Viridos, Chapter 8

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  1. Chapter 8
    Grasping at the Straws

    Modakra stumbled up further into the Riven tree. His partner had long been consumed by the hydraroot.

    Wait .. stop! He lunged for her, but it was too late. His fingers came together in a blur and his aux fused with him. The branch rumbled and the bark split, the scales like the tectonic plates, and the hydraroot lost its purchase on the branch. The bright pink and purple growth thrashed as it tumbled down, bouncing off innumerable branches and thick side-trunks. Clutched ... clutched in its tentacles was Viktoriya.

    His vision sharpened at that precise moment, and he could still see her, as if he was holding her face right next to his, tenderly, like a lover. Her eyes were frozen wide in denial. It was clear that she was still coming to grips with being attacked by the hydraroot before the whole thing lost its grip on the branch. Shock was completely spread over her face. Just ... just before she fell through the foliage, just as she disappeared from his sight and he snapped back, her hand started to reach out for him.

    Sweat beaded on his forehead and dripped down his nose.

    Further. He did not know why he stumbled higher and higher, but he remembered the words he shared with her. Find the masters of the heartwood, and perhaps he would find out why the Moirguit, the aux-eaters, were able to attack their soul with impunity.

    He pushed his way through a bunch of leaves. They were, as he remembered, oaks, tall and rounded with many bulbs. The next moment, he was pushed back by a staff on his throat, the splintery end constricting his breathing.

    "Who are you, from under the Umbrella? Which Clad sponsored your journey up here?"
    #1 unanun, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
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  2. The Outskirts of Riven, green
    "Burn the bodies."

    "Ye...yes, Lieutenant." The captain walked back to the other soldiers and commanded them to gather tinder. Lieutenant Vydus now stood alone with the corpses of his men, looking through the gaps in their armour at where the flesh had been stained black. His gaze was cool, distant and reticent.

    His body flowed into a mournful mudrā: right foot rested against the left calf in the tree pose, but with the torso arched sideways and arms outstretched at a diagonal angle with fingers spread. It resembled a bowed tree, bent and broken by the world but rooted eternally in the earth.

    These men had been dutiful and valued subordinates and they deserved respect. The lieutenant looked at each of their faces and burned the image onto his soul, never to forget, always to be haunted. It was his duty as their commander.

    Vydus would take his leave of the dead only when all that remained of them was ash. He waited silently as his soldiers gathered the wood and erected the pyre and not once did he lift his gaze from the deceased and their coal-black eyes. Eventually a fire blazed in earnest and soldiers off duty congregated around it to pay their respects to their lost comrades.

    The fire blazed brightly and played tricks with the light. In it Vydus saw the deaths of these men replay. Four he had had speared from a safe distance but one had evaded the volley and ran wildly at his assailants like a being possessed. That one Vydus personally executed, running him through with his sword before it could wreak any more havoc.

    The flames now licked at the forms of the Corrupted and purged the darkness from their skin. The lieutenant had hoped it might purify their bodies and souls, but he was neither undertaker or spirit guide — there was no way of knowing that death or fire would cleanse them. Nothing was clear in the battle against this alien plague.

    All the soldiers had been told was that the black centipedes which crawled around everywhere were the cause and that they infected a person through their aux. Vydus had seen their parasitism up close, how they coiled around and molested an aux with their rows and rows of writhing little legs. Vydus recalled one Corrupted One's monkey aux whose eyes had become hollow and lifeless. He turned to his aux Perilith whom rested in his shell upon his shoulder. A blessing you can fly, Vydus thought.

    Many soldiers around the fire channeled their grief and prayers for deliverance for the deceased through mudrā. Some assumed the posture the lieutenant had but there were various forms adopted in the firelight, some Vydus did not recognise. The impact was unforgettable, both beautiful and bewitching, somber and spirited as the poses danced in their performers' flickering shadows.

    He suspected some of the unfamiliar mudrās were of the creole Tattersal's Lost Band used. Vydus had not fought under the general's banner during his exile, having joined the military shortly following the decree. When the oak-kin had returned and assumed his old position, Vydus' rank had transferred over to the "new" army. He knew he was a lieutenant in name only; General Tattersal kept his most trusted subordinates close at hand and they doted on him as a boy does their father.

    There was a clear divide within the military between the Tattersal loyalists and the "greenhorns" and long-serving "traitors" of the military left behind in the wake of the Lost Band's disappearance from Edelon. They were too blinded by their pride to see the dire state in which they left the capital's forces when they vanished, its numbers never so few since its construction hundreds of years ago. It was an uphill struggle to maintain the policing and protection of the city in the aftermath and those men who took the brunt of the challenge were true heroes in Vydus' eyes, not these men whom forsook their realm and their people.

    Regardless, these two factions were one now and they faced an enemy far more menacing than each other. He only hoped everyone would realise this.

    A whisper to the lieutenant's side from one soldier to another stirred him from his reverie. "Nineteen," Vydus answered in the stead of the soldier's mate, "Nineteen of our brethren have fallen to this plague so far. And countless civilians. It is for them that we stave off this blight. Do our dead comrades proud and fulfil their legacy. For Viridos. For Sunne."

    The soldier shied at his superior's words and looked down at his feet. His mate muttered, "For Viridos," and was echoed by several of those nearby including the whisperer, albeit reluctantly.

    Lieutenant Vydus nodded and saluted, turning away to leave. His thoughts turned to other matters.

    Kairos, where are you?

    He walked off as now only wood burned.


    #2 Spire, Feb 9, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015
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  3. [​IMG]

    The stench of burning flesh clung to his nostrils and antennae. Vydus decided to take a stroll before heading back to the officers' encampment to rid himself of it and take in the oxygen-rich air of the Riven Tree.

    It had been a long arduous day and it was starting to feel like the soldiers were fighting a losing battle with the aux-eaters. For every centipede they exterminated, three more emerged. They were beginning to lose ground as the myriapods pushed and pushed and guerrilla attacks by the Corrupted Ones were becoming more organised and ambitious. It was a gradual change but the lieutenant read the patterns well enough. Without intervention soon, the battalion and the city would be overrun, and the Riven Tree, the heart of the forest, lost.

    His wander took him along the wooden walkways and bridges criss-crossing the Tree's many offshoots. Hearths glowed in the windows of houses as night descended on Riven. Vydus lost track of time and purpose, sucked into the energy of the colossal organism. His legs walked mechanically, around and up into the cityscape. Up and up.

    Vydus felt the life around him, the Tree and its denizens, flora and fauna, all connected and codependent. Gardens of richly-coloured plants and fungi grew up the trunks met by nocturnal insects like the lantern bees which blinked blue then yellow, blue then yellow from their bulbous behinds. Moths fluttered in front of his face and flitted off up towards the canopy, scattering an intoxicating aroma around him. How he yearned to catch them. On and on the soldier walked. Up and up.

    Soon the firelight disappeared far below him and the walking structures dwindled. Soon he ascended on hand and foot up the bark using its deep fissures as holds. Soon the bark ended and he found himself atop a great branch. All around him was foliage, a world of green holding him captive. He fell to his knees and wept and did not know why.

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  4. Viridos - Riven's tree, green

    Vordan had been caught by surprise. Nothing indicated that something or someone was within the foliage he had been about to walk through. Something had struck out to press against his throat and force Modakra to step back. It seemed to be a staff inside there and Modakra quickly got out of reach so he could breathe properly. He dropped to his knees, the exhaustion getting to him. He had climbed this behemoth of a tree for a long time and he still hadn’t had time to rest… Now was maybe the only time he would have the chance to do so.

    His gaze came back up after regaining his breath… He had asked a question he had almost forgotten immediately. Composing himself, he spoke as well as he could with his lack of breath. “I am… Modakra Odus. The Apothecary Association of Hosian have sent me… Although I’ve come more of my own will.” He backed away a little more to find something to rest his head against. “I’ve come to find an answer to an infection spreading amongst the people of Viridos. I know of no cure or treatment for it.” He pressed his back onto the bark he felt behind him, closing his eyes for a moment. He didn’t know who he was talking to, but his words made it sound he has lived within this canopy for a long time.

    I seek a solution against an infection attacking the Aux of the people. I have never seen something of the sort… I found books that said there might be something here that could cure it…” It brought back the fresh images of Viktoryia that had helped him get up the tree. He had lost a friend, a dear friend. It was already hard thinking that she was ripped away from him so quickly, without having the time to say goodbye or even help her.

    #4 Rain of the Night, Feb 11, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  5. Silvarum stood before Modakra, partially obscured by leaves and branches. What had been thought to be a staff, was actually one of the tall anthro's spidery limbs. Behind his mask he carefully calculated the threat this human offered. He decided rather quickly that human didn't pose much of a threat, and stepped fully out of the branches. "You seek knowledge to help fight the Aux-Eaters?" The man clearly meant that, so it was a rhetorical question. Silvarum stood at seven feet, and a black orb of light floated above his head in a circle, pulsing rhythmically.

    "I am unable to assist you directly, but I may be able to help you find someone who can." He removed his limb from the man's throat, "Do you have anything to verify that you are who you say you are? I cannot just let anyone wander up here claiming that their purpose is to help." He spoke without emotion, speaking as plainly as the visage on his mask. It was lonely up here, with the undertakers making up the majority of his social circle, and he enjoyed that. It saved him from seeing how the rest of the world reacted to his appearance.

    "Modakra, you must understand why I halt your progress here. With the infection, among other things, there is need for such precautions." He straightened, letting his arms hang down by his side, which was also where his swords hung, and waiting for the human to prove his claims.
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  6. He sat cross-legged, eyes closed, meditating in the green. His mudrā expanded his airways and drew from the diaphragm. The breath of the Riven Tree flowed into him and his mind and senses sharpened to a razor edge. He brought one hand to the bark beneath him and held his palm down flat. He felt within the branch: the life sap that coursed with a thousand voices and the deep throb of the heartwood at its core. They communicated to him messages he could not hope to properly comprehend but the sense of urgency in them was palpable. Vydus now understood why he'd been summoned here.

    Perilith emerged from his shell and started to hover over his crux's shoulder. They both sensed it before it became visible.

    Through the brush, a most curious creature scuttled. It walked on four legs with two joints and leaf-shaped digits for grasping. Its body stood up straight with a bulbous torso that flowed seamlessly into a thick neck. The head was flat and triangular like a shield bug with two eyestalks on either side and a mandibular mouthpart. What seemed to be a dome-shaped hat sat atop its scalp. Two forelegs reached forward like arms, holding between them a book.

    A muted chattering sound could be heard as it shuffled towards Vydus, its mandibles opening and closing quickly. Only when it came a bit closer did Vydus realise what it was doing. It was talking to itself.

    "No, no, no, it simply won't do, this text fails to grasp the complexities of the organism's social structure and behaviour, grounding itself far too deeply in the anatomical and not the behavioural, no, no, no, it simply - won't - do." The creature cast the book into the foliage.

    Only then did it seem to notice the anthro sitting before it. "Ah, greetings humanoid, where are my manners, I am The Archivist, a pleasure to make your acquaintance, now, come this way, now, please." The Archivist turned to scurry back the way it came. Its skin Vydus now saw up close was cellulose. One eyestalk flipped back when it realised Vydus wasn't budging. "Come on now, get to it, there is no time for ambling, the moths told me you were their man, are you not the moths' man? you certainly have the look of the moths to me, if you don't mind me saying, if you are not him, aghast! it simply would not do, no, no, no, you must be him, though perhaps you are a bit slow of mind..."

    While the creature rambled, Vydus realised why he had ascended the Tree: The moths lower down must have entranced him with their pheromones. He had felt an insatiable lust while climbing which he could not place. Now it made sense. The only thing he'd experienced before which made him feel remotely like that were pheromones he'd detected from much greater distances. They were intoxicating then, but now he had experienced them sprayed directly into his face he truly realised their potency.

    But what could be more important up here than on the ground keeping the aux-eaters at bay? He had vital work to do to protect the Riven Tree from the encroaching corruption. There is no time to waste, he agreed with the insectoid fey.

    He needed answers. He would have to go along with this charade; for a time. "I am the man you seek. My name is Vydus, lieutenant of the Viridosian military. Now may I ask why I was summoned here and where you are taking me?"

    The Archivist flicked back its other eyestalk to regard Vydus with its full attention. "To speak with the Mothertree, of course, in order to try and vanquish the..." It paused on the brink of a word that appeared to vex it, "Moirgut."

    #6 Spire, Feb 12, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
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  7. Viridos - Riven's Tree, green

    Modakra watched the figure present himself more formally, his eyes having now fixated themselves onto what he had thought to be a staff. It was nothing like such, not even a thing. It was a limb attached to the helmet-wearing creature… He had never seen anything of such nature. Modakra wondered where he had landed now. His gaze then went to the odd black orb. What was he?

    His initial response was a relief. Even if he couldn’t help with it directly, just hearing that he knew someone who can meant that he was heading the right way. When the limb retracted, he took a deep breath, his hand running along the red marks on his skin. He went on to ask his to identify himself… He had not thought it would be necessary for him to do so. In all honesty, he didn’t even think he would meet anyone up there. The creature explained itself, but Modakra felt that it didn’t need to.

    Modakra slowly stood from his spot, remembering that he had a letter from his Apothecary Association. He reached into one of the satchels on his belt, taking out the parchment that was given to him. He stepped forward to hand him the writing, speaking calmly as he did so. “There is no need for you to explain yourself… Riven’s Tree is of great importance and protecting it is necessary. I work as an Apothecary and I was asked to find a cure for Aux-Eaters.

  8. On top of the canopy but beneath the sky To a vast majority of the kin (with the exception of those from Hosia) they never knew of the full, uncovered sky. Occasionally, they would catch a beam of yellow or a hint of blue. Even the birds lived most of their lives under a green ceiling, though it was high and and gave no reason to feel oppressed.

    However, there were the rare few that lived at the interstice between canopy and sky. Up here they were the Prophet's eyes and ears. They divined weather patterns and observed the smoke rising in thick columns from the Czar's forges. As was the custom of any creature so blessed, they occupied not just the interstice between Sunne and the Up, but also between life and death, aux and crux.

    "Mistrex," chittered a spider anima.

    "I ... am aware." This particular medium spoke haltingly. Every word came with the great effort of peeling herself away from the horizon. "V..isitors."

    "Do you think -"

    "Yes. Bring the ... m, to me."
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  9. [​IMG]


    They had grown up together. Not just by accident, but as part of a bond-forging regimen that trained acolytes in pairs. The pain of separation was almost unbearable enough to cause death. She watched her bonded-one die a slow death, the black centipede crawling in and out of her head. Naya was powerless to stop it, watching her eyes roll into the back of her head before she gave her a mercy killing.


    One of Kindly Ones. Her mentor. He was a great and old kin, his bark drying out yet his heartwood still supple. His eyes sprouted fire as he committed suicide, burning his core to cinders to prevent the spread of the moirgut.

    Three, four, five, six. She counted them off her fingers as the rain slipped through the canopy. They had perished beside her, cut down by the blades of the Corrupted Ones.

    Seven. Her index and thumb made the sacred angle, that when paired with the other hand opened the gate to Ilium.

    Eight, nine, ten. Each of those three faces were Kind, and she remembered their names, the texture of their hands, and their faces. They were also gone now. Outside, a flash of lightning sounded. She was hiding in a small buttressed hole in one of the redwoods, just outside of Edelon. The forges had long gone dark. Everything was dark. Tattersal was nowhere to be found (he was, in fact, cleaning up the mess in Hosia. Amaltas was not here either - the dark unicorn was the only other one who could have kept the corruption at bay.). Ash ... the undertaker had long disappeared, fleeing into the interstice with Lady Ironblood.

    It was just her now. She crawled in the mud into her forge, a dark and damp adobe that emptied its smithing wastes into the Edelon River. It was one of hundreds that dotted the shore, now all abandoned. She blew life into the coals and hammered the steel with hate. The darkness outside was strong enough to absorb the dull glow of the forge, and she did not feel worried about being discovered. Blow by blow the golden steel took the shape of the killing edge.

    She had met so many kin in the past month. And just as she began to know them, they disappeared. As she worked the yellow metal, her mind wandered, to all the lost life and all the lost knowledge - ranging from the most sacred of rituals, to mudras, to forest paths and plants, all down to the mundane details of their life. On top of that mass was another infinitely larger, the sum of everything they knew but she did not, crushing her in the night of her rebellion.

    Was it better to not have known them? Was the agony of losing the person worth the sliver that she retained?

    Plink, plink, plink, sounded Vanaya's, of the Sprightly Order of the Kindly Ones, lonely crusade in the forge.
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  10. Riven: Lower-Upper Reaches, green Silvarum took the note in one hand, he quickly read it and handed it back, "It seems all is in order." He reached into the branches with on of his longer limbs, and felt a thread that was there. His kin had threads woven throughout much of the upper reaches, though hard to detect by most races he instinctively knew where they were. The spiders of Riven used them to convey messages, and in special cases, to detect movement among the branches. He plucked it with the limb, alerting the others to the situation, but was immediately notified that they already knew.

    "Well Modakra, if you'll follow me." He turned and picked his was deeper into the tree, keeping a few eyes on Modakra to make sure he was following, and not plummeting to his death. "What do you know of the Aux-Eaters" he asked? Picking their way up into the tree Binky floated down to hover around the human. The leaves filtered most of the light from the sun out, but it was noticeably getting brighter. He moved with a fluidity, and yet because of his hard exoskeleton there was the faintest trace of rigidity.

    The closer to the ceiling they got, the more the webs of his kind were visible. The trained eye could even notice some of the spiders, a limb stretched out there, a chittering whisper. The strong feeling of being watched by predatory and curious eyes. One of the spiders approached Silvarum and gestured that they should follow it. They were nearing the undertakers.

  11. Vydus followed The Archivist through the dense foliage. The fey was surprisingly fast on its four scuttling legs and Vydus soon found it almost impossible to follow. It grappled the branches like rope and walked around the base of them when hydraroot blocked their path. The lieutenant had no option but to slash the hydraroot to oblivion, a taxing and dangerous endeavour. His dislike for The Archivist grew more and more.

    After defeating a particularly large mass of hydraroot, Vydus emerged through the brush to search for his "guide". He looked left and right, up and down. It was nowhere to be seen. Vydus was stranded again.

    Should I use my advent? he wondered, looking to Perilith whom buzzed around still looking. He could recall the scent of The Archivist, a mixture of sap, moss and caustic acid. He would be able to track it to its current location but at the speed The Archivist was going Vydus doubted he could track it further from there. Besides, his advent was a valuable asset in an environment where who knew what lurked around the corner. It may save him from a predator or foe.

    As he thought, Vydus felt something pull at his fingers. He looked down to see. A fine string was wrapped around them, barely visible. His other hand too was bound in it. He attempted to shake it off to no avail.

    He reached down to his scabbard but before his hand could touch the hilt of his sword, it was yanked forcefully upwards. Both arms and legs moved involuntarily up into the air. Vydus could only watch as the spiderweb hauled him up towards the canopy. He hated The Archivist.

    #11 Spire, Feb 17, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
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  12. Within the Canopy of the Riven Tree, green
    As the letter was handed over to Modakra, his initial worry washed away as the man took his word. He didn’t know what this being was capable of doing, but he wasn’t in the best position to argue or fight back. He watched as one of his limbs reached into the branches to something he couldn’t see. Reaching for his belt again, he brought his waterskin to his lips, knowing he might not have time to refresh himself if he had to keep going up.

    As the spider limb entity asked to follow, he nodded and marched forth. Although he was very lightly equipped and had little to no encumbrance, his fatigue from his past climb was getting to him. It was nothing like a mountain climb either, so he wasn’t comfortable with it. Eventually, there came the question of what he knew, which was quite limited really. The library and notes didn’t have much about it. “Only that it infects its host at the spine and eats the Aux. Riven’s library didn’t have much information other than that. It didn’t seem to be something the people of Viridos had really seen or recorded if it has happened.

    They went deeper and deeper, increasing the tension he was feeling. He could finally discern what seemed to be webs, although he would have missed them if he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. It was incredible how there seemed to be so much life in this tree that barely anyone entered. What would be waiting for him up there?
  13. Silvarum lead the human pretty near the top. The human was obviously getting tired, but the anthro wasn't slowing down. He kept a steady pace, stopping to turn and make sure the human wasn't being accosted by some of his hungry kin, he wasn't. Most of the spiders knew not to eat visitors, and the few that didn't were apparently busy for the time being. The webs thinned out again as they went higher, the topmost reaches of the tree were largely avoided by the majority of spiderkin.

    Climbing higher the sky suddenly burst forth, bathing the two in the scents carried from afar on the wind. "Not far now." A spider anima could be seen beckoning to Silvarum, who started off in that direction. A few meters away an older greyer spider was watching the sky, one of the undertakers. Silvarum stopped a few feet away, his shadow casting itself over the watcher. The watcher took a few seconds to turn to look at them. "This is the human that seeks knowledge." The top of the tree was free from webs, most of the spiders couldn't stand the harsh light of the sun, but at night it was teeming with bodies, forest kin, spiders, and any other creature that happened to be living up this high. The stars were quite a sight to behold, filling the sky with countless lights of countless colors, and the moon was magnificent as well.

    [posts merged]

    "Ah, guut! We have all gathered."

    Vydus, Modakra, and Silvarum emerged from the canopy at about the same time. The green jungle spread out before them, and their complete horror was luckily stymied by the night, for the vast, endless above was damped by the darkness, the stars winking above them giving a definite ceiling.
    "Are ... inside ... tita --" Dob's voice, their only tether to the surface, cut in and out as they ducked into the skull of a relatively preserved giant. This particular one seemed to be fashioned out of stone, in fact, it was fashioned out of a million-million inscribed runic cubes. It lay tangled with another, more humanoid one, the torn flesh on its ribs waving in the cold, tepid deep sea currents.

    It seemed to be genuinely hollow on the inside, just an outline of a man. In Kaustir, the street children liked to swindle the unsuspecting with small, weighted dice. When they were bored, they built little effigies out of wet sand an their dice. There may have been a faint resemblance here.

    The seer was another spider-anima. It was an old one, the chitin drying and flaking in many places, exposing the soft fleshing underneath. Its compound eyes were clouded over, and it spoke from a great distance, fixing its attention on the stars.

    "The moirgut?" The chitter of its mandibles approximated a sigh. "Aux-eaters. Carnivores."

    "Yes, Kindly Seer, but ..."

    A gnarly limb silenced him. "When a flower blooms in emptiness, how long does it go uneaten? When a sprightly fawn raises its head from the grass, how long until a tiger-lion does the same?"

    Some silence passed. When it was clear that they would not be answering the anima, the Seer continued. "There is always a mouth for food, young kin. You can call the moirgut anything, it is just a name. Underneath it, they are the natural predator of the Old Gods."

    "Shekar ... " They had spent the past hour or so trading friendly banter, speaking about their trade, comparing their different products, "Do you ever think that there is something else to this world?"

    "Like dreams?" The lady Draken gazed at the horizon.

    "No. Dreams are just a murky reflection of what we saw during the day." K'Larr rubbed the tablet with the knuckle of his index finger, which had developed a scaled callous from his obsessive caresses. "No, Shekar. There is something else out there. Something else that is completely beyond my ability to see, hear, or touch. It is not something that the Nocturnes or humans or forest kin can see either. It is something ... something that lays beyond the twilight, something that lays beyond the edge of the world. It is the thing that you would find, if you were confined to walking the surface of a sphere but were able to walk off it - just for the briefest moment - and glimpse all that lay beyond, or if you could turn the sphere inside out and see the inside. It is a complete inversion of reality, a knowledge that you can only be told, but never discover" He clawed the air, trying to grasp the concept, trying to put his inability to communicate the concept into definite words so he could show it to her.

    The archivist slowly padded up to the Seer, its many limbs working in rhythmic motion. "Kindly Seer, you have never mentioned this before."

    "These are the obvious answers." The old spider anima picked itself off the center of the web it was sitting in, and moved into the empty branches at the very tip of the canopy.

    "The Old Gods have grown monstrous and sullen. Their children have multiplied and cover Sunne. It is natural for the predators to awaken ... when there is so much aux to be eaten."

    "It is easy to call them. You speak the word, the divine syllable, and they are drawn irresistibly to you."

    "The Old Gods, Shekar." K'Larr was almost panting now, and even the callous was starting to go raw, the scales flaking. "They left behind a fragment. A small piece of themselves." He grabbed the horn, holding it trembling to his mouth.

    "A piece of the divine syllable."

    "NO! DONT!" Shekar trusted her instincts, and dived for the fat Draken.



    The archivist twisted, shivered, and screamed with lust, dissolving into a thousand black centipedes that swarmed the Seer. Modakra leapt back, and his heel crushed one of them, black ichor spraying over the branch. They had been precipitated into reality.

    The titan under the water opened its eyes and began to rearrange its form.

    #13 Red Knight V, Feb 20, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2015
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  14. Vydus reached for his sword as the old spider anima and The Archivist talked. His eyes were fixed on the latter. It had led him into this deathtrap and it would answer for its actions. His fingers felt cold steel.

    The web encased Vydus like a net. He had been hauled up into the canopy with surprising speed to see this unreal scene. He assumed the animas whom stood all around him were inhabitants of the upper reaches of the Tree but the avian among them stuck out like a sore thumb. Why is this one here? Is he friend or foe? the lieutenant speculated.

    The animas had so far been less than hospitable. Even if their intentions were good as their elder suggested they weren't to be trusted. Lieutenant Vydus was tired of being toyed with by strangers. His grip tightened around the hilt.

    Then the scene exploded.


    The Archivist convulsed and erupted into a thousand black centipedes. The avian leapt back and crushed one underfoot. The spider animas recoiled along the webs and branches, few daring to approach and kill the myriapods. One who was close to The Archivist was consumed within seconds, his screams muffled by the creatures wriggling through his jaws and down his gullet.

    Without hesitation, Vydus unsheathed and slashed at the webbing in one fluid movement. His blade caught in the sticky fibres, not cutting a single strand. The web was as strong as iron and as adhesive as snare oak sap. A centipede broke off from the swarm and scuttled towards him.

    Not good. Vydus wrestled with the web to pull his sword free. His aux flitted frantically in and out of the mesh. The centipede scuttled closer.

    He pulled with all his might. The sword remained stuck. The centipede was feet away.

    He gave up on the sword and pulled and yanked at the cage. The centipede was inches away.

    The monster wriggled through the web.

    My job's not done yet. Vydus slammed his head down onto the centipede. Black ichor sprayed across his forehead and antennae. I will survive.

    At his new angle, the lieutenant wrenched free his blade and began to saw at the mesh. He watched, splashed with war paint, as several other centipedes streamed towards him. His resolve was iron.

    #14 Spire, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
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  15. Silvarum leaned back and raised his legs using his spidery arms, he stepped back while chittering, aghast at the sight of the many black bugs. A second later he was wielding his four of his swords, swiping and slashing as the centipedes started looking for more creatures to feed from. "The Aux-Eaters," he hissed the words to his brethren and the whole area seemed to ripple as they passed the message down the tree along their threads.

    Silvarum noticed another person was struggling in some webbing, and his vulnerable position was attracting some unwanted attention. He leaned toward them, and dropped to his feet, sliding his other two arms into their swords he kept the bugs at bay, while slicing through the webbing with two swords. He reached down, and lifted the man up to his feet back the back of his collar and then dashed over to where another spider's head was visible poking up out of the leaves.

    "Section this area off, call in some guards. We can't let them spread." The spider nodded and its head vanished back into the leaves. Silvarum turned around and stepped forward, blades twirling as he prepared to contain the threat. Below the leaves citizens of the upper reaches were similarly preparing. A few larger spiders were climbing up, they had large nets and were dressed in tightly woven mesh. "Lets try and hold em here until help arrives."
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  16. Riven Tree
    There was never a time when the Riven tree was in danger. It was never touched by the merchant fire like Hosia, nor was it warred over by Tattersal and the rest of the Cinnabar Clad like Edelon - indeed, no one would dare disrespect their mother, and the tree, a tree above all other trees, grew unchecked and high into the sky.

    So why were the canopies inhabited, to the point of infestation, by so many spider-kin and their anima? Perhaps the rest of their kin could not bear to see their carnivorous tendencies, and drove them high into the branches to be forgotten. Perhaps near the ground, with the interlocking branches that held soil for the gardens, there was a lack of prey, and higher up was where the birds dwelled. High up there, for hundreds of years, they wove their silk nets and used them to immortalize the patterns of the drifting stars in the night sky.

    It was all crumbling apart now, centuries of star charts tangled with the wriggling corpses of the centipedes. But at least the spiders could feast. And for a while, it seemed like they were quelling the problem. Sections of centipedes fell all around, and their black ichor drizzled lightly all around them. Vydus picked up the buzz of a fly - rather, the body of a spider-anima whistled past him. As the moth crouched to examine his kin, he saw that it was not dead, but its eyes were glassy and rolling, and foaming at the mouth.


    The centipedes had not thinned. They were gathering. In the hands of the aux-eater was a wriggling caterpillar. Half of it disappeared into its jaws, and simultaneously the spider-anima expired. Emboldened by the fresh kill, it stalked on to the soothsayer, the old spider-kin, who seemed to be ignorant of the chaos and still quietly gazed into the sky. Such was his role, to be played out until the end.
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  17. Riven Tree
    Modakra was almost frozen into place as the archivist had exploded into thousands of dark centipedes simply crawling around… Feeling one being crushed under his boot made him cringe, knowing that these things were the infection. Yet, they were physical. They had body that could be crushed or otherwise sliced. They had manifested a physical body, which was a surprise to itself. Something could be done of them…. But what?

    It was then they started attacking. To that, Modakra lowered himself, his palms join together in front of him. He needed to keep them away from him for the moment. With a single, strong movement of his arms, he expelled them outward, speaking the words of the Arcane. “Fa if x siai 'qto!” A gust of powerful wind pushed outward from the man, repealing those that had come near. Most just rolled away, others flew. It would only be a temporary solution, as he now needed to actually find something that would crush them. With no stone around, he could manipulate his magic properly.

    The others were defending themselves as they could, but they needed help fast. All Modakra could do now is push them away, thinking of something. He had wanted to flee, but he couldn’t leave. He came for answers, he got them. Now, he had to face the problem presented. It was very worrisome that these things were just viciously attacking them.

    Then, the things were gathering, forming into something. Something big. Modakra took a few steps back, scared of what he faced. The thing was a hideous monster, the height of three men. How in the hell could they face this?! He took a step back again, feeling something near his foot… It was a vine. It was moving. He looked down a moment… A Hydraroot? Then, it came to him. These plants defended the life they were connected to. They reacted to movement and life that passed near their roots.

    He lifted his head, seeing the thing hulking thing walking towards the old spider anima… That’s it. The thing was huge… All he needed was to attract the tree’s natural defences. So, putting his hands forward, he started an up and down motion, as his pulling threads or rope… He was going to attract them. They sensed movement and life. Modakra spoke the words of his arcane again… This time, he would keep going. “Tx if x ftr , izic yiatlf. fz x we'qtixe, c iax x lefo ix ix yiat . ier i zri ri'qex ex...

    Modakra created vibrations within the wood, those that would stimulate the roots to show itself… He knew the animas would be safe, but the Arian that was with them. He would have to fly away. He would need to let the Hydraroots and other natural defenses the tree has to maybe get the creature.

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  18. The anima's mouth stopped foaming and its eyes turned from glassy to dull, rolling to still. Vydus moved on.

    The spider swordsman had freed him from his bindings and now he was free to join the fight in earnest. The centipede colossus began its approach on the elder. The thing had swatted the dead anima like it was a fly so they would have to exercise caution. Judging from its walking speed however, the behemoth appeared to be slow-moving. Vydus did not doubt it could detach some of its constituent centipedes if pressed though, so to take it down a ranged attack would be best suited.

    He observed its body carefully. Thousands of centipedes writhed along its body, constantly in motion yet maintaining the monster's form simultaneously. Vydus predicted there was a hive mind that drove them, perhaps a special centipede which controlled the others from inside the body, a brain of sorts. He could not detect any unusual chemicals being released from the colossus, so he predicted the control was telepathic. Perhaps there was no "brain" and the thing was being controlled remotely. It's worth a try, Vydus decided.

    He looked to his side to see the human flapping his arms up and down. The wood around him rippled and small tendrils started to germinate from it. He understood his plan.

    "Anima brothers!" he called over the throng, Listen to me! Shield the human while he performs his magic! Do not approach the monster! Attack from a distance and try to split its legs if you can find a large projectile or spear its torso! There may be a central centipede controlling the others!"

    Vydus moved a few paces and slashed a long straight offshoot from the branch they stood on. He angled it behind his ear and drove through, launching the makeshift javelin towards the colossus. It skewered through right where a heart would have been, should have been. There was only darkness there.

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  19. The spear went through its heart first, and the moirgut whipped around, its arms scattering spider-kin that wandered too close. Some of its spines impaled their crux, and other spines passed through their material body, spearing their aux. Either way, they died.

    The spider-kin sprayed webs over it, and it buckled under tension. Though the crux was restrained, its aux rampaged forward. The moirgut in fact had two identical, superimposed bodies, one in crux and one in aux. The aux ignored the webs, and splashed the kin's aux one by one, freeing its crux body as the spider-kin dropped. The branches of the Riven tree shook with each blow. Why did the Tree shake when the moirgut-aux rampaged?

    Re-coalesced, the moirgut returned to its original target, the seer who called it so irresistibly. As its limbs came down with great force, it was stayed by tendrils of corrosive hydraroot, reaching up from abyss of the bottom. The acid exuding from its pores hissed over the moirgut's skin, and it slowly melted into a black ichor as more and more of the pink-purple plant lashed around its body, enveloping it in a cocoon of death.

    The moirgut's aux-copy strode out of the hydraroot prison and smashed the seer's aux into a million golden motes. Yet the seer continued to chant.

    Was it a miracle?

    The changes were subtle. The first things to disappear were the stars in the night sky, faint dots of white that could hardly be missed by only the most keen of eyes. Dawn crept in from reverse, the black night sky slowly turning red and pushing a rainbow of colours across the horizon. The edges of the leaves grew indistinct, and between blinks they ceased to be, leaving behind only the bare branches of the Riven tree.

    Slowly, from the roots a blue pulse grew, traveling up in a dotted line to the very tips of every fractal branch on the tree. They emitted ripples in space, and where the waves overlapped vision faded also. The branches dissolved and collapsed, and the complexity resolved itself into a circle, then a square, then a line ...

    And nothing was left.

    The seer's incantation phased the entire Riven tree and its occupants into dreamtime. In the land of dreamtime, things far were close, and things close were far. In the greatest distance, as they turned south to the Deadlands, they saw Kairos in the tar pit, separated between them by the vortex of chaos and distance. The soothsayer reached forward and touched Kairos, thrashing about in the pit, and they were now in front of the Jade Prophet and the moirgut was far away, still in the Riven tree.


    He was in war, continuously splashing down a monster that kept reforming from the tar. It was a beautiful creature, with ears delicately reaching deep into the sky, and a face that murdered. She had this malicious grin, and kept reaching for Kairos' erect member, tugging it, pulling it, moaning every time his hands passed through her body.

    "Kairos," she said, and her voice was indeed wonderful and each syllable that left her mouth was divine, each word she spoke also told of a birth, life, and death of one of their kin, relief, elation, and grief washing over all in attendance, "Kairoooosss ... "

    "Mother," Kairos gasped, "Father!"

    "See not the children, see not the kin." His hand slapped the its face and it reformed from a million centipedes. "Kairoooos."

    There were times when the Jade Prophet was almost lucid. His aquamarine eyes focused on the soothsayer, and recognition dawned on his face just before the beautiful monster smothered him. She laughed, a harmony that rippled in seven divine ways and seven blasphemous ways. His back arched, and her hands were filled with his fluid, each white drop birthing another specter that worked to drag him below the tar.

    "See not the children, see not the kin. Kairoooos."

    "Ilium!" Each tear he shed created an ocean beneath them, whales and crabs and shrimps lapping at their feet in a white foam.
    #19 unanun, Mar 6, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
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  20. The realisation dawned that the moirgut couldn't be vanquished with mortal instruments. Vydus had been thinking about the moirgut wrong the whole time. They were an existence unrestricted by the conventional laws of aux and crux. Both were appendages of the other, operating in tandem. The aux-eaters truly were more akin to the Old Gods than mortal kin.

    His "javelin" was testament to this, phasing pathetically through the monster as it continued to carve a warpath through the spider animas whom did not heed his warning. The crux was affected, however uselessly, but not the aux. The spiderwebs which encased the moirgut too existed merely on a crux level, failing to bind the superimposed aux shell that made short work of the arachnids' aux. The tree shuddered with each death till it quaked and rippled with an energy which defied itself, defied the tangible, defied the moirgut.


    She was within reach here. Her gravity was chemical. Vydus propelled heavenwards towards that beautiful white orb. Moth to mother flame.

    Her face. Her face. Her face. Her face.

    Clear. Shadow. Moon.

    Her face. Her face. Her face. Her face.

    Shadow. Smell. Taste.

    Her face. Her face.

    I smell/I taste where eyes once shone.

    Eat through the lining.

    Burrow to the queen's chamber.

    Thrust against, thrust into the heartwood tissue.

    Seed. Cocoon. Egg.

    The moon in the dreamtime sky opened with a great sigh, pouring a slim viscous stream of silver ichor into the tar pit — silver and black oils emulsifying.

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