of her breeches. The head’s eyes were rolled up - making it look as it it was staring lustily, with a slack jaw and lolling tongue, at Elle.

    Caedmil, Iorveth.” She said - her voice chipper - but a yawn soon escaped her. She wiped her mouth, making her makeup smear further. She dropped the head at the other elf’s feet, and his skull made a dull thud against the ground. He watched a purple discoloration spread across the dead skin from the impact. “<I ploughing hate Kaedwenis.>” She spat, her Elvish distorted with loanwords and disgust. He knew why she hated them. Behind his one eye, he could see Henslet’s banner going up in smoke, and he was glad for it. Her voice cut through his thoughts, merry, bouncing with laughter; “<Let me introduce you to what’s left of Captain Rythe.>” She kicked the head on the ground, and it made a sound like an over-ripe melon, splitting in the sun. He didn’t look down at it, keeping his eye on her pretty, pointed, face - which was marred slightly by her snarl. “<His hanse’s dead. Some Kaedwenis drew the short straw — late night patrol down the road by Caer An Drahim.>Her nose wrinkled, lips pulling back from her teeth.

    Iorveth tilted his head to the side, pressing folding his arms across his chest. He looked down his nose at her, as he prompted her; “<None survived?>” She did not say anything - she merely smirked, and nodded her head, making a few leaves in her garland drift to Rythe’s face. One landed on-top of his outstretched tongue. He stared through her face, and his voice was commanding, but not unkinnd. “<Go rest.> Dearme.” The girl smiled broadly. She was missing one of her front two teeth, and her bottom incisor. She could whistle through them, making sounds that his flute would never make again. Her green eyes slid down, down to look at the battered, bruised head of Captain Rythe of Kaedwen — but she didn’t look at him for long. Elle looked towards the rest of her hanse - her friends and kinsmen, who she loved. Skinny and slight Tanan - who could shoot a bow better than any d’hoine. Culla Seven-Fingers, who never spoke — her tongue had been cut away by a group of Redanians - and her saviour, Iodhe, who wove raven feathers in her hair and had been born in Dol Blantha. Iorveth knew them all, and he loved them too.

    The elf reached for Rythe’s head. He held in his hands, staring deep into those rolling eyes. He grimaced, and reached his hand to touch the man’s mouth, pushing the tongue back into his jaw. His fingers felt sticky, slippery with saliva and gore. Bile rose in Iorveth’s throat, and his nostrils flared. He ran his sticky fingers over the man’s eyes - not out of mercy. He just couldn’t stand the d’hoine looking at him anymore. he tucked the man’s head under an arm, and grunted, where the spongy skin touched his ribs. Red flashed before his eye. It bathed the whole camp in a pale, crimson light - a miasma of the pain that hadn’t healed right. Rythe in hand, the elf pressed his hand against the tree’s trunk. He wormed his hand hand up through ivy, up through lichen, up through the moss. His fingers closed around a leather hilted rope. He yanked hard. The pulley system pulled him up, up tot he lookout point that had been erected between the two trees. Iorveth narrowed his eye, staring at the rippling trees, as gust of wind churned up their dead branches. It was the end of winter, the start of spring. he could see the green buds on the cherry trees, the crocuses pushing their heads up from the undergrowth. The red ebbed away.

    The elf hummed to himself, the sound of his song rumbling in his throat. He could hear the notes carry down the tree-tops, down to the bees in the meadery, to the aphids eating the winery’s leaves, to the leshen in the woods. He looked down towards Rythe’s head. His tongue had slid out again, the eyes had shook themselves open from the sudden movement up. Iorveth growled - the song ended. He gripped the man’s hair firmly, his vine-fingers cracking as he clutched at the live-filled mane. He wrinkled his nose, and let out a putter of lips and teeth - a sound of disgust. Rythe stared at him, with glassy eyes, wide pupils, and bloodshot whites. The veins stood out dark and engorged on his face, the temples crawling with thick strings of blood vessels. The elf hurled the head. He watched it sail across the tree-tops, brush against branches and brambles, until it disappeared amongst the canopy of a grove that never died — a grove that no winter could touch. It was far away. But he could still hear the song of the deep forest, the crunch of blood, the tearing of fangs, the sound of a skull being split. Elves fed monsters human corpses, the mother told her child. They did it to earn the friendship of monsters, the washerwoman told her son. Don’t go into the woods.

    Iorveth smiled, and reached for his flute, but it wasn’t there.