It is said that the land is the innards of a great dragon, the first of dragons, the first of all. The Primeval. The air is said to be his breath, blood the whorl sea and his hollow from which he rent his guts the sky.
Dragon Hollow, watch over us.
You, child of Harthunter believe this too.
Indeed all the advances of magic, the tools of magitech point towards earth being divine flesh, water divine blood and wind being divine breath.
But all the knowing of the Magi cannot make certain the other belief of the knightly Harthunter clan.
The First Dragon rent his flesh that we all might have a home, that he loves us.
Such cannot be made sure by crystal ball or magitech. Thus do men hope and despair of love.
But this is not a tale of such terrifying love, not in full. A lesser love, though still important. Significant.
Of man and woman.
You, child of Harthunter have come of age. Since you were able to stand, you were nurtured, sculpted for this day. After this initiation, you will go out a man seeking wife or wives, bring her or them back and have many, many children.
In boiling emerald manapool you stand firm. Some of the essence is supplied by the clan, but much of the more common reagents you hunted and mined yourself as part of your training. Thick metal tubes connect to your body from the ceiling, this will be the final engraving of nanorunes into your bloodstream.
All this so you can bear the armour of a knight.
The Harthunter clan uses a fusion of the traditions of the wilds and magitech, but still they cannot lessen the agony of a body being forged like a lump of metal.
Before you, a black mirror flickers to life. An eye like a heart. The artificial genie of the clan, designation; AMOUR.
"Conditions stable, mana levels rising and runes reaching the threshold. Beginning stage two, gaess enhancement, your destiny calls, confirm your knightly name"
You had a name since birth, called by your mothers and father. Known by your siblings, but today that will pass.
>What is the name of our knight? (Names like Romeo and Tristan are nice, if a bit ill fated)
A surge of agony and clarity, as the new takes the place of old.
"Supplantation of destiny succeeded, graft of name successful. Speak, what Divine do you worship?"
(This will shape your code of honour) >Primeval, Dragon Hollow (The whole can be exalted, or an aspect revered, even should you not choose Dragon Hollow, you will be considered his faithful, a direct devotee of the Emptied Monarch is considered a oddity and frequently a source of fear) Guts the Land Blood the Sea Breath the Air Hollow the Sky
The Octodoxy The Feeling >Beauty Beast Patron of Beauty, the Lord of Arts. He of gleaming locks. Heavenly Hounder.
>Lady Lakes The gift giver, the Lady of Vows. She of red wave hair. Sacred Slayer
>Laughter Patron of Joy, the Lady of Revels. She of twinkling eyes. Holy Haunter.
>Bellows The harrying herald, the Lord of Noise. He of drumcry yell. Sanctified Silencer.
The sun's rays continue to warm your body and help wash away the darkness as you make your way up higher. Eventually you reach the top most portion of the tree where the thin branches threaten to snap under your weight. You're unsure if it's the warmth of the day or if perhaps you're tapping into the last few vestiges energy in your reserves but you somehow manage to use your training to stand atop them. Focusing on the warmth, you wish your could some how emulate this power or maybe just carry it around like you would a flame.
A strange thought bubbles to the surface in your mind.
<span class="mu-i">Why not?</span>
You suddenly remember of the small bottles of light that Ming handed out to you. She had said it was captured moonlight or something to that effect with a ritual. If the moon's rays could be captured...then why not the sun's? Closing your eyes once more, you concentrate within yourself. You try and feel for that feeling the forest gave you. The fear it forced on you and how it was being washed away by the sun's light. You reach out with your hand as you try to maintain that focus while feeling out in the material plane for the sun's warmth. It was two sides of the same coin. Much like how small breezes were simply sprites playing around, the warmth and purifying effect were one in the same. You try and pull more of it into you, suffuse it within you and try to hold it in.
At first nothing happens and you only feel the heat of the sun. But then, a pulse. Just once there is a strange feeling within your being that rippled through your body. Relaxing and letting go of the urge to try and focus harder you continue to maintain your course and you feel it again. Just a single beat from the inside that was not truly your own but seemed to come from within. The pulses slowly become more frequent and soon match the beating of your heart before seemingly centering right over it. You open your arms and bear yourself fully to the sun's rays, it's energy continues to spread from your heart but is no longer just ripples filling your body. It instead fills your chest, your heart, it mixes and churns as if melding with your very blood before being pumped throughout your body via the very meridians and veins that distribute your chi.
This new energy fills your being and burns away all the exhaustion you feel spiritually. It feels like your very soul now burns with a new flame, fueled by something more than just mere willpower and life. Without a second thought, you leap down from the tree and you cut through the darkness below. You can feel the evil infusing the forest attempting to smother you but it is not merely kept at bay as if by a normal flame. Instead it comes in contact with you and burns at your touch like flames to a web. You slowly open your eyes and are almost surprised that you were not glowing white hot even if it certainly felt like it.
Awareness awashed you, rousing you at the very heart of an omnipresent darkness. A languid light appeared from the void, slowly dissolving the curtains of blackness coating the things it hid like a varnish, the sights and tangibles appearing from within it sketched by rich watercolours and buttery brushstrokes. Waves of softened colours crashed against a sky of finely crushed glass, expanding with each surge, reaching higher and higher. Amidst the watered crescendo of colours, a blinding warmth bathed you: the cloudless noon sun hung above your head with its judgemental reckoning, akin to a God’s eyes scrutinising the drawn world below—or maybe, only you alone.
Sundry shapes and overflowing forms came from the banished gloom, drifting closer, like a scattering wind with crushed chalks of all hues within. Wooden facades, stone houses, spires of chapels, and leafy trees solidified around cobblestone streets—each of them absorbed and reflected the burgeoning light, like oil painting coming to life. Figures of people, too, emerged from the drifting rainbow mist. Dressed in fabrics and denims imbued with otherwordly dyes, their contours and faces smudged and rubbed, they moved about, as if it wasn’t them who stepped out of the shadows, but rather, they were always there, only needing some backlight.
When the colours sealed the circle of darkness encircling you, you found yourself still, much smaller in stature. There, right before you, walked a horse, its coat such a deep obsidian black not even the sun cold highlight it. Its mane, equally as black, laid motionless across its broad shoulders. The empty pits of the stallion’s eyes promised to show you the abyss … were you to dare to look inside. Your hands appeared second to last, reaching for another’s sidearm holster with a glistening pearl-handled revolver inside of it. A broad weathered hand grabbed your wrist, painfully tightening the hold. A cowboy rider sat in the saddle with a silver-streaked beard, his eyes as vacant as the cold metal of unlit lantern.
“You want it?” He pulled the iron from its holster in one clean draw.
Atop a savage throne of bone, fur and leather lounges an inhuman handsome man, he of golden locks, of eyes that flickered between the Green of Truth and the Blue of a Beyonder!
Goblin King of Goblin Kings!
Monarch of Idle Torments, Lord of Thieves. He of fair skin tinted with the shade of the flower's stem! His red crystal crown rested lightly on his brow, his black roguishly royal raiment was filched from the skin and silk of beings still living.
What mighty being did not curse this fiend? How vexing was this apex of pests. He had not the power to slaughter the transcendent, but none wished to endure his foul pranks and thefts, for long had been the day that he had last fallen into dire straits.
Had they been able to reach it, a carnival of gods, archdragons, beyonders and assorted supremes would have assaulted his castle.
No, for this, the greatest of goblinkind, the only true enemy is boredom! Bane of all those who live countless years.
This is where you come in, for you are not the Goblin King of Goblin Kings, not even a regular goblin king, nor even goblin nobles.
Wretched humanoids of shades of green, yellow and red with a mismatch of verminous bodyparts, frequently bald wether they be male or female. Your eyes often do not match size, the placement is off,and all of you have ragged pointed ears only beaten in pointed size by your ludicrous noses, for all goblins offer up their all to their monarch, losing what little beauty, power and wits they might have had, but so too is their mortality offered up, for so long as the King breathes, any goblin that dies will merely reappear above his head, none the worse for wear, and all memories of woe will fade, and reckless suicidal frolicking begins anew.
The Goblin King of Kings has struck upon a genius method to stave off his boredom, that the process can result in the ascendance of goblin nobles is a welcome bonus. He has taken to tossing groups of you throughout the realm of Absurdia and beyond, even to the pits of Heck!
He casually gives you goblins a quest and out of love and fear for your monarch you muck about, occasionally even accomplishing these deeds.
Most recently he's been keeping a hand on his normally fickle mood, for a group of you he has sent into a situation most curious.
He has sent goblin knights with their hobbyhorses and goblin nuns of the Prince of Grooms, so called not due to his occasional aid of beleaguered husbands to be, but due to his constant collection of brides that become wives when they die, but though many wish for him, his choosing is a mystery for even you goblin nuns are true brides of his. Though since he claimed you, rather than plain ugly goblin maids, you could be said to be ugly-cute, though some love might be required to see it.
Along with these two lots of goblin obsessives, those drunk on tales of romance and those entwined in romance of the other kind, he of course sent many of you regular humdrum goblins.
You are Noel Tiberius di Hazaran, queen of the nation of Hazaran and a warrior whose blood and flesh are mixed with that of monsters known as yōma. This has given you, and the other warriors like you, the ability to use a somewhat mysterious power referred to as yōki to enhance your senses and your combat abilities. Ostensibly, this is because you were intended as a bulwark against the yōma and their killing sprees among human settlements – in this role you were to almost literally sniff out the monsters hiding in plain sight and cut them down to minimize the amount of damage they could otherwise do.
Eventually, you and those within your current faction centered in Hazaran began to be confronted with incontrovertible evidence that something altogether more sinister was going on around you. In reality the girls and women who had been subjected to the Organization’s training and augmentations were nothing more than disposable experiments, and the world you grew up in was an open-air laboratory. The people who entered your life – from the maids who helped take care of you when you were little, to the father who died protecting you, to all of your fellow trainees who are no longer here with you – were no more than props to the Organization, meant to manipulate you to suit their own goals.
“Without a doubt,” you muse, “the Organization is one of the great evils of our world. Their selfishness, their cruelty, the madness of their goals – all of these contribute to that conclusion of mine.”
Your compatriots, many of whom have been with you for years, understand to a woman that there’s going to be a ‘but’ here, and wait for it patiently.
“That having been said,” you continue, “we lack the ability to prove that any single one of them has done anything wrong specifically, and even if they did we can also assume that many only did so because they were lied to.”
“It’s hard to argue the point,” Helen admits. >1/2
The flame of the future felt so far away. Like a star whose luster was so unimaginably distant that none of its warmth accompanied the light.
Once, in a time that you lost grasp of in memory in spite of it only being a few years ago, you and your best friends had been at that clifftop café in Lapizlazulli- you, Leo, and Cesare, speaking of- what else- the forthcoming, and futurism, the vehicle which would bring forth such to Vitelia, and then the world.
“If anywhere is to bring about the Dawn,” Cesare said emphatically, “Would it not be Vitelia? Look at us at this table. Anywhere else on this continent, we would be two different peoples, but since our grandfather’s grandfathers, we have become one people. It can’t be much further to become one Class, surely. Greater obstructions have been conquered than stand before us now.”
“I concur,” Leo said, “Even if the Professor won’t let us write what he considers to be <span class="mu-i">insurrection</span> material, the nobility are the ones who stand the most in the way- and they have the most to lose. Yet fall they must, either gracefully or no. As the First Empire did to smash the barriers between peoples, so must a bomb shatter the castle of the nobility if they stand in the way of the Forthcoming Dawn. It’s just a fact. It will happen whether they like it or not.”
Cesare put a hand on his cheek and leaned on the table and gave his coffee a contemplative look. “Although, is that truly the way forward? Did the First Empire do it, or did it simply happen because the First Empire existed?”
Leo was a big, brutish looking man, but appearance belied truth. “I’m sure that at least some of it was a result of the Empire’s active effort.”
“Yet,” you observed, “It was also led by nobility above all the others. I imagine any highborn would have aspirations of being Emperor if the highest office now was not that of King, his ministry, or the <span class="mu-i">Signore Delle Opinioni</span>.”
“Or <span class="mu-i">Vilja Domkarl</span>,” Cesare added, “But what I was getting at, is that perhaps our unity comes from the fact that it fell, as did the Second Empire that sought to become the First. What I believe, the thesis for my Contemporary Vitelia class, is that our unity comes from an idealized vision of what once was, and an unwitting working towards the future based off of an imperfect vision of, well, what we think was perfect.”
Leo frowned and pondered his own coffee- it was empty, and he waved towards the café where the waitress was watching the lot of you talk. “That’s a disquieting thought,” he said, “Because if that’s true, then the way towards the future requires not a great triumph, but a tragedy so ruinous it reaches everybody and unites them in ashes.”
You were made to sit down with your cousins on the floor by your Pappy, surrounded by your cousins who wait patiently to listen to Pappy. Pappy places his hat on your, oversized for your tiny head.
"Listen here Little Ones, Pappy will teach you Our First Memory!"
<span class="mu-i">Before We learned to remember, We only ever wanted to fill Our tummies and nap all day. We had no place to call home as We took from the Earth and Trees We ate and slept and when it died We would go find newer Earth and Trees to take from. We do not know how long We have done this as We did not care to Remember the Earth and Trees We took from.
We were content with Our way of life so long as it filled Our tummies and gave us time to nap all day. But as We continued to live this way newer Earth and Trees became scarce. That was when We came across the Demons who were hungrier than Us and tireless not like Us, and they did not want Us to take what few Earth and Trees were left. They chased Us to the Wide Waters, trapping us between the Demons of the Earth and the Dragons of the Waters. Then from the Wide Waters emerged the Great Turtle carrying Earth and Trees on Its back! It took pity on Us and swam to the shore shooing away the Dragons and allowing Us to climb onto Its Earth and Trees. Then It swam off into the Wide Waters before the Demons could join and when We were safe from the Demons and Dragons, the Great Turtle spoke:</span>
<span class="mu-g">"You are now my guests and I am your host. It is my respect for you and your respect for me that shelters you. Please do not forget my compassion."</span>
<span class="mu-i">We were so hungry and tired from being chased by the Demons that we immediately began to take from the Great Turtle to fill Our tummies and fall asleep, and We continued this without regard to the Earth and Trees. One day We noticed that the Earth and Trees had become too stinky and messy for Us to sleep in. So the Great Turtle Spoke:</span>
<span class="mu-g">"It is my respect for you that I allowed you to rest without disturbance. Please do not forget my empathy."</span>
<span class="mu-i">We had been rude guests to the Great Turtle, trashing Our host who sheltered Us. We cried and promised to remember Its empathy whenever We took from its Earth and Trees, cleaning up after Ourselves. We continued to feast and soon found that the Earth had become empty and the Trees did not grow so We became hungry. That was when Our host spoke:</span>
<span class="mu-g">"It is my respect for you that I continue to offer my gifts. Please do not forget my diligence.</span>
For a second, Hemya was wondering why she isn't inside of her tent as she begins waking up. Then she remembered the events of the past day. Falling into this strange underground facility, killing muties with nothing but her pocketknife and starting a conflict between two mutant tribes. And activating that weird man-machine janitor, who is currently rummaging trough the box of scrap next to the girl.
It seems like he couldn't just do nothing while Hemya was sleeping soundly on her pile of mats and washcloths. The janitorial station looked a bit tidier than before, at least he did not mess with her clothes that she hang up to dry or her other belongings.
Janny glanced at the girl for a moment when she talked to him, but didn't bother answering her question and just continued sorting trough the crate. Hemya still couldn't tell how much of the stuff she says is actually understood by her new friend, him being mute and all that.
Her clothes are mostly dry by now, either the airflow down here is just that good or she actually slept for longer than expected. Nothing tried to creep into her room as it seems, The door to the hallway is shut, the opening mechanism of the vent is barred with some plastic broomsticks and the floor hatch still had that sweeper machine parked on top of it.
>Before any plans for leaving her sanctuary and venture out into the unknown, is there something Hemya should do? (Aside from the mundane morning routine stuff)