Second Horizon Does this hurt you? Does this anger you? Does this displease you? What did you feel, when they tore out your fangs? What did you feel, when they chained your soul? What did you feel, when the path you devoted your life was denied? What do you feel, in this world of peace? This world of peace that had always been wrapped in strife. ●●●●●● A mere 15 years ago, the Jeualian Empire, a military powerhouse, rampaged through the lands on an unchallenged conquest. With towering war machines and weaponry fifty years ahead of its time, there were no countries that could stand up against them. With unbelievable ease, the red flag of the Jeaulian Empire was planted over half of the kingdoms, principalities, and city-states on the continent. The people were subjugated, their cultures homogenized, and soon, they too became part of the gears that moved the Empire. It was at the halfway point, however, that the unwavering armies of the Empire was forced to halt. For, in the southern half of the continent laid three kingdoms that, together, could indeed challenge the Empire’s sovereignty. Joining arms in the face of a common foe, the theocracy of Astopol, the monarchy of Illiserev, and the democracy of Dansila marched under a common flag, led by the Knight-Commander, Mirelle Keep. Even the monsters of Talze Utera joined in the war effort, as the Elders of the Scarlet Court put aside their blood feud with Astopol to feast on the blood of the Empire. For months on end, the armies clashed, a hail of iron met by a hail of magic, every ambush reciprocated, every defeat paid for in blood. The land turned into ash, as conflagrations marred the battlefield. The wastelands became marshes, soil tainted with lifeblood. Over and over again, the war was waged, a mountain of corpses growing as the days passed on. But the difference in resources was slowly becoming clear. The war machine of the Empire was powered by the hundreds of nations that they’ve conquered, while the defensive war waged by the coalition left their own lands razed. In a final, desperate offensive, all the armies of the coalition decided to strike head-on. On that day, as war hymns were sung and good byes were said, humans became the horizon, as two massive armies met on opposite sides. With a selfless, selfish charge, the Knight-Commander led the horde of metal and flesh into her final large-scale confrontation with the Jeualian Empire. ●●●●●● And then, just a little bit, the world cracked. A soul-trembling sound broke over the horizon, as the sky shattered. From the darkness, never-before-seen monsters fell onto the barren fields like mud. And, just as incoherently as they came, those beings attacked, mindlessly lashing out at both sides. Incidents of these popped up all over the continent, as tears in the skies heralded the coming of these alien beings. Unable to fight a war on two fronts, especially with the majority of their forces concentrated in foreign land, the Empire retreated, closing off its borders with massive walls. Their retreat was both the end of the war, and the beginning of a new one. Massive civilian casualties were incurred as these monsters, dubbed ‘rift-beasts’, appeared at random, rampaging through even the most heavily-fortified cities. They did not respond to any attempt at communication, and could not be stopped by anything less than high-class magic spells. A thoughtless, mindless, merciless enemy that acted with no purpose other than to attack. Talze Utera was the first to disperse, seeking amnesty in the miasma that was their home. The Coalition quickly broke apart, selfishly defending the well-being of their own kingdoms. The rift-beasts were not an enemy that could be defeated by a ‘combined’ force, and soon, all friendly relationships broke down between Dansila, Astopol, and Illiserev. No charity existed between them, and they crumbled under their own inability to eliminate these alien threats. Already weakened by their battles against the Jeualian Empire, the kingdoms fell into anarchy as the unknown monsters continued their senseless onslaught. ●●●●●● It is in that dark hour, known as the ‘Talentless Strife’, that a special material named ‘Talentium’ was discovered. Extracted from the bodies of dead rift-beasts, it was a ghostly metal that could be forged into a weapon stronger, sharper, and more durable than any past crafting material. Furthermore, though, Talentium was a metal that resonated with the will of the wielder. A mage would find themselves capable of achieving magical feats they’d never have dreamed of, while a swordsman would find themselves filled with strength that was beyond human. With the first sword crafted by the Dansilan prodigy, Alier Velone, and wielded by the Astopolian captain, Aiv Recourt, it finally appeared that the rift-beasts could be driven back. Each encounter and victory brought forth more Talentium, and thus, allowed for more soldiers to gain the power necessary to fight off those amorphous monsters. Slowly, but surely, the coalition stood as one again. Knights, mages, soldiers, pilots, all people from all three nations worked together, scattering themselves to respond quickly to any rift-appearances. Step by step, the Talentless Strife gave way to the March of Light. In the end, through the valiant efforts of Mirelle Keep, who single-handedly dispatched a thousand rift beasts that poured out from north of Astopol, and Aiv Recourt, who slew the World-Eater, the rift-beast large enough to blot out the sun, the three nations could breathe easily once more. Rifts began to appear less, and the advent of Talentium had accelerated their living standards remarkably. It was an era of peace, of training, of development, as fallow fields were tended to, as the lands were restored to their past glory. It was a time of rest, broken only by the few rift-beasts that appeared, and the residents of Talze Utera that hunted. It was a time that lasted for only 12 transient years. ●●●●●● The drumbeat of war began with the birth of the Musphelheim demon, an incident orchestrated by the witches of Talze Utera, a faction with the land of darkness that had risen in power recently. Though the knights of Astopol tried their best to fight off the monsters and stop the ceremony, they were betrayed by one of their own, an Executioner by the name of Vance Warren. With the Musphelheim demon spirited away, Vance was captured and judged for his sins, sent into the mountain prison of Hanzen to rot away. The vampire that Vance befriended had watched helplessly as he was taken away, legs and arms cut off to prevent any possibility of escape. Merely one month after, the capital of Dansila, Cykes, was attacked by a massive amount of summoned familiars, as well as two extraordinarily resilient rift-beasts. Capable of devouring magic and regenerating from physical injuries, they wreaked havoc. Attempts at evacuation were shut down in a similarly brutal fashion. Through the actions of one mage, the underground city of Burrow, originally built for the evacuation in case of a large-scale attack, was destroyed, reduced to rubble. In a single night, the capital of Cykes suffered heavier losses than even the darkest days of the Talentless Strife. In the end, the entire governing council was replaced, and the young heads of the Courtright and Escellar family took charge, despite opposition from the Seyour family. The decision was unanimous. War on Talze Utera. ●●●●●● As Dansila prepared for war, Vance was rescued. Due to an unexpected appearance of a rift-beast frighteningly similar to the World-Eater originally slain by Aiv, the Astopolian military were unable to arrive quickly enough to stop the small rescue party from breaking the heretic from his iron-clad bonds. It was there that Vance accepted the stigmata of a vampire. It was there that a man in red granted him an elixir that would give him back his limbs. It was there that the Talentium sword that Vance possessed turned jet black. Clad in one thousand evils, drenched in vengeance and shrouded by hatred, he cast away his ideals and became the monster that Astopol saw him as. In a single stroke of his sword, he bisected the Elders of the Scarlet Court and took full control of the vampire race. Forming an unstable alliance with the Witchmothers, who sought only to protect their own while they flushed out the culprit of the massacre in Cykes, Vance mustered the hordes of beasts that resided within the miasma of Talze Utera, and marched. With every step, the miasma spread, and the black mist began to encroach on the territory of the kingdoms. Fighting a war on two fronts, the armies of the God Slayer brought Dansila and Astopol to a standstill, for the strength of the God Slayer was enough to stop armies by himself. Distance did not matter to him. Each swing of his cursed blade would rend the earth, reaching to the other side of the horizon. A true demon, whose performance in the battlefield was simultaneously awe-inspiring and terrifying. It appeared to many that a new war was going to be waged, one of attrition. As barracks began to push out trained soldiers though, as the monsters brought themselves into a frenzy under the bloody banner of a new leader, the war was brought to a swift halt by the sudden death of the God Slayer. A death caused not by the sword of a hero, but that of the vampire that saved him. The one that saved him for his cast-away ideals of a world where monsters were not shunned. The one that betrayed him so that the history of Vance Warren, a Knight of Astopol that wished for an end to the blood feud, would not be further stained. Rilolia, the vampire that would become the bridge between future talks of peace between Astopol and Talze Utera. ●●●●●● Supported by the Seyour family and the nation of Illiserev, and protected by the former Knight-Commander, Mirelle Keep, Rilolia began a year-long conference in the capital of Astopol. The Witchmothers, the High Priestess, the Tainted of the Crystala, the Grandmaster, the Sidosa Board, the King of Illiserev, the Merchants Guildkeeper, the Sage Esprit, all sorts of influential people gathered as they discussed the future of relationships between Talze Utera. At the end of all that, Talze Utera was recognized as an independent nation, its residents recognized not as ‘monsters’, but as ‘citizens’. Blood became a ‘product’ that could be paid for. Vampires became advisors, their years of experience making them astute judges of people. Witchcraft was no longer considered utterly taboo. And the demon child of Musphelheim, who was the indirect cause of all this, was truly just a child, possessing none of the world-breaking powers that it was presumed to possess. The knights could sheathe their swords. The warriors could go home. The mages could pursue life-saving magics. And, other than the few incidents of rift-beasts that were quickly slain by the few knights who remained in active service, it was a time of peace, as men of war traded their steel for cloth, finding new jobs, and new purposes of life. ●●●●●● But, tell me. Are you satisfied with this? Rules Astopol Illiserev Dansila Talze Utera Rift Beasts and Talentium Arts and Skills Magic Use the common sense you've gained from RPing in the past. Astopol is a country that centers around the worship of the Goddess of Miracles. Led by the High Priestess Cairyn, protected by the Grandmaster Savaniel and policed by the Knight-Commander Farnor, it could be considered the most ‘blessed’ nation out of all four of them. Despite being situated in mountainous territory, it is flush with greenery and practically untouched by the banshee-cries of winter. Their farmers produce good harvests year round, and while other nations have a variety of seasons, Astopol stands distinct due to its weather conditions being a never-ending spring. While they were originally at odds with the nation of Talze Utera, and many civilians still feel uncomfortable in the presence of man-eating beasts, things have begun to change after the Goddess of Miracles herself made her decree known. During the final days of the Conference of Greats, the High Priestess became a medium for the Goddess and made her will known. Historically, Astopol has produced the strongest practitioners of Sword Arts and Sword Skills to date, from heroes such as Mirelle Keep, to villains such as Vance Warren. As such, they also hold the largest military force, despite the fact that most of the knights really don’t have much to do other. When the other nations prepared for the war against the forces of the God Slayer, Illiserev stayed away from conflict, playing a supportive role. The current King, Lazaros the Third, is a rational, peaceful man who’d rather focus on making the kingdom as a whole more prosperous than to fight wars that would be avoided if people were slower to anger. In the lands of Illiserev, there are hosts of noble families with masses of wealth, stemming from centuries past. Few people are unable to find jobs in Illiserev, as the harsh land of Illiserev, beset with blizzards and tidal waves and a host of other natural phenomenon means that there is always something that needs to be repaired or remade or reinforced. Despite its monarchial status, it truly is a land of opportunity. Interestingly enough, Illiserev has never had a standing army. Instead, the maids and butlers employed in the houses of nobles are trained in the art of combat, to protect their masters from any potential threat. Unlike the knights of Astopol, these men and women specialize in disarming and disabling, something that is extremely effective against those that have become too reliant on Talentium. Dansila is a pleasant land, with seasonal changes that aren’t extreme at all. Their winters are snowy and their summers are hot, making them rather ordinary in every way. Similarly, they have their fair share of hills, fields, mountains, and forests, but nothing particularly in excess. A democratic nation that puts emphasis on academia, Dansila is monitored by a governing body by the name of the Sidosa Board. Composed of scholars and leaders, they manage the majority of the funding for universities in Dansila, and are elected every five years. Despite this, however, the people in the Sidosa Board have remained relatively the same, with positions passed down from one generation to the next. Currently, the most influential members of the Sidosa Board are Lucius Courtright, Nysieg Escellar, and Fion Seyour-Meyer. With a focus on technological advancement, Dansila has always had a small military force, enhanced by technology. Currently, a fleet of bird-ships soar through the skies of Dansila, capable of dealing with the appearance of Rift Beasts before they even land. Relationships with Talze Utera had noticeably improved as of late, mainly due to a mutual sharing of knowledge between the two. Only recognized as a proper nation in the past two years, Talze Utera is unlike other nations in that it exists as a dark miasma, a heavy mist over certain areas that persist for decades without dispersing. Because of this, it could be said that Talze Utera is everywhere and nowhere, present in the lands of every other nation. Jointly ruled by Rilolia, Peacemaker of the Scarlet Court and the Witchmothers of the Compass Rose, it is a nation with a menagerie of races, too many to count. Anarchism is common here, and it is only through a show of strength that obedience is gotten. Every race is highly independent, often skirmishing with one another for no reason other than because they wanted to. Recently, however, the first ‘town’ of Talze Utera has been set. Within the territory of Astopol, in the largest miasma that blackens the lands, the ‘official’ capital city of Talze Utera rests: Dedegear. Residents of Talze Utera are expected to help themselves, not to depend on some shoddy military. With laws prohibiting pointless conflict though, many have stopped with pointless shows of strength, pursuing new experiences that were not possible in a monster-eat-monster world. Rift Beasts are monsters that are not of this world. They appear from cracks in the sky, seeping down onto the ground in a thick, black mud, before taking on a more bestial form. There are rarely two Rift Beasts that have the same appearance, and the only similarities that lie in this phantasmal race is that they bleed a putrid blood, and that they are an extraordinarily resilient existence. Extreme temperatures appear to have no effect on them, and they have no sense of pain, breaking through bonds with no concern given to their bodily well-being. Outside of a powerful magical attack or a superhumanly powerful strike, there is no way to kill a Rift Beast. In death, however, the Rift Beast does not rot. Instead, this abnormal being will crystallize, becoming a crystal-white sculpture of itself. This crystal can be chipped away rather easily, until one gets to the ‘core’ of the statue, in which the ore, Talentium, lays. Often seen in the shape of a sphere, this silvery metal emits a white mist and can be forged in the same manner as iron. However, it is immensely more durable than the latter material, capable of maintaining a razor-sharp edge through tens of battles. A superior metal in every respect, it has grown common enough that even an ordinary soldier or mage, granted they be frugal, can afford one. Its physical attributes, though, are not the greatest advantage that Talentium provides. Talentium is an ore that resonates with its user. Certain people have a certain aptitude for using this odd metal, and because of that, are capable of drawing out the true benefits of Talentium much easier than those who are ‘untalented’. For females, Talentium enhances their ability to cast magic. By pushing their mana through Talentium, they are able to bring forth much more power than normally possible. A lightning bolt becomes a pillar of electricity. A fire ball becomes a torrent of flames. A gust of wind becomes a howling tornado. Spells that once required preparation and incantations were now cast with the same ease as the most basic of magic. Due to this, Sword Arts were created, a martial arts that combined swordplay with magic. Physical strikes were synchronized with magical might, creating a complex waltz of the physical and the metaphysical. While the majority of Sword Arts center around utilizing a single element, there have been a few rarer styles that involve illusions, or barriers, or buffs. Most famous of these special Sword Arts is the Six Winged Style of Mirelle Keep, in which one accelerates themselves to the extent where they can appear at six different places in a single moment. For males, Talentium strengthens their bodies to extraordinary levels. While the manner of ‘strengthening’ depends on the person in question, there is one similarity that unites all of them. As men are normally incapable of using magic, it is not ‘mana’ that is pushed into Talentium, but ‘willpower’. The power they gain comes from their personal view of what ‘power’ is. Some become fast. Others become strong. Most strike a balance. A few become durable. Yet, unlike Sword Arts, Sword Skills is not a ‘style’, but a ‘path’. There is a saying amongst users of Sword Skills: It is not a path of selflessness, but of selfishness, an earnest wish paid for by using your body as a collateral. Sword Skills are not waltzes, not displays of eloquent skill, but an attack born from single-minded savagery. They can be attained through training, passed on from one to another, but Sword Skills, in general, are considered singular attacks, each skill meant to end a fight. Despite the advent of Talentium, and how magic has a whole has been revolutionized, there are still things that Talentium is incapable of doing. Thus, there are still practitioners more traditional methods of magecraft. More specifically, the arts of healing, cursing, and summoning are still done without the aid of Talentium, and a skilled, experienced mage is still capable of holding her own against a Talented individual. While healing is a magic that can be used by any person, Cursemaking and Summoning are tools that are still employed mainly by the Witches. Cursemaking is a magic that requires finesse instead of raw magical output. Often crafted over the course of many days, Curses draw strength from their ‘odd’ conditions. They inflict psychological damage or lasting effects, and the most dangerous of them would afflict the victim for the entirety of their lifespan. Unlike elemental magic, which simply takes what is already ‘possible’ in reality and then uses it, Curses are capable of bringing out the impossible. The sins of a human can be made physical. The mind of a man can be aged fifty years without changing the body. The regrets of one’s life can cling onto them, dragging them down into the depths of self-loathing. A victim of a curse has two ‘normal’ options. They can either live with it, or they can find the witch that cast the curse upon them and kill her. There is a ‘third’ abnormal option though. In Talze Utera, there is a witch by the name of Annette Lachapelle, capable of pulling curses out of one’s body, and housing it in her own. Her ‘price’ is unknown, something that varies for every person who has successfully found her. Her motives are further unknown. The other tool used by witches is Summoning magic, the ability to form a contract with a spirit that exists on the ethereal plain. In exchange for the pleasure of ‘physically existing’, the spirit must abide to the instructions of person who summoned them. While there are many ancient tomes that speak of contracts with mythical, god-like spirits, most summons nowadays are pretty much just run-of-the-mill monsters. It is said that the Vampiric art of Necromancy stems from Summoning magic. While magic is normally something that only females can use, there have been a few incidents in which men were able to use it. In such a case, these men hold the potential to become masters of the art.