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Geneforge Writing


Upon Mars.

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Hello evrey one! I've decided to submit a project of mine based on the Geneforge 1 game; i've decided to write some sort of non-canon journalistic account of the events which happened during the second Sucia isle incident through the eyes of a learned Magician and It would be nice if any you could reveiw, correct and ameliorate some of my various works.

You are even welcome to write somethings your self.

 

The extracts will appear in the Posts below.

 

Beware SPOILERS!

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Prologue:

 

"5,000,000 sunsets later from now, all that will remain of our fatally flawed species, which introduced the concept of tragedy to the local cosmos, will be an intriguing architectural motif and an unusual second and third layers of black crust which now cover so much of the surface of our planet......How strange were we then!"

 

Jim Woodring's -Divinorum or life after Man;

Shaper artist and researcher of Sucia isle.

 

"The fool has said in his heart, “They are not Gods.”

There is none amongst them who does good, they have done abominable works, they are corrupt."

-Psalm 14:1

 

 

 

Introduction to the World of the Shapers: Who are Shapers?

 

The Shapers are the oldest, most respected, most secretive, and most powerful of all the magical sects:

They have the power to magically create life.

 

The Shapers can make new life forms from nothing but raw materials and pure magic.

They have held this secret for many centuries, four in fact, but, thanks to many periods of war and chaos, the origins of their powers have been forgotten.

Despite this, they are now the masters of the world, the supreme and undisputed sovereigns of the mainland Terrestia, and the various coast lines and seas that border it.

Being undisputed, they have subjugated all of the mainland magicians, the Iugulare, with taxes and laws, while the vast majority of the mainland's people, non magical humans, are kept to the cities as means of control. But most of all, the Shaper achieve all this through the medium of creations they mould. This life is used to serve their purpose, be it light housework or major warfare.

Creations being at the plough of our fields and at the wheel of industry, Shapers have the leisure to be a research-minded people, and have always been so; many of them spend the bulk of their lives in musty laboratories, trying to unravel the secrets of the universe :

 

What is magic? What makes something alive? What defines how a creature grows?

How can they make an animal stronger? Or smarter? Or faster ?

Or more obedient?

 

The Shapers guard the secrets of their powers very closely, to learn their techniques without permission is to court a speedy death, at the sword of a Guardian in the day or an at the hands of an Agent at night.

Being the masters of the world, the Shapers are feared by normal humans.

And quietly resented.

 

But not by every one.

 

After years of work, study and testing, out of a sea of many, Andras was finally accepted into the Shapers.

Andras would then spend his entire life advancing their will and delving into their powers and secrets.

But first, he was to complete his apprenticeship, by spending five years of his life out in a Shaper colony on a remote isle, watching their work and aiding in their research. Only then would he have mastery over the lesser wonders that the Shapers pulped and sieved in their great temples of knowledge, only then he would bathe in all of the joys of an earthly heaven; the Shapers test their members very heavily, as the power over life is not a free one.

After a brief welcoming ceremony and a last night's celebration, a courageous Andras was sent to these remote islands on a two week long journey, through rough seas on the back of a living craft.

And yet, a week from destination, he was to change his and the world's to a remote chain of islands, on the northern tip of Terrestia...

 

Nothing since the first agricultural or "green" revolution, the tampering of minerals, the invention of the print, the use of crystal machinery, the discovery and use of essence, the breeding of thorns bushes and living tools, the use of bioengineered of diseases, the development of generic drugs from healing pools, the subsequent replacement of human labour by creations, the invention of the "cylinder"*, the Shaper contraceptive policy, the construction of pyramid ships, the rising of vast caryatid legions, the first and second Iugulairian wars, the elaboration of the theory of evolution through natural selection, the development of Vlish telepathic messagery or the Drayk's genocide, did create such a dawn of awareness other than the Second Sucian incident, at a time where the only hope of social ascension was only with either being born with prodigious magical skill or being highly learnt, whether it be in the disciplines of war, tongues, psychiatry, mathematics, physics, alchemistry, biology, palaeontology or archaeology.

 

Of the Outsiders that abducted Andras and of their remote colder worlds, a handful survived only to shatter our day to day preconceptions; the world has now turned round, and as with all desert storms, new markets flourished almost overnight; with servile workforce proving still too repulsive for the Sholai and the benefits of essence and shaping still unknown to these barren lands, outsiders brave enough to journey across rough seas are given well paid jobs and an instruction, with a war-like haste, as the shapers lay the first brick in the development of infrastructures and interfaces with the newly discovered Sholai empire.

Of the rediscovery of the Geneforge, of the canisters of power and of Andras's fantastic augmentation, is left the wish to recreate the forbidden arts of Sucia, to instantly rise as a Guardian, to shape as a Shaper, or breathe as an Agent. Such attempts still fail to violate the laws of the Shapers, as their axe like punishments come crashing down on to the outsider's heads, or as an unwary usurper dissolves into red pools and cancerous sponges.

Of the spirited cities, of the great Shaping halls and of all the jewellery sealed in basalt plates found all across Sucia isle, has flowered a detonation to bring a false dawn of hope to a unsuspecting sleeping world, as illegal parties hypnotized by it's glittering lights, were to be lost to Sucia, the island having the same ravenous appetite of that of some abyssal leviathan or that of a hollowed Shade**.

Of the radiant Heustess***, of the intelligent creations on Sucia and of their alarming developments, only survives certain scattered Servile clans dreaming of independence and equality.

 

It is in these dire times****, that the need for humanity has been at it's greatest:

the very night of the publication of this book, an outsider woman had her back seared with acid, when protesting against the Shapers: outsider commoners, deprived of any form of magic or of the Shaper's ostentatious wealth, are obliged to sell their bodies or children for a living, being forced out of work by creations: it is said that the ash from human corpses serve as excellent fertilizer *****.

Even the Iugulare of which caste i was born from, if better treated, are only kept alive as to "entertain them"******, or as intelligent maintenance crew, forced to outdo the other, underpaid, terminated here and there, being of course not Shapers.

Worst of all, the recipe of "essence", a wondrous magically charged clay of immense properties, without which the Shaping arts are all too dangerous and all non-basic spells******* are impossible to conjure up, is kept out of bounds, while being the economical pillar of today's magicians; in effect the Iugulare must pay the very Shapers that employ them, insuring a debt like system.

As for their creations, they are neither thanked nor paid for their services; despite being capable of reason, of profound complex sentiments and most importantly of feeling pain, they are still slaves.

And to boot, the Shaper council, having lost Andras,a young shaper of great power,tighten their grip upon Terrestia as it's slips away from it's fingers as if they were preparing to some attack********.

 

But now, despite of their crushing at Sucia of the outsiders usurpers barely three months ago, of being able to implant ideas with machinery across short distances into people's minds, of being undivided in their rule and in the will of their matters, of the subsequent blooming of their various businesses, and with an well servile-administered empire that stretches from the dry pine wooded northern tip of Terrestia to the Lattice seas, with aqua-farms eating more underwater lands than all of Terrestia's cities combined, the Shapers are at their weakest, something is threatening the integrity of their dominion over matter.

 

As with all men, I am currently torn between mounting fear and overwhelming desire; this book although just an introduction to our world, it is also my testimony, for even as i write, armed men, thorn batons erected, their threatening shadows projected against the interior of some poor commoner's house as they search for what they call rebels are escorted by the much dreaded clawbugs and Vlish creations.

Bearing no longer these constant interruptions into my private life, I am to depart from Terrestia with the lone company of my various works, as an exile, a refugee, filling bags with what Shaper appliances I own, off to some remote location.

 

Although I have never broken any Shaper during the course of my entire life, I fear that that I will be taken to trail, before an outsider crowd, hungering for culprits; for even though we do not any longer feed shades with the blood of magicians, we still hold fiery holocausts in order to keep undead masses of commoners from rising up from their tombs.

 

All i hope is that my contribution to our world may not trouble you too much, and would advise to keep this book from any evil hooded spectres, that may still lurk in broad day light, a guardian claymore in hand.

Plain as the rotten scent of a decaying empire, The Shapers seal doom and felicity onto all their subjects and successors, both devices and opponents in spirit till the bitter end.

 

The Shapers, having fathered this earth in their image, shape the very course of our lives; as ironic it may seem, I live counting myself amongst the dead and I die fleeing from the choking embrace of the shapers, when upholding their laws and sacred truths, horrid they may be.

 

-

 

*Metal cylinders, used to bombard cities with soldiers or bombs, are the exclusive property of Buriyat people, which are in turn the Shapers' exclusive property.

**The term Shade, Spirit or Ghost refers to any ethereal presence of more or less magical potency: the more solid it is, the more powerful the Shade.

If a Shade haunts your house, please try to contact immediately the nearest Shaper garrison and leave the premises immediately; shade study and violent exorcism are both century-old refined Shaper arts.

If you cannot contact a Guardian or an Agent, please try not probe it's solidity with a non magical weapon, as you may find yourself with a limb short or your head in a place were it does not belong to. Shades can be creatures of absolute perversion; they are even classed by Shaper behaviourologists as sadomasochists.

*** "Will a society built on cumulative technical progress, with self-centred values, rather than humane, ever know peace?" - sir Alain Karl Hegel in Today's machinist.

****The so called Andras' report and the strange powerful magical signature and the analysis of curiously shaped shades in Sentinels still leads us to no further clues about Heustess' existence. Historians are still debating the subject with great enthusiasm; you may recall the infamous "Monkey incident" coined and satirised by the fiber-crystal Magazine Puck by artist Bernhard Gillam in his "Change about-The Monkey The Master", which parodies a Shaper historian trying to disprove Heustess' existence; the latter was regrettably physically assaulted by a fellow and friend Iugulare archaeologist after a rude remark.

As a note Heustess was supposed to be shinning black.

*****According to neurologist Doctor Ziaus, a human body, if broken down by either chemical reactions or by enormous quantities of magic, contains enough chemical components to feed entire fields of hungry plants. Dead serviles and non-magical humans are used by the Shapers as manure, whereas the corpses of magician are carefully sealed in well guarded ziggurats and mausoleums; a least a third of today's magicians have enough magical energy to generate let alone one or even two shades when dead or (worse) when dying; attaching themselves to the place the source of their creation before moving on for needs of sustenance, creating disaster in their wake, and this is precisely why they aren't used as fertilizer; who would like to plow a field only to be plagued by the angry ghost of a magician's subconscious?

******The term "juggler" or Iugulare refers in general to all magicians, as the saying goes, "we are all apes performing acts before the Shapers". But even more so, do we during the entire course of our lives, juggle between the different professions we are offered: pylon crafting, theatrical arts, optics, enchanting items, magical artefact designing, archaeology, providing support for the various troops we accompany on the battle field, showering friends with Blessing spells (the healing arts being under the strict control of the Shapers being a form of self-Shaping), and foes with fire-bolts and mental spells; all of these professions are the means to a magician's lot in life.

*******The term "basic spells" refers to all spells that needn't essence to work with; the wide majority of enchantments and the spell fire-bolt do not use up essence, whereas the rest of the battle spell circle and the Shaping arts which comprise the blessing and the healing circles have for base essence. As a note mental spells, the last of the magical circle, have been created before without the use of essence.

********The authorities have proceeded in total lock down of the northern tip of Terrestia. Some reports indicate some invasion of sorts by an god of sorts, while more reasoned assumptions point to internal conflicts within the Shaper political body after learning that the Geneforge was at arms' length from an alien threat, but, thanks to the young Shaper codenamed Andras, was very much averted.

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Pentil's Plains Part 1:

 

 

It is often said that the fate of nations is intimately bound up with their powers of reproduction*;

The careful Shapers often created their servants sterile, in spite of the extreme difficulty it takes for one lone shaper to fashion creations.

But with devices instantly creating live creations, it was no more a difficulty.

The real problem for the Shapers was the hatred that their arts brought, having created unemployment, their rich temples seemed to be a banquet of opportunities to the poor uncontrollable masses of outsiders.

So the Shapers knowing that the non magical outsider's only strength was it's huge numbers, they decided to cut them down, not with war, not with taxes, but contraception.

Indeed the Shapers are often criticized for having put a leach to the libido of human beings; with restrictions of all kind regarding child production, people felt it as being "unnatural", "bizarre" and if not pure "folly from a bunch of crazed sex-craven magicians".

But these have in effect, "succeeded" in stopping something governments of the past never took notice of: unemployment.

Nor did we, outsiders, had such a thing before, as the death toll kept this risk in check.

But since of the Shaper's deployment on Terrestia, their heavy pharmaceutical industries having improved the quality of life men, the subsequent replacement of human labour by creations, the printed book, the invention of the "Mind", the widespread of vilsh messagery, the use of essence and "crystal machinery"**, unemployment became more and more something of a concern with a booming population; after the Iugularian wars, in the country side, people seemed to crawl out from every where, jobless, and with each fleeing generations, came more of them fattening the large cities of Terrestia with even more workforce.

A higher rate of reproduction, and the risk at any time of being being forced-out of their country by the more competitive Shaper agronomists (Shapers of course owning the land and the seas***), led to a high demand in contraception and a better education for a more specialized employment, such as being mere consumers, to Iugularian**** working in optical facilities.

But, all in advance, as the song goes, the foreseeing and wise Shapers*****, with all sorts of contraceptive measures, turned the ship of society away from the rocks of overpopulation and the great problems of unemployment.

The birth rate found itself stabilized and the death toll being incredibly low, the application of birth control has in the long run permitted for the Shapers greater political stability.

However that didn't change the problem of equality between the overall over-rich and tyrannical "liberal" Shapers, and the very poor, and still strong in numbers, outsiders.

 

All serviles, had always laid in the shadows of the Shapers, but Sucia isle, however was an exception to this rule.

 

Being sentient, they had known of this and despite some of Pentil's religious fanatics, and thanks to a higher death toll, were more and more active on the subject of sex and where by all mean very industrious at it*****, even now in the city of Pentil, babies were born more than what was originally imposed by the Shaper's quota, a proof beyond all doubt that these serviles did not and could not follow the Shaper's rigid wisdom.

More deaths related to cold, disease and the occasional rogues meant more serviles had to be bred, and more mouths to feed.

And Pentil had already too many mouths to fed.

 

In order to survive, it had to produce more soldiers against the the army of rogues roaming in their fields and woods. So it had seemed that the serviles of Pentil had mobilized their efforts not only in exterminating lone rogues that came to close but also by tempting the impossible task of clearing them out before what was left of food was to run out.

But this tactic had not yet bore any fruit, as for the rogues outside Pentil continued being superior in numbers...

Drastic measures being called upon they would fight until every single rogue was crushed. But this was not to happen, at least not without help.

 

This is were Andras comes in. Despite his dreaming and often superficial attitudes, the training of his masters and the knowledge he acquired on the isle battling head forward against it, made him a powerful pawn for the serviles there; being of magical potential, he would soon rush and wipe clean the southern parts of the isle of any immediate danger.

But as with any double edge sword Andras had plans of his own.

The clearing of Pentil's plains was to serviles a dramatic effect, predictable enough to disrupt the whole so called Obeyer "utopia" before strengthening it even further.

To clear the area was to Andras, not only a way to attest of his presence to a higher force than his, that he felt at work on the isle under the form of outsiders and rogues, but also a way to create enough chaos and attention to get into being trusted by the serviles.

These valuable assets would help in securing more dangerous parts of the isle.

He was therefore eager to break the siege south-west of Pentil, that had sufficient a force of thahds and artilas to starve this mighty city.

 

*Karl Binding's: Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Lebens chapter 2 paragraph 3.

 

**A complex mechanized, assembly line that creates life out of ready made essence and energy, which when blasted through crystals and set at certain key frequencies can cut and create complex chemicals found in living things.

 

***The seas are valuable asset to any Shaper colony, they provide food, raw materials, and a valuable interface to the outside world, ships loaded with merchandise.

 

****The term Iugularian refers to all outsiders with innate magical potential, the term comes from the "Jester" wars, led by Iugularian coalitions, against the early Shaper tribes and laboratories, had burnt and broken, as you may recall, every stone and paper records of the great Shaper libraries north of Terrestia, before the subsequent creation of the first Council.

 

*****The Shapers were always in fact few in numbers due to their avaricious sense of power, and mostly because the rarity of innate magic potential, only waging war to keep their secrecy and peace intact: they always seem to bully "lesser people" in order to continue their solace.

If outsiders hadn't knocked at their forts in the early days and asked them if they could give them food, of which they made in abundance, the Shapers would have never cared for them at all; it is only by false charity and great power over life that the Shapers have assured their predominance over this world.

 

******Servile sexuality is a poorly documented subject; but in the event of the "Taker's war" against the Shapers, knowledge on their behaviour became more and more complete:

like humans, serviles are very playful creatures and engage intercourse in the same variety of fashions that their bodies permits them.

Sucia isle, being one of the only isle were serviles could have fully developed to a stance, having occupied an ecological niche left vacant by the Shapers, the environment pushing them to new highs (and to an extent some sorts of regressive behaviour), were found to have developed all sorts of erotic depictions and objects: the left-overs of this wide range of such behaviours can be seen all over the isle, from simple clay caricatures with giant phalluses to giant paintings of engaging serviles.

According to some accounts, Dreet of Pentil, was to possess more than seven wooden artefacts of erotic content made by his own fellow serviles; all being a collection of utilities such as pipes, spoons and other "essential" house hold accessories.

This is however very far from our "sex culture", where homosexuality is not repressed and common place.

Both sexes are being more and more treated equally, men tend to be more feminized, women more masculine, transgenderism is common, with transsexuals reproducing through their new sexual identity thanks to the many a wondrous properties of essence.

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The Spirit's city Part 1:

 

Andras strode out into the ruined city.

By Shaper standards, it is still a small thing, several rows of buildings hewing out of the walls of the mountain.

However, it is very impressive work from ancients whom Andras had thought, likely as not, to be savages.

The town was devised in this way, coming form the south, Andras saw a small temple in the middle it's chambers protected by harmful magic and poisons, houses circling it, were built right below the great walls, a small grove in the north and a small prison opening before a Great Temple.

Some of the buildings like the prison and the houses to the west, are collapsed, but most of them are still, after many centuries of wind and rain, intact, and are still occupied, in a way.

Ghosts still walk along the streets and in and out of the ruined buildings and their houses.

Inside the houses, sealed into clay jars, there were century old Wax apples of a vivid red colour, and still fresh Spanish limes, they too lingering, and the thorns of roses, thick with the sent of honey, ready to sprout.

Ready to sting.

Andras would not risk himself into their homes, for, if they looked quite a pale and weak lot, they had survived the centuries, Heustess the vengeful and proud Goettsch... they also held some method in their striding, like those of walking troopers. Their arrival seemed to have been a recent one. The bones littered here and there looked like those of strange creations. A tooth were found here and there of some magically burnt mutant, while Heustess' tools, creations that were once spread thick about the place were found battered and broken into dark solid glass.

A few Sholai warriors were also found dead by Andras, they too broken on the floor, by ghosts and the brutal strength of cryodrayks and battle Betas... This trail of littered corpses covered the clay floors of butcher cut buildings, the bodies not unlike the pale and ugly flesh of sugar apples, informed Andras, that Gottesch's agents were near, still blue with fresh essence.

The were on the horizon looking out with a terror vilsh. Terrifying creatures battle betas. Their heads are usually black and blue. Gottesch added a dark red mark into their frowns. Not a very good sign*. Their faces look like those of skulls, thick with bone, without death's grin. Not very much like lions, which kills with love and great care. They hated their lives. They were armed. Thick with steel. They were even accompanied by a battle gama.

 

Andras seized them up from afar and trod north towards a thick grove.

 

As Andras walked along the pathway, the things around him seemed to change. They had seem newer, as if they hadn't been exposed to millennia of weather, but they also looked waxy, bee made, strange, unreal. At the end of the path, to the west, was an old hovel, hollowed out of the rock. Angry muttering came from inside...

A Witch. A battle with a crone. Strange thing. It used essence orbs. But weren't these savages born before the use of essence.

Used some sort of magic augmentation so as to harm magically Andras.

Even tried to inspire fear through a calcium composition.

Waste of talent and skill. Andras lifted his hand and fired a deconstruct round set in the eye of his ring.

Andras robed the grove from it's fruits, a few spores found in old wooden boxes and a lime cut emerald, cut to the side revealing the sight of a fleshy star.

Amongst the ruins there is still somewhere, a pool of beautiful, crystalline water. If you have the luck or the unluckiness to land on the isle, you would find that the water sparkles brightly, still of full of muck and algae, despite the lack of light in the dark chamber it is placed in.

This is were Andras took his refreshments.

This is where he would drink and energize, taking several long swallows of the clear magical water, healing his wounds under his very gaze.

The people who lived here must have had skilled magicians, to have created magic which lasted this long.

He raised his head towards the temple. Hand made by magicians. Powerful works. Not the cheap, well made servile workmanship.

Andras then turned towards the temple in the centre of the town. One step inside an ancient temple. A massive structure, smaller by far to the great temple north of there, but with huge halls carved out of solid white stone.

The walls in this entry hall are covered with writing. However, they don't look like holy inscriptions, or lists of names, or anything you'd might expect. The writing are magical notes, diagrams, and instructions.

Though Andras couldn't understand a word of it, there he thought there was something that looks familiar about it.

He looked on his right the magical notes, denser here, had chairs were set up below them so that it could be inspected closely. Andras looked at it all, but it still didn't make sense.

One thing was strange, though, when Andras turned his gaze to one of the diagrams depicted a thin lizard like animal, similar to a Fyora. Twisted and small, but still a fyora.

He turned his gaze left to a lone pillars. The only thing that made sense.

He touched the pillar and felt nothing. No pain. Just an overwhelming desire to enter.

Being accepted by the pillars, Andras entered the temple. He felt very cold and alone, and very unwelcome. Shadowy eyes watching him carefully from the darkness, waiting for a misstep, so that they might devour him.

Leaving the main chamber without permission seemed perilous. Guards were posted to each one of the side passages off of the room. More shades. And at the centre of the temple, Andras met yet another ancient ghost. A burning thing. Lit up like a tree during the winter solstice. And thick with magic. It surprised him in two ways. First, it didn't attack or threatened him. Second, when it begun to speak, Andras could understand it! It read his mind and spoke tongue perfectly clearly.

Perhaps magic was at work.

 

-"Hello, visitor. I welcome you, as long as you bring peace and do not go where you are not bidden. Have you found the secret yet?

 

-"What secret?"

 

-"The shade points at the northeast passage. There. You may go there. Only there. There is the secret. When you have seen the secret, return."

 

Upon entering Andras immediately recognized the main feature of the plain room. It had a tiny stone platform, by the northeast corner. Very bare, very rough, very old, but its purpose very clear.

It is or was a shaping platform. Cruder than what the Shaper used, but the purpose was the same.

Could it be? Could the natives who lived here be, in some way, the ancestors of the Shapers? Could this be the home of his people?

It might, in some way, be what drew his people here to do their research. Something found in these ruins might have been the catalyst which helped the Shapers here discover such astonishing things.

Or maybe a just a strange coincidence.

But It had to be his people. There were to Shaped gloves on the corner.

 

-"Are you the ancestors of my people?"

-"Now we will speak further. I will discuss the secret..." the shade flickered for a moment "Yes. That is the secret. You performed the rituals, and you entered, and I share with you what has been shared with no other."

 

-"What happened to you?"

 

The Shade flickered. It's still pose suggested now, an intellectual pause, as if taking a long breath, before plunging into great depths of knowledge, deep down into that ocean of man, with it's derelicts, it's loads and rich collections of bones, it's layers of slime, it's leviathans, it's cloudy summits and it's sunken temples...

 

-"Being here?" "Many things... Big things... great things have small beginnings..." "Cultures are as plants." "They grow." "They have many roots." "They even reach out for the stars." "And then... they die."

"Long story short, in the beginning we were not a humble people, we were a small people, few in numbers but great in our knowledge of things, which, was of late, inscribed on the many slabs that now cover the isle..."

"The stars." "The discipline of magic, all of this leads to civilization; by inscribing on stone, we safeguarded knowledge from the perils of time.

It is especially useful when tampering with the world with magic, in order to be precise and create the desired artifice**."

 

"Magic became important to us as it gave sense to the world we lived in. It gave us a direction. Told us what to do with those slabs of our when to fight, how to heal, when to make peace, when to hunt, how to love... after all we lived on a herdsman's isle" “ Resources were very limited. Even without magic the slabs are the fruit from which entire civilisations spring from.”

 

"To create slabs of stones, was difficult" "Had to search for more supplies for a steady workforce."

"And it was so, that our young boys discovered by their breaking jars-full-of-grain clumsiness how to grow wheat, spilling it by accident on tread ground while bringing it to the women and bakers."

 

"A part of the population was cut of from the old ways... had even more spare time, to think and take care of things. They had more time to make love..."

 

"And more people, meant even more mouths to feed, more food to find, more lands to plough, more fertile lands to seek, led to the invention of possessions, which led to theft and neighbours fighting with one an other, because someone's cattle was eating someone else's wheat, which meant that more wars were to be made, as land is a rare thing indeed, more workforce and magicians to instruct, and more slabs to craft, and so was the wheel of progress launched. A Roxanna in the quest of the time bird."

 

The shade paused and repeated itself.

 

"It gave us time to pause, to think."

"We, all those who were initial affiliated to magic, became magicians of various degrees, but powerful of late." "We became leaders and told what to do."

"With all the time in the world some people became bored." "We had little knowledge about boredom.""We wanted to be something else, signify something." "More resources and more people made murder profitable." "We murdered a little more." “And why not?” “Nothing stopped us from doing this.” “Enough resources to safeguard the survival of man on this isle.” "A little fun." "A little murder for the fun." "A little sting.” "A little meat, that was all, the fun of dogs." “And then the hunger of gods.” “Wars and all.”"We had become something of a hungry spectres, eating tons of bread, wood, men, people, lands...” "It's after all been one or two hundred years that you Shapers have stopped public murder and pitting one rogue one against an other.""And you haven't yet stooped sacrificial murder with all of your “test subjects”, creations and slimes, your mice and white rabbits." "With all these people..." "All this power, everything was bound to..." The Shade seemed having trouble with breathing "...It went crazy, one wanted this, the other that..." “We sought to work on useful distractions.”

 

"So you set out to make wonders." said Andras pressing.

The burning Shade clapped it's hands and fire came out of it.

"Like this did we pour magic on to the world." "Our very hands. Our very own hands"

"And given all the time in the world, we did all what we could do with it." To sooth our pangs of hunger.”

"To discover things, our gaze always elsewhere, turned towards the future or sometimes the past.

We looked deep below the earth. We watched the stars beyond the sun, beyond the stars, the blackness. And then we looked within..." The Shade became fearfully darker, it's mouth opening wider:

“Then we looked. We looked deep within ourselves, our bodies."

 

-"And what did you see there?"

 

-"You know. You know the secret. You know how to use magic to rebuild life. It all started in here, in this temple. We turned it from a place of worship to a place of work."

"Centuries did man struggle powerless against wilder beast, eating the scraps of lions and tigers, centuries did we vainly struggle against the silent fevers that takes the child from it parents, centuries did we struggle against the winds, the cold and lice."

"And now we were masters of the world." "We weren't sure what to do next but..." "We thought up something."

 

"Thus we were the first to plant new life into the ground, turn men into tools, loyal as dogs, turn pools of mud into intriguing slimes with amazing properties, turn clay into livestock, and thus on this isle, a gut worm was made anew it's tongue to be the steel, the sword and banner of wondrous and strange new battles, a lone day we did bring a wounded lizard to one of the shaping pads, to turn from grey to red, having been bathed and augmented in essence, to be infused, white with internal fire, thus with the combination of a magic unheard before, in the history of the world, and with the myth of progress at our side, the very construction and transformation of this building was the seed of our own doom."

 

-"Doom? How?

 

-"As i implied before, we used the power as a weapon. And as a bludgeon. We were not careful. Not precise. Our magicians randomly warped our enemies... twisted their parts, destroyed their organs... made them fall.

We tried to form an empire against the savages around us, starting here... but the random way we attacked changed things. Made diseases... plagues... created horrible creatures, stronger than what we attacked, the land changed too, from the greatest of our battlements to the most minuscule of grasshoppers they too were subject to many a poison and festering hunger within :"

 

The briar Shade then produced then the now bone white head of a glaahk on the altar out from the alcove below it, with what seemed to be a sudden crash.

 

-"Behold, the union of a grasshopper and a gut-worm, stunning symbol of our destruction!"

 

-"And then?"

 

-"Most of us died. The rest fled this place, fled these green lands, woody green lands, which became infected... dusty wastes... peopled with forests of stone glass." The shade flickered erraticly like the blurred images seen through a wall of fire. "Fled life... taking with us our secrets and our wisdom... "

The Shade staggered a while struggling with what seemed to be it's lips.

-"We went to the mainland... And then, I would guess, we became you. There, the story ends."

 

- "My people were here for a while, researching. Did they ever contact you?";

- "No, but, had they stayed longer, they would have. And I would have spoken with them... But they were too distracted. So they never came. They should have..."

 

-"There are enemies of our people on this island. Will you help me?"

-"I have little mind left, only enough to tell stories and to defend this sacred place... That is all I can do. No more must we perform***. I can not even understand what you just said."

 

-"If our people are the same, can you get the ghosts to stop attacking me?"

"Not ghosts. Some of our kind, with magic and knowledge of Shaping, they adopted that form, striving for long life. I was one of such. I and your people fled life; choosing the path of sleep... keeping fourth impenetrable..." the shade paused only to continue with great difficulty. The words "stoic", "defying" "and", "prevailing", "over", "death", "in", "deep" and "sleep" flew to Andras' mind where the image of the shade blurred like a badly tuned crystal screen. "Such arte the lives of the dead here."

The Shade glittered and paused again.

"Only I maintained my thoughts. All the rest Dream. Waiting for the release of death. The mercy. I can not control them. Nobody can. They have no minds to control, any more. Mad, dreaming like you all on this isle."

 

-"Dreaming?"

 

-"Yes, dreaming. The world is dreamt up by thousands of beings." said the shade. "To enter those dreams is a power greater than that of impunity over matter and flesh. Those illusionists, politicians, that lead souls by the hundreds, know this. But they are vain, they do not know what lies beyond the vacum of our sensations. What they can summon in a man, is no more, no less, not theirs. Even the mindless, haunted beings, know this. They dream of power. To merge in one with predatory malice... they overstretch themselves.****” Then the shade seemed to sprung an other sentence from it's mind "Their work is futile"...

 

-"Do you know any thing else?"

-"I have little mind left, only enough to tell stories and..." The Shades around Andras flickered with predatory menace as the priest shade grew towards the celling, with the red glow of some immense fire ball only to fall back down, to it's original form, a statue of solid glass in which images would form, black as berries. "...to defend this sacred place... Heust... That is all I can do. I can not even understand what you just said."

 

*The red marks made by Goettsch, made from the clays of defence rods, are in fact personal field generators; when heated they help to generate a small magical fields that serves partly in shielding the marked creature.

The painted essence normally found on battle alphas, betas and gamas serves as a sort of essence based conductor to these shields. Battle alphas are highly prized by shapers as expendable footsoldiers as they outmatch the speed and accuracy of clawbugs in battle, by amplifing certain magical fields thanks to such essence markings.

**Even amongst the Iugularians, magic is still highly volatile.

***Strangely the Shade, quoted this from a very early Shaper play called Faustus.

A very literary people, the early Shaper created vast libraries of various plays, still greatly regarded as being many of the best plays to have been ever written.

Today they maintain this tradition by encouraging art and spectacles.

Of course as we know today's cheep entertainment programs, used as means to dull the minds of the non-magical population, while the usually performing magicians, when not tasked with either drinking themselves to death at a mage pub, or when they are not working the bulk of their lives in profit centred industries that squeezes the life out of them, have to construct acts and performs incredible deeds in front of a live audience.

****The tale of the snail by Idries Sha:

The snail, never having met a human being, became anxious to learn of the differences between humans and snails. The man explained that people see with eyes in their heads rather than on stalks, that their legs carry them vast distances, and that they have no need of shells. The man continues, "And we can communicate without words, without even being together. Our method is to take something like, say, a leaf, make a mark on it, called writing, and send it by another human being. Now, by what is called reading, the person who receives it can know what the writer was thinking."

To which the snail replies, "The trouble with you, as with all liars, is that you go too far. I have trapped you into overreaching by pretending to believe you. But if I further encourage you by not expressing the disbelief natural to all rational beings, I shall be a partner in your sinful lies."

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Thorny Fern:

 

To Andras, Thorny Fern seemed to some sort of plugged tub, having forced it's way out of the ground, ripping apart the stony hills that Watchhill, Pentil's woods and the Hills of jars were made from into white stony peaks; a half-forest being secluded in a granitic bed with narrow passes left undefended by rogues, made Andras' entering easy. Once having slipped in the grove was different affair, as the stink that emanated throughout the region, was so awful that Andras preferred to silence it with essence up his nose. It was a trick he learned at the old ruined School; tiny holes would act as gills, barring water from entering while non lethal gazes could be breathed in.

He would have to flow heat into his larynx and snort-it* out liquefied on the sticky grassy mud, once he had finished with it.

 

Vegetation pulled by unseen forces fell towards the murky and lifeless waterways that bubbled and swirled under a thick coat of rotting and flowering plants; the waters seemed to mingle strangely with the earth, fluids with solids, grasses with mud, offering a large sail of possibilities for living things, gushing out from the otherwise lifeless stone, animated with subterranean roots of aquiferic origin.

 

By mere contrast the higher and clearer water pockets seemed to buzz with fish of all sorts, protected by their cradles of stone from decaying plants and clay that seem to claw at the rock.

 

Animals of all sorts* flourished here, all of them spying, looking down at Andras and his crown of artilas, buzzing, feeding on the area's decay. Their uneasiness was explained by their neighbours; the place was stinking with the presence of creations such as the Thorn bush, which produces fruit filled with caffeine, the dangerous fire beetles and the rogue poisonous Roamers that presently asserted themselves as the top predators in the area.

 

The abundance of animals seemed to be swallowed by the leaves and branches of the tooth like thorn bushes that oozed from every rocky base in the area. The abundance of such plants made it clear to Andras that the South east region of the isle was previously used as a thorn breeding colony, as to calm rogues and whatever pestilence that still linger in the dark corners of Sucia.

Even if this place was once a secure and vital part in protecting the shapers and their serviles creations, it laid decaying before the Shaper, as dark forces were once more occupying these lands, twisting it for their damaged desires; indeed Roamers occupied the area, and as to add to their habitual ferocity, had smart cooperation, if not too smart for these pack hunting animals.

With no spawners creating them, and at everybody's surprise, killing the rogues from the spawners both east and west of the fern with great ease, their survival had nothing to do with mere luck. The minor aid some highly intelligent creature with large magical resources and great will was in fact at work, was clearly set against both Ellrah's Keep and Vakkiri and the other invading rogue creations:

the swamp once vital for the Shapers that ruled the isle, suffered; the lack of deforestation itself caused by the lack of large herbivores or servile workmanship had caused the marshes' plant inhabitants to grow wildly, slowly rotting away in brown red waters; unlike the rest of the isle, Thorny fern suffocated from the rich in nutrients soils that flowed and gave birth to the valley, as allowed and brought moulds, and toxic microorganisms to be feed and entertained, were once there was ordained paradise.

Given that rogue Roamers being too numerous and effective a hunter, their bite being corrosive and their skin oozing with toxins, in a small secluded environment, they have driven away all the deer native to the small area; most fled, to Pentil, to Free place, or to Peaceful Valle, but it was always westwards, and they were always of course, subjected to ambushes. True repent from the gauntlet of predation was only to be found at Crossroads or in the church-like halls of Holding Two, amongst ever watchful turrets.

 

As Andras's gaze moved, his feet trying to secure a good position while being supported by what seemed solid ground, the pest like roamers that thrived in the region came to greet him with their needle like teeth and with Labrador like paws instead of their usual playful wining. Andras systematically avoided large groups that would have pinned him down, picking the lone crocodile like roamers as they stubbornly hunted him in the marshlands, before they could summon greater numbers, evolving both on land and in water like multitudes of frogs, similar to those that still plague the swamp.

Where his sword or silk like stones were useless, Andras' thorn baton were quite useful as he could reload from the bushes near by and dispatch venom on the fleeing creation; grinning as he remembered some obscure passage from Greo's Bio Botanicca :

 

"In essence, the thorn baton, is bread and butter of any seasoned warrior. (...) While the batons themselves are living things, extremely long-lived animals, they are nestled in a metal frame. (...) The thorns they fire are grown on bushes which grow thorns at a good rate (...) Being very hardy they are used in innumerable ways, (...) in general, they are considered an excellent example of Shaper biological engineering..."

 

Feeling dangerous and threatening, Andras completed his task of pacifying roamers in less than a day removing more than 90 per cent of the roamers that once happily occupied the fern.

As he did so, he reached a small clearing from which an astonishing painting caught his eye rising from the reeds of the fern; he was small in size and in the prime of his life, well fed. Donned the long clean, traditional garments of their kind, with a pair metal gauntlets and a chitin plate pushing away the jaws of a pinning roamer from his exposed and venerable neck. He was reaching for an icy stone in the likes of a gambler reaching out desperately for coins out of a bag.

 

With Andras approaching, the roamer fled. A thorn was sent, and from the death of this creation came an secure silence: it's lacerated prey was now alone in the presence of it's creator;

 

-"Good afternoon." said Andras waiting for the sound of Silence.

-" My! A Shaper!" The servile splashed down in reverence, praying before him, into a small hole of mud before being helped up Andras.

"I had never dreamed that one of your kind would descend to help someone as lowly as me. I am called Sleet, servant of Pentil." The scout, then, as if waiting for Andras' response, would try to wipe some dirt off his made in Pentil robes, when all the while looking away from him.

-"Why are you out here?"

The servile looked and talked in the direction where Andras was.

-"I am a scout. I was given a skill for evading the rogue creations that plague us." He tried to smile happily. "Well, I usually do. Sometimes I am trapped and must fight. But it's a risk I must take to keep Pentil informed."

The sevile smiled in Andras' direction.

-"Hmmm... and how can I reach Pentil?"

The servile spoke in Andras' direction:

-"You can go north to the Hills of Jars and then east, but be warned that a large variety of ambushes and mechanical traps will await you."

He then frowned like a stage actor.

Not having noticed the living tools that sprouted out from Andras' bag, and judging on the number and strength of Andras' creations, the servile continued talking once more in Andras' direction.

"I say, if machinery and diplomacy are not your forte, you should go east to the Pentil Woods and then north. Be prepared, though. You will need to fight your way in."

 

Having remarked that it was impolite of him to not to have proposed some aid to one of his supposed creators, he gave his icy and swarm crystals away, simply remarking that as a obeyer in the wake of an eventual Shaper returning he wouldn't have such need for what he called 'superfluous defences'.

Having given out the most of his possessions, he went on his way as stealthily as he did before, although genuinely sad to have given his stones away.

 

Andras shook his head with disbelief, turning rigidly away from the confused servile that was trying to do his best so as to serve the Shaper's design. An other question seemed to float up our boy's mind "What sort of dangers the woods holds up ahead?"

 

*When Andras slipped in and out of Thorny fern, one can scarcely imagine that our washed clean shipwreck, with a silk scarf around his neck, donning a long violet dark cloak with tyran purple bands that hid green bronze buttons and a cicada-like Chitin armour, a bronze long double bladed sword clipped at red leather magical amplifying belt, while holding in one hand a iron shield with ornk skin laces, all of this comfortably seated in a polished pair of fresh boots at his feet, was left a bruised, cut, twig and mud filthy, servile-crouched mockery of a Shaper. When it is true that all magician tend to get dirty, as it is still an imperative to create home made pods, to keep at bay near searing substances when tempering steel and wands, or when violently exorcizing some tomb from it's ghosts, they do prefer to stay clean. Even the Shapers take care to hygiene; they have pocket handkerchiefs, they brush their teeth, take baths every day, showers, and are always keen on keeping clean their long and silk under-wares when unused, their shirts and scarfs are shielded with spells as to protect both user and garment.

When protective suits and gas masks are unavailable, Shapers bite in metal or plastic cylinders placed around their nose and fill them with essence which when tempered with magic, filters the air, a less messy version of the crude clogging up the nose with essence method, that our boy Andras, likes to partake.

The Shapers, also encourage even the most loathsome of their guests to be deprived of their wares and tears, to be bathed and fed before entering their places, only to be provided with "more fashionable" clothes. Shapers are hospitable people, even if crowds of outsiders are butchered at their very doorstep, any man, great or small, desiring some sort of social reprieve can, under any circumstance, ask asylum in one of their great laboratories.

 

**Thorny Fern had a wide variety of host including mouse deer, cats, rats, birds, newts, frogs, beetles, an impressive set of mosquitos, flies, dragonflies, butterflies, bees, ants, wasps, snails, crayfish and numerous nematodes.

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Pentil Part 1:

 

Of all the cities that ruled over Sucia, Pentil was the biggest and saddest.

 

Of all the inhabitants of Sucia, those inhabiting Pentil were a sect of servile called Obeyers, and of all the rebellious serviles on the isle, had chosen to obey the gods that created them.

Of the buildings, it's men, tools... very thing had a purpose; all were united under the sole banner of the Shapers.

 

When they repaired their roofs, it was to shelter the servants of the Shapers, when they fed the healing pools it was because it was Shaper property, when they used Shaper pods and weapons it was in the name of their absent protectors, the Shapers, when they starved a creation it was for the Shapers, when they possessed a tool or resource lying in their homes amongst whatever belongings they had built, that belonged to the Shapers, and it did not belong to them, even when the worn object was used and identical to any mundane object of the Servile world and the vanished Shapers had no use for it, when they fed on whatever meagre strand of meat, fruit, vegetable or grain, they ate what they thought the Shapers had provided them, leaving many a source of abounding natural fodder to rot, fat with nutrients, if a child died at birth, it was because that child was of course, never meant to be, the Shapers were of course omnipotent, and their workings were of course omnipresent on that miserable rock which they called home; from the peaks of the great mountains in which the mines of Sucia were once dug to the bed in which two serviles made love, all of this was done all thanks to the Shapers; everything was and had to be made in the name of their long gone, cold creators.

Pentil still laid in bed with the sound of Silence.

 

When the god they had finally came to worship came here by mistake, and not by it's own providence, the single thought of this was very upsetting to the social fabric of the town: the leader's authority was currently being questioned, groups of hungry worshippers had appeared, and while most bowed in front of Andras, the others crawled, like the long gone people of the sea before the Pharaohs of time past, thinking that even an apprentice Shaper was an angel to be adored, respected and feared, a lone sentinel, an lone angel, of fire and of death, to clean Suica from rogues, before the rapture came.

 

But our Shaper was no fool, and as they pressed and asked for healing and curing which he gallantly accepted, he knew that deep within, they all lofted power over all; power over their lives, power over that unfaithful isle that took them to it's dinner room as to devour them, power over him, power over the rogues that stole their kin away from them and destroyed what ever they had worked hard for; they didn't even consider the fact he, the Andras, the great exterminator, could abandon them or that his arrival was a mistake.

Too much was in fact at stake, and so like all men, they tried to prove, to prove that they were right over their already convinced fellow Obeyers, to brag about Andras's exploits as to impose what ever small authority they had. Who would dare to denounce him and what ever great evil he hid under his cloak? For even the Takers were secretly glad that a Shaper had come at last to this damned isle, so as to save them in a way, from abounding for ever whatever belifs they had?

 

Andras however was no angel, he was hardly an all powerful figure, or to boot a full grown Shaper, he was not all knowing and ever present, but that was all right, as he was not 'supposed' to learn very much about the Shapers, and as he had surleeeeey shown certain rogue tendencies, and the Shapers in their wisdom must have kept him in the dark, blind, so as to carry out their will... so as to test the flock with every perfidious thought his brains produced...

 

Pentil had become in fact a deadly intellectual trap, lightly covered with leaves of good deeds towards the Shaper cause, in which Andras would not fall into.

If Andras would have taken office under these serviles, in other terms sworn an alliance to Pentil's leader, in order to strengthen the Shaper's long dead grip on the isle, he would have in essence obeyed a servile. Such a thing was unacceptable.

He was a representative of his sect' beliefs, and not a slave to the fanatical Obeyers.

To have pactised and played cards with them, to plot, to entered their schemes, would have surely burnt him to a crisp, for within every zealot of Pentil, from the leader to the most lowly of his minions, lies a volatile solution. They would burn with the wind of a whisper as it crept into their ears. The town held no Taker spy whatsoever.

These Serviles killed.

They hunted and butchered, without pity, without shame, they slaughtered until they were soaked in the blood of their sins against life, with a passion that surpassed the mad and secluded Takers, that were sent a mad, being forced to kill in order to survive this cruel isle.

Yes, the much crazed takers of Kagz, in their great orgies of blood and hateful sentiments against the Shapers, were revolted to the mere idea of harming even a creature as small as an insect or as rigid a flower, and were torn when an ornk was to be served for supper!

The Obeyers knew this, and knew that all serviles were made, so that as to be naturally repulsed, more-so than any human, to creating harm onto any form of life; serviles are usually simple, obedient, docile and kind, creatures.

Such simple beings have known to become depressed at the news of where and how is the meat on their plates is fashioned, be it carved from a living being, as meat created from raw essence is an unavailable source of protein.

And yet the Obeyers trained so as to break away from this design, proof that the Shapers were not perfect.

 

They had hoped that the Shapers would come back and they also knew that if the Shapers came back they would have surely liked a force to dispose of the rogues there, even if they had not yet understood that the disorganized fleeing and that much of the disruption at the heart of the isle had been planned not by the Shaper researchers here, that tried to keep things in order until the building of Diazard, but by the Shaper Council, so they strode against, every rogue creation in sight that did not fit their purpose, and for this task they butchered the rebellious Takers to the east with all the tactical and surgical forces they and the servant mind held, when they could have simply shipped large quantities of food to the hungry and angry Takers, appeasing with kindness and solidarity the broken hearts of the ever wanting Takers.

The Obeyers plunged the Takers against the new Awakened sect, while keeping Varkkiri poor and secluded from Watchhill again with the aid of the Servant mind Control four and it's minions. The servant mind's rogues, the awesome and and eventually powerless Vlish forces, whom Warp of Spiral Borrows is the most representative, and the bountiful frog-like Roamers that protected the immobile Control mind in the borrows, that even came to plague later on Thorny fern and the silent marshes, were ironically, secluded to their borrows, unable to act out. They were in the end not unlike the Takers. Even the Serviles of Pentil, came to fell to the same end, pounded back to their borrows by rogue generators*, the augmented siege thahds and artila creations that seized Pentil's gates.

But they carried on. The ants of Pentil, not unlike the empty corpses that plague the dark corners of the isle, were still restless and strived and conquered whatever land the Shapers had, and puffed with pretentious self-righteousness as they claimed proudly that they were right and that their religion would win over all the serviles of the isle.

They knew, as the earth was round, that all creations are made to obey the eternal will of the Shapers, designed to fit as tools to serve all but a single purpose.

They knew that the serviles were not meant to chose for themselves, that they were bound to the now severed umbilical cord that connected their hardy race to the bodies of the Shapers and yet they thought on ways to obey them best and they had chosen for their very own survival to follow the wisdom of the Shapers from whatever conclusion they could draw out from what the Shapers had left unintentionally; from moving paper fantasies they conjured the fact that they had to preserve it, even if it were tax collections, from the fact they had lived in stone buildings they should stay in stone ruins despite the need for wooden houses, from what weapons they had left for usage they had to be maintained only be used during the rapture when their troops needed weaponry:

Had not the Shapers been the only point of certitude when there was none on this miserable rock? Had they not endow each of their servants with minds, long lives and powers of their own? Had the Shapers not left them entirely alone on Sucia? Did not their constructs, that now people Sucia provided a hiding place for all serviles, hiding them from savage rogues, sun, storms, winds and cold? Had they not been there nothing before the Shapers but dust and desolation on the isle? Had not the Shapers made the isle prosperous with honey and milk, where there were prowling ghosts, foul creatures and the legions of Heustess? Would they not come back one day, rising up once more against these tellurian monsters that resided at the very evil and heart of this isle? Would they not bring glorious fulfilment and give propose to their lives, where wreck and devastation lay?

 

To Shapers, belief is mother to doubt. It was also true for the Obeyers : Shaper omnipotence came to challenge the absolute good of the Shapers, their omnipresence the fact they had left the world.

The Obeyers were patient, but wanted to believe. What proof was there of the Shapers? A few bones, artefacts, books, culture, speech and ruins. Could they have been then mistaken somehow?

The Obeyers in their great leap of faith, in their great misery, clung to the dreams and hopes of an uncertain future and paid their respect to uncertain gods.

Silent obedience to the Shapers had given them an edge over all the serviles of the isle, guided by the many still loyal servant minds against their servile brethren, but in the end, their thoughts, their very choices, their way of life, had betrayed them as rogues.

It had seemed to Andras that their worship, the will of their earthly gods, whatever reason that shepherd their flock was used as a continual justification of evil, as it prevailed in the community or through the awesome forces on the isle.

Andras judged it to be a starvation of the mind, a placid cold doctrine in what could be a ocean of truth.

To him the Obeyers of Pentil had rebelled against the designs of their masters. In the mist of their of obeying folly they would be the first to be killed at the plough, used until there was nothing left from them but bone and secret documents.

Andras entered the temple of the Obeyers, it's flock and the shepherd Rydell waiting for the good news of a second coming:

 

-"Shaper, I have heard of your arrival. I... I am awed and grateful that you have returned to us at last. I am Rydell. I am the leader of the Obeyers, the only sect that has stayed steadfast and true in our obedience to your kind. We know that you are alone here, and endangered by the rogue creations that surround us. We hope that you have come to assist us, and to reward us for our obedience."

 

Andras nodded but then spoke:

 

-"I, Andras, am peaceful representative of the Shapers in their absence; i will speak in their stead. The Shapers would be impressed of your self control, they would also be impressed by your determination in your great workings against the rogues here..."

 

Rydell exhaled a deep breath of relief.

-"So many years of self doubt, Shaper. So many years of wondering why you abandoned us. Now we know, though. Now we know that we followed the true course. Thank..."

 

-"How dare you wonder?"

 

Rydell was visibly shocked.

 

-"The Council had not planed whether you should survive or not. In Shaper terms you should be extinct. Whatever creature of your race that was set on this isle a century ago, was supposed die. But you have survived and for it i shall help you. The Shapers that left you here had clearly little sense of responsibility for their creations. The Shapers have changed. I will consider that i arrived as to fill our debt towards your kind, a token from a new era; helping serviles in need is one of my prime objectives, speaking of which, is there a boat somewhere?"

 

*Spawners.

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The South workshop Part 1:

 

The valley was bright. The sun would cut down with a great sharp sword of light the venerable mounds of dirt that the winds would toss them into air into fine powder which made Andras' stomach gag and his nose bleed.

 

He would shamble to an obelisk thickening his layers of peeling skin. He still shambled. It burned.

 

The serviles of the winding road did warn him:

"The valley is the most dead, diseased, unpleasant area you can ever come to see anywhere on Sucia Island. There is nothing alive here. Nothing."

 

The obelisk was old and worn, but he barely managed to understand it. It said:

 

« SOUTH WORKSHOP»

 

A door in the ground opened.

 

Andras stepped inside the workshop.

Facilities like these are usually made to serve as support for research. They make and repair the complex devices the Shapers use to build new, exciting creations.

 

And yet there was something wrong here. The foul, sickening atmosphere, which was strong outside, was almost paralysing in here. Poisonous motes of dust hang in the air, waiting for Andras to inhale them.

While workshops are normally safe, inoffensive places this one wanted to kill Andras.

Andras thought back bits of the conversation he had with the servants of the Winding Road.

 

-"What has happened here, servile?"

-"Don't know, but have guess. Old Shaper workshop west of here, not far, called South Workshop filled with things. Slimes. Worst there, much choking and gasping. Even we don't scavenge there."

 

Andras stood on the threshold of a church. Breathless. The wind would clear out the thick eye-watering air within.

As he reached for restoration and succour in his pods and spores, barely noticed the state of pain in which his two drayks were dragging themselves towards the lone Shaper apprentice.

 

Now Andras knew why the area (and the down stream Taker lands) were so barren and diseased. Andras stepped back out of the complex' doorway, involuntarily, overwhelmed by the horror of it. He felt disgusted:

Shaper experiments tend to involve the production of a lot of poisonous and noxious substances, some of them alive. These foul byproducts are generally burned away using magic. To do otherwise would be horribly dangerous.

When Sucia Island was abandoned, however, there must have been a lot of experiments in place. In their rush to leave, the Shapers did not dispose of the experiments properly. They just put them in metal drums and dumped them here.

Some of the canisters have been leaking. The poison would gather around the lead boxes like powdered coco of chocolate truffles.

To all living things, the place was not a workshop any more. It was a pit of poison, which has been leaking out and sinking into the ground and the water table. Who knows how many creations and serviles have died because of it?

And yet, workshops like this must still contain items of value. Should Andras dare expose himself to the risk of entering this poisonous place? The answer is yes.

Andras turned about searching for something. He was not quite sure of it, but he'd know it when he'd see it. He found it. There was a defence pylon in the centre of a small room, left untouched by the time it spent here. It was sleeping. It didn't look like it was originally a part of the chamber. It was probably added to protect the workshop from invaders in the Shapers' absence.

Crystal fibers ran from the base of the pylon into the ground. «The pylon must draw its power from a source somewhere else, it's source probably isn't too far away...» thought Andras.

 

He walked out. At the doorstep of the factory he sat on a three light panel, brooding a hand away from a curing spore bag. Having cured his two drayks, spreading them thin out in the air like a man feeding birds.

 

Having much thought, he slipped from the panel. It started sparkling with light and life. He touched a green button. «Let's try green, green's a good colour.» thought Andras. The whole thing analysed him and his creations through a augmenting process. When it had finished brooding it left him unharmed.

 

«Let's go in.»

 

Andras took draconian measures as to protect himself; he casted a ritual spell, that of augmentation, and used three brightly coloured bags, one blue, one yellow and the much protective shield spores in their tyrian cover. He also had readied a jewel drawer to his left arm and held it hid under his thick robes. Tooth and Claw Andras' drayks would move about him as guards since the pylons could be a possible threat.

The much feared thrusting gauntlets were put on and he held the lethal reaper thorn baton. He would enter gun pointing.

He planned to come in and out the facility and rob it from it's components as fast as he could.

 

He even left the contents of his bag outside with a modified eye root as an effective protector, so that he might flee at any moment's notice.

 

Then as Andras moved closer to the sleeping crystal pylon, with only his foot steps covering the silence of the facility, he herd a moan. He turned around gun ready. It was only when he turned back towards the pylon that he fell nose to nose with the spectre of a guardian. And he was not alone. Four of them materialized.

 

Andras used dropped his thorn baton and jerked his arm into the guardian's face. The jewel drew fire, so did the thorn baton as it fell down from Andras' hands. Two nearby shades lied in ruin. The Guardian's spectre that stood before Andras didn’t even as much as move, when the living shaper vaporized him. Where Andras' busy intellect was at work, casting spells, caking war gems and opening spore bags, Tooth and Claw did the rest.

 

And this was the dance that Andras would perform until he reached the centre of the facility.

With of course a few variations, such as the apparition of deadly agent Shades, Andras using two deconstruct rounds* against the buzzing undead and the occasional bleeding and convulsion caused by the poisons that Andras experienced, only to be soaked up his menagerie of pods, spores and spells.

 

Speaking of poisons, Andras, constantly threat of being poisoned, would be tainted with the thick aroma of medicinal pods, the smell of salty sweat and the stink of piss filled the air around him; the heavy chemicals neutralized by the pods and healing spells, had to be naturally exported out of the body into all sorts of secretions.

The poison was literally rinsed out of his body after each wet mark made on stone walls.

This, plus the danger of being ambushed by the shades, that shambled there, for there is no better word for it, made the natural clam demeanour that we knew to be his, replaced to a twitching, reduced man, nervous with fear, a twig, an stick insect, which would from time to time lower his donned garments, and water his shoes, trembling.

But the promise of loot, meant he had to suffer this humiliation; the lazy Sholai having detained the evil of this place back to it's den, he found himself trapped without an amulet to protect him from any fire. He was in a nest, swarming with bees, whose hollow armour would splendour under both the light of day and under the crescent of a moonlight'** Agent. They had not died after the first sting. And they bumbled now towards him.

His only chance of success would be to be in his tools... He would then start a gorilla campaign against the shimmering shades... activate the facility's pylons, harden his skin with essence and augment his red hot tongue drayks with rods and spells, to smoke the monsters out.

 

Striking at shadows, the poor Andras shook he would draw himself nearer the brain of the facility.

 

 

*As you know Andras had found twelve deconstruct rounds in a small ruin north from Vakkiri, in clawbug infested woods. These ammunition rounds are small heavy lead containers filled with magic that reacts with most matter.

These rounds were once commissioned by the Shaper council so as to defeat the stone legions and awesome pyramid ships of old. With the perfection of cheaper biological weaponry, the war against the Igularian coalitions ended and the relentless and effective pyramid Ships manned by caryatid legions stopped dead in their tracks, waiting for orders that would never come, their magician makers slain. Deconstruct rounds were thereafter used against the huge Shaper creations such as the Agares steed, it's skin hard as Shaper spider silk fabric and as to disintegrate Shades before they could have the time to reconstruct.

**A moonlight' Agent: is the sabre that Agents use.

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Well i was very afraid that it would be not very good:

 

There is a few spelling mistakes here and there and i thought the Shade Preist passage would be boring. I tried to make something that had meaning in evrey phrase.

 

Also the narrator's views about life can be very diffrent from mine; having been in sociology and read Karl Marx, i'd kill a man like the narrator and accuse him of falacious reasonning on the subject of unemployement.

 

I'm glad you like it, I really appreciate your support.

 

The rest will come next week!

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The Arena Part 1:

 

The Arena was, besides it's terrifying aspect* and the deadly potency of it's inhabitants**, a relatively easy territory to clean up. Unlike the the more dangerous places of the isle, it did not crawl with the deadly relics of a bygone era before the Shapers arrived or swarm with the newly arrived and augmented Sholai and their horrible creations, but with the finest breed of whatever war creation the Shapers had perfected on this isle, except for the vlish, clawbug, roamer, drayks and the outstanding Battle series.

Our long standing adventurer was armed with a menagerie of creations and tools such as the lethal submission thorns, the otherworldly reaper baton and held in the inside of his cape a fierce collection of discipline wands to which he would regularly visit with the palm of his hand when needed. He was once again beaming proudly the powerful aura of authority and control he held in Ellrah's chambers; just a few rogues to be hunted down before cake and tea he'd say.

 

That's when Andras faced Prav.

Prav was a battle Beta, but it looked as if it were built as a battle Gama.

 

Battle Betas are enormous and lethal killing machines, they are designed to lead the way into battle, to be the first creatures to crash into an enemy line; they are totally obedient but when faced with the orders to kill, things get really nasty.

Now if they share most of the strengths of the battle Alpha, namely sheer seize and brute strength, they also dispose of two nasty trick up their sleeves: to start with they are covered with hairs of the poisonous sort.

To hit them without an armour thicker than a four inch Shaped steel plate, is to be indulged a very nasty shock to the heart.

Now for their second trick; they are designed to hold two long white tubes running either side of their arms. On these tubes are placed a series of small dagger like spines which are used as to hook away shields from an opponent's hand and pin down a enemy like a preying mantis.

Contrariwise to their battle Alpha counterparts they do not bear red purpurine skin and the crossed blue markings; their blue skin evokes those of the blue meat flies that the Shapers unleash after a bloody battle.

Such bees are used to scrape the flesh clean from their victims and do not die after the first sting.

 

And it was this blue that was the first thing Andras noticed when the creature lumbered it's heavy gaze towards our battle harden hero.

 

Just northeast of the Arena there is a cave entrance. This is were it lived. In the trash of whatever it had found and gathered. Javelins. Vegetables. Pears. Meat. Burnt wood. The dead remains of six glaahks. It just laid there, dull, watching a fire it had made from the wood and whatever ledgers he got his hands on, as if waiting for something that would never come. And yet he was terrifying. All battle betas are. Andras shuddered at the realization that he might be about to fight it. Then, silently, head bowed, the battle Beta turned and walked back into its cave.

Very strange. Andras walked into the cave unsure, preparing some mental spell and unlaced a speed pod from his belt.

 

Though it was clearly in peak physical condition, it's face bore an expression of doubt and confusion. It was leaning there, against the wall of the cave, thinking and upset.

It looked up at Andras. It didn't even seemed surprised to see a Shaper. «Oh. Shaper. Greetings. I Prav. I... I... What should I do?»

 

Andras was dead frozen. He did not know what to do. He didn't know how to handle the poor thing.

 

«Okay. Let's start out simple.» thought Andras. "Where did you come from? Who created you?"

"I was frozen in mine. I was woken by mind. I was told slay all who come. But no Shapers. I have doubts. I look for Shapers to guide me. None. I come here and wait."

"And what sort of doubts did you have?"

"I am made to kill. I will kill. But who to kill? Not those wanted by Shapers... Kill those bad to Shapers. Who are bad? Who are good? I do not know. I want to kill. I do not want to kill."

Prav's years of being frozen on this island had seemed to have damaged his brain. It's brain, being damaged, had reverted back towards a primitive structure so did his behaviour. And yet his level of introspection... and even moral issues that he expressed as being a reality to him... all of these traits... are very unusual for a battle creation. Could this behaviour be of avatic origin? If the tremors of the epileptic could recall the sudden shaking of a gasping fish stranded on land, could these displays of intelligence in a brain-damaged Battle Beta indicate a intelligent... ancestry? Strange... very strange. And undesirable as well, for a Shaper that is.

 

"What is in this area?"

"Rogues. Many rogues. I fear them. They want to slay me, but I do not know if I must slay them. So I run here. I stay here.»

 

"Look. I... I require your assistance. Come and help me."said the shaper.

"I do not know, Shaper. I want to kill. I do not want to kill. I do not know if helping you is right thing. I will kill. I should not kill."

 

Andras looked at his two augmented drayks for an answer. Although they were intelligent they didn't budge. They didn't seem to be as socially intelligent as the serviles of Sucia or as Prav for that matter. Tooth scratched his head and Claw turned his head away.

 

"I assure you you will be fighting the enemies of the Shapers. Come and assist me."

The two drayks stood there, waiting for something to happen. The Battle Beta did not budge.

«I... I...» It shook it's head. It seemed to be afflicted with some strange sort of apathy. Even Andras command did not budge it. After all these years it must have... But then it looked more miserable than ever. Andars was getting frustrated. He wanted to wipe the area clean. No it had to be done.

«Enough moping, Battle Beta! Attention! Come with me!»

 

Much to his surprise the sharp command managed to overcome Prav's apathy. It lumbered forward. Still miserable, but it willing to come.

 

*Andras had never been in a Shaper arena before. Creation sport combat has been illegal for well over a century. Even if the arena were not infested with rogues, being here would be very unsettling: Today, Shapers feel some moral responsibility to their creations. This was not always the case. Shapers once made creations merely to fight each other for sport. They traded recipes and pitted their pets against each other in bloody combat. But today, creations fight each other only in «legitimate wars», or in illegal, underground fighting pits. Places like this exist only in the dark past.

 

**A dozen few charged wyrms, charged thahds armed with tower shields and fully charged submission batons they used as cudgels, charged fyoras and a two good handful of glaahks.

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Lets hope it wont go crazy. I always loved the battle creations. I only have the demo for all the games so I only ever got battle alpha in geneforge 2. But I swear I thought I saw something that said "Battle gamma" Or "Battle charlie" in the southern shaper camp in geneforge 4, below the south forge. but continue please! Im hooked

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The Arena Part 2:

 

With Prav set into the equation Andras laid out his plan:

Pray gathered wood and bricks to create a small barricade on which Andras lined up his guns and so fourth.

The young shaper then created a vilsh with what little the essence he was left with. It would help him in two ways; maintain more control on the creations around him, as these creatures are able to communicate and instil thoughts into the minds of both friend and foe and provide him with extra fire power. If Andras was confident he wasn't stupid; he was not going to risk himself in the Arena. He'd send the vlish and evaluate first.

What he saw was woods, traps, ambushes and escapes, pens of sorts filled with artilas and well armed thahds, the harget of rogues, like the rabbit bones the vlish found in one of the fighting pits and the dead sholai troops they regularly preyed on. He pulled back the vilsh he'd had augmented with pods and proceed to shoot out the rogues that came. Prav didn't have to raise a hair and Andras an eyebrow.

If investing essence in a vlish would prevent Andras to cast mighty spells to mow down rogues, it had left him enough essence for the creation of a swarm.

He had learned two designs from a canister he found in the warrens of Jars; a marker drone, based on a the gall wasp, and small hornets like creatures. The marker wasps would scout, mark the rogues of the whole area and would lay eggs in key rogue species, here the secluded artilas, their larvae would then turn them into vlish obedient zombies. The hornets on the other hand would sting the rest of the creatures, driving them out of the arena towards Prav's opened arms.

 

Once again Andras was victorious. But now the ground was literally splattered with the remains of his enemies; Andras would step into the on mixed bloods of creations, hit the massive derelicts of glaahks which necks had been broken by Prav, hummed the smoke from dead magically charged thahds, and walked the shrivelled husks of wasps and torn in half zombie artilas while looking for the snapped remains of two of his used bone wands and whatever loot left behind by the creatures.

All that effort had to mean something! A cake of consolation! Andras wanted his shoe and rice. So he headed with all of his creations south east to remove minor goods from the rogue's

nests here. Coins mostly. He looked at one of the ruined obelisks of Suica's Arena. Andras then read: WEST WING - REGISTRATION, TRADING, WAGERING. EAST WING - CREATIONS, CONFINEMENT.

He didn't brood much before entering the ruins of the Arena. He'd a have a butcher at the bleached records of fights and names. Most of them were munched, obviously by the rogues, so Andras could manage just only to produce a decent one or two books for Pentil. The rogues had also included meat to their diet. In one of the fighting pits laid the bodies of three Sholai. Like the ledgers on the shelves he produced a few good items from their bodies; he drew a sword, a steel breastplate an essence pod and a Sharing Belt. The belt was draining so he'd sell it for something else. He'd move south out of the ruins, taking down the stone doors of the facility, out into more rogue nests. There Andras found, not a wand, but lo and behold, a rod of succour!

Succor Rods are wand like devices; they have a wood, bone or ivory shaft with a bag attached at to one of it's ends. The bag contains magical clays, slightly different in composition to the clays contained in the essence and healing pods. Such rods must be dipped in water and kept humid at all times, so that the clays may not harden and it's contents may be sprayed on the sick or wounded target. These rods were the very first curing and healing devices ever to be built by man and are still regarded as being by far the most reliant and the most sacred by the Iugularian.

After searching the bodies Andras' attention turned towards Prav's idle condition. Prav would sit at one of the healing pools he found nearby, doodling on the ground, waiting for Andras.

He would lift himself up his pack full of loot back to the entry of the cave, but before that, the shaper would take an other route. He 'd get deeper into the ruins of the arena, north from the fighting pits into the containment area. There he found two power pylons and a switch. He removed most of his loot he donned, still keeping a eye on the battle Beta and powered the switch. He looked around and saw closed container doors. Andras would create searer containers on to the doors. He knew they would fall on to the ground when the doors opened. Then he flipped the switch. Andras saw a flash of lighting, heard an explosion and the roars and cries of a few thahds being dissolved by acid. Then seven charged thahds, stormed Andras and it's companions. Prav instantly killed two of them and lifted one up in the air before hurling it against one of it's acid bitten friends. One thahd armed with a reaper thorn baton would charge at Andras, but to no avail. Andras' Vlish got in the way. A terrible explosion was unleashed and the vlish died. The drayks then proceeded in killing the thahd. One big bite had the job done. Two thahds came out of nowhere. A drayk's tail whipped a thahd to the ground, now ribbless. Prav preyed on the fallen thahd leaving the other to Andras. The apprentice gunned the rogue down with a submission thorn in one of his eyes. Prav continued butchering the poor thahd on the ground. The last rogues tried to run away when Andras cracked a spray crystal and silence fell.

 

He was about to gather the baton and his stuff, leaving the ruins of the arena to the solace of time, when the glow of two canisters encrusted where the doors once were, drew him irresistibly nearer. He would move towards the light like a butterfly to a candle. And what a candle. A “Luck canister” and “Vlish canister”. Andras felt happy. He turned out of the container in which both the rogues and the canisters had once slept in.

Andras carefully inspected the vats in which the rogues were kept in. These self-sealing vats are very ingenious Shaper inventions. They can make a creation and, at just the point when it becomes alive, seal it in a suspended state. The jars were of course opened, and it looked like it had been open for at least a few weeks. Some trap or automatic device must have caused it to disgorge its contents. He looked at the switch. It was a control panel. Like all Shaper controls, it was a carefully shaped plant, moss covering the device from outside. The shaft from which like device drew out it's nutrients would be all hollow on the inside, were it not filled with long fine tubes of active crystal fibres in them. Seven wooden controls had emerged from the branches. There were other controls, but they had rotted off. Having toyed with the pannel once more, Andras turned to Prav. Prav stood waiting.

Andras took his leave from him. Though he was a rogue, he would be studied by the Shapers when they'd come back. His high level of introspection would be incredibly useful for the advance of the shapers arts... Andras was already thinking of his afterlife. A great thesis on rogues. An after Sucia. If such a thing was plausible... He thought of they would board Prav on a boat, place it into a holding cell after a good meal and follow sets of tests and after a careful radiation of the whole body through magic and chemical imagery... they would proceed in a good linear cut and prod his brain with magical devices of sorts* in a shaper university.

 

*To each era it's horrors; if the overall quality of life has improved over the years, History has filled it's records with more and more barbarism: The reign of the malik of Sheol, The reign of the reassembled prince, the rise of Pharaoh Rameses the Plumbeous or Rameses the second, the fall of angels, the Abyssian tide of fire, the rise of king Perseus, rooster of Macedonia, the awakening of Repharim fossils, the use of the Horus avatars during the horizon wars, the unstoppable horde of Buriyatese bombards, the establishment of public vivisections by the celebrants of Orion, the Trojan wars, the killings of the Kuzcan bat empress, the sending of the first Talocq, the concentration camps of Rhodesia, the horrors of the crystal pits, Pooh Bear's great pact of evil, the Boulanger incident, The sheep slaughterer of Fmuur,The Boadicean rapes, the bromine battle of Salamis, the writing of the Art of war, the rise of the Branchdividians, the Raelian purges, the destruction of Lisbonne, the Fires of Moscow, the bullying raids of the orient by the professional and wasps Samurai warriors of Nara, the wreckage left by the Dai Tengu during the Imjin wars (warped shock troopers of the great citadel fortress Nara, whom fought against the tortoise ships of the great admiral Yin Sun Chin during the battle of Chilcheollyang ), the small and great Sholai crusades, The use of nun gunnery, the flagellates of Rus, the Sam hooker laws (which condemned Terrestia's prostitutes to have their ears and nose to be cut off), the use of magically augmented chemical and bacterial warfare, the arrival of the Shapers with the slavery of the mutants they made, The absorbing of the Durandist order, named after the miraculous healing of Madeleine Durand by Shapers, the extinction of the noble Quagga and the pollution of Fukoshima, the first and second Iugularian war that saw the use of the unstoppable caryatid legions and the pyramid ships, the condemnation and trails of the Thurneysser's Demon, humming birds massacres as describied by Walton Ford, the Iberian greenhoused strawberry scandals, the series of expeditions led by Agent Richard Francis Burton (first Shaper translator of the Kama-Sutra), the genocide led by Agent Bula Matari and king Leopold known as Leopold the second or Crow Leopold, the rise of the bountiful Shaper Empire, the rediscovery of Sucia isle and all of it's gene deciphering habits, the absorbing of the battle drayks series many of which were Tasmanian battle series, the opening of London's traderoutes by Commodore Perry, also known as the teacup incident, the Sholai-Nara war by the Shapers which resulted with the victory of Honshu forces and with the rise of a new Shaper administered empire capable of economically overthrowing Terrestia and today's recent fuelling on both sides of the “Semite spring” contributes actively to the globe's geological record.

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Since these extracts are made in a non-chronolgical, order i'm going to work on Andras' entry in Kazg. Like in the Arena i'm not going to endow our hero with divine superpowers but only with a selection of neat little tricks...

 

Also i will continue using cockney expressions like "taking a butcher" and hebrew terms like "Harget" during the entire course of this experience.

Not that I am cockney or of direct jewish descent, but because they feel naturally attracted to the Geneforge world and to the setting of this story, with life being fashioned out of clay and the recurring theme of a war fought between the Shapers and the iugularian magicians,which serve as a way to parody and comment today's social, political and economical problems, the middle class crisis, evil germs, global liberalism, imperialism, eco-scams, personalism, Philippe Muray, merchantilism...

 

If things need to be clarified please do comment.

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Originally Posted By: Arch-Mage Solberg
Someone tries to write a story based on the first Geneforge and people beg for more. While I do the same for the first Exile/Avernum game and am handed nothing but sarcasm and ridicule. Here is the forum I'm talking about.
Maybe because Upon Mars is actually writing a fanfic, while you were simply positing the idea of a Avernum TV/Movie series. Or maybe because when you did write, it read more like a bad LP than an actual fanfic.
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Kazg part 1:

 

Andras' motto had always been: “be prepared”. He would enter Kazg by the north. He added to the waters of Kazg a small novelty. Nothing diabolical. Just something he found next to the E.coli canister that the Sholai had left to rot in the hills of jars, useless. He would then dump the critters with entire bags of nitric fertilisers in the Stygian waters near Kazg, as to increase their reproduction rate.

 

The waters atop of Kazg became blood-like for a week before ironically “dying out” from the poisoned waters they tainted. But it created enough of a roar to draw the Takers away from the roads into the fields. And also once in Kazg, the effect would be so dramatic that it would create enough fear so as to scare the town's leaders to a certain point: they would now certainly not hold as trivial this reference to the ten plagues* the Shapers had once released onto Terrestia in their wars against the Iugularian.

 

There were several statues of Shapers lining the road to Kazg. The creations here had taken great pains to destroy them. And the obelisks indicating the way had been once more defaced. They were hiding Kazg's horizon. The view did not include the mainland, but the muddy sick fields of Kazg and the opened sea were the red sun rose, a horn in it's cardinal lips, it's sword brandished a fire like a torch in the night, swinging all directions in the sky, eyes filled with the glow of ten thousand** canisters, it's hands clad with red leather, an eagle's feather in it's helmet. Birds of prey and crows would patrol trying to get a mouthful of the hanging rogues as they were exposed to the dawn.

 

Turning away form Kazg's horizon, towards from whatever growing ruin the Shapers had left to scavenge, blocking his view of the future, Andras followed the stony road to Kazg and met one of the scouting guards. It was a servile officer, his rank that right under that of a Servile blade. He wore the cold, calm expression, seen many times on the more experienced Guardians.

He nods , clearly unimpressed, and began to speak in a businesslike manner. “Shaper, I have been sent to greet you when you approach. You are at the outskirts of Kazg. Fair warning. Your safety here is not guaranteed.”

Amena watched Andras carefully, ready to defend himself in a moment if necessary. Andras nodded in return, a reed in his mouth:

 

“Will I be attacked if I enter Kazg?” asked the Shaper taking the reed in and out of his mouth.

"Yes. The guards there are eager to meet you in battle. I doubt I could control them, if they got a chance to actually fight and slay a Shaper. They will all fight you as one, and die rather than give in to Shapers again. " Andras looked back at his support troops and turned back towards the servile.

 

"Why do they hate Me?" dropped Andras.

"I do not have the time to recite the whole list of crimes your people have committed against ours. All my warriors want is a chance for fair justice."

 

"How is this justice done? They would do me evil because I am a Shaper, would it be fair if I did you evil simply because you are a servile? What have I done against these soldiers?” thought Andras dejected. Then he turned his look to the feeding birds.

 

“Well it seems you haven't done much justice to your own.” remarked Andras. Amena turned her gaze away from the dead serviles and rogues hanging from Kazg's gallows and replied looking in Andras' direction:

 

“Again like I said so before, I do not have the time to recite the whole list of crimes you have committed against the Takers.”

 

“Nasty prick” "A thick head form Chickentown*** Andras thought.

Andras didn't as much as budge, for the takers he killed did not so much as try to parley with him the first time he met them, and most of them tried to assassinate his hosts.

 

"I wish to enter Kazg and speak with your leaders. How is this possible?"

"I would need to escort you into town myself. But first, I need to believe that it is worth it. Killing Ellrah or Rydell would be a good start. I do not want one of your kind in my home, no matter what Gnorrel says."

 

"Gnorrel? Who is that?"

"Gnorrel is our leader. She rules the Takers. She says, that there is a certain Shaper she wishes to see, but she said nothing about how to identify him or her. I don't think any Shapers can be trusted, so I will not help you pass."

 

"Shouldn't you obey your orders?"

"I am not a servant.” Andras was sore amazed with this demonstration of simple wisdom. “You Shapers want us all to be servants, to you or to each other. No. I am here and she is not. I will not help you pass."

"It is wise to leave. If you do not, you will be slain."

Andras got annoyed.

"If you want me dead, don't you think the best way to bring that about would be to take me to your leader? I won't die out here." Andras looked at his vlish and thahd Shades. He would not die here. The Takers here possessed no magical weapons. No pod, no spore bag, no rod, no wand whatsoever only a few officers stripped to a magical sword here and there and a few ice crystals. They would be broken down into the very essence they were made from in an instant, if he let alone raised a finger.

Amena on the other hand stopped, surprised. This fact clearly hadn't occurred to him. “That is true. I do not even think that I can kill you. Gnorrel, however, definitely could.”

Andras couldn't but help noticing the state of his dress as some of it decayed...

"Follow me, Shaper. I will lead you to the gate. Beyond the gate watch your step. Watch yourself, though. The slightest theft, the slightest crime, say or do the wrong thing, I won't give a dime. We will swarm you. We will all fight you as one. We will slay you and die rather than give in to Shapers again.” Andras puffed at this gratuitous display of power. “You are not the master here.” reminded him the servile.

 

As Amena escorted Andras on the lonely road to the bone white city of Kazg, the shaper started singing.

 

“I send a pestilence and plague

Into your house, into your beds

Into your streams, into your streets

Into your drink, into your bread

Upon your cattle, on your sheep

Upon your oxen in your field

Into your dreams, into your sleep

Until you break, until you yield

I send the swarm, I send the horde

Thus saith the Lords.”

 

Amena stopped. Andras was allowed through the doors of Kazg. It was a massive fortress. Though as barren and dusty as the rest of the area, it must have been at one point a garden of Eden and the administrative center for the Shapers of Sucia isle, the heart of the isle's research. From here, all of the orders and directives which governed this colony emerged. Most likely, the decision to abandon Sucia Island came out of here too. This had to be the best chance to obtain clues about what happened here and why this island was Barred.

Now it is the citadel of the Takers.

When the serviles inside saw Andras, their response is immediate. Shouts of alarm are raised. Weapons are drawn. Farmers and children run for safety.

 

Andras raised his hands in a ready pose, prepared to defend himself at all costs. However, before anyone ends up dead, a large servile in a steel breastplate ran between him and the assailants. “Wait!” He shouted.

"By the orders of Gnorrel, until Shaper commit crime against us, the Shaper is not attacked! No blades. No threats. The Shaper has business with us, and is not yet foe. Go back to business."

The words have the desired effect. As the serviles slouched back to their business, casting dark looks back at Andras, the armed servile approaches. “I Eko Blade. You no friend to me. But we may have business. Gnorrel waits in centre hall. Go to her.”

“You be full of peace here. One step wrong or crime, and we fall on you. We have no love of Shapers, only business if need be.” Eko turned and walked back to the massive stone hall in the centre of the keep. Andras waved his hand and dissolved his army behind a small ruin and set fought to meet these strange and new people alone.

 

Although Andars knew the way he asked his way to a farmer taker as means to better apprehend the situation. To alienate this knew sect with this token of slavery, or dissolving his creations in public would have been a rude if not a direct provocation to the people of Kazg an since then Andras never took a single war creation into Kazg.

 

He was here to greet and recognise the Takers of Kazg not to carry warfare against dangerous rogues.

 

"Hello there, do you know who is in charge here?" Sweetly said Andras.

The Servile pointed at the huge building at the west end of town. “Gnorrel is there. She is leader, our leader, leader of Takers. She tell you.”

"How is your farming going?"

“Farming bad. Farming always bad. We live here as long as we remember, in Kazg, in this dusty, dirty place, where the land dies little more each year, getting more hungry, getting more weak.” As he spoke, he stared at the ground.

“You Shapers leave us like this, and now you return, and want us to obey. We not ask for freedom, like weak Awakened. We take our freedom. We take it from you.”

 

Form there Andras moved into the large building. It was strong, and where once the Shapers controlled and designed, it was now teeming with rogues.

Below it's massive celling were built many an alcove, set to either side of the administrative complex, both east and west.

At top one alcove lied the pinned dried corpse of a rogue creation, the staff of the Shapers, an artila black as a cobra, the shaper symbols of it's skin white with age. And below the serpent,sat it's slayer, great servile Eko Blade, washing his feet with salt water and whose back bore more resemblance to that of rhino than a servile, the scars of many years of battles, covering him tip to toe.

 

Taker soldiers were posted to either the side of every of the arch of this great administrative chapel.

 

And amongst a crowd teeming serviles, that was spread thin from either side of the room, "mis de profil" like in the paintings of old, leaving a long corridor of space so that the leader may spot afar newcomers and barer of news, sat, at the very centre of the big hall, an old female servile. She had been talking to some of her fellow takers that had once seemed to buzz around here in a disorderly fashion and was now standing behind a century old wooden table, old, worn and hard like the servile's skin. Now that Andras was in front of her, her companions unsheathed their blades before him and stopped her dead in her tracks.

 

She was about to leave the Takers to their petty squabbles.

 

But when she saw Andras for the very first time, she had to exert a great effort to keep herself under control.

 

Part of her wanted to kill him. She was choking with anger, sorely tempted to just call the guards and have it out here and now. But like cunning Rydell, this servile's faith was eclipsed by her idealism, dismissed the crowd and after a few long moments after having brought tea she made for herself and the Shaper, she sat down, and gained enough control to speak.

 

"Shaper. You have come to us. I am Gnorrel, leader of the Takers. Though I am the sworn enemy of your kind, and yet I am able to deal with you personally without rage. Come, and we may speak." She offered the Shaper a seat.

 

She held up a cup of tea to Andras. It smelt earthy. "What other dealings do you wish to have with the Takers, Shaper?" She sarcastically smiled before drinking from the cup, the very same cup from which Andras drew his lips.

"It's very bitter." sickly said Andras.

"Yes it is." said she.

 

"I want to learn about the Takers."

"I am glad. I will tell you our story, if you choose to hear it."

 

"Why have you not attacked me?"

"I have let you live and approach me because my allies want your help, and we want your help. We want you to ally with us. We have much we need, and much to offer."

"We wanted for you to join us here. And you have. It was a wise decision, I think."

"I am trying to find a boat. Where can I find one?"

"If you were allied with the Takers, I might help you."

Andars sighed. She took visibly pleasure in walling off Andras.

 

"I want to talk to you about what's happening on this island."

"And there is much you should learn. There are humans on this island, who have come from far across the western sea. They are from a people called the Sholai. They are helping us, and we are helping them."

"We all have many great plans, but, to make them come about, we need the help of a Shaper."

 

"And what do you know about the outsider humans?"

"They are called the Sholai. When you are allied with the Takers, there is much I can tell you."

 

"Tell me of your story. How did this hatred came about?” Gnorrel was surprised.

"We serviles have lived in Kazg for many years, after you Shapers left us. It was hard. You have many tunnels and warrens to the north, and creatures came out of them and savaged us. And the land slowly grew worse. We don't know why."

"The plants died, and we were hungry, and we died. But we were loyal. We believed that you created us, and, for that, we owed you a debt. But as the years passed, and we suffered more and more, we grew angrier."

 

"Then what happened?"

 

"Then one of us stepped forward. His name was lost. One day, he went to the middle of the square, mad with hunger and anger, and he raised his fist, and he shouted."

"He yelled 'The Shapers are wrong! They torment! They bad! We must take our free!'

 

Gnorell paused as if waiting for Andras to continue.

 

"So what happened to him?"

 

"Oh, he was killed. We were loyal to your kind then, and the guards struck him down instantly. But the idea was planted. And, as the years past, more and more came to repeat his words."

"We call ourselves Takers, now, because we will take our freedom from you, however we can. You lost all right to control us when you left us here."

 

"Well, if you think you should be free, I think it is only right. I hope it will not be necessary to fight over it, though." Said Andras bitterly.

“I hope so too.” Gnorrel looked genuinely sad. “But not all of my people feel that way. If what we are planning works, it will not be necessary to have bloodshed.”

 

"What do you want from me?"

"We want you to ally with us. We have certain plans in motion, but we need a Shaper to work with us. If you do, you will be fighting for justice, for freedom for the creations you have treated so badly."

Andras looked at Gnorell. He nodded to her in agreement.

"But there is more than that. If you will help us, you will gain power. If you help us, we can make you strong, incredibly strong, stronger than your masters would ever let you be."

"Help us, and you can take some of the power hidden on this island."

 

Andras fantasized that he would be staring at a big lurk fish.

 

"I need to think about this more."

"I thought so. I thought, in the end, you would be weak. The offer is still open to you, but do not wait too long or you will be left behind."

Andras turned his back on Gnorrel, and went to visit the city's jail.

 

“I send the thunder from the sky,

I send the fire raining down,

I send a hail of burning ice,

On ev'ry field, on ev'ry town,

I send the locusts on a wind,

Such as the world has never seen,

On ev'ry leaf, on ev'ry stalk,

Until there's nothing left of green,

I send my scourge, I send my sword,

Thus saith the Lord!”

 

Andras was allowed himself to enter one of the cells. As long as Eko stood by him, Andras could enjoy a certain amount of freedom. After all it is a very old custom that the Shapers maintain, which is to visit the jails of their enemies.

Andras found himself in a small room with a small crocked servile. If the creation could barely keep himself upright, it stood up to attention, ready to meet it's maker. He looked hungry, and the black and blues across his face showed that he had been badly beaten."

"Shaper. At last. I am Houten. I am an Obeyer. At last, you have come."

 

"Why have you been imprisoned here?"

"I was sent by Rydell. I am supposed to watch what the Takers here are doing. I was found out. Now, though, I can give my information to you. You will surely help us against the evil Takers."

 

"What do you want me to know?"

"The Takers here, they deal with the outsider humans. They are called the Sholai. You must tell Rydell. You must warn him. Tell him!"

"Who is the leader of these humans?"

"All I know is his name. They are led by one called Trajkov. He was their leader when they came here from over the sea, and he leads them now. He lives in the tunnels to the north."

 

"What do the outsiders want?"

"There is something... something called the Geneforge. I don't know what it is or what it does. But I know it is here, and the Takers and the Sholai seem to think it holds the key to everything."

"I tried to... tried to talk to the rebel Sholai. But I could not reach them."

"Rebel Sholai?"

"There are some of the Sholai. They... they are hiding in a cave to the east. Outside the outskirts of... Kazg. The Takers trapped them in a cave."

“Find them. Reach them. Talk... talk to them.” He choked. “They know things. Valuable things. I am sure of it.” The servile spat out blood.

 

"You are very ill. How can I help you?"

 

"Please, Shaper, do not. Soon, the Takers will haul me out, and they will kill me, and I will show them how a servile should die, in the true belief of the true will of the Shapers."

"If one servile must die to forward the will of your kind, that is a small price to pay. I will not eat, and I will not escape."

"You are wise and noble, in your way. We Shapers approve of your obedience."

“Thank you, Shaper. You are kind to comfort me in my time of trial.”

Andras took the serviles to his chest, the gentle glow of his magic warming the poor servile. He continued the song he started whispering bitterly:

 

“Thus said the Lords.

I will not...

Let your people go.

Thus said the Lord...”

 

His teeth clenched and gnashed.

Andras felt the tiny hand of the servile holding onto him. He changed his tune to one of the cotton songs he used to sing when he was a boy with the kids of his village, a bygone era it had seemed, in a time when he courted the beautiful Roxane:

 

“Go to sleep my little baby,

Go to sleep you little baby,

Every body's long gone in the cotton and the corn,

Didn't leave but the baby.

Such a sweet little baby.

Such a sweet little baby.

Honey in the rock and the sugar don't stop...

 

 

*The Eser Ha-MAkot or Ten Plagues, were released by the Shapers on Terrestia during the blockades of their great citadels by the Iugularians coalitions, ten plagues that served as to reveal the powers of the Shapers through out the world and ended the second and last Iugularian war.

The first plague was that of blood. When guardians slaughtered enemies by the hundreds by blade to gain access to the streams of Terrestia and poison them with an algae that would taint these bodies of water rose red.

The second plague was that of frogs, that rose from the poisoned waters to rot inland where they could breathe into the palaces of the ruling magicians caste, into their bedroom and onto their beds, the houses of their officials and into the ovens and kneading-trough of the people, tainting red the waters they reached.

The third plague was that of the unleashing of bioengineered lice upon the people of Terrestia so that they may reach out to every men in the land. They served as an effective way to cripple the magician priesthood at the time that needed to be purified in order to perform their daily prayers.

The fourth Plague was that of flies and wasps that came to bite or mark the people of Terrestia and their animals. Those “marked” served as an effective canon fodder for the Shapers.

The fifth plague used the lice and flies of the third and fourth plagues as means of transport. It is called the plague of pestilence, for it harmed only the livestock of the Terrestian people and not those of the Shapers, who prospered.

The six plague was that of boils, an ugly skin disease, induce by the spraying of soot of dead cattle by the Shapers upon the kingdoms of Terrestia.

The seventh plague was that of the hail of fire. The Shapers having rediscovered how to cast the spell essence orbs, struck the land with these balls of fire, which they fired through magical mortars. When this curse struck down, it reproduces a sound and a smell comparable to that of a strong thunderstorm. It is said that the victims of the spell bear the exact symptoms as those suffering from frostbite: waxy skin, frozen tissues, blisters etc... even though the spell is known to spread huge ceasepools of fires.

The eight plague followed the seventh plague with the unleashing of glaahks and locust swarms upon the land of Terrestia turning many kingdoms from lush gardens into harsh and dry deserts.

The night plague involved in the massive pollution of the sky, effectively removing the rays of the sun form the landmass during three days with black magic, so that the sun worshippers that were the Terrestrians would yield to the Shapers.

The last plague and the most horrific of all was perhaps that of the death of the first born, where the Shapers invented a disease that would inflict new born babies with chronic pains, diarrhoea, sore eyes, spots, delirium, high fevers and then death. The Shapers then sold the cure, but not it's formula, to the survivors, making themselves even more richer in the process.

**The Ten thousand were mercenaries that the writer and professional soldier Xenophon accompanied during daring spear head assault of Babylon of Greek mercenaries led by Cyrus the Younger. This campaign, although a failure, inspired the Greek invasion of Persia by Alexander the great and therefore construction of one of the mightiest empires that ever existed.

***Chikentown, a mythical community, whose deeds are known for being stagnant with a seeming tranquillity,while harbouring murderers and Shaper poets like John Cooper Clarke. It is also know for being the place of birth of the famous fictional feminist Candy Quackenbush series.

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The valley of the winds part 1 draft:

 

Knowing that the many chapters of the book have dealt with and about the shapers design's as they seemed to have taken over the main body of the isle, with their marble towers, their bath houses, their research facilities and their creations solidly rooted to this foreign soil, we must inevitably come to apprehend the nature and motives of the original natives of this strange land:

 

It seemed that the spirits of the natives were waiting for Andras, singing, moaning, buzzing, calling out for him, their mouths wide open, even more vulture than the combined swarms of sharks and crocodiles that feed upon whatever pollution and rotten meat is trashed over board from the many garbage ships that journey to the end of night, in forgotten Terrestiain estuaries.

 

If they had failed to take him down, in the woods of the clawbug wastes, they would try to tear him apart atom by atom, in the silent valley of the winds.

The partially spirited and once spawner filled wastes of the south, were now pounded to the very dust they grew from.

Vaporizing mounds of inert red dust as they marched, Andras and his small and lethal force of ur-glaahks, battle betas and drayks, were ready to visit them in one of the most disturbing and lifeless parts of all Sucia. It was a silent place, no birds, no insects, no sound whatsoever... and yet it felt like Andras was closing in on something. But as he did he had to struggle against the winds and dust of Sucia's labyrinthine lower mouth.

The valley of the Wind was pouring it's fierce and dusty being into the lungs of Andras, making him very uncomfortable and sick with dust. His creations given the chance of their genetic patronage started to produce more mucus and simply spat out the harsh shard grain, continuing relentless, hammering their way in one of the dead pits of Sucia, indefatigable. If Andras was seemingly weaker than his creations, he was in fact the Perseus* of the band, his eyes a bright beacon, ready to fire at moment's notice, a deadly ray of magic, remembering the promise of loot if he cleared the gates where the wind never stops blowing. Behind the fortress of his thick skull, he even bore a sense of accomplishment; had he not touched all the sacred pillars and been accepted? And now he would follow the tracks of the now dead Shaper author, who's books he read in the quiet marshes and in the Western wastes:

 

"Truly, the natives who settled the island before us were a strange people. A mixture of savagery and cunning, of simple beliefs and strange, necromantic powers. [...]

At last, I have received assistance. Five Guardians will help me safely explore the massive ruins. It is hard to get attention and resources, because of all the excitement about the Geneforge, but [long, illegible section]... Their power was so great that, even now, their shades are still potent and dangerous. We can defeat them, but it is dangerous, especially since they resist [unreadable scriptures]... the pillars and then enter the largest ruins, at the northwest corner of the isle."***

 

Andras stopped in the mouth of the valley. the wind dropped for a while, leaving him some time to think.

The pillars now filled his dreams. The crude pictures on each pillar seemed to suggest that these original people were initiated to some kind of mental test rather than brute force; the many hand drawn lines of men and women passing by to touch a pillar seemed to welcome. Andras to a respectful and almost welcoming approach instead of the usual glaring the small figures would produce, as if you had just crashed yet an other mad tea party.

Their shades though, were not so welcoming. They were patrolling guards. And Andras a threat.

Hidden by the maze of wind dug rock they observed and scrutinized what seemed to be fresh meat; when Andras reached the pillar they flickered by Andras, fast as hell wind, to seize him up. That's when two Betas fired the submission batons with which they armed, and a battle ensured.

 

As we all know how Andras is quite meticulous about his definition of who eats who, should you try test him, so will he test you at the point of a burning blade or with the wonders of his intellect, lovely as a varnish, but ugly when used a venom, speaking of which he would pour in whatever shade's ear he could manage to pin down, these very Shades which would pulsate and heaved in the air. Like with all hornets he'd take out the scouts first. And when he did they howled, gnashing their teeth. Some were even coming out of the walls! Seven of them sought to cut the Betas and the drayks from the Shaper and his troupe of Ur-Glaahks, hurling swords and crying out words in long dead tongue. Andras would hit two of them with reapers and take out one more with crystals set in the eye of his ring. His arm would jerk each time the sound of the flying shards and it would go out hurling. Covering his eyes from the afterblast Andras hid, back against a wall. Then the Shaper heard the clank of ur-glaahk tail on stone, as it's stinger ate through one of the monstrosities. It spirited away, slowed down by the stunning effects of the giant grasshopper's magical tail. Two Shades fired orbs of flame. The Ur-Glaahks charged. The Shades slew one of them after ten minutes of intense fighting. A explosion followed... The crackling of crystals flowed, following the shades like the flying red hot thorns of a hasted turret. A Pyrrhic victory; Andras was running on his last reserves of fuel and two Betas and an Ur-Glaahk were killed for three shades out of seven, a fraction of what the valley held.

 

Andras and his band were searching higher ground. He was losing.

 

Turning back and fourth through the maze, Andras recognized the dead bodies and the petrified cries of drone Sholai.

Their bodies, ruined, sprawled on the rocky floor, seemingly alive after all these months, of being slowly eroded by the winds and shades. Their lion like exterior was revealed to be skin deep. For the shades lifted their coats, and revealed to the sun's ray a blackness to rival with the soft skin of a new born lamb.

Every thing here was elusive. What dreams he would enter, when he travelled the cables the isle's brain, full of it's infertile workings? He would shamble mist the drunken delusion of an seascape, a world suspended, decomposing, waves of material, polished by every beat of his gaze, at first transparent, if not abstract, body of colours that moved without great porpoise, as if they had no mind to rule about it, hovering here and there, hungry, trying to force food through a glass stained body, as if they were starving people.

Glass-like bodies, turning, moving hovels, even more insubstantial when mustering the winds... flakes to a blizzard. Shattering and reappearing. It made them extremely hard to kill. He used acid and essence orbs so that he needn't follow them. The globules of fire and acid would run, dripping, after these screaming bags of fuel.

 

-"A cancer that was it was" thought Andras; a cancer sustained by the dead land around it; an over-reactive weakening patient suffering from some autoimmune disease; it's body promising treasures of all sorts, potassium nitrates to golds, a hand's reach to the needy strong and the promising smart.

The very spirit of Sucia was a harsh and simple minded, mother and daughter of necessity.

"A dead lifeless corpse in a bed, fertile and yet incredibly old, a horizontal line, being more often lying down than up." spat the apprentice while prodding a spectre with an searer dipped in blade.

A battle beta hurled frenzied into four shades.

Andras felt his hands trembling. A sudden whack in the back. Andras fell head first. Heavy moaning. Andras caught the shades head with a good left. Andras was pouring magic in it's eyes. It slipped away from Andras' fingers, burning hot and laughing. Slithering abomination. Andras turned his head. It was a scout force which had bought time for the arrival larger patrol of twenty or so grey Spectres. All hands raised. Fired twice. The nearby Betas reunited, shields up, facing the fires. Andras fired in the melee and fled behind a stone corner. One Shade fired at the Shaper. Andras uttered curses and fired back. Two Shades shrivelled down like burning plastic bags. A band of Shades then started to feed on of Andras' dead creation opening a banquet. When he turned from the frenzy to a exit route one of the Shades came to strike the Shaper's head off clean; it was a black Shade and it came to duel the Shaper; it rose with an axe forged in the ways of old, with the tip and the hook of a halberd. Andras unsheathed his singing rapier. He started charging at the monster cutting the hands of a few shades clawing at him. When the black shade was about to strike Andras, magically hasted, cracked open a pair of swarm crystal and plunged twice his sword infused with orbs of essence at the body of basalt spectre. The Shades that had floated around the Shaper whisked away in fright. The Black Shade evaded the deadly blow, with a few cuts, then appeared west, in Andras' back. As the the frozen snarl of death was crashing down at Andras, a tail speared the Shade away. The rabble of Shades around Andras then took the opportunity to swarm him. They were about to overwhelm our hero, when he cracked opened twice a swarm crystal to repel the evil spirits and twice raised a jewelled wand. Plasma sucked the shades from the inside out. Kneeling with pain from the magic he had released, Andras reached for his bag, crying, and showered his burnt face with the thick paste of restoration pods. The Shades were blown away, but the rest would come back at him. Ice to their blood! He would retreat and come back at an other time; of all of Andras' creations, Tooth and Claw were the only ones that survived and his essence reserves were running desperately low.

Andras tried to retreat back to the forests of glass. He was far closer to the gates. Lost he ran into a small clearing.

From there a mouth-shaped opening seemed to wave faintly at Andras. It was more welcoming than the previous alcoves that peopled the region*. Tooth and Claw followed.

 

It was a fantastic and extremely angular construction, unlike the Shaper with their more life giving buildings; it was made to resist and endure: it's solid granite walls that would hold on, even after the whole isle would perish under a cataclysm of fire and water. Even the rule of time did not erode it's entry.

It contained a still operational steaming bath house. With a curtain of steam! When they entered Andras, Tooth and Claw started augmenting. The place was full of magic.

Andras detached from his armour and left it aside, under the watchful gaze of his minions. He analysed the water with vibrating magic. Nothing. Waved over the waters a second time. Plain water with a rather interesting composition. Nothing unusual, yet. He filled pods with some of the water. It was dry out there. He touched the water. Poured some on his bruises and burns. They healed instantaneously.

He reached out for his used essence pods, and behold; they were filled with essence!

 

He took a bath, pleasant. Really pleasant. The arrangement of green tiles and the damp and hot air gave Andras a felling of oneness similar to that when he was in his boat. A good old bed with the purring waves of blue velvet and silken cloth.

But to sleep he had to be lonelier still. He packed his things. This would be his command centre from which he would ball himself into. With the essence he gathered, he sent out waxy new creations to take the Shades out. Each and every one, tooth and claw.

Andras sent pyroroamer scouts to seek and wound what Shades that slew it. Following the creatures' trails, the shades came into the bath house, only to be greeted by Andras' reapers. He sat behind his bag, with a firing reaper thorn baton, mounted on a Gauss device, itself connected to a transparent white jelly of a bag filled with ammunition through a white umbilical cordon. The drayks, on the other hand, spat out their magic to either side of the room. Andras ceased fire. Amist the cooked and butchercut remains of Andras' roamers, appeared east, a wounded black shade with a battle axe of old. It was whispering something. The Old Sucian dialect. Andras pulled a string. Atop the spectre laid a bucket of searing hot water. It fell on the head of Shade, blinding it. Andras then proceeded in firing and the drayks finally disposed of the Basalt malik****. The shades would continue time after time their storming of the now fortified bathhouse's entry. They stopped for awhile to muster the rest of their forces but were greeted with a yet a other strong force of pyroroamers and a very nasty plate clawbug, it's head serving as a door to the defenders. The Shades would crack open like bags of broken jelly, helpless. The heat of the baths would soften the Shades' hulls and slow them down. They could not sweat. Shades can't efficiently deal with rapids changes in temperature; they adapt efficiently but slowly to their environments.

 

And so this routine of sudden violence and serenity, went back and fought for five hours throughout the whole area, before the cover of darkness. Andras had at last pulverized the multitudes of shades that once peopled the area.

Andras victorious was now ready to seize the gate.

 

 

*Perseus both a historical hero of old and mythical witch-king, was a brilliant necromancer, perhaps one of the most powerful Iugularian to have ever walked this earth and a saint patron of Death, accompanying the souls of the dead to the otherworld. He was said to have held the cap of invisibility forged by the hands of death, brandished a sword that would cut through marble like a knife through butter and a magic shield with a head painted on it. The painted head was said capable of offensive abilities, namely to turn to turn into stone any living thing by being looked at. Perseus is even credited to be the inventor of the first neutron device.

**Indeed when Andras went in two of the protected openings in the centre of this valley. In one of them he was surprised to find a dancing and locked chest. Having lifted it's rattling lid, he was confronted by, not one, but two ugly surprises: two "wind brothers" as he called them. Being cornered hey tried to strike him down with a useless living knife.

The other was not worthy of notice, although it did contain a nice meal consisting of centuries old and yet edible meat, vegetable and fruit. The people must have been very good at keeping things from rotting, not so unlike the Shapers...

***Upon my visit of the isle, i managed to salvage the clay tiles. I then gave it to an Agent who placed it in the great vaults of the Shapers' Immaculate library. It can be found under the name of "oeuvres crystalographiques" by Guy Debord.

****The Malik or Maliq kings of old were said to hold great hosts of diantu spectres, which would turn into wolves at night. The great excursions held by the Malikim, are called the wild hunt.

The Malikim were often coerced into servitude by magicians this way: During three days the living and the shades of the dead share tables and meals. At the eastern end of the table is a throne for the living Adon, king of the living, and at the western end is an empty throne. Each night the ghostly shapes in the empty seats and throne become more solid. At the final night the Adon that held the banquet for the deified dead, sacrifices himself at the banquet and is devoured by the dead king who can manifest in the land of the living as a reawakened "god" and trapped an idol.

Andras was only a table away from being the next Adon.

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Originally Posted By: upon mars
Originally Posted By: nocia
Or maybe because when you did write, it read more like a bad LP than an actual fanfic.

I know that it's hardly my buisness, but what does LP stands out for?

Let's Play. Basically, it's a recorded playthrough of a game with the player's commentary.
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  • 2 weeks later...

A bit of Andras' character development before his entry in the Taker sect:

 

Andras, over a weeks' time, had taken the bridges from the outsiders, shook Kazg when tainting it's rivers bloody with red algae and pacified much of Sucia's rogue generators. The lands owned by the outsiders, like the much feared Diazard and the bridge north of Kazg, the cold valley in which heart laid the frozen Icewalls, the lands that laid below the gates of Kazg, innumerable remaining pockets of shades, left untouched by Guardian and Agent archaeological raids that stretched over the isle, whatever untold horrors that lurked beyond the trapped crypt and the clawbug woods, west of the isle, were all waiting for his hands weave some new contraption.

Even upon his visits to familiar territories he would work out miracles: Upon a visit to Clois, Andras made a detour to the obeyer outpost he had once defended, just on the way to Southbridge and cured a obeyer soldier from his pathological demeanour. Having been sent there with a detachment of serviles warriors, commanded by the servile military officer Doge and supplied by obeyer Dina to keep the road to Kazg clear from rogues, this servile would display rather unusual traits after being wounded to the jaw by a missile of sorts; he could turn from abusive to being very kind to his entourage in a split second. Bref, he was a constant pain to the other serviles.

 

Andras had read about these symptoms before:

 

“Before the accident he had been their most capable and efficient foreman, one with a well-balanced mind, and who was looked on as a shrewd smart business man. He was now fitful, irreverent, and grossly profane, showing little deference for his fellows. He was also impatient and obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, unable to settle on any of the plans he devised for future action. His friends said he was «no longer Gage»*.”

 

So did he prepared the servile for a trepantive remedy, one of the most ancient remedies known to mankind**. Having charmed the helpless creation, Andras opened it's head with great care with the help of a localized anaesthetic ; From there he wired back the connexions and brain tissue where they had been damaged, as Andras discovered, by a thorn lodged there. Andras shaped once more the servile's head and waited for the humanoid to wake up. The results were satisfying; when playing the ultimatum game*** the servile systematically offered fifty percent of his gains to Dina, who watched the scene sore amazed.

 

This is when the problem started. Andras was talking to Doge about some Shaper that arrived a month before him on the isle, when he contracted another seizure. A violent one.

His head boiled with magic. Three worried serviles rushed him into the camp's waterhole, which' waters were washed here to the servile's post by Sucia' furious rivers. When they finally covered his face with a curtain of glittering water, the silent congregation of creations that had gathered around the water hole's Stygian banks could not recognise him. He had become younger.

Being bright with fury he rose to Clois once more and laid back on of her chairs, both cold and clad in glittering armour.

His face thick with shadows, Andras was the first to speak out : "I have heard that there is someone powerful and dangerous on this island. His name is Trajkov."

 

"I have heard that name before. Outsiders have travelled through my marsh. I have heard the name from them. And I believe that he is one of them, and from far away, perhaps even over the sea. Learn more of him. I feel he is important."

"I have also learned that there is some sort of powerful Shaper secret on this island. It's called the 'Geneforge', which can make one of my kind incredibly powerful. It is within the research centre atop Kazg where Trajkov resides. However, he can't use it."

"Now we know the heart of the matter. Why the island was Barred. Why it is important now. We have the puzzle. And now, Shaper, it falls to you, and none other, to find the solution:

 

"You might try to use the Geneforge yourself. You might be weak, and attempt to seize that mighty power. Who knows what it might do for you? And to you?"

"Or you might seek it and destroy it. But the Shapers who left this island did not do that. Maybe they want it to continue to exist? Is that the right solution? Is destruction the best path? Ever?"

"Or you might join Trajkov. You might work with him. Was he the one who had you capsized here? He might have an offer for you, if you were to meet him in peaceful circumstances."

"Or, you might just flee. You might find a boat and leave Sucia Island and never look back. Maybe this choice is too important to be left to one alone."

"What do you think, Shaper?"

 

"My people Barred this island. It is forbidden. It must be destroyed."

 

"That is your choice. A weapon broken can hurt no longer. It is hard to see how your path could make the world worse. But will it make it better?"

 

*The "Phineas Gage" case, a foreman of good renown before his accident, suffered from a severe lesion in the brain after being pierced in the head by a long metal funnel. The case helped to understand the importance of emotion in decision taking, as Gage had a part of the brain responsible of manifesting and coordinating emotions removed by the funnel as the Shaper surgical corps tried to save the poor man. The cause of his irascible behaviour with psychopathic tendencies being tracked down to a physiological cause, proved that emotions are both very much needed and important in good decision taking. Shaper behaviourologists such as Guardian Huteau and Agent Lautrey of the order of the Mandofrucifers took an overwhelming interest in the affair providing Emotion-benefit programs to military agencies. The mental stability of many soldiers, due to a better regulation and expression of emotions has dramatically improved since then.

**The trepanative process were used in times past as to release excess magic from a magician's brain and known to be practised with success even before the shattering of the Abyssians tribes, roughly forty centuries before the rise of the first Pharaoh and forty seven before the unification of the Shaper empire.

***The ultimatum game as described in Frans de Waal's Age of Empathy, is a game in which a bidder is given a certain amount of money or gain if he gives some of it to a partner, which can refuse or take what he is given. If the sum given by the bider doesn't seem acceptable to his partner, both parties are not given anything. If not, both parties are given the sum to which they agreed to. This test is used as to reveal whether or not an individual possess fear of retribution.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The hills of jars:

 

After several hours winding his way through narrow, barren valleys, where the horizon is never met by the gaze of any traveller, our Shaper entered a circular stone tunnel, that opened before Andras, sinking deeper down towards the sunward city of Pentil. The Serviles must have travelled this complex this route frequently, perhaps carrying goods, for the very wet floors had been worn by many of their small sandals and their grubby, scavenging fingers had looted the opened vaults. And though many have come through here before him, it was now curiously silent, devoid of life and time had coved the tracks.

 

“Perhaps something had blocked the route off?” Thought Andras picking the locks of storage doors.

 

Carefully examining the walls and patterns of the storage rooms, Andras knew it was once home to a vast quantity of Shaper supplies. The whole place even now stank heavily with essence. The great vaults of chalk, the bed of some dormant river, were filled with fossils that shared their deathbeds with ceramic pottery they too sealed in the walls. Writings of some bygone era were also inscribed on all walls, their glow fading away. However, Andras' interest was most captured by the things that presently laid on the ground. As he recognised an all to familiar design, Andras' heart sank, as the puffy, mushroom-like creations that presently poked their eyes at Andras, although glued stead fast on the floor ahead were fat with the noxious waters of Lethe and very much alive. They were the simplest of the Shaper's mines and could be only deactivated in two ways, by getting too close to them or by finding some sort of Shaper switch that would safely deactivate them, if a spore wand wasn't available.

What puzzled Andras was that Shaper mines have limited lifespans, because horrible results would come from leaving mines in an area after the Shapers have moved on. That these mines were still alive indicated that they had been created very recently. But by whom?

 

Andras moved to a corner filled with anger and disgust at the small fungi creations, when the wall he leaned on, sank heavily, to the ground. Beyond the door, laid a spore switch and it's cylindrical base. Now if the handle at the top the canister device is twisted in just the right way, it releases spores into the air, puffing a distinct buzzing noise. When twisted back, it releases a different sort of spore. Using one of these devices can be quite tricky. But though Andras was confined to the “house of flies” he had known about these devices and even had worked with them for awhile. He knew that these spores are generally shaped to have some sort of effect on nearby Shaper creations and that the Shapers use these devices as control mechanisms for their simpler, dumber creations, like, say, mines or turrets. He could safely pass the mines to the complex' main warehouses.

 

The Shapers were, unfortunately, very thorough gathering goods before their departure. Most of the best supplies had been taken. Essence pods, metal goods were however very present. And were the shapers had once placed their very best toys and sweets, some of them still dry and cool and still untouched by the serviles, someone had freshly grown guards. They, like the mines, were fungi. They posses four arms, each of which armed with a single claw. These arms spread away from their short nozzles from which they breathe out rounds of thorns either placed in or grown from inside, atop these arms, are placed pads of pair fine heat sensitive layer of skin that act as tracking devices, each placed on either side of it's “face”. They are as large as your average bucket and are all grown to reach over a meter and half high. They are called turrets. Shapers usually place them all over places, so that they can guard things they want badly guarded. Since Andras had spent so much time around them without ever feeling the least bit threatened, he was surprised beyond belief when the turrets turned their thorny stalks towards him.

Fortunate enough his artilas fired first, turning the thorn filled fungi attention's elsewhere; it gave enough time to Andras to reach out for the small locked cabinet in which resided the turret's control switch. After firing a last round at five of Andras' artilas, the turrets froze. The Shaper infuriated by the loss of his creations, took one of the axes that were stored in one of the panels on the walls and started a messy disintegration; Andras sliced opened the now inert turrets one by one, like rotten logs. The turrets delivered their payload of slimy thorns from their soft transparent and fleshy package.

 

Having killed all the thorn turrets in the room he proceed to unlock a door set to the north east with his new unlock spell, which ate through the lock. The door sank with a vegetable clank and the shaper was led to a small hall through a long circular corridor filled the multitudes of limestone sealed shells and bones reminiscent of some forgotten golden age.

 

This was the hall of records for the supply depot, where goods had once been checked in and requisitioned. Such menials jobs were once handled by the servant mind.

 

Andras approached the servant mind. It was still alive and functioning. It was so alert that it might even have been fed recently. And yet it looked confused and dazed when our shaper introduced himself.

« Welcome, Shaper. I am surprised to see you. And pleased. I had thought there would be no more Shapers. I am servant mind Pak. »

"What else would you like, Shaper. I am pleased to once again perform service. I had thought to never be able to help again."

 

"What is your purpose here?"

 

“I was the quartermaster for this facility. Most of my mind was formed to store vast amounts of information. My skills were put to use remembering all that was in here and all that was removed.”

 

"What supplies here would be useful to me?"

« Oh, many, many things, Shaper. I can equip you with many powerful items » Pak started to list weaponry, rations, and so on. however, it was soon clear that his information was out of date. He has not been told that practically everything here has been looted. Eventually, Andras told him to stop listing.

 

"Why were mines and turrets placed here?"

"Pak looks uncomfortable. Its tiny, useless limbs flop about worriedly. _There was one who came here, with guards. A human. He came and said he was an envoy from the Shapers. He said that I must place defences to protect all of our supplies."

"I did so. Please, please forgive me if that was against the true will of the Shapers."

"The Shapers do not want these things here. Deactivate them immediately."

Pak closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them.

“It is done, Shaper. All paths are clear."

 

"Tell me about the human." Insisted Andras.

 

"He was no Shaper, but he said he was. I am sorry, Shaper. I am only good for remembering, not analysing personal character and veracity. He had two guards with him. Well armed. Defence rods, crystals and crystal wands. One of them said his name, and he seemed angry."

« And what was the name? »

"I am sorry, Shaper. He ordered me to forget the name. I couldn't. I had already stored it. So he ordered me never to retrieve it."

"I command you. Tell it to me."

Pak looked very confused and upset. « I am sorry, Shaper. I am not able to retrieve anything an existing order bars me from saying. »

"As a Shaper, I outrank all non-Shapers. I command you to ignore all orders given by non-Shapers. Once that is done, tell me the name."

Pak thought for a little bit. It is clearly a difficult chore. « I can't let you affect protected memories, but I can let you affect orders. So all such orders are forgotten. Now, what did you want? Oh, yes. The name. » Andras dribbled with hot rage.

“The name of the human who commanded me was Trajkov.” Things started to get interesting for Andras. Power canisters and outsiders on barred isle was a formula for an explosive if not revolutionary cocktail. And yet...

"I could use a boat." asked Andras cold.

"I am sorry, Shaper. A boat would not fit in this complex." Andras frowned menacingly at Pack. "Try looking at the main docks. They are to the southwest**.”

Having trifled with the servile's mentals draws Andras went for the books and cases arranged either side the servant mind.

These thick books contained a detailed ledger of supplies which had passed through here. The dates indicate that this area was abandoned almost exactly 200 years ago.

One entry noted that there were « Augmentation Canisters » stored here. A handwritten annotation states « Leave ten behind. »

One case contained a ceramic jar, filled with a thick, brown fluid. It is a nutrient solution, used to revive aging servant minds, while he other case contained office supplies. Where the pens and paper have crumbled away, a small iron key hanging from a peg had prevailed, the key to a whole new possibility for our young sorcerer; Andras ransacked the whole of the complex, collecting three

chain mails, an armful of swords, war crystals, six living tools (if not more), thorn batons, thorns from the dead turrets, pods, spore bags, bags of coins, boots, sandals and a strong bio-helmet. Andras then sought the exact location of the canisters. All were intact. The outsiders had neither too bothered to use them or their location was hidden from them by the barrier of Shaper administrative language and symbolism. One canister provided Andras with more speed, an other with instructions on how to cast the much feared seaer spell and an canister that enabled Andras with more insight on thahds and their design. The other canisters where filled with the designs of wasp insects, of bacteria, microscopic algae and tiny fungi served in the production of antibiotics. Several labels read the names of deadly cyanobacteria, one simply E.coli, responsible for the production of K2 vitamin in the gut, when an other read out the much feared Pasteurella pestis, bugs held responsible for the bubonic plagues. All these names felt vital to Andras;

 

if large creations like the pocket size artila or the massive cryodrayk are indispensable when feeding in numbers the shaper's armies, brains and all, the microcosmos provides the shapers their daily bread and butter and quite literally so; the paste that Andras' spread thick onto his bread, was created from the algae he sampled from healing pools, insects were known as capable Shaper assistants***, the fungi and bacilli he stored could produce stamina cocktails, “cognitive enhancers” and even to nullify poisons, the glue the serviles and Shapers use depended on tiny creatures contained in fermented meats, the rod like living tool and the thorn baton that could plunge a foe to it's death from a distance, was in fact vast colonies of microscopic and symbiotic beings contained in a frame.

All these tools and weapons were so powerful that they could kill or harm the user.

And here was in the presence of canisters that could help him to some degree, in mastering the invisible;

 

 

*Lethe means oblivion in classical greek.

**No doubt it was referring to the place where Andras had swam ashore.

***”Flies win every battle.” Pascal's Thoughts, “les mouches à miel”.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The junkyard part 1:

 

The serviles of Sucia Island had always been very industriously scouring the Shaper ruins for any supplies of value. North from the great city of Pentil laid a centre for that sort of activity; a big building filled a an array of old, crumbling Shaper debris. It stank with the Shapers.

And yet such never to be seen by any Shaper eyes. Jars, broken vats, ripped control panels, whole rusty equipment, used canisters, dazzling arrays of mixed trash were scraped off from the old bones of the shaper empire. These derelicts waited new life at the hands of a few serviles. Apparently, salvaged and useful items headed south to the cities. The rest came and waited here to die.

 

Make new life and leave it to die, typically Shaper*.

 

And yet the junkyard's skyline was free from the half sunken surrealist sculptures, walls and Shaper laboratories, their temples, all grandeur, all finger pointing at the awesome power of the Council and their legions of floating angels. This was where Andras could scout outwards into the future, in Sucian skies, waiting the promise of clear days, dreading the fogs and gathering tempests to come.

 

A congregation of terror and submission Vlish stormed, floating towards Andras. They were all shining blue. Clearly a bad sign.

 

Their bodies brilliantly designed. The eye stalks had lense eye and a black iris, a trait not so common amongst Vlish or other gastropods** for that matter. Their black backs were filled with the noxious glues.

Their bodies and their minds filled the area. Andras had known them. Andras had many times slipped into the junkyard only to find his creations fleeing away from him.

The junkyard's Terror and submission Vlish, however, were named after the wands and thorn batons used in the control of creations such as rogue shades.

 

Andras had just formed an army of augmented thahd shades. Andras gave them, four vests of chitin armour, four thorn batons, four big iron shields, ice crystals, metal poles and spikes. He had also painted essence diagrams. The shaper seal. The shaper was also flanked with three black artilas. He also brought bone wands. He shaped a pad of essence. Essence pads are transparent jellies, difficult to Shape but are known when exposed to sunlight and filled with the contents of an essence pool to produce enough essence as to produce a fyora and a thahd.

 

He would stand his ground. He would shot them down from a distance and should they prove troublesome, he filled their lungs with the poisons of discipline wands. This is how he had defeated the simpler, duller, spawner-generated Vlish of Pentil's woods, and this was how he butchered the vlish of junkyard, which had resisted the innumerable clawbug spawns of Glass Forest.

 

Andras fired at the vlish with an acid baton, so if they fled, as Vlish always do, he wouldn't have to chase him into an ambush. Where the artila artillery would detonate a cover of acid globules, thahd shades provided the buffer.

Now Andras knew that thahd shades were less stronger than clawbugs, they had the strengths of humanoid shades; their opposable thumbs, insured that they could use tools and weaponry that would out of reach of the clawbug's massive claws, their dematerialisation skills, although here a liability, as it took away the strength of solid flesh, that held more shields that Andras could carry, could prove decisive in a retreat***.

 

* “One of the most important transformations of political right during these last four centuries, I say, do not exactly come to substitute, but to complete that ancient sovereign right -to take life or let live- by a new power, which did not erase the first, but penetrate it, modified it, and will become a right, or really an opposite force: to foster life or disallow it to the point of death”. - Michael Foucault.

 

« Une des plus massives transformations du droit politique de ses quatre derniers siècles, je ne dis pas exactement à substituer mais à compléter ce vieux droit de souveraineté – faire mourir ou laisser vivre – par un autre droit nouveau, qui ne va pas effacer le premier, mais qui va le pénétrer, le traverser, le modifier, et qui va être un droit, ou plutôt un pouvoir exactement inverse : pouvoir de faire vivre et de laisser mourir.” - Michael Foucault.

 

**Creations, despite being moulded from essence, are not included in the tree of life as a distinct category of beings; creations like turrets, spores found in spore wands and biological mines were all fungi. The frog mouth bird, serving as tiny spies under the Shapers, were just big eyed avian. Drayks were classified as archosaurae, due to their reinforced gastralium and strong bite. Fyoras were classified as an occasionally biped monitor lizard, due to it's size, high metabolic rate and to it's week jaw filled with bacteria. The roamer beheld characteristics seen booth in reptiles, roamers having a quadratojugal jaw bone, and in Canidae, roamers being sometimes “hairy”, placental, milk producing animals were classified as unknown, although Sucian genetic studies found them closely related to dogs, retaining key avatic phenotypes. Servant minds were classified as feline. Battle alphas, serviles and even thahd shades, are all included in the genus homo. Orkns were assigned as a form of artiodactyl, quite possibly a hornless bovine. The clawbug was found a relative to the desert scorpion and the glaahk was seen as two different animals; The main bulk of the glaahk was related to some sort of a huge grasshopper with an internal skeleton. The glaahk's tail, however, was a Gordian worm called Estrivermis, from the nematode family. The artila despite it's external annelid appearance was finally classified as a form of taenia. And the vlish was classified as a highly developed gastropod, due it's raduda and eye stalks. The gas bags keeping the vlish afloat is in fact a chalk thick shell. A weakness ready to be exploited.

 

*** Thahd shades can materialise through flesh and possess their victims. Literally.

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  • 4 months later...

I've decided to update some old stuff. Be prepared for new texts.

 

"5,000,000 sunsets later from now, all that will remain of our fatally flawed species, which introduced the concept of tragedy to the local cosmos, will be an intriguing architectural motif and an unusual second and third layers of black crust which now cover so much of the surface of our planet [...] How strange will we seem then!"

 

-Jim Woodring's Divinorum or life after Man;

Shaper artist, researcher and sophist of Sucia isle.

 

 

"The fool has said in his heart, “They are not Gods.”

There is none amongst them who does good, they have done abominable works, they are corrupt."

 

-Psalm 14:1

 

Introduction to the World of the Shapers:

 

Who are Shapers?

 

The Shapers are the oldest, most respected, most secretive, and most powerful of all the magical sects:

 

They have the power to magically create life.

This life is used to serve their purpose, be it light housework or major warfare.

The Shapers can make new life forms from nothing but raw materials and pure magic.

 

They have held this secret for many centuries, four in fact, but, thanks to many periods of war and chaos, the origins of their powers have been seemingly forgotten.

 

Despite this, they are now the masters of the world, the supreme undisputed sovereigns of the mainland Terrestia and the seas that border it.

 

They have subjugated all of the magicians, the Iugulare, with taxes and laws, they keep the majority of the mainland's people, non magician humans, to the cities as a means of control.

 

Creations being at the plough of the fields and at the wheel of industry, Shapers have the leisure to be a research-minded people, and have always been so; many of them spend the bulk of their lives in musty laboratories, trying to unravel the secrets of the universe :

 

What is magic? What makes something alive? What defines how a creature grows?

How can they make an animal stronger? Or smarter? Or faster ?

Or more obedient?

 

The Shapers guard the secrets of their powers very closely, to learn their techniques without permission is to court a speedy death, at the sword of a Guardian in the day or an at the hands of an Agent at night.

 

Being the masters of the world, the Shapers are feared by normal humans and quietly resented.

 

 

But not by every one.

 

 

After years of work, study and testing, out of a sea of many, Andras was finally accepted into the Shapers.

Andras would then spend his entire life advancing their will and delving into their powers and secrets.

But first, he was to complete his apprenticeship, by spending five years of his life out in a Shaper colony on a remote isle, watching their work and aiding in their research. Only then would he have mastery over the lesser wonders that the Shapers pulped and sieved in their great temples of knowledge, only then he would bathe in all of the joys of an earthly heaven; the Shapers test their members very heavily, as the power over life is not a free one.

After a brief welcoming ceremony and a last night's celebration, a courageous Andras was sent to these remote islands on a two week long journey, through rough seas on the back of a living craft.

And yet, a week from destination, he was to change his and the world's to a remote chain of islands, on the northern tip of Terrestia...

 

Nothing since the first agricultural or "green" revolution, the tampering of minerals, the invention of the print, the use of crystal machinery, the discovery and use of essence, the breeding of thorns bushes and living tools, the bioengineering of microorganisms, the development of generic drugs from healing pools, the subsequent replacement of human labour by creations, the invention of the "cylinder"*, the Shaper contraceptive policy, the construction of pyramid ships, the rising of vast caryatid legions, the first and second Iugulairian wars, the elaboration of the theory of evolution through natural selection, the development of Vlish telepathic messagery or the Drayk's genocide, did create such a dawn of awareness other than the Second Sucian incident, which happened on the long forgotten and barred isle of Sucia, recently rediscovered by the shipwrecked Shaper Andras, at a time where the only hope of social ascension was only with either being born with prodigious magical skill or being highly learnt in the diverse sciences of the Shapers.

 

Of the Outsiders that abducted Andras and of their remote colder worlds, a handful survived only to shatter our day to day preconceptions. The northern pass once thought impassable has been breached and with this, the world has now turned round. As with all such storms of awareness, new opportunities and markets flourished almost overnight; with servile workforce proving still too repulsive for the Sholai and the benefits of essence and shaping still unknown to these barren lands, outsiders brave enough to journey across rough seas are given well paid jobs and an instruction, with war-like haste. The first Terrestian brick in the development of infrastructures and interfaces with the newly discovered Sholai empire is about to be laid.

Of the rediscovery of the Geneforge, of the canisters of power and of Andras's fantastic augmentation, is left the wish to recreate the forbidden arts of Sucia, to instantly rise as a Guardian, to shape as a Shaper, or breathe as an Agent. Such attempts still fail to violate the laws of the Shapers, as their axe like punishments come crashing down on to the outsider's heads, or as an unwary usurper dissolves into red pools of blood and cancerous sponges.

Of the spirited cities, of the great Shaping halls and of all the jewellery sealed in basalt plates found all across Sucia isle, has flowered a detonation to bring a false dawn of hope to a unsuspecting sleeping world, as illegal parties hypnotized by it's glittering lights, were to be lost to Sucia, the island having the same ravenous appetite of that of some abyssal leviathan or that of a hollowed Shade of Sheol**.

Of the radiant Heustess***, of the intelligent creations on Sucia and of their alarming developments, only survives a few wild scattered Servile clans dreaming of independence and equality.

 

It is in these dire times****, that the need for humanity has been at it's greatest:

the very night of the publication of this book, an outsider woman had her back seared with magical acid, when protesting against the Shapers: outsider commoners, deprived of any form of magic or of the Shaper's ostentatious wealth, are obliged to sell their bodies or children for a living, being forced out of work by creations:

it is said that the ash from human corpses serve as excellent fertilizer *****.

Even the Iugulare caste of which I am a representative, being born into it, although better treated are only kept alive as to "entertain"****** the Shapers, or as intelligent and magical maintenance crew, forced to outdo the other, underpaid, exploited, terminated here and there, being of course not Shapers. Worst of all, the recipe of "essence", a wondrous magically charged clay of immense properties, without which the Shaping arts are all too dangerous and all non-basic spells*******, are impossible to conjure up, is kept out of bounds by the Shapers, while being the economical pillar of today's magicians; in effect the Iugulare must pay the very Shapers for the essence that keeps us employed, insuring a debt like system to which we must buy our living from the Shapers.

As for the Shaper's creations, they are neither respected, thanked nor paid for their services. Creations being capable of reason, of profound complex sentiments and most importantly of feeling pain are still kept as pets or slaves.

And to boot, having lost Andras, a young shaper of great power who rediscovered the all powerful Geneforge, the now paranoid Shaper council has tighten it's grip upon Terrestia as it's slips away from it's fingers.

 

But now, despite the tales of their crushing at Sucia of the outsiders usurpers barely eight months ago, of being able to implant ideas with machinery across short distances into people's minds, of being undivided in their rule and in the will of their matters, of the subsequent blooming of their various businesses, and with an well servile-administered empire that stretches from the dry pine wooded northern tip of Terrestia to the Lattice seas, with aqua-farms eating more underwater lands than all of Terrestia's cities combined, the Shapers are at their weakest, as something is threatening the integrity of their dominion over matter.

 

As with all men, I am currently torn between mounting fear and overwhelming desire; this book although just an introduction to our world, it is also my testimony, for even as i write, armed men, magical swords drawn and thorn batons erected, their threatening shadows are projected against the interior of some poor commoner's house. They are on a witch hunt, their numbers escorted by the much dreaded Clawbugs and Vlish creations.

Bearing no longer these constant interruptions into my private life, I am to depart from Terrestia with the lone company of my various works, as an exile, a refugee, filling bags with what Shaper appliances I own, off to some remote location.

 

Although I have never broken any Shaper during the course of my entire life, I fear that that I will be taken to trail, before an outsider crowd, hungering for culprits; for even though we do not any longer feed shades with the blood of magicians, we still hold fiery holocausts in order to keep the undead masses of commoners from rising up from their necropolis.

 

All I hope is that my contribution to our world may be safely read and I would advise to keep this book from any evil hooded spectres, that may still lurk in broad day light, a guardian claymore in hand.

 

For plain as the rotten scent of a decaying empire, the Shapers seal doom and felicity onto all their subjects and successors, both devices and opponents in spirit till the bitter end.

 

The Shapers, having fathered this earth in their image, shape the very course of our lives; as ironic it may seem, I live counting myself amongst the dead and I die fleeing from the choking embrace of the Shapers, when upholding their laws and sacred truths, horrid they may be.

 

-

 

 

*Metal cylinders, used to bombard cities with soldiers or bombs, are the exclusive property of Buriyat people, which are in turn the Shapers' exclusive property.

**The term Shade, Spirit or Ghost refers to any ethereal presence of more or less magical potency: the more solid it is, the more powerful the Shade.

If a Shade haunts your house, please try to contact immediately the nearest Shaper garrison and leave the premises immediately; shade study and violent exorcism are both century-old refined Shaper arts.

If you cannot contact a Guardian or an Agent, please try not probe it's solidity with a non magical weapon, as you may find yourself with a limb short or your head in a place were it does not belong to. Shades can be creatures of absolute perversion; they are even classed by Shaper behaviourologists as sadomasochists.

*** "Will a society built on cumulative technical progress, with self-centred values, rather than humane, ever know peace?" - sir Alain Karl Hegel in Today's machinist.

****The so called Andras' report and the strange powerful magical signature and the analysis of curiously shaped shades in Sentinels still leads us to no further clues about Heustess' existence. Historians are still debating the subject with great enthusiasm; you may recall the infamous "Monkey incident" coined and satirised by the fiber-crystal Magazine Puck. In this issue of Puck , Bernhard Gillam in his "Change about-The Monkey The Master", parodies a Shaper historian, named Ben Blanche, trying to disprove Heustess' existence; the latter was regrettably and physically assaulted by a fellow Iugulare archaeologist (Lawrence Westgaph) after a rude remark.

As a note Heustess was supposed to be shinning black.

*****According to neurophysiologist Shaper Ziaus, the human body, if broken down by either chemical reactions or by enormous quantities of magic, contains enough chemical components to feed entire fields of hungry plants. Dead serviles and non-magical humans are used by the Shapers as manure, whereas the corpses of magician are carefully sealed in well guarded ziggurats and mausoleums; a least a third of today's magicians have enough magical energy to generate let alone one or even two shades when dead or (worse) when dying; The shades usually attach themselves to a source of magical power, and start growing. After having exhausted it's magical host, it moves on in search of sustenance, creating disaster in their wake, and this is precisely why they aren't used as fertilizer; who would like to plough a field only to be plagued by the angry ghost of a magician's subconscious?

******The term "juggler" or Iugulare refers in general to all magicians, as the saying goes, "we are all apes performing acts before the Shapers". But even more so, do we during the entire course of our lives, juggle between the different professions we are offered: pylon crafting, theatrical arts, optics, enchanting items, magical artefact designing, archaeology, providing support for the various troops we accompany on the battle field, showering friends with Blessing spells (the healing arts being under the strict control of the Shapers being a form of self-Shaping), and foes with fire-bolts and mental spells; all of these professions are the means to a magician's lot in life.

*******The term "basic spells" refers to all spells that needn't essence to work with; the wide majority of runes, enchantments, the fire-bolt spell and all of the mental spells, the last of the magical circle does not use essence, whereas the rest of the battle spell circle and the Shaping arts which comprise the blessing and the healing circles have for base essence.

********The authorities have proceeded in total lock down of the northern tip of Terrestia. Some reports indicate some invasion of sorts is conducted by a god, a god of life, while more reasoned assumptions point to internal conflicts within the Shaper political body after learning that the Geneforge was at arms' length from an alien threat, which was, thanks to young Shaper Andras, very much averted.

 

 

Thorny Fern:

 

To Andras, Thorny Fern seemed to some sort of plugged tub, having forced it's way out of the ground, ripping apart the stony hills that Watchhill, Pentil's woods and the Hills of jars were made from into white stony peaks; a half-forest being secluded in a granitic bed with narrow passes left undefended by rogues, made Andras' entering easy. Once having slipped in the grove was different affair, as the stink that emanated throughout the region, was so awful that Andras preferred to silence it with essence up his nose. It was a trick he learned at school; shape essence in certain way tiny holes can act as gills, barring water from entering while non lethal gazes could be breathed in.

He would have to flow heat into his larynx and snort-it* out liquefied on the sticky grassy mud, once he had finished with it.

 

Vegetation pulled by the unseen forces of gravity fell into the murky and lifeless waterways that bubbled and swirled under a thick coat of rotting and flowering plants; the waters seemed to mingle strangely with the earth, fluids with solids, grasses with mud, offering a large sail of possibilities for living things, gushing out from the otherwise lifeless stone, all animated with subterranean roots of aquiferic origin.

 

By mere contrast the higher and clearer water pockets seemed to buzz with fish of all sorts, protected by their cradles of stone from decaying plants and clay that seem to claw at the rock.

 

Animals of all sorts* flourished here, all of them spying, looking down at Andras and his thorny crown of artilas, buzzing, feeding on the area's decay. Their uneasiness was explained by their neighbours; the place was stinking with the presence of creations such as the Thorn bush, which produces fruit filled with caffeine, the dangerous fire beetles and the rogue septic roamers that presently asserted themselves as the top predators in the area.

 

The abundance of animals seemed to be swallowed by the leaves and branches of the tooth like thorn bushes that oozed from every rocky base in the area. The abundance of such plants made it clear to Andras that the South east region of the isle was previously used as a thorn breeding colony, as to calm rogues and whatever pestilence that still linger in the dark corners of Sucia.

The very same place was now clawing at him:

Even if this place played once upon a time a vital part in protecting the shapers and their serviles creations, secure and warm, it laid now decaying before the Shaper, as dark forces were once more occupying these lands, twisting it for their damaged desires; indeed Roamers occupied the area, and as to add to their habitual ferocity, they had smart cooperation, if not too smart for these pack hunting animals.

With no spawners creating them, and at everybody's surprise, the roamers were hunting down killing the rogues born from the womb of the spawners that laid both east and west of the fern with great ease. The roamers's survival had nothing to do with mere luck. The minor aid some highly intelligent creature with large magical resources and great will was in fact at work, was clearly set against both Ellrah's Keep and Vakkiri and the other invading rogue creations:

the swamp once vital for the Shapers that ruled the isle, suffered; the lack of deforestation itself caused by the lack of large herbivores or servile workmanship had caused the marshes' plant inhabitants to grow wildly, slowly rotting away in brown red waters; unlike the rest of the isle, Thorny fern suffocated from the rich in nutrients soils that flowed and gave birth to the valley, as allowed and brought moulds, and toxic microorganisms to be feed and entertained, were once there was ordained paradise.

Given that rogue Roamers being too numerous and effective a hunter, their bite being corrosive and their skin oozing with a stench making one's nose bleed, in a small secluded environment, they have driven away all the deer native to the small area; most fled, under Pentil's mantle, to Freeplace, to Peaceful Valle, or even to the silent borrows that laid beyond the tribal lands, but it was always westwards, always beyond of reach from Sucia's stygian waters, and they were always of course, subjected to ambushes.

True repent from the gauntlet of predation was only to be found at Crossroads or in the southern parts of the Bell-like halls of Holding Two, amongst it's ever watchful turrets.

 

As Andras's gaze moved, his feet trying to secure a good position while being supported by what seemed solid ground, the pest like roamers that thrived in the region came to greet him with their needle like teeth and with Labrador like paws instead of their usual playful wining. Andras systematically avoided large groups that would have pinned him down, picking the lone crocodile like roamers as they stubbornly hunted him in the marshlands, before they could summon greater numbers, evolving both on land and in water like multitudes of frogs, similar to those that still plague the swamp. Where Andras would retreat or chase down roamers, his shining red artilas would coil in crevasses and snake down the rogues.

Where his sword or silk stones*** were useless, Andras' thorn baton were quite useful as he could reload from the bushes near by and dispatch venom on the fleeing creation; grinning as he remembered some obscure passage from Greo's Bio Botanicca :

 

"In essence, the thorn baton, is bread and butter of any seasoned warrior. (...) While the batons themselves are living things, extremely long-lived animals, they are nestled in a metal frame. (...) The thorns they fire are grown on bushes which grow thorns at a good rate (...) Being very hardy they are used in innumerable ways, (...) in general, they are considered an excellent example of Shaper biological engineering..."

 

Feeling dangerous and threatening, Andras completed his task of pacifying roamers in less than a day with deadly efficiency; he removed more than 90 per cent of the roamers that once happily occupied the fern.

So did he, reach a small clearing from which an astonishing painting caught his eye rising from the reeds of the fern; he was small in stature but both well fed and in the prime of his life. Donning the long clean, traditional garments of it's kind, and armed with a pair of metal gauntlets and a chitin plate that pushed away the dirty jaws of a pinning roamer from an exposed neck. He tried desperately was reaching for the icy stones spread out onto the grass, in the likes of a gambler reaching out desperately for coins out of a bag.

 

With Andras approaching, the roamer fled. A thorn was sent, and from the death of this rogue creation came a secure silence: the lacerated prey was now alone in the presence of it's master;

 

-"Good afternoon." said Andras waiting for the sound of Silence.

-" My! A Shaper!" The servile splashed down in reverence, praying before him, into a small hole of mud before being helped up Andras.

"I had never dreamed that one of your kind would descend to help someone as lowly as me. I am called Sleet, servant of Pentil." The scout, then, as if waiting for Andras' response, would try to wipe some dirt off his made in Pentil robes, when all the while looking away from him.

Having sat on a stump Andras toyed with his muddy clothes, removing with the edge of a shining knife what seemed to be macbethian stains.

-"Why are you out here?" scythed Andras.

The servile looked and talked in the direction where Andras was.

-"I am a scout. I was given a skill for evading the rogue creations that plague us." He tried to smile happily. "Well, I usually do. Sometimes I am trapped and must fight. But it's a risk I must take to keep Pentil informed."

The sevile smiled in Andras' direction.

-"Hmmm... and how can I reach Pentil?"

The servile spoke in Andras' direction:

-"You can go north to the Hills of Jars and then east, but be warned that a large variety of ambushes and mechanical traps will await you."

The servile would frown like a stage actor.

 

Having noticed or not, the living tools that sprouted out from Andras' bags and belt and judging on the number and strength of Andras' creations, the servile continued talking once more in Andras' direction.

"I say, if machinery and diplomacy are not your forte, you should go east to the Pentil Woods and then north. Be prepared, though. You will need to fight your way in."

 

Having remarked that it was impolite of him to not to have proposed some aid to one of his supposed creators, he gave his icy and swarm crystals away, simply remarking that as a obeyer in the wake of an eventual Shaper returning he wouldn't have such need for what he called 'superfluous defences'.

Having given out the most of his possessions, he went on his way as stealthily as he did before, although genuinely sad to have given his magic stones away.

 

Andras shook his head with disbelief, turning rigidly away from the confused servile that was trying to do his best so as to serve the Shaper's design. An other question seemed to slither up our boy's mind "What sort of dangers the woods holds up ahead?"

 

*When Andras slipped in and out of Thorny fern, one can scarcely imagine that our washed clean shipwreck, with a silk scarf around his neck, donning a long violet dark cloak with tyran purple bands that hid green bronze buttons a bronze long double bladed sword clipped at red leather magical amplifying belt, a iron shield with ornk skin laces in one hand, a venom thorn baton in the other and a shinning bright chain mail armour, serpentine, glistering and softly grey, all of this comfortably seated in a good pair of pants and a polished pair of fresh boots at his feet, became a bruised, cut, rough, twigged and mud filthy, servile-crouched mockery of a Shaper. When it is true that all magician tend to get dirty, as it is still an imperative to create home made pods, to keep at bay near searing substances when tempering steel and wands, or when violently exorcizing some tomb from it's ghosts, they do prefer to stay clean. Even the Shapers take care to hygiene; they have pocket handkerchiefs, they brush their teeth, take baths every day, showers, and are always keen on keeping clean their long and silk under-wares when unused, their shirts and scarf are shielded with spells as to protect both user and garment.

When protective suits and gas masks are unavailable, Shapers bite in metal or plastic cylinders placed around their nose and fill them with essence which when tempered with magic, filters the air, a less messy version of the crude clogging up the nose with essence method, that our boy Andras, likes to partake.

The Shapers, also encourage even the most loathsome of their guests to be deprived of their wares and tears, to be bathed and fed before entering their places, only to be provided with "more fashionable" clothes. Shapers are hospitable people, even if crowds of outsiders are butchered at their very doorstep, any man, great or small, desiring some sort of social reprieve can, under any circumstance, ask asylum in one of their great laboratories.

 

**Thorny Fern had a wide variety of hosts like deer mouse, wild cats, rats, newts, frogs, beetles, an impressive set of mosquitos, flies, dragonflies, butterflies, bees, ants, wasps, snails, crayfish, cichlids, kapenta sardines, nile perch, numerous nematodes.

 

***Silk stones are white crystal pebbles, which act as a lens through which a deadly bolt of magic can be shot through like a bubble of soap blown through a loop. They come under a variety of names and sizes. Unlike wands which unloads bolts of poisons and chemicals on a target, such items expire after one use.

 

 

The Warrens of Jars:

 

After several hours winding his way through narrow, barren valleys, where the horizon is never met by the gaze of any traveller, our Shaper entered a circular stone tunnel, that opened before Andras, sinking deeper down towards the sunward city of Pentil. The Serviles must have travelled this complex this route frequently, perhaps carrying goods, for the very wet floors had been worn by many of their small sandals and their grubby, scavenging fingers had looted the opened vaults. And though many have come through here before him, it was now curiously silent, devoid of life and time had coved the tracks.

 

“Perhaps something had blocked the route off?” Thought Andras picking the locks of storage doors.

 

Carefully examining the walls and patterns of the storage rooms, Andras knew it was once home to a vast quantity of Shaper supplies. The whole place even now stank heavily with essence. The great vaults of chalk, the bed of some dormant river, were filled with fossils that shared their deathbeds with ceramic pottery they too sealed in the walls. Stygian waters however was starting to creep in through the cracks towards Andras. Writings of some bygone era were also inscribed on all walls, their glow fading away, smudged. However, Andras' interest was most captured by the things that presently laid on the ground. As he recognised an all to familiar design, Andras' heart sank, as the puffy, mushroom-like creations that presently poked their eyes at Andras, although glued stead fast on the floor ahead were fat with the noxious waters of Lethe and very much alive. They were the simplest of the Shaper's mines and could be only deactivated in two ways, by getting too close to them or by finding some sort of Shaper switch that would safely deactivate them, if a spore wand wasn't available.

What puzzled Andras was that Shaper mines have limited lifespans, because horrible results would come from leaving mines in an area after they moved on. That these mines were still alive indicated that they had been created and tended very recently. But by whom?

 

Andras moved to a corner filled with anger and disgust at the small fungi creations, when the wall he leaned on, sank heavily, to the ground. Beyond the door, laid a spore switch and it's cylindrical base. Now if the handle at the top the canister device is twisted in just the right way, it releases spores into the air, puffing a distinct buzzing noise. When twisted back, it releases a different sort of spore. Using one of these devices can be quite tricky. But though Andras was confined to the “house of flies” he had known about these devices and even had worked with them for awhile. He knew that these spores are generally shaped to have some sort of effect on nearby Shaper creations and that the Shapers use these devices as control mechanisms for their simpler, dumber creations, like, say, mines or turrets. He could safely pass the mines to the complex' main warehouses.

 

The Shapers were, unfortunately, very thorough gathering goods before their departure. Most of the best supplies had been taken. Essence pods, metal goods were however very present. And where the Shapers had once placed their very best toys and sweets, some of them still dry and cool and still untouched by the serviles, someone had freshly grown guards. They, like the mines, were fungi. They posses four arms, each of which armed with a single claw. These arms spread away from their short nozzles from which they breathe out rounds of thorns either placed in or grown from inside. Atop the arms, are placed pads of pair fine heat sensitive layer of skin that act as tracking devices, each placed on either side of it's “face”. They are as large as your average bucket and are all grown to reach over a meter and half high. They are called turrets. Shapers usually place them all over places, so that they can guard things they want badly guarded. Since Andras had spent so much time around them without ever feeling the least bit threatened, he was surprised beyond belief when the turrets turned their thorny stalks towards him.

Fortunate enough his artilas fired first, turning the thorn filled fungi attention's elsewhere; it gave enough time to Andras to reach out for the small locked cabinet in which resided the turret's control switch. After firing a last round at five of Andras' artilas, and a good turn of the panel's controls, the turrets froze. The Shaper infuriated by the loss of his creations, took one of the axes that were stored in one of the panels on the walls and started a messy disintegration; Andras sliced opened the now inert turrets one by one, like rotten logs. The turrets delivered their payload of slimy thorns from their soft transparent and fleshy package.

 

Having killed all the thorn turrets in the room he proceed to unlock a door set to the north east with his new unlock spell, which ate through the lock. The door sank with a vegetable clank and the shaper was led to a small hall through a long circular corridor filled the multitudes of limestone sealed shells and bones reminiscent of some forgotten golden age.

 

This was the hall of records for the supply depot, where goods had once been checked in and requisitioned. Such menials jobs were once handled by the servant mind.

 

Dressed in red, Andras approached the servant mind. It was still alive and functioning. It was so alert that it might even have been fed recently. And yet it looked confused and dazed when our shaper introduced himself.

« Welcome, Shaper. I am surprised to see you. And pleased. I had thought there would be no more Shapers. I am servant mind Pak. »

"What else would you like, Shaper. I am pleased to once again perform service. I had thought to never be able to help again."

 

"What is your purpose here?"

 

“I was the quartermaster for this facility. Most of my mind was formed to store vast amounts of information. My skills were put to use remembering all that was in here and all that was removed.”

 

"What supplies here would be useful to me?"

« Oh, many, many things, Shaper. I can equip you with many powerful items » Pak started to list weaponry, rations, and so on. however, it was soon clear that his information was out of date. He has not been told that practically everything here has been looted. Eventually, Andras told him to stop listing.

 

"Why were mines and turrets placed here?"

"Pak looks uncomfortable. Its tiny, useless limbs flop about worriedly. _There was one who came here, with guards. A human. He came and said he was an envoy from the Shapers. He said that I must place defences to protect all of our supplies."

"I did so. Please, please forgive me if that was against the true will of the Shapers."

"The Shapers do not want these things here. Deactivate them immediately."

Pak closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them.

“It is done, Shaper. All paths are clear."

 

"Tell me about the human." Insisted Andras.

 

"He was no Shaper, but he said he was. I am sorry, Shaper. I am only good for remembering, not analysing personal character and veracity. He had two guards with him. Well armed. Defence rods, crystals and crystal wands. One of them said his name, and he seemed angry."

« And what was the name? »

"I am sorry, Shaper. He ordered me to forget the name. I couldn't. I had already stored it. So he ordered me never to retrieve it."

"I command you. Tell it to me."

Pak looked very confused and upset. « I am sorry, Shaper. I am not able to retrieve anything an existing order bars me from saying. »

"As a Shaper, I outrank all non-Shapers. I command you to ignore all orders given by non-Shapers. Once that is done, tell me the name."

Pak thought for a little bit. It is clearly a difficult chore. « I can't let you affect protected memories, but I can let you affect orders. So all such orders are forgotten. Now, what did you want? Oh, yes. The name. » Andras dribbled with hot rage.

“The name of the human who commanded me was Trajkov.” Things started to get interesting for Andras. Power canisters and outsiders on barred isle was a formula for an explosive if not revolutionary cocktail. And yet...

"I could use a boat." asked Andras cold.

"I am sorry, Shaper. A boat would not fit in this complex." Andras frowned menacingly at Pack. "Try looking at the main docks. They are to the southwest**.”

Having trifled with the servile's mentals draws Andras went for the books and cases arranged either side the servant mind.

These thick books contained a detailed ledger of supplies which had passed through here. The dates indicate that this area was abandoned almost exactly 200 years ago.

One entry noted that there were « Augmentation Canisters » stored here. A handwritten annotation states « Leave ten behind. »

One case contained a ceramic jar, filled with a thick, brown fluid. It is a nutrient solution, used to revive aging servant minds, while he other case contained office supplies. Where the pens and paper have crumbled away, a small iron key hanging from a peg had prevailed, the key to a whole new possibility for our young sorcerer; Andras ransacked the whole of the complex, collecting three

chain mails, an armful of swords, war crystals, six living tools (if not more), thorn batons, thorns from the dead turrets, pods, spore bags, bags of coins, boots, sandals and a strong bio-helmet. Andras then sought the exact location of the canisters. All were intact. The outsiders had neither too bothered to use them or their location was hidden from them by the barrier of Shaper administrative language and symbolism. One canister provided Andras with more speed, an other with instructions on how to cast the much feared seaer spell and an canister that enabled Andras with more insight on thahds and their design. The other canisters where filled with the designs of wasp insects, of bacteria, microscopic algae and tiny fungi served in the production of antibiotics. Several labels read the names of deadly cyanobacteria, one simply E.coli, responsible for the production of K2 vitamin in the gut, when an other read out the much feared Pasteurella pestis, bugs held responsible for the bubonic plagues. All these names felt vital to Andras;

 

if large creations like the pocket size artila or the massive cryodrayk are indispensable when feeding in numbers the shaper's armies, brains and all, the microcosmos provides the shapers their daily bread and butter and quite literally so; the paste that Andras' spread thick onto his bread, was created from the algae he sampled from healing pools, insects were known as capable Shaper assistants***, the fungi and bacilli he stored could produce stamina cocktails, “cognitive enhancers” and even to nullify poisons, the glue the serviles and Shapers use depended on tiny creatures contained in fermented meats, the rod like living tool and the thorn baton that could plunge a foe to it's death from a distance, was in fact vast colonies of microscopic and symbiotic beings contained in a frame.

All these tools and weapons were so powerful that they could kill or harm the user.

And here was in the presence of canisters that could help him to some degree, in mastering the invisible;

 

 

*Lethe means oblivion in classical greek.

**No doubt it was referring to the place where Andras had swam ashore.

***”Flies (or Death wins) win every battle.” Pascal's Thoughts, “les mouches à miel”.

 

 

 

 

Pentil's Plains part 1:

 

It is often said that the fate of nations is intimately bound up with their powers of reproduction*;

The careful Shapers often created their servants sterile, in spite of the extreme difficulty it takes for one lone shaper to fashion creations.

But with devices instantly creating live creations, it was no more a difficulty.

The real problem for the Shapers was the hatred that their arts brought: having created unemployment, their rich temples seemed to be a banquet of opportunities to the poor uncontrollable masses of outsiders.

So the Shapers knowing that the non magical outsider's only strength was it's huge numbers, they decided to cut them down, not with war, not with taxes, but with contraception.

Indeed the Shapers are often criticized for having put a leach to the libido of human beings; with restrictions of all kind regarding child production, people felt it as being "unnatural", "bizarre" and if not pure "folly from a bunch of crazed sex-craven magicians".

With the Shaper's deployment on Terrestia, their heavy pharmaceutical industries having improved the quality of life men, the subsequent replacement of human labour by creations, the printed book, the invention of the "Mind", the widespread of vilsh messagery, the use of essence and "crystal machinery"**, unemployment and overpopulation became more and more something of a concern with a booming population; long after the Iugularian wars, in the country side, people seemed to crawl out from every where, jobless, and with each fleeing generations, came more of them fattening the large cities of Terrestia with even more potential workforce.

A higher rate of reproduction after the war and the risk at any time of being being forced-out of their country by the more competitive Shaper agronomists (Shapers of course owning the land and the seas***), led to a high demand in contraception and a better education for a more specialized employment, such as being mere consumers, to Iugularian**** working in optical facilities.

But, all in advance, as the song goes, the foreseeing and wise Shapers*****, with all sorts of contraceptive measures, turned the "ship of society away from the rocks of overpopulation and the great problems of unemployment".

The birth rate found itself stabilized and the death toll being incredibly low, the application of birth control has in the long run permitted for the Shapers greater political stability.

 

However that didn't change the problem of equality between the overall over-rich and tyrannical "liberal" Shapers, and the very poor, and still strong in numbers, outsiders. Moreover it didn't even kept in check the problem of pollution as a whole, as it is both the means of production and the rate of production of consumables and not the number of consumers which are at the heart of this problem.

All serviles, having always laid in the shadows of the Shapers, did not escape to these policies.

The serviles of Sucia isle, however was an exception to this rule.

 

Being sentient, they had known of this and despite some of Pentil's religious fanatics, and thanks to a higher death toll, were more and more active on the subject of sex and where by all mean very industrious at it*****, even now in the city of Pentil, babies were born more than what was originally imposed by the Shaper's quota, a proof beyond all doubt that these serviles did not and could not follow the Shaper's rigid wisdom.

More deaths related to cold, disease and the occasional rogues meant more serviles had to be bred, and more mouths to feed.

And Pentil had already too many mouths to fed.

 

In order to survive, it had to produce more soldiers against the the army of rogues roaming in their fields and woods. So it had seemed that the serviles of Pentil had mobilized their efforts not only in exterminating lone rogues that came to close but also by tempting the impossible task of clearing them out before what was left of food was to run out.

But this tactic had not yet bore any fruit, as for the rogues outside Pentil continued being superior in numbers...

Drastic measures being called upon they would fight until every single rogue was crushed. But this was not to happen, at least not without help.

 

This is were Andras comes in. Despite his dreaming and often superficial attitudes, the training of his masters and the knowledge he acquired on the isle battling head forward against it, made him a powerful pawn for the serviles there; being of magical potential, he would soon rush and wipe clean the southern parts of the isle of any immediate danger.

But as with any double edge sword Andras had plans of his own.

The clearing of Pentil's plains was to serviles a dramatic effect, predictable enough to disrupt the whole so called Obeyer "utopia" before strengthening it even further.

To clear the area was to Andras, not only a way to attest of his presence to a higher force than his, that he felt at work on the isle under the form of outsiders and rogues, but also a way to create enough chaos and attention to get into being trusted by the serviles.

These valuable assets would help in securing more dangerous parts of the isle.

He was therefore eager to break the siege south-west of Pentil, that had sufficient a force of thahds and artilas to starve this mighty city.

 

*Karl Binding's: Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Lebens chapter 2 paragraph 3.

 

**A complex mechanized, assembly line that creates life out of ready made essence and energy, which when blasted through crystals and set at certain key frequencies can cut and create complex chemicals found in living things.

 

***The seas are valuable asset to any Shaper colony, they provide food, raw materials, and a valuable interface to the outside world, ships loaded with merchandise.

 

****The term Iugularian refers to all outsiders with innate magical potential, the term comes from the "Jester" wars, led by the Iugularian coalitions, against the early Shaper tribes and laboratories, had burnt and broken, as you may recall, every stone and paper records of the great Shaper libraries north of Terrestia, before the subsequent creation of the first Council.

 

*****The Shapers were always in fact few in numbers due to their avaricious sense of power, and mostly because the rarity of innate magic potential, only waging war to keep their secrecy and peace intact: they always seem to bully "lesser people" in order to continue their solace.

If outsiders hadn't knocked at their forts in the early days and asked them if they could give them food, of which they made in abundance, the Shapers would have perhaps never cared for them at all; it is only by the great power over life and by means of charity (which i all need to remind you is a means of controlling the poor so that they may not take care of themselves) that the Shapers have assured their predominance over this world.

 

******Servile sexuality is a poorly documented subject; but in the event of the "Taker's war" against the Shapers, knowledge on their behaviour became more and more complete:

like humans, serviles are very playful creatures and engage intercourse in the same variety of fashions that their bodies permits them..

Sucia isle, being one of the only isle were serviles could have fully developed to a stance, having occupied an ecological niche left vacant by the Shapers, the environment pushing them to new highs (and to an extent some sorts of regressive behaviour), were found to have developed all sorts of erotic depictions and objects: the left-overs of this wide range of such behaviours can be seen all over the isle, from simple clay caricatures with giant phalluses to giant paintings of engaging serviles.

According to some accounts, Dreet of Pentil, was to possess more than seven wooden artefacts of erotic content made by his own fellow serviles; all being a collection of utilities such as pipes, spoons and other "essential" house hold accessories. In terms of intercourse the serviles where known to carry to maturity at least three or four viable children to maturity after six attempts at it.

Homosexuality is highly repressed amongst the serviles of Pentil, because it does not serve the plans of the Shapers, while it tends to be only mocked in places like Varkkiri. In Kazg as a reaction to the Shapers and to their slave culture it is not at all repressed.

 

The servile sex culture although seemingly close to ours is in fact miles away from our "sex culture", where contraception reigns, where few children are born and where homosexuality is considered as normal amongst humans and shun amongst creations.

Transgenderism is also common, with transsexuals going as far as being able to reproduce as man or a women despite being of the opposite sex, thanks to the many a wondrous properties of essence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pentil's intro:

 

"The greatest jihad is to say the truth in front of the king."

-the Hadith

 

Of all the cities that ruled over Sucia, Pentil was the biggest and saddest.

 

Of all the inhabitants of Sucia, those inhabiting Pentil were a sect of servile called Obeyers, and of all the rebellious serviles on the isle, had chosen to obey the gods that created them.

Of the buildings, it's men, tools... very thing had a purpose; all were united under the sole banner of the Shapers.

 

When they repaired their roofs, it was to shelter the servants of the Shapers, when they fed the healing pools, it was because it was Shaper property, when they used Shaper pods and weapons it was in the name of their absent protectors, the Shapers, when they starved a creation, it was for the Shapers, when they possessed a tool or resource, lying in their homes amongst whatever belongings they had built, that belonged to the Shapers, and it did not belong to them, even when the worn object was used and identical to any mundane object of the Servile world and the vanished Shapers had no use for it. When they fed on whatever meagre strand of meat, fruit, vegetable or grain, they ate what they thought the Shapers had provided them, leaving many a source of abounding natural fodder to rot, fat with nutrients. If a child died at birth, it was because that child was of course, never meant to be, the Shapers were of course omnipotent, and their workings were of course omnipresent on that miserable rock which they called home; from the peaks of the great mountains in which the mines of Sucia were once dug to the bed in which two serviles made love, all of this was done all thanks to the Shapers; everything was and had to be made in the name of their long gone, cold creators.

 

Pentil still laid in bed, and held it's breath. It prayed and listened at the sound of Silence.

 

When the god they had finally came to worship came here by mistake, and not by it's own providence, the single thought of this was very upsetting to the social fabric of the town: the leader's authority was currently being questioned, groups of hungry worshippers had appeared, and while most bowed in front of Andras, the others crawled, like the long gone people of the sea before Pharaohs of past time, thinking that even an apprentice Shaper was an angel to be adored, respected and feared, a lone sentinel, a lone angel, of burning and of death, to clean Suica from rogues with hard iron and quicksilver spells, before the rapture came.

 

But our Shaper was no fool, and as they pressed and asked for healing and curing which he gallantly accepted, he knew that deep within, they all lofted power over all; power over their lives, power over that unfaithful isle that took them to it's dinner room as to devour them, power over him, power over the rogues that stole their kin away from them and destroyed what ever they had worked hard for; they didn't even consider the fact he, the Andras, the great exterminator, could abandon them or that his arrival was a mistake.

Too much was in fact at stake, and so like all men, they tried to prove, to prove that they were right over their already convinced fellow Obeyers, to brag about Andras's exploits as to impose what ever small authority they had. Who would dare to denounce him and what ever great evil he hid under his cloak? Even the grovelling Takers were secretly glad that a Shaper had come at last to this damned isle, so as to save them in a way, from abounding for ever whatever beliefs they had.

 

Andras, however was no angel, he was hardly an all powerful figure, he was not all knowing and ever present, but that was all right, as he was not 'supposed' to learn very much about the Shapers, as he had surleeeeey shown certain rogue tendencies. The Shaper Council in it's all powerful wisdom must have kept him in the dark, blind, so as to carry out their will... so as to test the flock with every perfidious thought his brains produced...

 

Pentil had become in fact a deadly intellectual trap, lightly covered with leaves of good deeds towards the Shaper cause, in which Andras would not fall into.

If Andras would have taken office under these serviles, in other terms sworn an alliance to Pentil's leader, in order to strengthen the Shaper's long dead grip on the isle, he would have in essence obeyed a servile. Such a thing was unacceptable.

He was a representative of his sect' beliefs, and not a slave to the fanatical Obeyers.

To have pactised and played cards with them, to plot, to entered their schemes, he thought would have surely burnt him to a crisp, for within every zealot of Pentil, from the leader to the most lowly of his minions, lies a volatile solution. They would burn with the wind of a whisper as it crept into their ears.

The town held no Taker spy whatsoever, because these Serviles killed.

They hunted and butchered, without pity, without shame, they slaughtered until they were soaked in the blood of their sins against life, with a passion that surpassed the mad and secluded Takers, that were sent a mad, being forced to kill in order to survive this cruel isle.

Yes, the much crazed takers of Kagz, in their great orgies of blood and hateful sentiments against the Shapers, were revolted to the mere idea of harming even a creature as small as an insect or as rigid a flower, and were torn when an ornk was to be served for supper!

The Obeyers knew this, and knew that all serviles were made, so that as to be naturally repulsed, more-so than any human, to creating harm onto any form of life; serviles are usually simple, obedient, docile and kind, creatures.

Such simple beings have known to become depressed at the news of where and how is the meat on their plates is fashioned, be it carved from a living being, as meat created from raw essence is an unavailable source of protein.

And yet the Obeyers trained so as to break away from this design, proof that the Shapers were not perfect.

 

They had hoped that the Shapers would come back and they also knew that if the Shapers came back they would have surely liked a force to dispose of the rogues there, even if they had not yet understood that the disorganized fleeing and that much of the disruption at the heart of the isle had been planned not by the Shaper researchers here, that tried to keep things in order until the building of Diazard, but by the Shaper Council, so they strode against, every rogue creation in sight that did not fit their purpose, and for this task they butchered the rebellious Takers to the east with all the tactical and surgical forces they and the servant mind held, when they could have simply shipped large quantities of food to the hungry and angry Takers, appeasing with kindness and solidarity the broken hearts of the ever wanting Takers.

The Obeyers plunged the Takers against the new Awakened sect, while keeping Varkkiri poor and secluded from Watchhill again with the aid of the Servant mind Control four and it's minions. The servant mind's rogues, the awesome and and eventually powerless Vlish forces, whom Warp of Spiral Borrows is the most representative, and the bountiful frog-like Roamers that protected the immobile Control mind in the borrows, that even came to plague later on Thorny fern and the silent marshes, were ironically, secluded to their borrows, unable to act out. They were in the end not unlike the Takers. Even the Serviles of Pentil, came to fell to the same end, pounded back to their borrows by rogue generators*, the augmented siege thahds and artila creations that seized Pentil's gates.

But they carried on. The ants of Pentil, not unlike the empty corpses that plague the dark corners of the isle, were still restless and strived and conquered whatever land the Shapers had, and puffed with pretentious self-righteousness as they claimed proudly that they were right and that their religion would win over all the serviles of the isle.

They knew, as the earth was round, that all creations are made to obey the eternal will of the Shapers, designed to fit as tools to serve all but a single purpose.

They knew that the serviles were not meant to chose for themselves, that they were bound to the now severed umbilical cord that connected their hardy race to the bodies of the Shapers and yet they thought on ways to obey them best and they had chosen for their very own survival to follow the wisdom of the Shapers from whatever conclusion they could draw out from what the Shapers had left unintentionally; from moving paper fantasies they conjured the fact that they had to preserve it, even if it were tax collections, from the fact they had lived in stone buildings they should stay in stone ruins despite the need for wooden houses, from what weapons they had left for usage they had to be maintained only be used during the rapture when their troops needed weaponry:

Had not the Shapers been the only point of certitude when there was none on this miserable rock? Had they not endow each of their servants with minds, long lives and powers of their own? Had the Shapers not left them entirely alone on Sucia? Did not their constructs, that now people Sucia provided a hiding place for all serviles, hiding them from savage rogues, sun, storms, winds and cold? Had they not been there nothing before the Shapers but dust and desolation on the isle? Had not the Shapers made the isle prosperous with honey and milk, where there were prowling ghosts, foul creatures and the legions of Heustess? Would the Shapers not come back one day, rising up once more against these tellurian monsters which resided at the very evil and heart of this isle? Would they not bring glorious fulfilment and give propose to their lives, where wreck and devastation lay?

 

To Shapers, belief is mother to doubt. It was also true for the Obeyers : Shaper omnipotence came to challenge the absolute good of the Shapers, their omnipresence the fact they had left the world.

The Obeyers were patient, but wanted to believe. What proof was there of the Shapers? A few bones, artefacts, books, culture, speech and ruins. Could they have been then mistaken somehow?

The Obeyers in their great leap of faith, in their great misery, clung to the dreams and hopes of an uncertain future and paid their respect to uncertain gods.

Silent obedience to the Shapers had given them an edge over all the serviles of the isle, guided by the many still loyal servant minds against their servile brethren, but in the end, their thoughts, their very choices, their way of life, had betrayed them as rogues.

It had seemed to Andras that their worship, the will of their earthly gods, whatever reason that shepherd their flock was used as a continual justification of evil, as it prevailed in the community or through the awesome forces on the isle.

Andras judged it to be a starvation of the mind, a placid cold doctrine in what could be a ocean of truth.

To him the Obeyers of Pentil had rebelled against the designs of their masters. In the mist of their of obeying folly they would be the first to be killed at the plough, used until there was nothing left from them but bone and secret documents.

Andras steaming with rage, entered the temple of the Obeyers, feet smearing the obeyer tapestries he walked on with powdery mud, it's flock and the shepherd Rydell waiting for the good news of a second coming:

 

-"Shaper, I have heard of your arrival. I... I am awed and grateful that you have returned to us at last. I am Rydell. I am the leader of the Obeyers, the only sect that has stayed steadfast and true in our obedience to your kind. We know that you are alone here, and endangered by the rogue creations that surround us. We hope that you have come to assist us, and to reward us for our obedience."

 

Andras nodded but then spoke:

 

-"I, Andras, am peaceful representative of the Shapers in their absence; I will speak in their stead. The Shapers would be impressed of your self control, they would also be impressed by your determination in your great workings against the rogues here..."

 

Rydell exhaled a deep breath of relief.

-"So many years of self doubt, Shaper. So many years of wondering why you abandoned us. Now we know, though. Now we know that we followed the true course. Thank..."

 

-"How dare you wonder?"flamed Andras.

 

Rydell was visibly shocked.

 

-"You should be extinct. Whatever creature of your race that had set on this isle a century ago, were left here to die. But you have survived. And we chose to know nothing of you. The Shapers of the mainland have chosen even now to forget this isle and it's powers, it has been over a week that they have the knowledge that a Shaper craft, one of their most formidable weapons of war, a drayk, has been slain and that one of their apprentice is missing next to an Barred isle of deadly reputation and still they haven't yet sent their agents and tracking devices.

I see it to be in our best interest to help one an other and to work together for a time.

The Shapers that left you here had clearly little sense of responsibility for their creations, they left the isle with haste, disorganised leaving mounds of equipment to the hands of outsiders. I for my part will fill my debt towards your kind, a token from a new era; helping serviles in need is one of my prime objectives, speaking of which, is there a boat somewhere?"

 

*Spawners.

 

 

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The junkyard part 1:

 

The serviles of Sucia Island had always been very industriously scouring the Shaper ruins for any supplies of value. North from the great city of Pentil laid a centre for that sort of activity; a big building filled a an array of old, crumbling Shaper debris. It stank with the Shapers.

And yet such never to be seen by any Shaper eyes. Jars, broken vats, ripped control panels, whole rusty equipment, used canisters, dazzling arrays of mixed trash were scraped off from the old bones of the shaper empire. These derelicts waited new life at the hands of a few serviles. Apparently, salvaged and useful items headed south to the cities. The rest came and waited here to die.

 

Make new life and leave it to die, typically Shaper*.

 

And yet the junkyard's skyline was free from the half sunken surrealist sculptures, walls and Shaper laboratories, their temples, all grandeur, all finger pointing at the awesome power of the Council and their legions of floating angels which hid Andras from looking at his horizon. This was where Andras could scout outwards into the horizon, into the future, which flashed across Sucian skies, which stood waiting to the promise of clear days, dreading the fogs and gathering tempests to come.

 

As he gazed a congregation of terror and submission Vlish stormed, floating towards Andras brought him back to the present. They were all shining blue like a swarm of meat flies. Clearly a bad sign.

 

Their bodies brilliantly designed. The eye stalks had lense eye and a black iris, a trait not so common amongst the vlish or other gastropods** for that matter. Their hard black backs were filled with both the helium or methane sacks which kept them aloft the ground. Their fleshy clubs on the other hand held the noxious glues and gas with which they pinned down their preys.

If their bodies filled the skies so did their minds filled the area. Andras had known them. Andras had many times slipped into the junkyard only to find his creations fleeing away from him.

The junkyard's Terror and submission vlish, were named after the wands and thorn batons used in the control of creations such as rogue shades.

 

Andras had just formed an army of augmented thahd shades. Andras gave them, four vests of quality chitin armour, four thorn batons, sharp metal poles and big iron shields, which looked thicker than the prison doors of Perseus' mother, Danae. Andras had also painted essence diagrams. The shaper seal. They would serve as a warning and as an conductor for his blessings spells. The shaper was also flanked by three black artilas. Andras also brought a menagerie of tools such as the ring of eye a lead shield, crystals and the much dreaded bone wands.

 

Andras started firing at the vlish with an acid baton, so if they fled, as vlish always do, he wouldn't have to chase him into an ambush.

Where the artila artillery would detonate, thahd shades provided the buffer.

Although remarkably weaker than clawbugs, and prime targets for the submission vlish, the shades held features which would prove decisive here: opposable thumbs, insured that they could use tools and weaponry that were out of reach of the clawbug's massive claws. The shields their hands held contained lead alloys which would nullify the vlish submission' spells.

The Shades' dematerialisation skills, which took away the strength and durability of solid flesh, could evade cuts and wounds***.

The vlish would concentrate their fire on the heavily armed thahd shades and try to spear them with their clubs regardless of the shaper that stood behind them. So Andras would happily sit and wait behind the thahds and their massive tower shields as he swat the Vlish off a distance. The rear of the band was backed by a stone wall.

 

But he would stand his ground.

He would swat them down from a distance and should they prove troublesome, he would filled their lungs with the poisons of discipline wands. This is how he had once defeated the simpler, duller, spawner-generated Vlish of Pentil's woods, and this was how he butchered the old rogues vlish of junkyard, which had resisted the innumerable clawbug spawns of glass forest and the otherworldly Sholai warriors.

 

All too predictably, a scout came to size up Andras. Andras fired again an acid thorn. Had he also cracked a crystal he wouldn't have gave it enough time to fire it's weapon.

 

Then five terror vlish came out of the gloom. Andras lifted his hands as they poured with the fires of spray crystals and the thick smell of essence orbs. A vlish whirled on it's self and sling shot a bolt of pure terror.

The heavy firing from the vlish could be herd as far as Pentil.

 

Pop goes one vlish. Pop goes another. The Vlish continue their bombardment. The thahds being shades stood impervious to mental spells fired by the Terror Vlish. Andras had the ring of the eye. Submission Vlish came to reinforce the siege of Andras' forces and whirled magical globules of poisonous nets on to this shell of shields, while the band of Terror Vlish came closer to sting Andras' Thahds, to no avail. They were pushed back by both the heavy iron shields as they stood immovable and the thahds' pila when they came crashing down unto their soft heads. One never takes lightly the weight of steel. Pop! A vlish whizzed away. Pop! Andras forms a a small cease pool of fire with his hand over his head. Thunder claps. Pop!

After a hour of intensive fire, Andras toyed the deflated remains of the Terror vlish, while the artilas munched happily on what ever submission vlish carcass they found.

Thahds removed the burden of their armour and brought back the few remaining vlish which had not yet retreated into hiding in the nearby hills, in a neat little pile in front of a resting Andras. Then with all the vlish gone, a thahd produced in each of it's strong hands a bond of serviles and then made them sit at Andras' feet. They were safe, though they were terrified. They were nicely dressed and well fed for Sucian serviles. A beautiful pair. Andras dismissed the thahd and apologised for his servant' brutality and made a great sermon on how it had mishandled the whole matter.

 

 

* “One of the most important transformations of political right during these last four centuries, I say, do not exactly come to substitute, but to complete that ancient sovereign right -to take life or let live- by a new power, which did not erase the first, but penetrate it, modified it, and will become a right, or really an opposite force: to foster life or disallow it to the point of death.” ... "It is a power which takes in charge of life as a whole." - Michael Foucault on "Biopower".

 

« Une des plus massives transformations du droit politique de ses quatre derniers siècles, je ne dis pas exactement à substituer mais à compléter ce vieux droit de souveraineté – faire mourir ou laisser vivre – par un autre droit nouveau, qui ne va pas effacer le premier, mais qui va le pénétrer, le traverser, le modifier, et qui va être un droit, ou plutôt un pouvoir exactement inverse : pouvoir de faire vivre et de laisser mourir."... " C'est là un pouvoir qui viens gérer le vivant dans son ensemble.” - Michael Foucault à propos du "Biopouvoir".

 

**Creations, despite being moulded from essence, are not included in the tree of life as a distinct category of beings; creations like turrets, spores found in spore wands and biological mines were all considered as fungi. The frog mouth creation, and other tiny avian spies, were just big eyed birds. Drayks were classified as archosaurae, thanks to their reinforced gastralium and to their strong jaws. Fyoras were classified as an occasionally biped monitor lizard, despite it's high metabolic rate. The Fyora's size, week jaws filled with bacteria all pointed at it's lizard parentage. The roamer beheld characteristics seen in reptiles, such as having a quadratojugal jaw bone and not having external testicles. But they also retained Canidae characteristics, being sometimes “hairy”, placental, milk producing animals. They were therefore classified as unknown, although Sucian genetic studies found more closely related to dogs than anything else living or dead. Servant minds were classified as feline. Battle alphas, serviles and even thahd shades, are all included in the genus homo. Orkns were assigned as a unique form of artiodactyl. The clawbug was found a relative to the desert scorpion and the glaahk, a huge grasshopper with a internal skeleton was in fact two different animals; The glaahk's tail, was no insect, but a gordian worm called Estrivermis, of the nematode family. The artila despite it's external annelid appearance was finally classified as a form of taenia. And the vlish was classified as a highly developed gastropod, due it's raduda and eye stalks. The gas bags keeping the vlish afloat is in fact a thin calcium shell filled with helium. A weakness ready to be exploited.

 

*** All shades can dematerialize and reform anywhere. They can also "possess" or materialize in their victims. Quite literally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The junkyard part 2:

 

After a few pleasant remarks and jokes, a thirty five year old female servile, Proof, and her bond Shock, an old and yet incredibly well built and maintained servile, welcomed Andras to their “humble trash pit" in order to sell Andras a minor few items. While Proof entertained her guest, Shock nervously returned to his works in a set behind the main room.

Most of the items Proof had of any value had already been traded away to the towns to the south. A few ledgers, a pouch of thorns, beakers, tools used to maintain pylons, pieces of lead, three magical stones to be used in combat and a big but very rough crystal. Very disappointing.

 

"Most of these items are not useful to me. Do you have any quality equipment?"

Proof thinks for a while. “Yes. Yes, we do. Hidden. Special things, which we are saving to sell for money for emergencies. But you are the Shaper. We might trade with you, if you help us.”

 

Andras, not wanting any bad publicity, asked how.

 

"To the west, through the wastes, you will find a large gate." She toyed with strands of her hair. "Some miles to the west. There are some large stone pillars around it, and many ghosts." Andras drew closer at the word pillar. Proof hands drew closer to Andras. "None of us have been able to explore and scavenge beyond that gate, because of the ghosts. But you might be able to clear it, so we can go past there."

 

Ghosts*! If fighting against rogues and outsiders wasn't bad enough... Andras laid back in his chair brooding, twitching his beard.

 

Proof smiled.

 

"If you clear that gateway, I will let you see our special stash."

 

A moment estranged, Andras tried to change the course of the conversation.

 

"Aren't you worried about the rogues outside?"

"No. Those vlish, or their ancestors, have been living out there for many, many years. They are old rogues. We feed them. They leave us alone." Proof stopped talking and pointed to a bowl filled with scraps. "Why didn't I think of this..." thought Andras.

 

Proof continued "The old rogues only rarely threaten serviles. Only when they are scared, or hungry."

"What about the rogues who do attack serviles?"

"Those are the new rogues. They appeared only recently. Only after the outsiders came."

 

"Have you seen the outsiders?" inquired Andras.

"Very little. They entered these mountains, and the vlish chased them out. They tend to stay close to the east, by the river, and to the old Shaper research halls which they fill with rogues. Very, very dangerous. However they have been as far as the settled lands of the south; Vakkiri and Pentil. They are filled with good company. Sane serviles with to much time on their hands.”

Andras glared at Proof unamused.

 

"But we, we spend most of our time scavenging the wastes. The wastes are full of old rogues, and the outsiders stay away from there."

 

"Why?” inquired Andras. “Ah, well to the west and north are the Dry Wastes. They are filled with many of the old spirits, many vicious rogues and much more. Very few serviles are brave enough to go out there."

 

"And what sort of things are in the Dry Wastes?"

Proof beamed: "Ah, now there is a mystery. I don't know. The Shapers, when they were here, only rarely went out there. There are ruins, old ruins, of the people who lived here long ago, before the Shapers came." Andras went blank, he had enough of more ruins. Proof smiled gently.

"At least, that is what the old Shaper records say. I found mentions that the Shapers built a tomb out there once. But that is all I found. Here!" Proof handed records maps and drawings to Andras.

 

From pale white, Andras was now yellow with greed. "What do you know about this tomb?" asked Andras almost feverishly.

"Almost nothing. It would be a place of great honour, for the greatest researchers of the Shapers on the island. I don't know where it was, or what would be put into it."

 

Andras sat himself closer to the servile.

 

"Have you seen anything else unusual?"

“Well, there are these woods due west of here. They're filled with clawbugs now. Very dangerous. Before the rogues appeared, though, I'd sometimes see a thahd wandering around out there." Andras looked at Proof with even more curiosity. "Didn't see it very often. It avoided me. One strange thing about it. It was always clutching this stone crescent to its chest.” Andras paused for a minute. He retreated back to the back of his chair. Thahds are known to climb and sleep in trees, sometimes fishing their foes from a distance. In all good probability, the thahd must have survived the arrival of the clawbugs. Andras promptly thanked Proof, who then proceeded in tucking her robes back between her legs, stood up and went back working.

 

Andras left to his own devices, moved towards a jittery old servile. He was hard at work trying to repair an old thorn baton. Still alive, but its stone casing was cracked. The servile manipulated his tools with surprising skill. At first, it seemed like he doesn't notice the Shaper. Then Andras realised that he was making him very nervous, and he was immersing himself in his work to remain calm.

-"Welcome I am Shock. I... Welcome to our tiny shop." Shock continued to work on the thorn baton. Occasionally, the tiny creature inside the weapon squeaked in annoyance.

 

"Servile, I require your assistance."

 

"Proof can trade with you. She is in the entry room. We will not help you more, without fair trades. We do not like being around other serviles. We have no strong feelings for the Awakened, or the Obeyers, or so on. But we are free creatures. We trade."

 

"I would like to trade with you."

 

"Go out and speak with Proof. I am not the dealer. I work and repair and scavenge. I am not one for bartering." Remarked Shock.

 

"There is no need to be afraid. I will not harm you."

 

"All serviles on this island fear you. I hear the gossip. I hear what they say. I hear them talk when they come to trade.

We are all terrified of the return of the Shapers. Until your council says we can remain as we are, the terror will remain."

"What are you working on?"

 

Shock stuttered "I... I... I fix things. We find many of your old things, and us tinkers, descendants of tinkers, we fix them and trade them so we can live. It is hard work, but our ancestors were trained well. Right now, I am trying to... to... to repair two things, that defence pylon by the corner... and this baton. It's housing is cracked, and the pressure on the creature prevents it from spitting the thorn properly.

I wish I could repair this better, but I don't have enough Shaper equipment. It is rare. Out of reach."

 

"Perhaps then I can help." said Andras.

 

“You may look; you know more than me.” Inspecting the baton. It is actually a simple job. Andras picked up a tool and fix the baton easily.

Thank you, Shaper. You are kind. This is yours. You should have it. He hands the working baton to Andras."

He took up another broken baton and began to work.

 

"What sort of equipment do you need?"

 

"Shaper equipment. Machinery. Lab devices. If you find something like that, I would pay you. I can do that." Andras and Shock turned towards the pile of beakers on his table. "As you can see beakers are not needed here."

 

"I have some Shaper equipment for you."

 

Shock took the apparatuses Andras had found and inspected them. “Excellent. This will help my work much. Thank you, Shaper.”

 

“You do the scavenging? Isn't it dangerous?"

"It is strange. Even the most mad rogues do not chase me, as long as I am careful and do not get too close. I think it is something basic in their minds, in the way you Shapers made them, which makes them so nervous about attacking serviles."

"Or, at least, that is the way it was. Lately, more and nastier rogues, rogues that happily attack us, have appeared."

 

"Where might I find good equipment?"

"I can not reach the research halls in the mountains at the northeast corner of the island. I suspect that is the most likely place."

 

"What sort of things do you scavenge?"

"Anything. Anything I can find. But mostly trash. I wish I could get to the old Shaper records which say where the best supplies were. But sadly I can not."

 

"Old Shaper records? Where might those be?"

"Kazg. Kazg was once the largest city on this island. All the records of where the most valuable equipment was placed are there."

"But Kazg is held by the Takers. And the Takers will not share. If you wanted to know more about what you could find where, Kazg is the place to go. Toivo is their main record keeper.

 

*Shades are named differently according to their origin: Ghosts are formed from decaying organic matter filled with magic (the corpse of a magician), Spirit is an alchemical term applied to any entity formed from the decay of chemical products without human intervention, while shades are the magical construct crafted by a magician or person possessing alchemical knowledge.

Andras had over a weeks' time, taken the bridges from the outsiders and pacified much of Sucia's rogue generators. The lands owned by the outsiders, the much feared Diazard and the bridge north of Kazg, the cold valley in which heart laid the frozen Icewalls, Kazg the bastion of the takers, the dug in warrens that laid below and beyond it's massive gates, whatever innumerable remaining pockets of shades, left untouched by Guardian and Agent archaeological raids that stretched over the isle, and finally the untold horrors that lurked beyond the trapped Ancient crypt and the clawbug woods, west of the isle, were all at arms reach now, waiting for him to weave some new contraption.

Even upon his visits to familiar territories he would work out miracles: Upon a visit to Clois, Andras made a detour to the Obeyer outpost he had once defended, just on the way to Southbridge. He had cured an obeyer soldier from his pathological demeanour. Having been sent there with a detachment of serviles warriors, commanded by the servile military officer Doge and supplied by obeyer Dina to keep the road to Kazg clear from rogues, this servile would display rather unusual and undesirable traits after being wounded to the jaw by a missile of sorts; he could turn from abusive to being very kind to his entourage in a split second. He was impulsive, unable to bear frustration, being fearless he made rather poor choices and lacked both sympathy and empathy. Bref, he was a constant pain to the other serviles.

 

Andras had read about these symptoms before:

 

“Before the accident he had been their most capable and efficient foreman, one with a well-balanced mind, and who was looked on as a shrewd smart business man. He was now fitful, irreverent, and grossly profane, showing little deference for his fellows. He was also impatient and obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, unable to settle on any of the plans he devised for future action. His friends said he was «no longer Gage»*.”

 

Andras had in consequence prepared the servile for a trepantive remedy, one of the most ancient remedies known to mankind**. Having charmed the helpless creation, Andras opened it's head with great care and with the help of a localized anaesthetic; from there he wired back the connexions and brain tissue where they had been damaged, as Andras discovered, by a thorn lodged there. Andras shaped once more the servile's head and waited for the humanoid to wake up. Andras would run a few tests.

The results were satisfying: when playing the ultimatum game*** the servile systematically offered fifty percent of his gains to obeyer Dina, who watched the scene sore amazed. Andras also casted the terror spell with great success on the Servile which huddled from sheer fright in one of the occupied ruins.

 

This is when the problem started. Andras was talking to Doge about some Shaper that arrived a month before him on the isle, when he contracted another seizure. A violent one.

His head boiled with magic. Three worried serviles rushed him into the camp's waterhole, which' waters were washed here to the servile's post by Sucia' furious rivers. When they finally covered his face with a curtain of glittering water, the silent congregation of creations that had gathered around the water hole's Stygian banks could not recognise him. He had become younger.

Having awoken bright with fury, he rose with haste to Clois and once more laid back on one of her chairs, both cold and clad in glittering armour.

His face thick with shadows, Andras was the first to speak out : "I have heard that there is someone powerful and dangerous on this island. His name is Trajkov."

 

"I have heard that name before. Outsiders have travelled through my marsh. I have heard the name from them. And I believe that he is one of them, and from far away, perhaps even over the sea. Learn more of him. I feel he is important."

 

"I have also learned that there is some sort of powerful Shaper secret on this island. It's called the 'Geneforge', which can make one of my kind incredibly powerful enough to wage war unto the Shapers. It is within the research centre atop Kazg where Trajkov resides. However, he can't use it, because a Shaper on this isle possess the key to it's powers."

 

"Now we know the heart of the matter. Why the island was Barred. Why it is important now. We have the puzzle. And now, Shaper, it falls to you, and none other, to find the solution:

 

"You might try to use the Geneforge yourself. You might be weak, and attempt to seize that mighty power. Who knows what it might do for you? And to you?"

"Or you might seek it and destroy it. But the Shapers who left this island did not do that. Maybe they want it to continue to exist? Is that the right solution? Is destruction the best path? Ever?"

"Or you might join Trajkov. You might work with him. Was he the one who had you capsized here? He might have an offer for you, if you were to meet him in peaceful circumstances."

"Or, you might just flee. You might find a boat and leave Sucia Island and never look back. Maybe this choice is too important to be left to one alone."

"What do you think, Shaper?"

 

"My people Barred this island. It is forbidden. It must be destroyed."

 

"That is your choice. A weapon broken can hurt no longer. It is hard to see how your path could make the world worse. But will it make it better?"

 

*The "Phineas Gage" case, a foreman of good renown before his accident, suffered from a severe lesion in the brain after being pierced in the head by a long metal funnel. The case helped to understand the importance of emotion in decision taking, as Gage had a part of the brain responsible of manifesting and coordinating emotions removed by the funnel as the Shaper surgical corps tried to save the poor man. The cause of his irascible behaviour with psychopathic tendencies being tracked down to a physiological cause, proved that emotions are both very much needed and important in good decision taking. Shaper behaviourologists such as Guardian Huteau and Agent Lautrey of the order of the Mandofrucifers took an overwhelming interest in the affair providing Emotion-benefit programs to both Shaper researching and military agencies. The mental stability of many soldiers, due to a better regulation and expression of emotions has dramatically improved since then.

**The trepanative process were used in times past as to release excess magic from a magician's brain and known to be practised with success even before the shattering of the Abyssians tribes, roughly forty centuries before the rise of the first "magical" empire and forty seven before the unification of the Shaper empire.

***The ultimatum game as described in Frans de Waal's Age of Empathy, is a game in which a bidder is given a certain amount of money or gain if he gives some of it to a partner, which can refuse or take what he is given. If the sum given by the bider doesn't seem acceptable to his partner, both parties are not given anything and the game must start again. If not, both parties are given the sum to which they agreed to. This test is used as to reveal whether or not an individual, is altruistic and or tries to comply with norms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Gather more information on the Geneforge and on Trajkov.” “I hear that they are some outsiders to the west of Kazg.”

Andras looked once more at Sencia as she went back tending her onion patch*. He would have

 

*To tend one's onions or get going about his or her own business, is a Shaper expression derived from french, a long dead language; “Elle s'occupait de ses onions.”

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Andras' motto had always been: “be prepared”. He would enter Kazg by the north. He added to the waters of Kazg a small novelty. Nothing diabolical. Just something he found next to the knowledge canister labled E.coli, that the Sholai had left to glow and rot in the hills of jars. He would then dump the critters into the Stygian waters near Kazg, with entire bags of nitric fertilisers, as to increase their reproduction rate.

 

The waters atop of Kazg became blood-like for a week before ironically “dying out” from the poisoned that contained the waters they tainted. Although dissipating when Andras arrived, the red waters created enough of a roar to draw the Takers away from their roads into the fields into their Fort of Kazg.

Once in Kazg, the effect was so dramatic that it "painted the town red", scaring the town's leaders to a certain point: they could not certainly hold to be trivial, this display of awesome power, a reference to the ten plagues*, that had once been released onto Terrestia by the Shapers in their final war against the Iugularian.

 

There were several statues of Shapers scattered along the road to Kazg. Their creations here had taken great pains to destroy them. The obelisks indicating the way had been defaced. But still their heavy bases remained. Such relics of the Shapers and the walls of Kazg a city they had once made with servile slave workforce, hid the takers from seeing and being seen by the mainland. Kazgians were then hereby condemned to survey the muddy and sick fields that laid on either sides of the indomitable river. From there Kazg had also a good view of the dark waters of the sky from which a bold knight rises when the cock crows, with eyes filled with the spark of ten thousand** canisters. This knight held out his sword like a torch, lighting up the every corner of the firmament. Above his helmet and away from the swinging burning blade, crows and birds of prey would follow, trying to get a mouthful from the dead or living corpses that hung from kazgian poles.

 

Their eyes would be eaten no sooner than they were exposed to the dawn.

 

Turning away form Kazg's horizon, towards from whatever growing ruin the Shapers had left to scavenge, Andras followed the stony road to Kazg and met one of it's scouting guards. It was a servile officer, his rank that right under that of a Servile blade. He wore the cold, calm expression, seen many times on the more experienced Guardians.

He nods , clearly unimpressed, and began to speak in a businesslike manner. “Shaper, I have been sent to greet you when you approach. You are at the outskirts of Kazg. Fair warning. Your safety here is not guaranteed.”

Amena watched Andras carefully, ready to defend himself in a moment if necessary. Andras nodded in return, a reed in his mouth:

 

“Will I be attacked if I enter Kazg?” asked the Shaper, taking the reed in and out of his mouth.

"Yes. The guards there are eager to meet you in battle. I doubt I could control them, if they got a chance to actually fight and slay a Shaper. They will all fight you as one, and die rather than give in to Shapers again. " Andras looked back at his support troops and turned back towards the servile.

 

"Why do they hate Me?" dropped Andras.

"I do not have the time to recite the whole list of crimes your people have committed against ours. All my warriors want is a chance for fair justice."

 

"How is this justice done? They would do me evil because I am a Shaper, would it be fair if I did you evil simply because you are a servile? What have I done against these soldiers?” thought Andras dejected. Then he turned his look towards the feeding birds.

 

“Well it seems you haven't done much justice to your own.” spat out Andras. Amena turned her gaze away from the dead serviles and rogues hanging from Kazg's gallows and replied looking in Andras' direction:

 

“Again like I said so before, I do not have the time to recite the whole list of crimes you have committed against the Takers.”

 

“Nasty prick. A thick head form Chickentown***" thought Andras.

 

"I wish to enter Kazg and speak with your leaders. How is this possible?" Scythed shinning Andras.

"I would need to escort you into town myself. But first, I need to believe that it is worth it. Killing Ellrah or Rydell would be a good start. I do not want one of your kind in my home, no matter what Gnorrel says."

 

"Gnorrel? Who is that?"

"Gnorrel is our leader. She rules the Takers. She says, that there is a certain Shaper she wishes to see, but she said nothing about how to identify him or her. I don't think any Shapers can be trusted, so I will not help you pass."

 

"Shouldn't you obey your orders?"

"I am not a servant.” Andras was sore amazed with this demonstration of simple wisdom. “You Shapers want us all to be servants, to you or to each other. No. I am here and she is not. I will not help you pass."

"It is wise to leave. If you do not, you will be slain." It was highly improbable.

The Takers here held no rods of any kind and only a handful of officers here possed up to six pods. Such officers had the support of a few firey wands, ice crystals mortars and suicide troops. Magical swords and items proved to burn them. They would be broken down into the very essence they were made from in an instant, if he let alone raised a finger.

Andras then got annoyed.

"If you want me dead, don't you think the best way to bring that about would be to take me to your leader? I won't die out here." Andras looked at his vlish and thahd Shades. He would not die here.

Amena on the other hand stopped, surprised. This fact clearly hadn't occurred to him. “That is true. I do not even think that I can kill you. Gnorrel, however, definitely could.”

Andras couldn't but help noticing the state of his dress as some of it decayed...

"Follow me, Shaper. I will lead you to the gate. Beyond the gate watch your step. Watch yourself, though. The slightest theft, the slightest crime, say or do the wrong thing, I won't give a dime. We will swarm you. We will all fight you as one. We will slay you and die rather than give in to Shapers again.” Andras puffed at this gratuitous display of power. “You are not the master here.” reminded him the servile.

 

As Amena escorted Andras on the lonely road to the bone white city of Kazg, the shaper started singing.

 

“I send a pestilence and plague

Into your house, into your beds

Into your streams, into your streets

Into your drink, into your bread

Upon your cattle, on your sheep

Upon your oxen in your field

Into your dreams, into your sleep

Until you break, until you yield

I send the swarm, I send the horde

Thus said the Lords.”

 

Amena stopped. Andras was allowed through the doors of Kazg. It was a massive fortress. Though as barren and dusty as the rest of the area, it must have been at one point a garden of Eden and the administrative center for the Shapers of Sucia isle, the heart of the isle's research. From here, all of the orders and directives which governed this colony emerged. Most likely, the decision to abandon Sucia Island came out of here too. This had to be the best chance to obtain clues about what happened here and why this island was Barred.

Now it is the citadel of the Takers.

When the serviles inside saw Andras, their response is immediate. Shouts of alarm are raised. Weapons are drawn. Farmers and children run for safety.

 

Andras raised his hands in a ready pose, prepared to defend himself at all costs. However, before anyone ends up dead, a large servile in a steel breastplate ran between him and the assailants. “Wait!” He shouted.

"By the orders of Gnorrel, until Shaper commit crime against us, the Shaper is not attacked! No blades. No threats. The Shaper has business with us, and is not yet foe. Go back to business."

The words have the desired effect. As the serviles slouched back to their business, casting dark looks back at Andras, the armed servile approaches. “I Eko Blade. You no friend to me. But we may have business. Gnorrel waits in centre hall. Go to her.”

“You be full of peace here. One step wrong or crime, and we fall on you. We have no love of Shapers, only business if need be.” Eko turned and walked back to the massive stone hall in the centre of the keep. Andras waved his hand and dissolved his army behind a small ruin and set fought to meet these strange and new people alone.

 

Although Andars knew the way he asked his way to a farmer taker as means to better apprehend the situation. To alienate this knew sect with this token of slavery, or dissolving his creations in public would have been a rude if not a direct provocation to the people of Kazg an since then Andras never took a single war creation into Kazg.

 

He was here to greet and recognise the Takers of Kazg not to carry warfare against dangerous rogues.

 

"Hello there, do you know who is in charge here?" Sweetly said Andras.

The Servile pointed at the huge building at the west end of town. “Gnorrel is there. She is leader, our leader, leader of Takers. She tell you.”

"How is your farming going?"

“Farming bad. Farming always bad. We live here as long as we remember, in Kazg, in this dusty, dirty place, where the land dies little more each year, getting more hungry, getting more weak.” As he spoke, he stared at the ground.

“You Shapers leave us like this, and now you return, and want us to obey. We not ask for freedom, like weak Awakened. We take our freedom. We take it from you.”

 

Form there Andras moved into the large building. It was strong, and where once the Shapers controlled and designed, it was now teeming with rogues.

Below it's massive celling were built many an alcove, set to either side of the administrative complex, both east and west.

At top one alcove lied the pinned dried corpse of a rogue creation, the staff of the Shapers, an artila black as a cobra, the shaper symbols of it's skin white with age. And below the serpent,sat it's slayer, great servile Eko Blade, washing his feet with salt water and whose back bore more resemblance to that of rhino than a servile, the scars of many years of battles, covering him tip to toe.

 

Taker soldiers were posted to either the side of every of the arch of this great administrative chapel.

 

And amongst a crowd teeming serviles, that was spread thin from either side of the room, "mis de profil" like in the paintings of old, leaving a long corridor of space so that the leader may spot afar newcomers and barer of news, sat, at the very centre of the big hall, an old female servile. She had been talking to some of her fellow takers that had once seemed to buzz around here in a disorderly fashion and was now standing behind a century old wooden table, old, worn and hard like the servile's skin. Now that Andras was in front of her, her companions unsheathed their blades before him and stopped her dead in her tracks.

 

She was about to leave the Takers to their petty squabbles.

 

But when she saw Andras for the very first time, she had to exert a great effort to keep herself under control.

 

Part of her wanted to kill him. She was choking with anger, sorely tempted to just call the guards and have it out here and now. But like cunning Rydell, this servile's faith was eclipsed by her idealism, dismissed the crowd and after a few long moments after having brought tea she made for herself and the Shaper, she sat down, and gained enough control to speak.

 

"Shaper. You have come to us. I am Gnorrel, leader of the Takers. Though I am the sworn enemy of your kind, and yet I am able to deal with you personally without rage. Come, and we may speak." She offered the Shaper a seat.

 

She held up a cup of tea to Andras. It smelt earthy. "What other dealings do you wish to have with the Takers, Shaper?" She sarcastically smiled before drinking from the cup, the very same cup from which Andras drew his lips.

"It's very bitter." sickly said Andras.

"Yes it is." said she.

 

"I want to learn about the Takers."

"I am glad. I will tell you our story, if you choose to hear it."

 

"Why have you not attacked me?"

"I have let you live and approach me because my allies want your help, and we want your help. We want you to ally with us. We have much we need, and much to offer."

"We wanted for you to join us here. And you have. It was a wise decision, I think."

"I am trying to find a boat. Where can I find one?"

"If you were allied with the Takers, I might help you."

Andars sighed. She took visibly pleasure in walling off Andras.

 

"I want to talk to you about what's happening on this island."

"And there is much you should learn. There are humans on this island, who have come from far across the western sea. They are from a people called the Sholai. They are helping us, and we are helping them."

"We all have many great plans, but, to make them come about, we need the help of a Shaper."

 

"And what do you know about the outsider humans?"

"They are called the Sholai. When you are allied with the Takers, there is much I can tell you."

 

"Tell me of your story. How did this hatred came about?” Gnorrel was surprised.

"We serviles have lived in Kazg for many years, after you Shapers left us. It was hard. You have many tunnels and warrens to the north, and creatures came out of them and savaged us. And the land slowly grew worse. We don't know why."

"The plants died, and we were hungry, and we died. But we were loyal. We believed that you created us, and, for that, we owed you a debt. But as the years passed, and we suffered more and more, we grew angrier."

 

"Then what happened?"

 

"Then one of us stepped forward. His name was lost. One day, he went to the middle of the square, mad with hunger and anger, and he raised his fist, and he shouted."

"He yelled 'The Shapers are wrong! They torment! They bad! We must take our free!'

 

Gnorell paused as if waiting for Andras to continue.

 

"So what happened to him?"

 

"Oh, he was killed. We were loyal to your kind then, and the guards struck him down instantly. But the idea was planted. And, as the years past, more and more came to repeat his words."

"We call ourselves Takers, now, because we will take our freedom from you, however we can. You lost all right to control us when you left us here."

 

"Well, if you think you should be free, I think it is only right. I hope it will not be necessary to fight over it, though." Said Andras bitterly.

“I hope so too.” Gnorrel looked genuinely sad. “But not all of my people feel that way. If what we are planning works, it will not be necessary to have bloodshed.”

 

"What do you want from me?"

"We want you to ally with us. We have certain plans in motion, but we need a Shaper to work with us. If you do, you will be fighting for justice, for freedom for the creations you have treated so badly."

Andras looked at Gnorell. He nodded to her in agreement.

"But there is more than that. If you will help us, you will gain power. If you help us, we can make you strong, incredibly strong, stronger than your masters would ever let you be."

"Help us, and you can take some of the power hidden on this island."

 

Andras fantasized that he would be staring at a big lurk fish.

 

"Only a slave has only one master. An ambitious man has as many masters as there are people who may be useful in bettering his position." Spat Andras.

 

"I thought so. I thought, in the end, you would be weak. The offer is still open to you, but do not wait too long or you will be left behind."

 

Andras turned his back on Gnorrel, and went humming to visit the city's jail.

 

“I send the thunder from the sky,

I send the fire raining down,

I send a hail of burning ice,

On ev'ry field, on ev'ry town,

I send the locusts on a whim,

Such as the world has never seen,

On ev'ry leaf, on ev'ry stalk,

Until there's nothing left of green,

I send my scourge, I send my sword,

Thus saith the Lord!”

 

Andras was allowed himself to enter one of the cells. As long as Eko stood, Andras could enjoy a certain amount of freedom. After all it is a very old custom that both the serviles and the Shapers maintain, which is to visit jails.

Andras found himself in a small room with a small crocked servile. If the creation could barely keep himself upright, it stood up to attention, ready to meet it's maker. He looked hungry and the black and blues across his face showed that he had been badly beaten."

"Shaper. At last. I am Houten. I am an Obeyer. At last, you have come."

 

"Why have you been imprisoned here?"

"I was sent by Rydell. I am supposed to watch what the Takers here are doing. I was found out. Now, though, I can give my information to you. You will surely help us against the evil Takers."

 

"What do you want me to know?"

"The Takers here, they deal with the outsider humans. They are called the Sholai. You must tell Rydell. You must warn him. Tell him!"

"Who is the leader of these humans?"

"All I know is his name. They are led by one called Trajkov. He was their leader when they came here from over the sea, and he leads them now. He lives in the tunnels to the north."

"What do the outsiders want?"

"There is something... something called the Geneforge. I don't know what it is or what it does. But I know it is here, and the Takers and the Sholai seem to think it holds the key to everything."

"I tried to... tried to talk to the rebel Sholai. But I could not reach them."

"Rebel Sholai?"

"There are some of the Sholai. They... they are hiding in a cave to the east. Outside the outskirts of... Kazg. The Takers trapped them in a cave."

“Find them. Reach them. Talk... talk to them.” He choked. “They know things. Valuable things. I am sure of it.” The servile spat out blood.

 

"You are very ill. How can I help you?"

 

"Please, Shaper, do not. Soon, the Takers will haul me out, and they will kill me, and I will show them how a servile should die, in the true belief of the true will of the Shapers."

"If one servile must die to forward the will of your kind, that is a small price to pay. I will not eat, and I will not escape."

"You are wise and noble, in your way. We Shapers approve of your obedience."

“Thank you, Shaper. You are kind to comfort me in my time of trial.”

Andras took the serviles to his chest, the gentle glow of his magic warming the poor servile. He continued the song he started whispering bitterly:

 

“Thus said the Lords.

I will not...

Let your people go.

Thus I say, the Lord...”

 

His teeth clenched and gnashed.

Andras felt the tiny hand of the servile holding onto him. He changed his tune to one of the cotton songs he used to sing when he was a boy with the kids of his village, a bygone era it had seemed, in a time when he courted the beautiful Roxane:

 

“Go to sleep my little baby,

Go to sleep you little baby,

Every body's long gone und' the cotton and the corn,

Didn't leave nobody but the baby.

Such a sweet little baby.

Such a sweet little baby.

Honey in the rock and the sugar don't stop...

 

 

*The Eser Ha-MAkot or Ten Plagues, were released by the Shapers on Terrestia during the blockades of their great citadels by the Iugularians coalitions, ten plagues that served as to reveal the powers of the Shapers through out the world and ended the second and last Iugularian war.

The first plague was that of blood. When guardians slaughtered enemies by the hundreds by blade to gain access to the streams of Terrestia and poison them with an algae that would taint these bodies of water rose red.

The second plague was that of frogs, that rose from the poisoned waters to rot inland where they could breathe into the palaces of the ruling magicians caste, into their bedroom and onto their beds, the houses of their officials and into the ovens and kneading-trough of the people, tainting red the waters they reached.

The third plague was that of the unleashing of bioengineered lice upon the people of Terrestia so that they may reach out to every men in the land. They served as an effective way to cripple the magician priesthood at the time that needed to be purified in order to perform their daily prayers and utter curses.

The fourth Plague was that of flies and wasps that came to bite or mark the people of Terrestia and their animals. Those “marked” served as an effective canon fodder for the Shapers.

The fifth plague used the lice and flies of the third and fourth plagues as means of transport. It is called the plague of pestilence, for it harmed only the livestock of the Terrestian people with a deadly sickness. The livestock of Shapers, immune to the plague, prospered.

The six plague was that of boils, an ugly skin disease that killed all but the Shapers.

The seventh plague was that of the hail of strange fire. The Shapers having rediscovered how to cast the spell essence orbs, struck the land with these balls of energy, which they fired through crystalline magical mortars.

When this curse struck down, it reproduces a sound and a smell comparable to that of a strong thunderstorm. It is said that the victims of the spell bear the exact symptoms as those suffering from frostbite: waxy skin, frozen tissues, blisters etc... even though the spell is known to spread huge ceasepools or "storms" of fires.

The seventh plague was followed closely the eighth plague also known as the plague of locusts; legions of glaahks and locust swarms were unleashed unrestrained upon the land of Terrestia turning many kingdoms from lush gardens into harsh and dry deserts.

The ninth plague involved massive pollution of the sky, effectively removing the rays of the sun form the landmass during three days with black magic, so that Terrestrians would yield to the Shapers.

The last plague and the most horrific of all was perhaps that of the death of the first born, where the Shapers invented a disease that would inflict new born babies with chronic pains, diarrhoea, sore eyes, spots, delirium, high fevers and then a state of silent yet agonising living death. The Shapers then sold the cure, but not it's formula, to the survivors, making themselves even more richer in the process.

**The Ten thousand were mercenaries that the writer and professional soldier Xenophon accompanied during daring spear head assault of Achaemenes' palace led by Cyrus the Younger. The Palace was at the heart of a reformed and unified Akkadian Sumer empire, at the time the world's biggest super power (alone the empire contained 20% percent of the world's population). This campaign, although a down right failure, inspired the first known world conquest by Alexander III, king of all the Dorian people, son of Philip II of Thebes, known as "the horse rider".

***Chikentown, a mythical community, whose deeds are known for being a tranquil stagnant place, harboured active thieves, murderers and poets like John Cooper Clarke. Chikentown also know for being the place of birth of the famous fictional feminist; Candy Quackenbush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arena was, besides it's terrifying aspect* and the deadly potency of it's inhabitants**, a relatively easy territory to clean up. Unlike the the more dangerous places of the isle, it did not crawl with the deadly relics of a bygone era before the Shapers arrived or swarm with the newly arrived and augmented Sholai and their horrible creations, but with the finest breed of whatever war creation the Shapers had perfected on this isle, except for the vlish, clawbug, roamer, drayks and the outstanding Battle series.

Our long standing adventurer was armed with a menagerie of creations and tools such as the lethal submission thorns, the otherworldly reaper baton and held in the inside of his cape a fierce collection of discipline wands to which he would regularly visit with the palm of his hand when needed. He was once again beaming proudly the powerful aura of authority and control he held in Ellrah's chambers; just a few rogues to be hunted down before cake and tea he'd say.

 

That's when Andras faced Prav.

Prav was a battle Beta, but it looked as if it were built as a battle Gama.

 

Battle Betas are enormous and lethal killing machines, they are designed to lead the way into battle, to be the first creatures to crash into an enemy line; they are totally obedient but when faced with the orders to kill, things get really nasty.

Now if they share most of the strengths of the battle Alpha, namely sheer seize and brute strength, they also dispose of two nasty trick up their sleeves: to start with they are covered with hairs of the poisonous sort.

To hit them without an armour thicker than a four inch Shaped steel plate, is to be indulged a very nasty shock to the heart.

Now for their second trick; they are designed to hold two long white “tubes” running either side of their arms. On these tubes are placed a series of small dagger like spines which are used as to hook away shields from an opponent's hand and pin down a enemy like a preying mantis.

 

These spines and their massive resistance has had led many guardians to call them the "iron maidens" of the shaper army.

 

Contrariwise to their battle Alpha counterparts they do not bear the red purpurine skin and the crossed blue markings; their blue skin and brilliant white tattoos evokes the shining blue meat flies that the Shapers unleash after a bloody battle.

Such bees are used to scrape the flesh clean from their victims and are said not die after the first sting.

 

And it was this blue that was the first thing Andras noticed when the creature lumbered it's heavy gaze towards our battle harden hero.

 

Andras shuddered at the realization that he might be about to fight it. Then, silently, head bowed, the battle Beta turned and walked back to were it came from.

 

Just northeast of the Arena there is a cave entrance. This is were it lived. In the trash of whatever it had found and gathered. Javelins. Broken vegetables. Half rotting pears. Roasted meat. Burnt wood. The dead remains of six glaahks. A bronze mirror. Books. The skull of a man. All of these spoils gathered in a great big pile useless to the creature who brought them here. It just laid there, dull, watching a fire it had made from the wood and whatever ledgers he got his hands on. It peered through the flammes as if waiting for something that would never come.

 

Very strange. Andras walked into the cave unsure, preparing some mental spell and unlaced a speed pod from his belt.

 

Though it was clearly in peak physical condition, it's face bore an expression of doubt and confusion. It was leaning there, against the wall of the cave, thinking and upset.

It looked up at Andras. It didn't even seemed surprised to see a Shaper. «Oh. Shaper. Greetings. I Prav. I... I... What should I do?»

 

Andras was dead frozen. He did not know what to do. He didn't know how to handle the poor thing.

 

«Okay. Let's start out simple.» thought Andras. "Where did you come from? Who created you?"

"I was frozen in mine. I was woken by mind. I was told slay all who come. But no Shapers. I have doubts. I look for Shapers to guide me. None. I come here and wait."

"And what sort of doubts did you have?"

"I am made to kill. I will kill. But who to kill? Not those wanted by Shapers... Kill those bad to Shapers. Who are bad? Who are good? I do not know. I want to kill. I do not want to kill."

Prav's years of being frozen on this island had seemed to have damaged his brain. It's brain, being damaged, had reverted back towards a primitive structure so did his behaviour. And yet his level of introspection... and even moral issues that he expressed as being a reality to him... all of these traits... are very unusual for a battle creation. Could this behaviour be of avatic origin? If the tremors of the epileptic could recall the sudden shaking of a gasping fish stranded on land, could these displays of intelligence in a brain-damaged Battle Beta indicate a intelligent... ancestry? Strange... very strange. And undesirable as well, for a Shaper that is.

 

"What is in this area?"

"Rogues. Many rogues. I fear them. They want to slay me, but I do not know if I must slay them. So I run here. I stay here.»

 

"Look. I... I require your assistance. Come and help me."said the shaper.

"I do not know, Shaper. I want to kill. I do not want to kill. I do not know if helping you is right thing. I will kill. I should not kill."

 

Andras looked at his two augmented drayks for an answer. Although they were intelligent they didn't budge. They didn't seem to be as socially intelligent as the serviles of Sucia or as Prav for that matter. Tooth scratched his head and Claw turned his head away.

 

"I assure you you will be fighting the enemies of the Shapers. Come and assist me."

The two drayks stood there, waiting for something to happen. The Battle Beta did not budge.

«I... I...» It shook it's head. It seemed to be afflicted with some strange sort of apathy. Even Andras command did not budge it. After all these years it must have... But then it looked more miserable than ever. Andars was getting frustrated. He wanted to wipe the area clean. No it had to be done.

«Enough moping, Battle Beta! Attention! Come with me!»

 

Much to his surprise the sharp command managed to overcome Prav's apathy. It lumbered forward. Still miserable, but it willing to come.

 

*Presumably Andras had never been in a Shaper arena before. Creation sport combat has been illegal for well over a century. Even if the arena were not infested with rogues, being here would be very unsettling: Today, Shapers feel some moral responsibility to their creations. This was not always the case. Shapers once made creations merely to fight each other for sport. They traded recipes and pitted their pets against each other in bloody combat. But today, creations fight each other only in «legitimate wars», or in illegal, underground fighting pits. Places like this exist only in the dark past.

 

**A dozen few charged wyrms, charged thahds armed with tower shields and fully charged submission batons they used as cudgels, charged fyoras and a two good handful of glaahks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Prav set into the equation Andras laid out his plan:

Pray gathered wood and bricks to create a small barricade on which Andras lined up his guns and so fourth.

The young shaper then created a vilsh with what little the essence he was left with. It would help him in two ways; maintain more control on the creations around him, as these creatures are able to communicate and instil thoughts into the minds of both friend and foe and provide him with extra fire power. If Andras was confident he wasn't stupid; he was not going to risk himself in the Arena. He'd send the vlish and evaluate first.

What he saw was woods, traps, ambushes and escapes, pens of sorts filled with artilas and well armed thahds, the harget of rogues, like the rabbit bones the vlish found in one of the fighting pits and the dead sholai troops they regularly preyed on. He pulled back the vilsh he'd had augmented with pods and proceed to shoot out the rogues that came. Prav didn't have to raise a hair and Andras a eyebrow.

If investing essence in a vlish would prevent Andras to cast mighty spells to mow down rogues, it had left him enough essence for the creation of a swarm.

He had learned two designs from a canister he found in the warrens of Jars; a marker drone, based on a the gall wasp, and small hornets like creatures. The marker wasps would scout, mark the rogues of the whole area and would lay eggs in key rogue species, here the secluded artilas, their larvae would then turn them into vlish obedient zombies. The hornets on the other hand would sting the rest of the creatures, driving them out of the arena towards Prav's opened arms.

 

Once again Andras was victorious. But now the ground was literally splattered with the remains of his enemies; Andras would step into the on mixed bloods of creations, hit the massive derelicts of glaahks which necks had been broken by Prav, hummed the smoke from dead magically charged thahds, and walked the shrivelled husks of wasps and torn in half zombie artilas while looking for the snapped remains of two of his used bone wands and whatever loot left behind by the creatures.

All that effort had to mean something! A cake of consolation! Andras wanted his shoe and rice. So he headed with all of his creations south east to remove minor goods from the rogue's

nests here. Coins mostly. He looked at one of the ruined obelisks of Suica's Arena. Andras then read: WEST WING - REGISTRATION, TRADING, WAGERING. EAST WING - CREATIONS, CONFINEMENT.

He didn't brood much before entering the ruins of the Arena. He'd a have a butcher at the bleached records of fights and names. Most of them were munched, obviously by the rogues, so Andras could manage just only to produce a decent one or two books for Pentil. The rogues had also included meat to their diet. In one of the fighting pits laid the bodies of three Sholai. Like the ledgers on the shelves he produced a few good items from their bodies; he drew a sword, a steel breastplate an essence pod and a Sharing Belt. The belt was draining so he'd sell it for something else. He'd move south out of the ruins, taking down the stone doors of the facility, out into more rogue nests. There Andras found, not a wand, but lo and behold, a rod of succour!

Succor Rods are wand like devices; they have a wood, bone or ivory shaft with a bag attached at to one of it's ends. The bag contains magical clays, slightly different in composition to the clays contained in the essence and healing pods. Such rods must be dipped in water and kept humid at all times, so that the clays may not harden and it's contents may be sprayed on the sick or wounded target. These rods were the very first curing and healing devices ever to be built by man and are still regarded as being by far the most reliant and the most sacred by the Iugularian.

After searching the bodies Andras' attention turned towards Prav's idle condition. Prav would sit at one of the healing pools he found nearby, doodling on the ground, waiting for Andras.

He would lift himself up his pack full of loot back to the entry of the cave, but before that, the shaper would take an other route. He 'd get deeper into the ruins of the arena, north from the fighting pits into the containment area. There he found two power pylons and a switch. He removed most of his loot he donned, still keeping a eye on the battle Beta and powered the switch. He looked around and saw closed container doors. Andras would create searer containers on to the doors. He knew they would fall on to the ground when the doors opened. Then he flipped the switch. Andras saw a flash of lighting, heard an explosion and the roars and cries of a few thahds being dissolved by acid. Then seven charged thahds, stormed Andras and it's companions. Prav instantly killed two of them and lifted one up in the air before hurling it against one of it's acid bitten friends. One thahd armed with a reaper thorn baton would charge at Andras, but to no avail. Andras' Vlish got in the way. A terrible explosion was unleashed and the vlish died. The drayks then proceeded in killing the thahd. One big bite had the job done. Two thahds came out of nowhere. A drayk's tail whipped a thahd to the ground, now ribbless. Prav having seized the occasion, preyed on the fallen thahd a began a messy disintegration, leaving the other to Andras. The apprentice gunned the rogue down with a submission thorn in one of his eyes. Prav continued butchering the poor thahd on the ground. The last rogues tried to run away when Andras cracked a spray crystal and silence fell.

 

He was about to gather the baton and his stuff, leaving the ruins of the arena to the solace of time, when the glow of two canisters encrusted where the doors once were, drew him irresistibly nearer. He would move towards the light like a butterfly to a candle. And what a candle. A “Luck canister” and “Vlish canister”. Andras felt happy. He turned out of the container in which both the rogues and the canisters had once slept in.

Andras carefully inspected the vats in which the rogues were kept in. These self-sealing vats are very ingenious Shaper inventions. They can make a creation and, at just the point when it becomes alive, seal it in a suspended state. The jars were of course opened, and it looked like it had been open for at least a few weeks. Some trap or automatic device must have caused it to disgorge its contents. He looked at the switch. It was a control panel. Like all Shaper controls, it was a carefully shaped plant, moss covering the device from outside. The shaft from which like device drew out it's nutrients would be all hollow on the inside, were it not filled with long fine tubes of active crystal fibres in them. Seven wooden controls had emerged from the branches. There were other controls, but they had rotted off. Andras turned to Prav. Prav stood waiting.

Andras took his leave from him. Though he was a rogue, he would be studied by the Shapers when they'd come back. His high level of introspection would be incredibly useful for the advance of the shapers arts... Andras was already thinking of his afterlife. A great thesis on rogues. An after Sucia. If such a thing was plausible... He thought of they would board Prav on a boat, place it into a holding cell after a good meal and follow sets of tests and after a careful radiation of the whole body through magic and chemical imagery... they would proceed in a good linear cut and prod his brain with magical devices of sorts* in a shaper university.

 

*To each era it's horrors; if the overall quality of life has improved over the years, History has filled it's records with more and more barbarism: The reign of the malik of Sheol, The reign of the reassembled prince, the rise of Pharaoh Rameses the Plumbeous or Rameses the second, the fall of angels, the Abyssian tide of fire, the rise of king Perseus, rooster of Macedonia, the awakening of Repharim fossils, the use of the Horus avatars during the Horizontal wars, the five sacking of Babylon and it's gardens, The unstoppable pillaging of Iudea by Alexander the Great, the unstoppable horde of Buriyatese bombards, the establishment of public vivisections by the celebrants of Orion, the Trojan wars, the killings of the Kuzcan bat empress, the sending of the first Talocq, the concentration camps of Rhodesia, the horrors of the crystal pits, Pooh Bear's great pact of evil, the Boulanger incident, The sheep slaughterer of Fmuur,The Boadicean rapes, the bromine battle of Salamis, the writing of the Art of war, the rise of the Branchdividians, the Raelian purges, the destruction of Lisbonne, the Fires of Moscow, the bullying raids of the orient by the professional and wasps Samurai warriors of Nara, the wreckage left by the Dai Tengu during the Imjin wars (warped shock troopers of the great citadel fortress Nara, whom fought against the tortoise ships of the great admiral Yin Sun Chin during the battle of Chilcheollyang ), the small and great Sholai crusades, The use of nun gunnery, the flagellates of Rus, the Sam hooker laws (which condemned Terrestia's prostitutes to have their ears and nose to be cut off), the use of magically augmented chemical and bacterial warfare, the arrival of the Shapers with the slavery of the mutants they made, The absorbing of the Durandist order, named after the miraculous healing of Madeleine Durand by Shapers, the extinction of the noble Quagga and the pollution of Fukoshima, the first and second Iugularian war that saw the use of the unstoppable caryatid legions and the pyramid ships, the condemnation and trails of the Thurneysser's Demon, the shamefull living conditions of the pigs and cows of Lisbon and their butchering, humming birds massacres as describied by Walton Ford, the Iberian greenhouse scandals, the series of expeditions led by Agent Richard Francis Burton (first Shaper translator of the Kama-Sutra), the chemical spills of Spring Hill, the genocide led by Agent Bula Matari and king Leopold known as Leopold the second or Crow Leopold, the rise of the bountiful Shaper Empire, the rediscovery of Sucia isle and all of it's gene deciphering habits, the absorbing of the battle drayks series many of which were Tasmanian battle series, the opening of London's traderoutes by Commodore Perry, also known as the teacup incident, the Sholai-Nara war by the Shapers which resulted with the victory of Honshu forces and with the rise of a new Shaper administered empire capable of economically overthrowing Terrestia and today's recent fuelling on both sides of the “Semite spring” contributes actively to the globe's geological record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing that the many chapters of the book have dealt with and about the shapers design's as they seemed to have taken over the main body of the isle, with their marble towers, their bath houses, their research facilities and their creations solidly rooted to this foreign soil, we must inevitably come to apprehend the nature and motives of the original natives of this strange land:

 

It seemed that the spirits of the natives were waiting for Andras, singing, moaning, buzzing, calling out for him, their mouths wide open, even more vulture than the combined swarms of sharks and crocodiles that feed upon whatever pollution and rotten meat is trashed over board from the many garbage ships that journey to the end of night, in forgotten Terrestiain estuaries.

 

If they had failed to take him down, in the woods of the clawbug wastes, they would try to tear him apart atom by atom, in the silent valley of the winds.

The partially spirited and once spawner filled wastes of the south, were now pounded to the very dust they grew from.

Vaporizing mounds of inert red dust as they marched, Andras and his small and lethal force of ur-glaahks, battle betas and drayks, were ready to visit them in one of the most disturbing and lifeless parts of all Sucia. It was a silent place, no birds, no insects, no sound whatsoever... and yet it felt like Andras was closing in on something. But as he did he had to struggle against the winds and dust of Sucia's labyrinthine lower mouth.

The valley of the Wind was pouring it's fierce and dusty being into the lungs of Andras, making him very uncomfortable and sick with dust. His creations given the chance of their genetic patronage started to produce more mucus and simply spat out the harsh shard grain, continuing relentless, hammering their way in one of the dead pits of Sucia, indefatigable. If Andras was seemingly weaker than his creations, he was in fact the Perseus* of the band, his eyes a bright beacon, ready to fire at moment's notice, a deadly ray of magic, remembering the promise of loot if he cleared the gates where the wind never stops blowing. Behind the fortress of his thick skull, he even bore a sense of accomplishment; had he not touched all the sacred pillars and been accepted? And now he would follow the tracks of the now dead Shaper author, who's books he read in the quiet marshes and in the Western wastes:

 

"Truly, the natives who settled the island before us were a strange people. A mixture of savagery and cunning, of simple beliefs and strange, necromantic powers. [...]

At last, I have received assistance. Five Guardians will help me safely explore the massive ruins. It is hard to get attention and resources, because of all the excitement about the Geneforge, but [long, illegible section]... Their power was so great that, even now, their shades are still potent and dangerous. We can defeat them, but it is dangerous, especially since they resist [unreadable scriptures]... the pillars and then enter the largest ruins, at the northwest corner of the isle."***

 

Andras stopped in the mouth of the valley. the wind dropped for a while, leaving him some time to think He had sent a battle beta for a special bag and exhasted promptly camped by the forest of glass.

The pillars now filled his dreams. The crude pictures on each pillar seemed to suggest that these original people were initiated to some kind of mental test rather than brute force; the many hand drawn lines of men and women passing by to touch a pillar seemed to welcome. Andras to a respectful and almost welcoming approach instead of the usual glaring the small figures would produce, as if you had just crashed yet an other mad tea party.

Their shades though, were not so welcoming. They were patrolling guards. And Andras a threat.

Hidden by the maze of wind dug rock they observed and scrutinized what seemed to be fresh meat; when Andras mindlessly explored the area, being drawn in his sleep by the fabled pillar, they flickered by Andras, fast as hell wind, to seize him up. That's when two Betas fired the submission batons with which they armed, and a battle ensured.

 

As we all know how Andras is quite meticulous about his definition of who eats who, should you try test him, so will he test you at the point of a burning blade or with the wonders of his intellect, lovely as a varnish, but ugly when used a venom, speaking of which he would pour in whatever shade's ear he could manage to pin down. But for now he was asleep. Behind him the battle beta had caught him and his band.

The package he had sent for was filled with the essence of Arbutus unedo, the strawberry tree, a natural repellent against evil. He had bought this from the servile bandits he had bargained with. The bandits used it to ward off any wandering ghosts from their woods. He touched the pillar once and woke up. Having realised at once where he was, that is close to the pillar, he opened the bag. Too late. The very ghosts he had prepared to fight were now pulsating and heaving in the air around him. Like with all hornets he'd take out the scouts first. How they howled, gnashing their teeth. Some were even coming out of the walls! Seven of them sought to cut the Betas and the drayks from the Shaper and his troupe of Ur-Glaahks, hurling swords and crying out words in long dead tongue. Andras would hit two of them with reapers and take out one more with crystals set in the eye of his ring. His arm would jerk each time the sound of the flying shards and it would go out hurling. Covering his eyes from the afterblast Andras hid, back against a wall. Then the Shaper heard the clank of ur-glaahk tail on stone, as it's stinger ate through one of the monstrosities. It spirited away, slowed down by the stunning effects of the giant grasshopper's magical tail. Two Shades lit up and The Ur-Glaahks charged. The clank of steel upon stone, bone and flesh upon spectral gloves resonated through out the valley in such a way that it still resonates there. The Shades slew one of them after ten minutes of intense fighting. A explosion followed... The crackling of crystals flowed, following the shades like the flying red hot thorns of a hasted turret. A Pyrrhic victory; Andras was running on his last reserves of fuel and two Betas and an Ur-Glaahk were killed for three shades out of seven, a fraction of what the valley held.

 

Andras and his band were searching higher ground. He was losing.

 

Turning back and fourth through the maze in order to find a suitable place to light a fire where he could vaporise his essence of arbutus and effectively kill the ghosts this way, Andras bumped onto something familiar.

He could help but looting their corpses, when he recognized them for what they were: the dead bodies and the petrified cries of drone Sholai.

Their bodies, ruined, sprawled on the rocky floor, seemingly alive after all these months, of being slowly eroded by the winds and shades. Their lion like exterior was revealed to be skin deep. For the shades had lifted their coats and revealed to the sun's ray a blackness to rival with the soft skin of a new born lamb. The place was turning him into a feverish, almost trance like state.

Everything here was indeed elusive. What dreams would Andras enter, when he travelled the cables the isle's brain, full of it's infertile workings? He would shamble mist the drunken delusion of an seascape, a world suspended, decomposing, waves of material, polished by every beat of his gaze, at first transparent, if not abstract, body of colours that moved without great porpoise, as if they had no mind to rule about it, hovering here and there, hungry, trying to force food through a glass stained body, as if they were starving people.

Glass-like bodies, turning, moving hovels, even more insubstantial when mustering the winds... flakes to a blizzard. Shattering and reappearing. It made them extremely hard to kill. He used acid and essence orbs so that he needn't follow them. The globules of fire and acid would run, dripping, after these screaming bags of fuel.

 

-"A cancer that was it was" thought Andras; a cancer sustained by the dead land around it; an over-reactive weakening patient suffering from some autoimmune disease; it's body promising treasures of all sorts, potassium nitrates to golds, a hand's reach to the needy strong and the promising smart.

The very spirit of Sucia was a harsh and simple minded, mother and daughter of necessity.

"A dead lifeless corpse in a bed, fertile and yet incredibly old, a horizontal line, being more often lying down than up." spat the apprentice while prodding a spectre with a searer dipped blade.

A battle beta hurled frenzied into four shades.

Andras felt his hands trembling. A sudden whack in the back. Andras fell head first. Heavy moaning. Andras caught the shades head with a good left. Andras was pouring magic in it's eyes. It slipped away from Andras' fingers, burning hot and laughing. Slithering abomination. Andras turned his head. It was a scout force which had bought time for the arrival larger patrol of twenty or so grey Spectres. All hands raised. Fired twice. The nearby Betas reunited, shields up, facing the fires. Andras fired in the melee and fled behind a stone corner. One ghost fired at the Shaper. Andras uttered curses and fired back. Two Shades shrivelled down like burning plastic bags. A band of ghost then started to feed on of Andras' dead creation, opening hereby a banquet. When he turned from the frenzy to an exit route, one of the ghosts came to try to cut off the Shaper's head clean; it was a dark figure and it rose towards Andras with the company of three shades. It grinned with the nt of the axe he held, it too, forged in the ways of old, it's tip sharp and hook of a halberd. Andras unsheathed his singing rapier. He started charging at the monster, cutting the hands of the three shades that started clawing at him. When the black sucian was about to at the shaper, Andras, magically hasted, cracked open a pair of swarm crystal and plunged twice his sword infused with orbs of essence at the body of basalt spectre. The few ghosts that did not join the banquet and that had chased the Shaper whisked away in fright. The Black figure evaded the deadly blow, with only a few cuts, then appeared to the west, in Andras' back. As the frozen snarl of death came crashing down at Andras, a tail speared the Shade away.

The rabble of ghosts that had feasted on Andras' creations then took the opportunity of the black figure's disappearance as to swarm the shaper. They were about to overwhelm our hero, when he cracked open twice a swarm crystal to repel the evil ghosts and twice raised a jewelled wand. Plasma sucked the shades from the inside out. Kneeling with pain from the magic he had released, Andras reached for his bag, crying, and showered his burnt face with the thick paste of restoration pods. The Shades were blown away, but the rest would come back at him. Ice to their blood! He would retreat and come back at an other time; of all of Andras' creations, Tooth and Claw were the only ones that survived, having been loyal to the end. His essence reserves were running desperately low.

Andras tried to retreat back to the forests of glass. He was far closer to the gates. Lost he ran into a small clearing.

From there a mouth-shaped opening seemed to wave faintly at Andras. It was more welcoming than the previous alcoves that peopled the region*. Tooth and Claw followed.

 

It was a fantastic and extremely angular construction, unlike the Shaper with their more life giving buildings; it was made to resist and endure: it's solid granite walls that would hold on, even after the whole isle would perish under a cataclysm of fire and water. Even the rule of time did not erode it's entry.

It contained a still operational steaming bath house. With a curtain of steam! When they entered Andras, Tooth and Claw started augmenting. The place was full of magic. He dressed a strong curtain of smoke, which contained the essence of the strawberry tree. It would keep them at bay until he ran out of it.

Andras detached from his armour and left it aside, under the watchful gaze of his minions. He analysed the water with vibrating magic. Nothing. Waved over the waters a second time. Plain water with a rather interesting composition. Nothing unusual, yet. He filled pods with some of the water. It was dry out there. He touched the water. Poured some on his bruises and burns. They healed instantaneously.

He reached out for his used essence pods, and behold; they were filled with essence!

 

He took a bath, pleasant. Really pleasant. The arrangement of green tiles and the damp and hot air gave Andras a felling of oneness similar to that when he was in his boat. A good old bed with the purring waves of blue velvet and silken cloth.

But to sleep he had to be lonelier still. He packed his things. This would be his command centre from which he would ball himself into. With the essence he gathered, he sent out waxy new creations to take the ghosts out. Each and every one, tooth and claw.

Andras sent pyroroamer scouts to seek and wound what Shades that slew it. Following the creatures' trails, the shades came into the bath house, only to be greeted by Andras' reapers and the stink of arbutus. He sat behind his bag, with a firing reaper thorn baton, mounted on a Gauss device, itself connected to a transparent white jelly of a bag filled with ammunition through a white umbilical cordon. The drayks, on the other hand, spat out their magic to either side of the room. Andras ceased fire. Amist the cooked and butchercut remains of Andras' roamers, appeared east, a wounded black Ghost with a battle axe of old. It was whispering something. The Old Sucian dialect. Andras pulled a string. Atop the ghost laid a bucket of searing hot water. It fell on the head of Shade, blinding it. Andras then proceeded in firing and the drayks finally disposed of the Basalt malik****. The shades would continue time after time their storming of the now fortified bathhouse's entry. They stopped for awhile to muster the rest of their forces but were greeted with a yet a other strong force of pyroroamers and a very nasty plate clawbug, it's head serving as a door to the defenders. The Shades would crack open like bags of broken jelly, helpless. The heat of the baths would soften the Shades' hulls and slow them down. They could not sweat. Shades can't efficiently deal with rapids changes in temperature; they adapt efficiently but slowly to their environments. And the Arbutus essence wasn't making it easier. It weakened them to a point Andras could simply blow them away.

And so this routine of sudden violence and serenity, went back and fought for five hours throughout the whole area, before the cover of darkness. Andras had at last pulverized the multitudes of ghosts that once peopled the area.

Andras victorious was now ready to seize the gate.

 

 

*Perseus both a historical hero of old and mythical witch-king, was a brilliant necromancer, perhaps one of the most powerful Iugularian to have ever walked this earth and a saint patron of Death, accompanying the souls of the dead to the otherworld. He was said to have held the cap of invisibility forged by the hands of death, brandished a sword that would cut through marble like a knife through butter and a magic shield with a head painted on it. The painted head was said capable of offensive abilities, namely to turn to turn into stone any living thing by being looked at. Perseus is even credited to be the inventor of the first neutron device.

**Indeed when Andras went in two of the protected openings in the centre of this valley. In one of them he was surprised to find a dancing and locked chest. Having lifted it's rattling lid, he was confronted by, not one, but two ugly surprises: two "wind brothers" as he called them. Being cornered hey tried to strike him down with a useless living knife.

The other was not worthy of notice, although it did contain a nice meal consisting of centuries old and yet edible meat, vegetable and fruit. The people must have been very good at keeping things from rotting, not so unlike the Shapers...

***Upon my visit of the isle, i managed to salvage the clay tiles. I then gave it to an Agent who placed it in the great vaults of the Shapers' Immaculate library. It can be found under the name of "oeuvres crystalographiques" by Guy Debord.

****The Malik or Maliq kings of old were said to hold great hosts of diantu spectres, which would turn into wolves at night. The great excursions held by the Malikim, are called the wild hunt.

The Malikim were often coerced into servitude by magicians this way: During three days the living and the shades of the dead share tables and meals. At the eastern end of the table is a throne for the living Adon, king of the living, and at the western end is an empty throne. Each night the ghostly shapes in the empty seats and throne become more solid. At the final night the Adon that held the banquet for the deified dead, sacrifices himself at the banquet and is devoured by the dead king who can manifest in the land of the living as a reawakened "god" and trapped an idol.

Andras was only a table away from being the next Adon of Pandemonium' gate.

 

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Ah yes sorry about the cut.

 

I've changed entire Chapters for reasons of clarity and developpement, but still i find most of these fragments to be imperfect, so this is why i'll be updating some of them evrey now and then.

The project, though tough, is starting to get intresting and a more profound structure to the whole book is being currently "dug up" and brought to light.

 

I'm also sorry that i haven't regularly updated and posted new fragments, I didn't feel at the time doing to regularly.

 

I'll post evrey mounth a fragment. I will also take comments into consideration.

 

Here's the tale of Andras as he went into the city of the dead, which harbours Goettesch.

 

"Spoilers"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?"

 

-Hamlet Act IV  Scene III  

 

Andras strode out into the ruined city.

By Shaper standards, it is still a small thing, several rows of buildings hewing out of the walls of the mountain.

However, it is very impressive work from ancients whom Andras had thought, likely as not, to be brutes equipped.

The town was devised in this way: coming form the south, Andras could follow a grand alley of stone pavement up to a small temple set at the centre of things. While runes beyond the temple's threshold protected the church' chambers with harmful magic and poisons, walls spread thicker than than the houses it circled, provided a good defence for the commoners artists and magicians that slept outside. Beyond the temple, always north, laid a small grove, opposite to a small opened prison which laid ruined before the gates of a Greater temple dug into the mountain.

Although some of the buildings, the prison and houses found to the west, are collapsed, most of them are still, after many centuries of wind and rain, intact, and still occupied.

The shades of people still float along the streets and in and out of the ruined buildings and their houses like long finned leucistic oscars**. They are not ghosts.

Inside the houses, they handled insides of sealed clay jars, tending to century old apples with Wax so that they may keep both their vivid red colour and taste. Andras could watch boxes opened by slender figures. These creatures filled the air around him with the sweet smells of Spanish limes and of thorny roses, all of them ready to bloom and bear life once more.

 

The streets are still filed with the thick sent of flowers and honey and the city' buzzing people, forever rushing, are ready to sting.

 

Andras would not risk himself into their homes, for, if they looked quite a pale and weak a lot, they were quite possibly stronger than anything on this isle; not only had they had survived the centuries but also the rough winds of Sucia'isle and waves of invaders like Heustess, the vengeful, the punitive Sholai and the proud Shaper Goettsch.

 

Also they seemed to hold some method in their striding; they never walked alone.

 

Their arrival seemed to have been a recent one. Some of the boxes and jars laid broken, their contents blown away by the centuries. They must have crawled out from the walls of the two giant temples that laid before Andras. The trail of their recent activity was made manifest by the huge quantities of bones littered about the main street; a jaw or tooth were found here and there of some magically burnt mutant horde, all Heustess' devices and tools. Such woundrous creations that were once spread thick about the isle could now found here ruined, both battered and broken into bone and dust or into dark solid glass statues. These crude abominations belonged to History now.

The Sholai invaders shared a similar fate: they too broken on the floor, by the culminating force of the whispering figures here, of the brutal strength of cryodrayks and by the magic of some lone master of life... This trail of littered corpses covered the clay floors of butcher cut buildings, the bodies not unlike the pale and ugly flesh of sugar apples, informed Andras, that Gottesch's agents were near, still damp and blue with fresh essence:

On the horizon, looking out with a patrolling trio of terror vilsh were a murder* of battle creations. Terrifying creatures battle betas. Their heads are usually black and blue. Gottesch added a dark red mark into their frowns. Not a very good sign***. Their faces looked like those of bone skulls, their lips covering death's grin. They hate their very existence. They were all well armed. Thick with steel. Their crow like claws are steadied fast on their kopis blades. They had managed to survive the shades by standing close to the pair of battle gamas and an augmented pylon stationed behind them, as it went on beaming a disruption field****. The plyon seemed even ready to hasten any of it's defenders. It wasn't going to be easy getting through the narrow pass.

 

Andras seized them up from afar and trod north, away from them, towards a thick pathway of twelve trees.

 

As Andras walked along the pathway, the things around him seemed to change. They had seem newer, as if they hadn't been exposed to millennia of weather, but they also looked waxy, bee made, strange, unreal. At the end of the path, to the west, beyond six clay pots filled with rose trees, was an old hovel, hollowed out of the rock's face. Angry muttering came from inside... Andras casted a blessing and went in with both Tooth and Claw.

The shade of a Witch. A battle with a crone of this isle. She wiped up essence orbs from essence, the same essence with which she had painted the walls with. Strange. Diagrams were written on all walls. But weren't these savages born before the use of essence?

Used some sort of magic augmentation so as to harm magically Andras.

Even tried to inspire fear through a calcium composition.

Waste of talent and skill. Andras creations incapacitated the witch even before she could lift a finger. Andras had only to lift his hand and fire a deconstruct round set in the eye of his ring. The shade was sucked instantly within the whirlpool of Andras' eye, back into the dust and clays the crone used to tamper and play with.

Andras robed the grove from it's fruit as they winkled within Andras' reach. A major healing spore bag and pod, an essence and a simple healing pod were extracted from three old wooden boxes, black as ebony, covered with figures that danced around egg shaped century old locks. From the corpse of the shade Andras took a lime cut emerald, cut to it's side, revealing the sight of some fleshy star. The figures that strolled the streets seemed not alarmed as he filled his bags with these treasures.

Having explored the den of the witch he sought more ruins and more treasures some of which are still present:

 

There is still somewhere next to the city walls and well away from the city' main street, a pool of beautiful, crystalline water. If you have the luck or the unluckiness to land on the isle, and come to the ruins of this spirited city you will find that the water sparkles brightly, still unfilled with muck and algae, thanks to the lack of light in the dark chamber it is placed in.

This is were Andras took his refreshments.

This is where he would drink and energize, taking several long swallows of the clear magical water, healing his wounds under his very gaze.

The people who lived here must have had skilled magicians, to have created magic which lasted this long.

From there onwards it seems that he turned his gaze towards the small temple.

A massive structure, smaller by far to the great temple north of there, but with huge halls carved out of solid white stone. Hand made by magicians. Powerful works. The threshold of the temple consisted of a small room filled with a lone pillar and a small corridor filled with tiles and magical runes that opened to great hall. As Andras walked close to the tiles they singled their reprobation by letting of a small bubble of magical energy to making him feel ill. Frustrated he retreated to the writings and diagrams inscribed onto the walls.

However, they didn't look like holy inscriptions, or lists of names, or anything he had might expect. The writings are magical notes, diagrams, and instructions.

Though Andras couldn't understand a word of it, there he thought there was something that looked familiar about it.

He looked on his right at the magical notes, denser there, where chairs were set up below them so that it could be inspected closely. Andras looked at it all, but it still didn't make sense.

One thing was strange, though, when Andras turned his gaze to one of the diagrams depicted a thin lizard like animal, similar to a Fyora. Twisted and small, but still very much a fyora.

He turned his gaze left to a lone pillar. The only thing that made sense.

He touched the pillar and felt nothing, no pain, nothing but an overwhelming desire to get in. Andras' robes slipped over the temple' threshold with ease until reaching the centre of the main hall's. From warm and welcomed by the pillars, Andras felt suddenly cold and alone. Shadowy eyes were watching him carefully from the darkness, waiting for a misstep, so that they might devour him. On every tiles were inscribed the words of death; סמאל and to leave the great hall without permission was to straighten' one thread of life towards a sharp end.

Guards were posted to each one of the side passages off of the room. And at the centre of the temple, Andras met what had yet seemed be an other ancient figure. A burning thing. Lit up like a tree during the winter solstice. And thick with magic. It surprised Andras in two ways. First, it didn't attack or threatened him in any way but was offering him a seat at his table. Second, when it begun to speak, Andras could understand it! It read his mind and spoke his tongue perfectly clearly.

Was some magic was at work?

 

-"Hello, visitor. I welcome you, as long as you bring peace and do not go where you are not bidden. Have you found the secret yet?

 

-"What secret?"

 

The ghost pointed at the northeast passage. -"There. You may go there. Only there. There is the secret. When you have seen the secret, return."

 

Andras followed the passage' corridor which opened to a small room.

And it was upon entering, that Andras immediately recognized the main feature of the plain room.

A pair of Shaped gloves hanged from behind Andras.

The room had a tiny stone platform, by the northeast corner. Very bare, very rough, very old, but its purpose very clear.

It is or was a shaping platform. Cruder than what the Shaper used, but the purpose was the same.

 

Could it be? Could the natives who lived here be, in some way, the ancestors of the Shapers? Could this be the home of his people?

It might, in some way, be what drew his people here to do their research. Something found in these ruins might have been the catalyst which helped the Shapers here discover such astonishing things.

Or maybe a just a strange coincidence.

 

-"Are you the ancestors of my people?"

The shade flickered.

-"Now we will speak further. I will discuss the secret..." the shade flickered for a moment "Yes. That is the secret. You performed the rituals, and you entered, and I share with you what has been shared with no other."

 

-"What happened to you?"

 

The Shade flickered once more. It's still pose suggested now, an intellectual pause, as if taking a long breath, before plunging into great depths of knowledge, deep down into that ocean of man, with it's derelicts, it's warrens of jars, it's heavy loads and rich collections of bones, it's layers of slime, it's leviathans, it's cloudy summits and it's sunken temples...

 

-"Being here?" The shade flickered. "Many things... Big things... great things have small beginnings..." "Cultures are as plants." "They grow." "They have many roots." "They even reach out for the stars." "And then... they die."

"Long story short, in the beginning we were not a humble people, we were a small people, few in numbers but great in our knowledge of things, which, was of late, inscribed on the many slabs that now cover the isle..." The shade started pouring wine and laying food for Andras on his altar, that shades around them brought.

"The stars." "The discipline of magic, all of this leads to civilization; by inscribing on stone, we safeguarded knowledge from the perils of time.

It is especially useful when tampering with the world with magic, in order to be precise and create the desired artifice*****."

 

"Magic became important to us as it gave sense to the world we lived in. It gave us a direction. Told us what to do with those slabs of our when to fight, how to heal, when to make peace, when to hunt, how to love... after all we lived on a herdsman's isle" “ Resources were very limited. Even without magic the slabs are the fruit from which entire civilisations spring from.”

 

"To create slabs of stones, was difficult" "Had to search for more supplies for a steady workforce."

"And it was so, that our young boys discovered by their breaking jars-full-of-grain clumsiness how to grow wheat, spilling it by accident on tread ground while bringing it to the women and bakers."

 

"A part of the population was cut of from the old ways... had even more spare time, to think and take care of things. They had more time to make love..."

 

"And more people, meant even more mouths to feed, more food to find, more lands to plough, more fertile lands to seek, led to the invention of possessions, which led to theft and neighbours fighting with one an other, because someone's cattle was eating someone else's wheat, which meant that more wars were to be made, as land is a rare thing indeed, more workforce and magicians to instruct, and more slabs to craft, and so was the wheel of progress launched. A Roxanna in the quest of the time bird."

 

The shade paused and repeated itself.

 

"It gave us time to pause, to think."

"We, all those who were initial affiliated to magic, became magicians of various degrees, but powerful of late." "We became leaders and told what to do."

"With all the time in the world some people became bored." "We had little knowledge about boredom.""We wanted to be something else, signify something." "More resources and more people made murder profitable." "We murdered a little more." “And why not?” “Nothing stopped us from doing this.” “Enough resources to safeguard the survival of man on this isle.” "A little fun." "A little murder for the fun." "A little sting.” "A little meat, that was all, the fun of dogs." “And then the hunger of gods.” “Wars and all.”"We had become something of a hungry spectres, eating tons of bread, wood, men, people, lands...” "It's after all been one or two hundred years that you Shapers have stopped public murder and pitting one rogue one against an other.""And you haven't yet stooped sacrificial murder with all of your “test subjects”, creations and slimes, your mice and white rabbits." "With all these people..." "All this power, everything was bound to..." The Shade seemed having trouble with breathing "...It went crazy, one wanted this, the other that..." “We sought to work on useful distractions.”

 

"So you set out to make wonders." said Andras pressing.

The burning Shade clapped it's hands and fire came out of it.

"Like this did we pour magic on to the world." "Our very hands. Our very own hands"

"And given all the time in the world, we did all what we could do with it." To sooth our pangs of hunger.”

"To discover things, our gaze always elsewhere, turned towards the future or sometimes the past.

We looked deep below the earth. We watched the stars beyond the sun, beyond the stars, the blackness. And then we looked within..." The Shade became fearfully darker, it's mouth opening wider:

“Then we looked. We looked deep within ourselves, our bodies."

 

-"And what did you see there?" said Andras still unsubstantiated.

 

-"You know. You know the secret. You know how to use magic to rebuild life. It all started in here, in this temple. We turned it from a place of worship to a place of work."

"Centuries did man struggle powerless against wilder beast, eating the scraps of lions and tigers, centuries did we vainly struggle against the silent fevers that takes the child from it parents, centuries did we struggle against the winds, the cold and lice."

"And we became masters of the world." "We weren't sure what to do next but..." "We thought up something."

 

"Thus we were the first to plant new life into the ground, turn men into tools, loyal as dogs, turn pools of mud into intriguing slimes with amazing properties, turn clay into livestock, and thus on this isle, a gut worm was made anew it's tongue to be the steel, the sword and banner of wondrous and strange new battles, a lone day we did bring a wounded lizard to one of the shaping pads, to turn from grey to red, having been bathed and augmented in essence, to be infused, white with internal fire, thus with the combination of a magic unheard before, in the history of the world, and with the myth of progress at our side, the very construction and transformation of this building was the seed of our own doom."

 

-"Doom? How?

 

 

-"You know. You know the secret. You know how to use magic to rebuild life. It all started in here, in this temple. We turned it from a place of worship to a place of work."

"Centuries did man struggle powerless against wilder beast, eating the scraps of lions and tigers, centuries did we vainly struggle against the silent fevers that takes the child from it parents, centuries did we struggle against the winds, the cold and lice."

 

"Thus we were the first to plant new life into the ground, turn men into tools, loyal as dogs, turn pools of mud into intriguing slimes with amazing properties, turn clay into livestock, and thus on this isle, a gut worm was made anew it's tongue to be the steel, the sword and banner of wondrous and strange new battles, a lone day we did bring a wounded lizard to one of the shaping pads, to turn from grey to red, having been bathed and augmented in essence, to be infused, white with internal fire, thus with the combination of a magic unheard before, in the history of the world, and with the myth of progress at our side, the very construction and transformation of this building was the seed of our own doom."

 

-"Doom? How?

 

-"We were the chosen people. The ones to spread the word of this strange new fire. Our works were seen as abominable. So great is our power that every one wanted our deaths and the death of our works. But the power was too great. Too important a knowledge. We used the power as a weapon. And as a bludgeon. The whole of the known world seemed to rise against us like the sea against the shoreline."

 

"We tried to crash these waves."

 

And for a time it seemed we were the masters of the world." "And we weren't sure what to do next but...We thought up something...

 

We tried to form an empire against the savages around us, starting here... our magicians randomly warped our enemies... twisted their parts, destroyed their organs... made them fall. But the random way we attacked also changed things. Made diseases... plagues... created horrible creatures, stronger than what we attacked, the land changed too, from the greatest of our battlements to the most minuscule of grasshoppers they too were subject to many a poison and festering hunger within :"

 

The briar Shade then produced then the now bone white head of a glaahk on the altar out from the alcove below it, with what seemed to be a sudden crash.

 

-"Behold, the union of a grasshopper and a gut-worm, stunning symbol of destruction!"

 

-"And then?"

 

-"Most of us died. The rest fled this place, fled these green lands, woody green lands, which became infected... dusty wastes... peopled with forests of stone glass." The shade flickered erraticly like the blurred images seen through a wall of fire. "Fled life... taking with us our secrets and our wisdom... "

The Shade staggered a while struggling with what seemed to be it's lips.

-"We went to the mainland... And then, I would guess, we became you. There, the story ends."

 

- "My people were here for a while, researching. Did they ever contact you?";

- "No, but, had they stayed longer, they would have. And I would have spoken with them... But they were too distracted. So they never came. They should have..."

 

-"There are enemies of our people on this island. Will you help me?"

-"I have little mind left, only enough to tell stories and to defend this sacred place... That is all I can do. No more must we perform******. I can not even understand what you just said."

 

-"If our people are the same, can you get the ghosts to stop attacking me?"

"Not ghosts. Some of our kind, with magic and knowledge of Shaping, they adopted that form, striving for long life. I was one of such. I and your people fled life; choosing the path of sleep... keeping fourth impenetrable..." the shade paused only to continue with great difficulty. The words "stoic", "defying" "and", "prevailing", "over", "death", "in", "deep" and "sleep" flew to Andras' mind where the image of the shade blurred like a badly tuned crystal screen. "Such arte the lives of the dead here."

The Shade glittered and paused again.

"Only I maintained my thoughts. All the rest Dream. Waiting for the release of death. The mercy. I can not control them. Nobody can. They have no minds to control, any more. Mad, dreaming like you all on this isle."

 

-"Dreaming?"

 

-"Yes, dreaming. The world is dreamt up by thousands of beings." said the shade. "To enter those dreams is a power greater than that of impunity over matter and flesh. Those illusionists, those politicians, those abstract painters... those Michael Craig-Martins, that lead souls by the hundreds, know this. They cry crocodile tears for the consent of the masses to fatten their shinning new tails. But they are vain, they do not know what lies beyond the vacuum of our sensations. What they can summon in a man, is no more, no less, not theirs. Even the mindless, haunted beings, know this. They dream of power. To merge in one with predatory malice... they overstretch themselves.*******” Then the shade seemed to sprung an other sentence from it's mind "Their work is futile"... "We live as we dream... alone..."

 

-"Do you know any thing else?"

-"I have little mind left, only enough to tell stories and..." The creatures around Andras flickered with predatory menace as the priest shade grew towards the celling, with the red and green glow of a funeral pyre, only to fall back down, to it's original form, a statue of solid glass, blacker than any berry. "...to defend this sacred place... That is all I can do. I can not even understand what you just said."

 

*The common denomination of a group of battle alphas or crow birds is a murder.

**The oscar fish or on the "selective breading" of Astronotus ocellatus, in a nupedia side project, created by Jimmy Wales.

***The red marks made by Goettsch, made from the clays of defence rods, are in fact personal field generators; when heated they help to generate a small magical fields that serves partly in shielding and blessing momentarily the marked creature.

The Battle Alpha series, thanks to the white essence markings and the very composition of their bones, have the ability to amplify certain magical fields thanks to such essence markings. Clawbugs, while much superior in speed and accuracy are often discarded by shapers as front line shock troopers due to this particular reason.

****Disruption fields act as a shade deterrent as the magical energies their produce eat through shades. They also leach on the magical energy generated by magicians.

*****Even amongst the Iugularians, magic is still highly volatile.

******Strangely the Shade, quoted this from a very early Shaper play called Faustus. It deals with the dramatic death of an young and powerful necromancer named Faust (or Faustus), whom after ticking into servitude a equally powerful and cunning shade called Mephistopheles, is devoured by the latter shade at a banquet.

The quote is extracted from the beginning of the play and is delivered by Mephistopheles upon encountering a humanitarian Faustus, when the shade appears to supper on a corpse of a dead king it stole from a desecrated tomb.

*******The tale of the snail by Idries Shah:

The snail, never having met a human being, became anxious to learn of the differences between humans and snails. The man explained that people see with eyes in their heads rather than on stalks, that their legs carry them vast distances, and that they have no need of shells, to this the snail replies “that man must be a most peculiar creature”. The man agrees and continues, "And we can communicate without words, without even being together. Our method is to take something like, say, a leaf, make a mark on it, called writing, and send it by another human being. Now, by what is called reading, the person who receives it can know what the writer was thinking."

To which the snail replies, "The trouble with you, as with all liars, is that you tell one lie and then a bigger lie and finally you overreach yourselves. I have trapped you doing so, by pretending to believe you. But if I further encourage you by not expressing the disbelief natural to all rational beings, I shall be a partner in your deceitful ways."

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I've modified the fragment about Pentil:

 

 

 

 

"The greatest jihad is to say the truth in front of the king."

-the Hadith

 

Of all the cities that ruled over Sucia, Pentil was the biggest and saddest.

 

Of all the inhabitants of Sucia, those inhabiting Pentil were a sect of servile called Obeyers, and of all the rebellious serviles on the isle, they had chosen to obey and please the all powerful, ever present, all knowing and kind Shaper gods.

 

When they repaired their wooden roofs, it was to shelter the servants of the Shapers, when they fed the healing pools, it was because it was Shaper property, when they used Shaper pods and weapons it was in the name of their absent protectors, the Shapers. When a creation starved, it was for the good of the Shapers, when a servile possessed a tool or resource, that had once belonged to the absent Shapers, who had no use for it now that they were gone, that tool still belonged to them, even when the worn object was identical to any mundane object of the Servile world, when they fed on whatever meagre strand of meat, fruit, vegetable or grain, they ate what they thought the Shapers had provided them, leaving many a source of abounding natural fodder to sweat with ooze and rot, fat with nutrients, if a child died at birth, it was because that child was of course, never meant to be.

Pentil still laid in bed, holding it's breath, praying, listening at the sound of Silence.

The whole city would have burn with the wind of a whisper as it crept into their ears and shivered with thought of Andras coming close.

 

When the god they had finally came to worship came here by mistake, and not by it's own providence, the single thought of this was very upsetting to the social fabric of the town: the leader's authority was currently being questioned, groups of hungry worshippers had appeared, and while most bowed in front of Andras, the others crawled and grovelled before Andras, like the long gone people of the sea before Pharaohs of times past, thinking that even an apprentice Shaper was to be adored, respected and feared, a lone angelic sentinel, of burning and of death, to clean Suica from it's rogues with hard iron and the poisons of quicksilver spells, before the rapture came.

 

But our Shaper was no fool, and as they pressed and asked for healing and curing which he gallantly accepted, he knew that deep within, they all lofted power over all; power over their lives, power over that unfaithful isle that took them to it's dinner room and devour them, power over him, power over the rogues that stole their kin and destroyed whatever they had so worked hard for.

 

Too much was in fact at stake, and so like all men, they tried to prove, to prove that they were right over their already convinced fellow Obeyers, to brag about Andras's exploits as to impose what ever small authority they had. Who would dare to denounce him and what ever great evil he hid under his cloak? Even the grovelling Takers were secretly glad that a Shaper had come at last to this damned isle, so as to save them in a way, from abounding for ever whatever beliefs they had.

 

When they came to realise that Andras was no angel, hardly at a the all powerful, all knowing and ever present figure they worshipped, that was all right, as he was not 'supposed' to learn very much about the Shapers, as he had surleeeeey shown certain rogue tendencies. The Shaper Council in it's all powerful wisdom must have kept him in the dark, blind, so as to carry out their will... and test the flock faith' with every perfidious thought Andras produced...

To these serviles Andras could not be something else than an agent of their will.

 

Pentil had become in fact a deadly intellectual trap, lightly covered with leaves of good deeds towards the Shaper cause, in which Andras would not fall into.

If Andras would have taken office under these serviles, in other terms sworn an alliance to Pentil's leader, in order to strengthen the Shaper's long dead grip on the isle, he would have in essence obeyed a servile. Such a thing was unacceptable. He was a representative of his sect' beliefs, and not a slave to the fanatical Obeyers.

To have pactised and played cards with them, to plot, to entered their schemes, Andras thought would have surely burnt him to a crisp, for within every zealot of Pentil, from the leader to the most lowly of his minions, lies a volatile solution.

They had hoped that the Shapers would come back and whisper into their ears. But they also thought that if the Shapers came back they would have surely liked a force to dispose of the rogues there. They thought it good to have had butchered the rebellious Takers to the east with all the tactical and surgical forces they and a loyal servant mind held, when they could have have had simply shipped large quantities of food to the hungry and angry Takers, mending with kindness and solidarity the broken hearts of the ever wanting Takers.

The Obeyers thought it also good to plunge the Takers into a war with the new Awakened sect. They also kept Varkkiri poor and secluded from Watchhill again with the aid of the Servant mind Control four and it's minions. The servant mind's rogues, the awesome and and eventually powerless Vlish tactical forces, whom Warp of Spiral Borrows is the most representative, and the bountiful frog-like roamers that protected the immobile Control mind in the borrows, and Thorny fern.

In the end, having pitted most of the serviles of the isle against their sect, the Obeyers and their allies became unable to act out, pounded back to their cities and borrows by the rogue generators*, the augmented siege thahds and artila creations that seized Pentil's gates.

 

Therein lies the problem: the Obeyers knew that all serviles were made, and raised by the Shapers, so that as to be naturally repulsed, more-so than any human, to harm onto any form of life; serviles are usually simple, obedient, docile and kind, creatures. Such simple beings are known to become depressed at the news of where and how is the meat on their plates is fashioned, be it carved from a living being, as meat created from vats is still an unavailable source of protein being not economically and eco-freindly option.

 

And yet these serviles persisted in their killings.

 

They hunted and butchered, without pity, without shame, they slaughtered until they were soaked in the blood of their sins against life, with a passion that surpassed the mad and secluded Takers, that were sent a mad, being forced to kill in order to survive this cruel isle.

Yes, the much crazed takers of Kagz, in their great tumults of blood and hateful sentiments against the Shapers, froze to the mere idea of harming even a creature as small as an insect or as rigid a flower, and were torn when an ornk was to be served for supper!

 

The Obeyers trained so hard as to break away from this design, proving hereby that the Shapers were not perfect and the Obeyers not so obeying.

 

To the Shapers, belief is mother to doubt. It was now also true for the Obeyers : The Obeyers although patient wanted so hard to believe. What proof was there of the Shapers were gods and would return? A few bones, artefacts, books and ruins? Could they have been then mistaken somehow?

No said Rydell and his armed soldiers-preachers. Hath not the Shapers been the only point of certitude when there was none on this miserable rock? Hath they not endow each of their servants with minds, long lives and powers of their own? Had the Shapers not left them entirely alone on Sucia? Did not their constructs, that now people Sucia provided a hiding place for all serviles, hiding them from savage rogues, sun, storms, winds and cold been a token of their kindness? Had they not been there nothing before the Shapers but dust and desolation on the isle? Had not the Shapers made the isle prosperous with honey and milk, where there were prowling ghosts, foul creatures and the legions of Heustess? Would the Shapers not come back one day, rising up once more against these tellurian monsters which resided at the very evil and heart of this isle? Would they not bring glorious fulfilment and give propose to their lives, where wreck and devastation lay?

 

The Obeyers in their great leap of faith, in their great misery, clung to the dreams and hopes of an uncertain future and paid their respect to uncertain gods and because of it were unable to stop what horrors they were committing.

 

The Obeyer's obedience to the Shapers had given them an edge over all the servile sects of the isle, but in the end, their thoughts, their very choices, their way of life, had betrayed them as rogues who chose to obey, they would be disposed of by the Council.

 

In this light Andras judged it to be a starvation of the mind, a frozen cold doctrine in what could be a warm ocean of truth.

Andras steaming with rage, entered the temple of the Obeyers, feet smearing the obeyer tapestries he walked on with mud, the Obeyer flock and the shepherd Rydell waiting for the good news of a second coming:

 

-"Shaper, I have heard of your arrival. I... I am awed and grateful that you have returned to us at last. I am Rydell. I am the leader of the Obeyers, the only sect that has stayed steadfast and true in our obedience to your kind. We know that you are alone here, and endangered by the rogue creations that surround us. We hope that you have come to assist us, and to reward us for our obedience."

 

Andras nodded but then spoke:

 

-"I, Andras, am peaceful representative of the Shapers in their absence; I will speak in their stead.

 

The Shapers would be impressed of your self control, they would also be impressed by your determination in your great workings against the rogues here..."

 

Rydell exhaled a deep breath of relief.

-"So many years of self doubt, Shaper. So many years of wondering why you abandoned us. Now we know, though. Now we know that we followed the true course. Thank..."

 

-"How dare you wonder?"flamed Andras.

 

Rydell was visibly shocked.

 

-"You should be extinct. Whatever creature of your race that had set on this isle a century ago, were left here to die. But you have survived. And we chose to know nothing of you. The Shapers of the mainland have chosen even now to forget this isle and it's powers, it has been over a week that they have the knowledge that a Shaper craft, one of their most formidable weapons of war, a drayk, has been slain and that one of their apprentice is missing next to an Barred isle of deadly reputation and still they haven't yet sent their agents and tracking devices.

I see it to be in our best interest to help one an other and to work together for a time.

The Shapers that left you here had clearly little sense of responsibility for their creations, they left the isle with haste, disorganised leaving mounds of equipment to the hands of outsiders. I for my part will fill my debt towards your kind, a token from a new era; helping serviles in need is one of my prime objectives, speaking of which, is there a boat somewhere?"

 

*Spawners.

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Here's a re-edited texts (Clois 1&2) and a new text (kazg part 2). The fragments here are in chronologcal order.

 

 

Kazg part 2:

 

Andras was given a cell for the night. The spirit of murder would fill the air of Kazg. Huge braziers were kept alight, like on a 1st of May, to keep evil-dooing at bay. Eko Blade wisely posted his bed in front of Andras' chambers. His body was an effective deterrent to would-be murderers.

 

When Andras woke up, after a long night listening at Eko snoring, already many of the people of Kazg had flocked round to bear witness to the execution of Houten. Eko was up talking to guards from his bed. Andras and Eko were given bowls of sparkling water and baths to refresh themselves. Only Eko Blade cleaned himself, cleaning his wrists and hands before donning his gloves. Andras would only poor his gaze, motionless into the bowl's waters which caught the read dawn. The same light that Andras stared into, seemed to stab at Houten eyes as he was driven out by Eko and his soldiers into the crowd outside. The crowd outside, at first calm would then curse and crow when the servile was hauled out. They only saw the Obeyer in him. Vegetable and rotten fruit was thrown, until Andras and his army of creations walked out of the battlements. The Shaper looked grumly. The tumult died down. Eko Blade read out a list of accusations; supplying vital information to the enemies of the Takers, providing weaponry and supplies to the enemies of the Takers, lying to officers of the law and knowingly holding valuable information from his Taker brethren, hereby committing a crime to all servile kind. His sentence; death.

 

Eko called for his fellow soldiers to open the gates of Kazg. Having stepped outside the walls of Kazg, the serviles waited for the soldiers and the prisoner to arrive around one of the poles which littered the landscape. Birds would float high above the congregation as a strong dusty wind blew into the serviles' kilim* robes.

Eko Blade closely followed by Andras brought Houten to one of the poles.

Then two kazgian officers rushed towards Eko Blade with a heavy chain. Eko, although huge and strong for a servile seemed to weaken momentarily. It was used to make rogues wield and without proper protection burnt the skin of creations.

 

Andras ran to Eko Blade. The servile gave the chain to Andras, who dropped it. A taker tried to stab Andras "in the name of the law". Eko immediately drew out his sword and declared that any Taker that would try to intervene would have his eyes gouged out and "skull banged"; The crowd seemed well disciplined, save for one or two trouble makers, indeed it did not intervene. After a fierce debate, Eko wielded. The Takers offered to Houten a blindfold. He accepted. Eko allowed Andras to talk with Houten for a while. Andras took the blindfold off. They talked. Andras drew his blade and severed the rope which tied the servile's hands. From the crowd it seemed that Houten yanked his arm. A last joke. Houten laughed aloud. Andras whispered something in Houten' ear. Andras rapped round with his robes, Houten. Andras 's robes left Houten. Houten put his blindfold back. Houten was waiting anxious, but stood with all his height as if he were to run at any instant in a straight forward line. Two guards drew out their swords. Andras unsheathed his thorn baton. Momentarily hasted, Andras glided back seven steps away from the serviles. Andras raised his right hand. It held the thorn baton.

Andras did not flinch when he fired the venom thorn. He was calm.

 

A huge eagle hopped towards what was left of Houten. Andras tucked back his thorn baton through his belt and went back into Kazg, leaving the liver pecking Takers to their tales of poles and execution.

 

Having reached Kazg Andras bathed before working furiously. While working he toyed with a blue bottle. The very same blue bottle to which he gave Houten while he hid him under his robes. He poured a drop of it on his right hand thumb and index finger. They went numb for hours.

 

 

*Kilim or gelm are rough and strong textiles made from sheep wool.

 

 

Clois part 1:

 

Andras had over a weeks' time, taken the bridges from the outsiders and pacified much of Sucia's rogue generators. The lands owned by the outsiders, the much feared Diazard and the bridge north of Kazg, bastion of the takers, the cold valley in which heart laid the frozen Icewalls, the dug in warrens that laid below and beyond Kazg massive gates, the ruins around Kazg, whatever innumerable remaining pockets of shades, left untouched by Guardian and Agent archaeological raids that stretched over the isle, and finally the untold horrors that lurked beyond the trapped Ancient crypt and the clawbug woods, west of the isle, were all at arms reach now, waiting for him to weave some new contraption.

Even upon his visits to familiar territories he would work out more miracles than just the red waters: Upon a visit to Clois, Andras made a detour to the Obeyer outpost he had once defended, just on the way to Southbridge. He had cured an obeyer soldier from his pathological demeanour. Having been sent there with a detachment of serviles warriors, commanded by the servile military officer Doge and supplied by obeyer Dina to keep the road to Kazg clear from rogues, this servile would display rather unusual and undesirable traits after being wounded to the jaw by a missile of sorts; he could turn from abusive to being very kind to his entourage in a split second. He was impulsive, unable to bear frustration, being fearless he made rather poor choices and lacked both sympathy and empathy. Bref, he was a constant pain to the other serviles.

 

Andras had read about these symptoms before:

 

“Before the accident he had been their most capable and efficient foreman, one with a well-balanced mind, and who was looked on as a shrewd smart business man. He was now fitful, irreverent, and grossly profane, showing little deference for his fellows. He was also impatient and obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, unable to settle on any of the plans he devised for future action. His friends said he was «no longer Gage»*.”

 

Andras had in consequence prepared the servile for a trepantive remedy, one of the most ancient remedies known to mankind**. Having charmed the helpless creation, Andras opened it's head with great care and with the help of a localized anaesthetic; from there he wired back the connexions and brain tissue where they had been damaged, as Andras discovered, by a thorn lodged there. Andras shaped once more the servile's head and waited for the humanoid to wake up. Andras would run a few tests.

The results were satisfying: when playing the ultimatum game*** the servile systematically offered fifty percent of his gains to obeyer Dina, who watched the scene sore amazed. Andras also casted the terror spell with great success on the Servile which huddled from sheer fright in one of the occupied ruins.

 

This is when the problem started. Andras was talking to Doge about some Shaper that arrived a month before him on the isle, when he contracted another seizure. A violent one.

His head boiled with magic. Three worried serviles rushed him into the camp's waterhole, which' waters were washed here to the servile's post by Sucia' furious rivers. When they finally covered his face with a curtain of glittering water, the silent congregation of creations that had gathered around the water hole's Stygian banks could not recognise him. He had become younger.

Having awoken bright with fury, he rose with haste to Clois and once more laid back on one of her chairs, both cold and clad in glittering armour.

His face thick with shadows, Andras was the first to speak out : "I have heard that there is someone powerful and dangerous on this island. His name is Trajkov."

 

"I have heard that name before. Outsiders have travelled through my marsh. I have heard the name from them. And I believe that he is one of them, and from far away, perhaps even over the sea. Learn more of him. I feel he is important."

"I have also learned that there is some sort of powerful Shaper secret on this island. It's called the 'Geneforge', which can make one of my kind incredibly powerful enough to wage war unto the Shapers. It is within the research centre atop Kazg where Trajkov resides. However, he can't use it, because a Shaper on this isle possess the key to it's powers."

 

"Now we know the heart of the matter. Why the island was Barred. Why it is important now. We have the puzzle. And now, Shaper, it falls to you, and none other, to find the solution:

 

"You might try to use the Geneforge yourself. You might be weak, and attempt to seize that mighty power. Who knows what it might do for you? And to you?"

"Or you might seek it and destroy it. But the Shapers who left this island did not do that. Maybe they want it to continue to exist? Is that the right solution? Is destruction the best path? Ever?"

"Or you might join Trajkov. You might work with him. Was he the one who had you capsized here? He might have an offer for you, if you were to meet him in peaceful circumstances."

"Or, you might just flee. You might find a boat and leave Sucia Island and never look back. Maybe this choice is too important to be left to one alone."

"What do you think, Shaper?"

 

"My people Barred this island. It is forbidden. It must be destroyed."

 

"That is your choice. A weapon broken can hurt no longer. It is hard to see how your path could make the world worse."

 

"But will it make it better?"

 

 

*The "Phineas Gage" case, a foreman of good renown before his accident, suffered from a severe lesion in the brain after being pierced in the head by a long metal funnel. The case helped to understand the importance of emotion in decision taking, as Gage had a part of the brain responsible of manifesting and coordinating emotions removed by the funnel as the Shaper surgical corps tried to save the poor man. The cause of his irascible behaviour with psychopathic tendencies being tracked down to a physiological cause, proved that emotions are both very much needed and important in good decision taking. Shaper behaviourologists such as Guardian Huteau and Agent Lautrey of the order of the Mandofrucifers took an overwhelming interest in the affair providing Emotion-benefit programs to both Shaper researching and military agencies. The mental stability of many soldiers, due to a better regulation and expression of emotions has dramatically improved since then.

**The trepanative process were used in times past as to release excess magic from a magician's brain and known to be practised with success even before the shattering of the Abyssians tribes, roughly forty centuries before the rise of the first "magical" empire and forty seven before the unification of the Shaper empire.

***The ultimatum game as described in Frans de Waal's Age of Empathy, is a game in which a bidder is given a certain amount of money or gain if he gives some of it to a partner, which can refuse or take what he is given. If the sum given by the bider doesn't seem acceptable to his partner, both parties are not given anything and the game must start again. If not, both parties are given the sum to which they agreed to. This test is used as to reveal whether or not an individual, is altruistic and or tries to comply with norms.

 

 

 

Clois part 2:

 

 

“Gather more information on the Geneforge and on Trajkov.” “I hear that they are some outsiders to the west of Kazg.”

Andras looked once more at Sencia as she went back tending her onion patch*. He would have

 

*To tend one's onions or get going about his or her own business, is a Shaper expression derived from french, a long dead language; “Elle s'occupait de ses onions.”

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Here's a re-edited version of Kazg part 1.

 

 

Andras' motto had always been: “be prepared”. He would enter Kazg by the north. He added to the waters of Kazg a small novelty. Nothing diabolical. Just something he found next to the knowledge canister labled E.coli, that the Sholai had left to glow and rot in the hills of jars. He would then dump the critters into the Stygian waters near Kazg, with entire bags of nitric fertilisers, as to increase their reproduction rate.

 

The waters atop of Kazg became blood-like for a week before ironically “dying out” from the poisoned that contained the waters they tainted. Although dissipating when Andras arrived, the red waters created enough of a roar to draw the Takers away from their roads into the fields into their Fort of Kazg.

Once in Kazg, the effect was so dramatic that it "painted the town red", scaring the town's leaders to a certain point: they could not certainly hold to be trivial, this display of awesome power, a reference to the ten plagues*, that had once been released onto Terrestia by the Shapers in their final war against the Iugularian.

 

There were several statues of Shapers scattered along the road to Kazg. Their creations here had taken great pains to destroy them. The obelisks indicating the way had been defaced. But still their heavy bases remained. Such relics of the Shapers and the walls of Kazg a city they had once made with servile slave workforce, hid the takers from seeing and being seen by the mainland. Kazgians were then hereby condemned to survey the muddy and sick fields that laid on either sides of the indomitable river. From there Kazg had also a good view of the dark waters of the sky from which a bold knight rises when the cock crows, with eyes filled with the spark of ten thousand** canisters. This knight held out his sword like a torch, lighting up the every corner of the firmament. Above his helmet and away from the swinging burning blade, crows and birds of prey would follow, trying to get a mouthful from the dead or living corpses that hung from kazgian poles.

 

Their eyes would be eaten no sooner than they were exposed to the dawn.

 

Turning away form Kazg's horizon, towards from whatever growing ruin the Shapers had left to scavenge, Andras followed the stony road to Kazg and met one of it's scouting guards. It was a servile officer, his rank that right under that of a Servile blade. He wore the cold, calm expression, seen many times on the more experienced Guardians.

He nods , clearly unimpressed, and began to speak in a businesslike manner. “Shaper, I have been sent to greet you when you approach. You are at the outskirts of Kazg. Fair warning. Your safety here is not guaranteed.”

Amena watched Andras carefully, ready to defend himself in a moment if necessary. Andras nodded in return, a reed in his mouth:

 

“Will I be attacked if I enter Kazg?” asked the Shaper, taking the reed in and out of his mouth.

"Yes. The guards there are eager to meet you in battle. I doubt I could control them, if they got a chance to actually fight and slay a Shaper. They will all fight you as one, and die rather than give in to Shapers again. " Andras looked back at his support troops and turned back towards the servile.

 

"Why do they hate Me?" dropped Andras.

"I do not have the time to recite the whole list of crimes your people have committed against ours. All my warriors want is a chance for fair justice."

 

"How is this justice done? They would do me evil because I am a Shaper, would it be fair if I did you evil simply because you are a servile? What have I done against these soldiers?” thought Andras dejected. Then he turned his look towards the feeding birds.

 

“Well it seems you haven't done much justice to your own.” spat out Andras. Amena turned her gaze away from the dead serviles and rogues hanging from Kazg's gallows and replied looking in Andras' direction:

 

“Again like I said so before, I do not have the time to recite the whole list of crimes you have committed against the Takers.”

 

“Nasty prick. A thick head form Chickentown***" thought Andras.

 

"I wish to enter Kazg and speak with your leaders. How is this possible?" Scythed shinning Andras.

"I would need to escort you into town myself. But first, I need to believe that it is worth it. Killing Ellrah or Rydell would be a good start. I do not want one of your kind in my home, no matter what Gnorrel says."

 

"Gnorrel? Who is that?"

"Gnorrel is our leader. She rules the Takers. She says, that there is a certain Shaper she wishes to see, but she said nothing about how to identify him or her. I don't think any Shapers can be trusted, so I will not help you pass."

 

"Shouldn't you obey your orders?"

"I am not a servant.” Andras was sore amazed with this demonstration of simple wisdom. “You Shapers want us all to be servants, to you or to each other. No. I am here and she is not. I will not help you pass."

"It is wise to leave. If you do not, you will be slain." It was highly improbable.

The Takers here held no rods of any kind and only a handful of officers here possed up to six pods. Such officers had the support of a few firey wands, ice crystals mortars and suicide troops. Magical swords and items proved to burn them. They would be broken down into the very essence they were made from in an instant, if he let alone raised a finger.

Andras then got annoyed.

"If you want me dead, don't you think the best way to bring that about would be to take me to your leader? I won't die out here." Andras looked at his vlish and thahd Shades. He would not die here.

Amena on the other hand stopped, surprised. This fact clearly hadn't occurred to him. “That is true. I do not even think that I can kill you. Gnorrel, however, definitely could.”

Andras couldn't but help noticing the state of his dress as some of it decayed...

"Follow me, Shaper. I will lead you to the gate. Beyond the gate watch your step. Watch yourself, though. The slightest theft, the slightest crime, say or do the wrong thing, I won't give a dime. We will swarm you. We will all fight you as one. We will slay you and die rather than give in to Shapers again.” Andras puffed at this gratuitous display of power. “You are not the master here.” reminded him the servile.

 

As Amena escorted Andras on the lonely road to the bone white city of Kazg, the shaper started singing.

 

“I send a pestilence and plague

Into your house, into your beds

Into your streams, into your streets

Into your drink, into your bread

Upon your cattle, on your sheep

Upon your oxen in your field

Into your dreams, into your sleep

Until you break, until you yield

I send the swarm, I send the horde

Thus said the Lords.”

 

Amena stopped. Andras was allowed through the doors of Kazg. It was a massive fortress. Though as barren and dusty as the rest of the area, it must have been at one point a garden of Eden and the administrative center for the Shapers of Sucia isle, the heart of the isle's research. From here, all of the orders and directives which governed this colony emerged. Most likely, the decision to abandon Sucia Island came out of here too. This had to be the best chance to obtain clues about what happened here and why this island was Barred.

Now it is the citadel of the Takers.

When the serviles inside saw Andras, their response is immediate. Shouts of alarm are raised. Weapons are drawn. Farmers and children run for safety.

 

Andras raised his hands in a ready pose, prepared to defend himself at all costs. However, before anyone ends up dead, a large servile in a steel breastplate ran between him and the assailants. “Wait!” He shouted.

"By the orders of Gnorrel, until Shaper commit crime against us, the Shaper is not attacked! No blades. No threats. The Shaper has business with us, and is not yet foe. Go back to business."

The words have the desired effect. As the serviles slouched back to their business, casting dark looks back at Andras, the armed servile approaches. “I Eko Blade. You no friend to me. But we may have business. Gnorrel waits in centre hall. Go to her.”

“You be full of peace here. One step wrong or crime, and we fall on you. We have no love of Shapers, only business if need be.” Eko turned and walked back to the massive stone hall in the centre of the keep. Andras waved his hand and dissolved his army behind a small ruin and set fought to meet these strange and new people alone.

 

Although Andars knew the way he asked his way to a farmer taker as means to better apprehend the situation. To alienate this knew sect with this token of slavery, or dissolving his creations in public would have been a rude if not a direct provocation to the people of Kazg an since then Andras never took a single war creation into Kazg.

 

He was here to greet and recognise the Takers of Kazg not to carry warfare against dangerous rogues.

 

"Hello there, do you know who is in charge here?" Sweetly said Andras.

The Servile pointed at the huge building at the west end of town. “Gnorrel is there. She is leader, our leader, leader of Takers. She tell you.”

"How is your farming going?"

“Farming bad. Farming always bad. We live here as long as we remember, in Kazg, in this dusty, dirty place, where the land dies little more each year, getting more hungry, getting more weak.” As he spoke, he stared at the ground.

“You Shapers leave us like this, and now you return, and want us to obey. We not ask for freedom, like weak Awakened. We take our freedom. We take it from you.”

 

Form there Andras moved into the large building. It was strong, and where once the Shapers controlled and designed, it was now teeming with rogues.

Below it's massive celling were built many an alcove, set to either side of the administrative complex, both east and west.

At top one alcove lied the pinned dried corpse of a rogue creation, the staff of the Shapers, an artila black as a cobra, the shaper symbols of it's skin gone white with age. And below the serpent, sat it's slayer, servile Eko Blade, the great appolymi****, washing his feet with salt water and whose back bore more resemblance to that of rhino than a servile, the scars of many years of battles, covering him tip to toe.

 

Taker soldiers were posted to either the side of every of the arch of this great administrative chapel.

 

And amongst a crowd teeming serviles, that was spread thin from either side of the room, "mis de profil" like in the paintings of old, leaving a long corridor of space so that the leader may spot afar newcomers and barer of news, sat, at the very centre of the big hall, an old female servile. She had been talking to some of her fellow takers that had once seemed to buzz around here in a disorderly fashion and was now standing behind a century old wooden table, old, worn and hard like the servile's skin. Now that Andras was in front of her, her companions unsheathed their blades before him and stopped her dead in her tracks.

 

She was about to leave the Takers to their petty squabbles.

 

But when she saw Andras for the very first time, she had to exert a great effort to keep herself under control.

 

Part of her wanted to kill him. She was choking with anger, sorely tempted to just call the guards and have it out here and now. But like cunning Rydell, this servile's good sense was eclipsed by her idealism, dismissed the crowd and after a few long moments after having brought tea she made for herself and the Shaper, she sat down, and gained enough control to speak.

 

"Shaper. You have come to us. I am Gnorrel, leader of the Takers. Though I am the sworn enemy of your kind, and yet I am able to deal with you personally without rage. Come, and we may speak." She offered the Shaper a seat.

 

She held up a cup of tea to Andras. It smelt earthy. "What other dealings do you wish to have with the Takers, Shaper?" She sarcastically smiled before drinking from the cup, the very same cup from which Andras drew his lips.

"It's very bitter." sickly said Andras.

"Yes it is." said she.

 

"I want to learn about the Takers."

"I am glad. I will tell you our story, if you choose to hear it."

 

"Why have you not attacked me?"

"I have let you live and approach me because my allies want your help, and we want your help. We want you to ally with us. We have much we need, and much to offer."

"We wanted for you to join us here. And you have. It was a wise decision, I think."

"I am trying to find a boat. Where can I find one?"

"If you were allied with the Takers, I might help you."

Andars sighed. She took visibly pleasure in walling off Andras.

 

"I want to talk to you about what's happening on this island."

"And there is much you should learn. There are humans on this island, who have come from far across the western sea. They are from a people called the Sholai. They are helping us, and we are helping them."

"We all have many great plans, but, to make them come about, we need the help of a Shaper."

 

"And what do you know about the outsider humans?"

"They are called the Sholai. When you are allied with the Takers, there is much I can tell you."

 

"Tell me of your story. How did this hatred came about?” Gnorrel was surprised.

"We serviles have lived in Kazg for many years, after you Shapers left us. It was hard. You have many tunnels and warrens to the north, and creatures came out of them and savaged us. And the land slowly grew worse. We don't know why."

"The plants died, and we were hungry, and we died. But we were loyal. We believed that you created us, and, for that, we owed you a debt. But as the years passed, and we suffered more and more, we grew angrier."

 

"Then what happened?"

 

"Then one of us stepped forward. His name was lost. One day, he went to the middle of the square, mad with hunger and anger, and he raised his fist, and he shouted."

"He yelled 'The Shapers are wrong! They torment! They bad! We must take our free!'

 

Gnorell paused as if waiting for Andras to continue.

 

"So what happened to him?"

 

"Oh, he was killed. He was attached to a pole and the birds came to pluck his liver out. We were loyal to your kind then, and the guards struck him down instantly. But the idea was planted. And, as the years past, more and more came to repeat his words."

"We call ourselves Takers, now, because we will take our freedom from you, however we can. You lost all right to control us when you left us here."

 

"Well, if you think you should be free, I think it is only right. I hope it will not be necessary to fight over it, though." Said Andras bitterly.

“I hope so too.” Gnorrel looked genuinely sad. “But not all of my people feel that way. If what we are planning works, it will not be necessary to have bloodshed.”

 

"What do you want from me?"

"We want you to ally with us. We have certain plans in motion, but we need a Shaper to work with us. If you do, you will be fighting for justice, for freedom for the creations you have treated so badly."

Andras looked at Gnorell. He nodded to her in agreement.

"But there is more than that. If you will help us, you will gain power. If you help us, we can make you strong, incredibly strong, stronger than your masters would ever let you be."

"Help us, and you can take some of the power hidden on this island."

 

Andras fantasized that he would be staring at a big lurk fish.

 

"Only a slave has only one master. An ambitious man has as many masters as there are people who may be useful in bettering his position." Spat Andras.

 

"I thought so. I thought, in the end, you would be weak. The offer is still open to you, but do not wait too long or you will be left behind."

 

Andras turned his back on Gnorrel, and went humming to visit the city's jail.

 

“I send the thunder from the sky,

I send the fire raining down,

I send a hail of burning ice,

On ev'ry field, on ev'ry town,

I send the locusts on a whim,

Such as the world has never seen,

On ev'ry leaf, on ev'ry stalk,

Until there's nothing left of green,

I send my scourge, I send my sword,

Thus saith the Lord!”

 

Andras was allowed himself to enter one of the cells. As long as Eko stood, Andras could enjoy a certain amount of freedom. After all it is a very old custom that both the serviles and the Shapers maintain, which is to visit jails.

Andras found himself in a small room with a small crocked servile. If the creation could barely keep himself upright, it stood up to attention, ready to meet it's maker. He looked hungry and the black and blues across his face showed that he had been badly beaten."

"Shaper. At last. I am Houten. I am an Obeyer. At last, you have come."

 

"Why have you been imprisoned here?"

"I was sent by Rydell. I am supposed to watch what the Takers here are doing. I was found out. Now, though, I can give my information to you. You will surely help us against the evil Takers."

 

"What do you want me to know?"

"The Takers here, they deal with the outsider humans. They are called the Sholai. You must tell Rydell. You must warn him. Tell him!"

"Who is the leader of these humans?"

"All I know is his name. They are led by one called Trajkov. He was their leader when they came here from over the sea, and he leads them now. He lives in the tunnels to the north."

"What do the outsiders want?"

"There is something... something called the Geneforge. I don't know what it is or what it does. But I know it is here, and the Takers and the Sholai seem to think it holds the key to everything."

"I tried to... tried to talk to the rebel Sholai. But I could not reach them."

"Rebel Sholai?"

"There are some of the Sholai. They... they are hiding in a cave to the east. Outside the outskirts of... Kazg. The Takers trapped them in a cave."

“Find them. Reach them. Talk... talk to them.” He choked. “They know things. Valuable things. I am sure of it.” The servile spat out blood.

 

"You are very ill. How can I help you?"

 

"Please, Shaper, do not. Soon, the Takers will haul me out, and they will kill me, and I will show them how a servile should die, in the true belief of the true will of the Shapers."

"If one servile must die to forward the will of your kind, that is a small price to pay. I will not eat, and I will not escape."

"You are wise and noble, in your way. We Shapers approve of your obedience."

“Thank you, Shaper. You are kind to comfort me in my time of trial.”

Andras took the serviles to his chest, the gentle glow of his magic warming the poor servile. He continued the song he started whispering bitterly:

 

“Thus said the Lords.

I will not...

Let your people go.

Thus I say, the Lord...”

 

His teeth clenched and gnashed.

Andras felt the tiny hand of the servile holding onto him. He changed his tune to one of the cotton songs he used to sing when he was a boy with the kids of his village, a bygone era it had seemed, in a time when he courted the beautiful Roxane:

 

“Go to sleep my little baby,

Go to sleep you little baby,

Every body's long gone und' the cotton and the corn,

Didn't leave nobody but the baby.

Such a sweet little baby.

Such a sweet little baby.

Honey in the rock and the sugar don't stop...

 

 

*The Eser Ha-MAkot or Ten Plagues, were released by the Shapers on Terrestia during the blockades of their great citadels by the Iugularians coalitions, ten plagues that served as to reveal the powers of the Shapers through out the world and ended the second and last Iugularian war.

The first plague was that of blood. When guardians slaughtered enemies by the hundreds by blade to gain access to the streams of Terrestia and poison them with an algae that would taint these bodies of water rose red.

The second plague was that of frogs, that rose from the poisoned waters to rot inland where they could breathe into the palaces of the ruling magicians caste, into their bedroom and onto their beds, the houses of their officials and into the ovens and kneading-trough of the people, tainting red the waters they reached.

The third plague was that of the unleashing of bioengineered lice upon the people of Terrestia so that they may reach out to every men in the land. They served as an effective way to cripple the magician priesthood at the time that needed to be purified in order to perform their daily prayers and utter curses.

The fourth Plague was that of flies and wasps that came to bite or mark the people of Terrestia and their animals. Those “marked” served as an effective canon fodder for the Shapers.

The fifth plague used the lice and flies of the third and fourth plagues as means of transport. It is called the plague of pestilence, for it harmed only the livestock of the Terrestian people with a deadly sickness. The livestock of Shapers, immune to the plague, prospered.

The six plague was that of boils, an ugly skin disease that killed all but the Shapers.

The seventh plague was that of the hail of strange fire. The Shapers having rediscovered how to cast the spell essence orbs, struck the land with these balls of energy, which they fired through crystalline magical mortars.

When this curse struck down, it reproduces a sound and a smell comparable to that of a strong thunderstorm. It is said that the victims of the spell bear the exact symptoms as those suffering from frostbite: waxy skin, frozen tissues, blisters etc... even though the spell is known to spread huge ceasepools or "storms" of fires.

The seventh plague was followed closely the eighth plague also known as the plague of locusts; legions of glaahks and locust swarms were unleashed unrestrained upon the land of Terrestia turning many kingdoms from lush gardens into harsh and dry deserts.

The ninth plague involved massive pollution of the sky, effectively removing the rays of the sun form the landmass during three days with black magic, so that Terrestrians would yield to the Shapers.

The last plague and the most horrific of all was perhaps that of the death of the first born, where the Shapers invented a disease that would inflict new born babies with chronic pains, diarrhoea, sore eyes, spots, delirium, high fevers and then a state of silent yet agonising living death. The Shapers then sold the cure, but not it's formula, to the survivors, making themselves even more richer in the process.

**The Ten thousand were mercenaries that the writer and professional soldier Xenophon accompanied during daring spear head assault of Achaemenes' palace led by Cyrus the Younger. The Palace was at the heart of a reformed and unified Akkadian Sumer empire, at the time the world's biggest super power (alone the empire contained 20% percent of the world's population). This campaign, although a down right failure, inspired the first known world conquest by Alexander III, king of all the Dorian people, son of Philip II of Thebes, known as "the horse rider".

***Chikentown, a mythical community, whose deeds are known for being a tranquil stagnant place, harboured active thieves, murderers and poets like John Cooper Clarke. Chikentown also know for being the place of birth of the famous fictional feminist; Candy Quackenbush.

***Apollymi, which means to purify to destroy, was once the epithet of the sun god Apollo, slayer of the chthonic serpent Python.

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  • 1 month later...

I've modified Houten's death. It's now even more tragic. I'm sorry if things seemed to be very sketchy with re-editing everywhere with little regular or chronological links. As it is a work in progress it's bound to be re-written and re-edited. However i promise something juicy to those who followed the thread up to now from time to time: a new fragment. I've set myself to work on Andras meeting Heustess and later on Gottesch.

Houten's death:

 

"Laughter is a place of loneliness. How many of you have made new friends or strengthen ties at funerals?"

-Commentary on the Pagliacci joke by author Louis Ferdinand Destouches.

 

 

Andras was given a cell for the night. The spirit of murder would fill the air of Kazg. Huge braziers were kept alight, like on a 1st of May, to keep evil-dooing at bay. Eko Blade wisely posted his bed in front of Andras' chambers. His body was an effective deterrent to would-be murderers.

 

When Andras woke up, after a long night listening at Eko snoring, already many of the people of Kazg had flocked round to bear witness to the execution of Houten. Eko was up talking to guards from his bed. Andras and Eko were given bowls of sparkling water and baths to refresh themselves. Only Eko Blade cleaned himself, cleaning his wrists and hands before donning his gloves. Andras would only poor his gaze, motionless into the bowl's waters which caught the read dawn. The same light that Andras stared into, seemed to stab at Houten eyes as he was driven out by Eko and his soldiers into the crowd outside. The crowd outside, at first calm would then curse and crow when the servile was hauled out. They only saw the Obeyer in him. Vegetable and rotten fruit was thrown, until Andras and his army of creations walked out of the battlements. The Shaper looked grumly. The tumult died down. Eko Blade read out a list of accusations; supplying vital information to the enemies of the Takers, providing weaponry and supplies to the enemies of the Takers, lying to officers of the law and knowingly holding valuable information from his Taker brethren, hereby committing a crime to all servile kind. His sentence; death.

 

Eko called for his fellow soldiers to open the gates of Kazg. Having stepped outside the walls of Kazg, the serviles waited for the soldiers and the prisoner to arrive around one of the poles which littered the landscape. Birds would float high above the congregation as a strong dusty wind blew into the serviles' kilim* robes.

Eko Blade closely followed by Andras brought Houten to one of the poles.

Then two kazgian officers rushed towards Eko Blade with a heavy chain. Eko, although huge and strong for a servile seemed to weaken momentarily. It was used to make rogues wield and without proper protection burnt the skin of creations.

 

Andras ran to Eko Blade. The servile gave the chain to Andras, who dropped it. A taker tried to stab Andras "in the name of the law". Eko immediately drew out his sword and declared that any Taker that would try to intervene would have his eyes gouged out and "skull banged". The crowd seemed well disciplined, even martial at times, they did not press forwards.

 

After a fierce debate with the Shaper, Eko wielded. The Takers offered to Houten a blindfold. He accepted. Eko allowed Andras to talk with Houten for a while. Andras took the blindfold off. They talked. Andras drew his blade and severed the rope which tied the servile's hands. From the crowd it seemed that Houten yanked his arm. A last joke. Houten laughed aloud. Andras whispered something in Houten' ear. Andras rapped round with his robes, Houten. Andras 's robes left Houten. Houten put his blindfold back. Houten was waiting anxious, but stood with all his height as if he were to run at any instant in a straight forward line. Two guards drew out their swords. Andras unsheathed his thorn baton. Momentarily hasted, Andras glided back seven steps away from the serviles. Andras raised his right hand. It held the thorn baton.

Andras did not flinch when he fired the venom thorn. He was calm. His index and thumb pressed hard against the trigger.

 

A huge eagle hopped towards what was left of Houten. Andras tucked back his thorn baton through his belt and went back into Kazg, leaving the liver pecking Takers to their tales of poles and execution.

 

Having reached Kazg Andras bathed before working furiously. He soaped, soaked and dried both hands vigorously.

Working he toyed with a blue bottle. The very same blue bottle to which he gave Houten while he hid him under his robes. He poured a drop of it on his right hand thumb and index finger. They went numb for hours.

 

*Kilim or gelm are rough and strong textiles made from sheep wool. They are used as door mats.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

After Andras' visit of the shades of the Spririt city, our young hero decides to take an other path to reach Goettesch:

 

 

"We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember,

because we were travelling in the night of first ages,

of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign

-- and no memories...

the earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there -- there you could look at a thing monstrous and free."

-Conrad's Heart of darkness

 

 

 

"We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember,

because we were travelling in the night of first ages,

of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign

-- and no memories...

the earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there -- there you could look at a thing monstrous and free."

 

-Conrad's Heart of darkness

 

 

Andras, having met the shades of his people could not, but wonder out of the blood clad marvels that laid ruined at his feet. His people's quest for power had led them to ruin, in spite of the fact that their legacy laid all around him. Perhaps it was time for them to end. After all "words are bridges into unexplored regions.*"

The great temple's mouth seemed impassable, thanks to Goettsch' aggressive guards. Andras would have to choose an other entry and face again Rhakkus, the cryodrayk.

 

Andras marched through the ancient crypt, and out into Rhakkus' throat. "Stop, Shaper. I will not tolerate outsiders approaching my home." said Rhakkus,testing his voice.

"I know that Goettsch bought your help. How?" sliced Andras.

"My kind, as created by you, has a certain lust for money. You Shapers tried to breed it out of us, but to no avail. Goettsch offered me gold and jewels, stolen from the Sholai. And I accepted."

Andras remembered he had the necklace Masha gave him and it's velvet covering.

 

-"Can I, perhaps, buy safe passage from you?"

 

-"You Shapers are not as proud as I remember you being. Such crass trade with a mere creation? I am amused."

"Still, I owe Goettsch no great loyalty. If you give me two thousand five hundred coins, I will instruct my servants to be, shall we say, less aggressive in chasing you." Radiant with magic, Andras took out the gold necklace out of his bag and it's blue velvet covering: "This will suffice."

"Excellent. I will instruct my drayks to let you pass."

The lumbering drayk staggered away from Andras, weighed down to the floor by it's new gold necklace.

 

To the right of where the vale opened where the pylons met, Andras saw an opening where the soldiering drayks, powerful enough to outmatch a Sholai expedition would not flock to. Inside the outcrop lived a servile hermit: Halm.

 

Despite his age and physical weakness, a strange, authoritative aura surrounded him.

Andras saw him as an equal.

"I am Halm. Welcome to my cave." Halm had a beautiful voice calm and resonant.

"What are you doing out here?" asked Andras memorized.

"I prefer to live alone. To think. To give advice when advice is sought. I used to live close to the cities. No longer. Their sects have gone mad: each sect began with a grain of wisdom. But that grain has, in each case, been blown away by the winds of rigidity and fanaticism."

 

"What can you tell me about these ruins?"

"They are very old. But I am sure you know that. They are full of capricious ghosts, who may attack outsiders. That much is clear as well. To the west, you will find the core of the ruined city. There are many living chambers, and shops, and an enormous temple."

"What do you know about the temple?"

"There is another Shaper here. I don't know anything about him but his name. Goettsch. You have never been there. Too dangerous. Too many shades. You know much better than I."

Andars replied "No I did not. however not all of the ruins seemed not to be filled with just ghosts."

Halm nodded and added "Well it comes to confirm what I just what I’ve just said?"

 

"Do you know Rhakkus?" Andras stared to grow an "independent" smile.

 

"We are cordial. I was able to convince him that I was no threat. He respects my wisdom and I respect his age." spat out Halm.

 

"You are strangely confident for a servile."

 

"Perhaps. Perhaps I am. I have spent my life learning how to best communicate, to convince others of my point of view and my good intentions. I have, in the past, shared my rhetorical gifts with others. Convincing others of things is a skill. It can be learned."

 

Andras intrigued, inquired: "Why did you move?"

"The rogues. The warfare, servile versus servile. The outsiders. The madness. I had to leave. To come up here was dangerous. Though the shades of these ruins did not, for some reason, attack me, it was a terrifying journey. Now that I am here, I will remain until sanity returns."

 

"Would you teach me your secrets?"

Halm nodded. "I can. I can teach you, for a donation. Give me two thousand coins, and I will tell you some of what I know."

 

"What would you do with all that money?"

"I would use it. Turbulent times are coming. We serviles will need to interact with others. We will need to trade. When that time comes, I will use your donation to better the lot of my kind."

 

"I would like you to teach me how to be more convincing."

 

Halm had Andras sit down, facing him. Then he began to talk. He told stories. He told him of his life, of the serviles, of the trials they suffered since the Shapers left.

Andras "paid" careful attention, not just to what he said, to his logic, his use of concepts, but to how he said it. His calm, hypnotic voice and mode of phrasing was both very useful and interesting.

Hours passed swiftly. During this course, Andras also posed problems Halm would help him with:

 

-"Let's say how should I deal with being angry with someone?"

 

-"Simple. Don't struggle against it. It is the temple of vulnerability in which echoes a cry of pain. You have a right to be vulnerable, to be weak, to be naïve. So you must defend this voice at all costs. If you get angry at someone or at a group of individuals, remember, don't look at them straight in the eye. If you do, it will make them nervous. Do you liked to be shouted at? No. Instead divert your anger away from the person or group of persons, onto an fixed object next to them, it'll show them that you mean no harm, and that you are angry at the situation she or he is responsible. By doing so they can understand what is the cause of your anger."

 

-"What do you think of the Awakened?"

-"They want equality from the Shapers. They want to achieve this through money, and through greed. But the Shapers will never buy it. They are questing for the impossible. They'd be better off with equity."

 

"What do you think of the Obeyers?"

"They worship you as Gods. But you are not Gods. There is no truth in this path."

"What do you think of the Takers?"

"They wish war. War is not necessary. They throw in with your enemies. This path will only get them destroyed."

Andras filled with new knowledge, thanked the servile and sought out cryodrayks.

 

Andras, would hunt down each croydrayk he saw, knowing that they would be surprised as his sword hacked at their war scarred skulls. Andras having slayed the lot approched what looked like the entrance to another ruined crypt. Inscriptions were written on all the walls, in the lost language of the extinct natives. The walls and floor were covered with frost. Whether this unnatural cold was caused by the cryodrayks or is what originally attracted them, Andras couldn't be sure. But Rahkuss was there numb, weighed by his prize. Andras could not resist cutting to pieces the paralyzed creature. Andras had Masha's necklace soaked in numbing lotion, the very same with which he executed Houten.

 

From Rakhuss's hoard and sarcophagi Andras produced loot rich in gold and jewels. And with a pair of gloves. He recognized them. They were the gloves of the hammer**.

 

-

 

 

*Adolf Schicklgruber, The struggle.

**The fabled gloves of the Hammer, is a remarkable weapon and tool, as famous as the ebeneezer, or "stone of help".

The gloves serve a specific purpose, augment it's barer and protect him or her, from magic, noxious chemicals, cuts and wounds.

The gloves seemed to carry amazing properties; they enable it's bearer to carry heavy loads with a minimum of effort; up to twice the bearer's own weight, and could quite help Andras destroy a stony basin six feet across, made of pure strong magically resonant stone.

The materials which are used in their construction are not simple; they seem to repair themselves after a fight when exposed to light, and appear to be lighter than a feather and more durable than titanium. The gloves also channels magic in such a way that it makes the bearer a lot more quicker.

Not unlike the thrusting gloves, the gloves of the hammer posses a weak magical aura that can induce a state of absolute terror and fatigue towards a specific target.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"I will make my bread out of your body

and it is in my cup that your blood will be pored,

as the wine of the new testament"

 

-Heustess, The new covenant.

 

 

Beyond the caves of the drayk's vale laid the sentinels. It hewed out of wall of the great mountains of Sucia.

It seemed that the Shapers, when they had settled here, had built the reflection of an empire long extinct, not ever dreaming that they would also build great ruins, which also contained great pillar monstrosities and slimes that spat burning sulfur.

 

Andras lend his ear to the wind and to the strange silence that haunted the ruins. This silence was either broken by the murmur of weak ghosts or the gentle snarling of ornks.

 

Andras quickly learned of Sentinels' perils;

 

Sentinels opened forwards into pits of slimes, primitive attempts of creating essence pools, and a host of mutant ornks. The entry also led left towards a weird waxy figure secured in the ruins of a long lost empire and on his right, the silent traps of the Shaper Goettsch waited: reaper turrets and mines ready to fire at any moment' notice.

 

Not knowing where to go next, Andras had first attempted (with great success) to pit his magic and creations against the ornks which chewed on the many dead remains of cryodrayks. Stone trees stood motionless against the poisonous wind. The ornks fought well but were butchered by Andras' new magic gloves, they stood their ground when Andras entered their strange temple, which seemed to breathe... breathe out the fowl vapours of the poisonous pools it contained. Where people prayed to an century old altar, animals lied and prayed too, the temple's precious tiles and tapestries all covered with dung. These ornks, a common source food had in essence developed crude intelligence, replaced man and prayed to the ancient gods of the isle.

 

On the altar laid orkn-skin gloves, beautifully crafted from thick leather.

These gloves also guarded by a dormant Rakkus, that waited only for Andras to grab them. As soon as he caught them, they disappeared in a flash of light which then condensed into a shimmering glowing thing which looked like an ornk, it's jaws ready to lunge at Andras. It seemed that the gloves had once been an object of worship by the strange locals. These first Sucian had turned their great powers of transubstantiation, far greater than those of the Shapers, into an object of pure worship.

The creature was put down and the ornk gloves were sold off by Andras to Proof of Junkyard as nothing more than a precious commodity, a testimony of the past.

 

Since the temple didn't lead to anywhere but to more massive stone walls, Andras tried his technical skills on Goettsch's traps: Andras nearly found him self splattered on all walls, when attempting to short-circuit one of the largest crystal triggers. Although armed with the tinker's gloves he would not risk himself again to such traps and devices, which seemed to gain more complexity at each time he tried to deactivate them.

 

He was hereby forced to confront the shade. It laid there motionless amidst a small workshop in which the pillars Andras dreamt of were made.

The pillars around the creature seemed smooth and roughly hewn.

They were still being worked on when, for whatever reason, the ruins were abandoned. The people who lived here did indeed have a thing for stone pillars, some of them small and intricately carved, some enormous and yet seemingly simple. Some of those were carved here. Some of the logs they used to roll the blocks of stone around are still in the corner, though quite decayed.

 

The shade however, seemed new. Waxy. A creation. It was a wispy, insubstantial thing, and yet it radiated powerful heat.

It started to speak, in the tongue of the Shapers, but only in a low droning voice:

 

-"I am a guardian. The first. Nothing more is within me. I exist to be paid or to stand aside."

-"What price do I have to pay? I haven't anything of value to give you."

-"All who pass must pay a price. I must take your strength. I must make you weak. Only if you let me feed will I let you pass." answered the shade.

-"And you have done so. You scare me. You make me feel weak. I have paid." said Andras trying to outwit the shade; shades are limited creatures, and Andras statements confused its simple programming.

It paused for a long while. Then it said, "Then you have... you must have... you have paid. You may pass."

 

-"Who created you, shade?"

-The shade points to the west. "That way lies the answer."

 

Andras moved once more across the labyrinth of ruins and stones trees that were so typical of the region.

 

Once more he entered a big house, inhabited by a silent shade that stands in the middle of the room. While a wispy, insubstantial thing, it radiated powerful cold. Standing near it made Andras felt slow and weak.

 

-"I am a guardian. The second. All who pass must pay a price. Nothing more is within me. I exist to be paid or to stand aside."

-"What price do I have to pay?"

-"I must take your speed. I must make you slow and sluggish. Only if you let me feed will I let you pass."

-"Buuuutttt Iiiii ammmmm alreeeady sloooow aaaand sluuuugghish." said Andras.

The shade paused for a long while. Then it says, "Then you have... you must have... you have paid. You may pass."

 

-"Who created you, shade?"

-"The shade points to the south. "That way lies the answer."

 

A thick blanket of trees seemed once again cover the ruins as Andras plunged into the heart of darkness:

Once more Andras met a shade standing in the middle of a room. A wispy, insubstantial thing, and yet it radiates powerful cold. Standing near it made him feel slow and weak.

-"I am a guardian. The third. All who pass must pay a price. Nothing more is within me. I exist to be paid or to stand aside."

-"What price do I have to pay?"

-"I must take your thoughts. It is gem most prized amongst all things, by my creator. I will have the secrets in the treasure house of your mind. Only if you let me feed will I let you pass."

 

-"You want my thoughts and secrets? Here they are..."

 

As he spoke the bubbles of faint smells of memories started to rise in Andras. He talked and talked and kept talking, telling it of his opinions, his ideas, a few Shaper secrets, stories from his childhood, the tea, cooking and pastries of his childhood...

 

The shade seemed baffled. "I... I..."

Andras kept on talking for a while, but eventually the shade seemed sated.

 

-"I have had enough secrets from you. I do not need to take any more. You may pass."

 

-"Who created you, shade?"

The shade points to the east. "That way lies the answer. Heustess is beyond."

 

All of this seemed child's play when Andras met Heustess.

 

This was a strange being. It wasn't a shade. It looked like a tiny, warped human, but wrapped in a thick field of dark, shimmering energy. It seemed frail, but power flowed off of it in waves. It was terribly old, so old that it must have witnessed the night of first ages, when man had only discovered how to tame the wild fires of Sucia, which ' rising dark clouds, filled the world's frozen skies.

 

It was tinkering on a weapon. A large weapon filled with machinery resembling to that of the pining spear*. It was built within a metal frame with Sucian inscriptions*. The words read:

"I will make my bread out of the ruined bodies here and it is in my cup that your blood will be pored, as the wine of the new testament;

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the earth.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of me.

Woe to you who are rich, because you have had your comfort!

Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

We are not a servant and will never be.

We are not meant to be servants, nor to those who mold life,

nor to each other."

 

Around the dark creature, clad with dark ash, weapons of all sorts, swords, javelins, whips, the accumulated wealth and weaponry of centuries past. It turned away from his own devices and started to communicate with Andras. It didn't so much speak, though, as radiate the words. His voice is soft, but Andras winced as if he was shouting:

 

-"I am Heustess, guardian of the ruins. Once a king and a slave of the Sucian tribes. And now I wait here. And it is here that I take my tolls."

 

Andras looked at his right hand; red sweat dropped from his thorn baton; he was sweating blood.

 

-"What price do I have to pay?" The hooded figure moved closer to Andras. The shaper peered into the hood. A lipless smile filled with white metal teeth.

-"I must take your energy, your life essence. I will eat it, and make myself strong." shrieked Heustess. "Only if you let me feed will I let you pass. These ruins are mine. My people bought and built them with our blood and suffering. It is just that you must pay by my hand only. You may pass through only with my permission. This is the blood of my new covenant."

 

-"Is there nothing I can do? Is there no way I can get you to let me pass without eating my life?" inquired Andras his red sweat drawing nearer to Heustess.

 

-"Yes. There is an intruder in these ruins. It calls itself Goettsch." Heustess shrieks "It stinks to me. It invades, and I fear it. It is powerful. Swear to kill it, kill this Goettsch, and I will not only let you pass, but I will reward you with life when the deed is done. If you agree, I will mark you, so you may not betray me. I will make you stink with hatred of him. You will not be able to deal with him against me. So make your choice." The teeth did not recede back into the hood.

 

-"That is fair. Mark me, and I will kill Goettsch."

Heustess waved a dark, shimmering hand. Heustess drew closer to Andras. Bony finger rose to Andras, who felt a tingling sensation across his face.

 

-"Goettsch is west. Slay him. Purify my home."

 

-"How long have you been here?"

-"I do not know. Thousands of years. Something like that."

-"Describe the ruins to me?"

-"They are my home. The rest, you must find for yourself."

 

Heustess stared at Andras, waiting to see what else he would say. The emptiness he felt from just being near him started to overwhelm Andras who wished to be anywhere else.

 

-"Who or what are you?"

-"I am the descendant. I am the survivor. I am the blessed and the cursed. I am what remains from the war. I remember. I wait for the chance for revenge."

-"I don't understand."

-"These ruins. They were the center. They were an empire. They had foul magic, the ability to warp life, to change it, to twist it. They used this power to change those who opposed them. My people were fought by them, and their war mages changed our soldiers. Their organs jellied and their minds burned and they fell. Each changed, each in a different way. Sometimes harmless but usually quick death."

 

-"What happened to you?"

-"I was changed. But my changes were good. I was strong. So strong. And I led the fight back. Their changes did other things. Diseases were made, where there were no diseases. My warriors and the sickness destroyed their land. They fled, and were gone. And I stayed here. I have tolerated the shades of their empire for now. And I lie now in waiting, waiting for them to return, so I could slay them. I am the sentinel. I ever wait, gaining what energy I can to sustain myself, so that, when they return, I can kill them."

 

-"Wait! Those people you fought? They were my people!" Andras explained what he had seen in the temple and the secrets the priest gave him.

Heustess refrained from hurting Andras.

-"My wait was not in vain. The enemy has returned! My cause was right!"

 

Feeling Heustess' rising fury, burning Andras' skin like salt on a wound. The third guardian whilred at the Shaper. Silent detonations could be seen afar. Andras' need for freash essence started to take it's toll; he and is band of creations were forced into the great temple, were the shade did not folow, right into Goettsch' choking embrace.

 

-

 

*The weapon was found of Sucia isle. No doubt that it was left it intentionally. It retained features close to those seen in the machinery of a pining spear, but to a far greater magnitude:

The copper coils, that helped conduct the field, were twelve centimetres thick, twice the amount of metal usually needed. Since the metal was pure, other examinations and tests could be lead on the coils, in peculiar those tests which indicated the state of magical corrosion of an object. It helped to conclude that a shade, person or object of high magical density, which would absorb light, making it pitch black had spent some time here. When testing blood was found to roll towards a curious black spot. The writing was decyphered by using books, data crystals and servant minds found all around the isle.(Sharon, old sucian translations and enchantments)

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The site has yet again changed. The Sentinels plot has been modified and passages are being rearranged into chapters.

 

The modifications can be viewed here:

 

http://geneforgeremaker.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/show/13105131-the-mixing-halls

 

Also a new chapter is in the making ; Andras' discovery of the Mixing Halls and the Shrine of Defiance, in which Andras may show the darker nature of his crusade against evil. Here's a preview:

 

 

Quote:
"There's a big hard sun, beating on the big people, in a big hard world."

 

-Eddie Vedder

 

Andras could not help but remark the abundance of well armed tiny figures camped outside of the city. They had blocked the narrow gorge that slithered into the mine tunnels and dug a series of trenches, with crystal mortars and the fearsome suicide troops as support. The Takers of Kazg stayed there, immovable, like the great rocks above them. They didn't even bother patrolling a hard dusty road that separated them over a half a kilometre from Kazg. That was left to a small herd of skinny ornks, going at the roots of the already well worked road and keeping clear from the thick pine woods.

 

Healthy conifers, the trees needed not the poisoned waters of Kazg.

 

It seemed that the kazgians had once tried to reason with the soil here, on either side of the great road. But the over grazing, the over-investing of the land and finally, as the land became drier, the planting of conifer trees by the serviles had turned this fragile green mile into a woody dry crevasse.

 

In the absence of the Shapers, the serviles of Kazg had toiled as hard as they could, trying even to reinvest the two local ruins of the valley: on old Shaper temple was renamed the Shrine of defiance and was presently held by a sect of Taker rogues who opposed Gnorrel, and at it's opposite laid the great Mixing Halls, filled with it's own devices and monsters, whom had just awoken.

 

Andras went first for the Mixing halls. Tracks led out of the place into the caves beyond. Perhaps this path lead to enlightenment on the case of the rebellious outsiders and how and why they opposed Trajkov.

 

However before his vlish could probe the building, an armed servile walked up to Andras, shaking and twitching, a sword in one hand and a trigger in the other.

 

-"I Snag! You Shaper! I challenge you! You cause us too much pain! You die! You all die!"

 

 

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I just read your first page.

 

I think you should use numbered superscripts (1,2 etc) to indicate footnotes.The series of asterisks on a single page make it a bit confusing.

 

Your book is tastefully written, and you did well in porting it outside of the UBB; the theme of the website now matches the mood of the story very well, which makes for a very entertaining read.

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