Ulthuan

Ulthuan, Home of the Asur
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:11 pm 
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Tiralya wrote:
I'm not exactly close to Tasmania, but compared to the other regulars...


Ah hah! But there you see the devastating monomolecular edge to my cutting quip!! I have reduced all of Oz to merely being 'off the coast of Tasmania'....

Nice. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:15 pm 
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Headshot wrote:
Tiralya wrote:
I'm not exactly close to Tasmania, but compared to the other regulars...


Ah hah! But there you see the devastating monomolecular edge to my cutting quip!! I have reduced all of Oz to merely being 'off the coast of Tasmania'....

Nice. :D

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The famous Nagarathi sense of humour. Now you can say that Ulthuan is that piece of old rock south of your flying isles. Clever. :lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:42 am 
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Aicanor wrote:
Now you can say that Ulthuan is that piece of old rock south of your flying isles.


More like the hindquarters of Nagarythe! :wink:

Though in a more sober tone, I would say that the rest of Ulthuan represents 'hope'. Bittersweet it may be, but hope nonetheless.

(I'll let the philosophers debate whether hope was the last ill in zeus's box or not..... :D )

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P.S. Oh if you want to see me blather more about this, I seem to recall writing a lengthy exchange on the relation between Nagarythe and the rest of Ulthuan with Elithmar somewhere.... Though can't remember where! Hah! But I think in one of my stories here.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:13 am 
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Headshot wrote:
I'll let the philosophers debate whether hope was the last ill in zeus's box or not..... :D

Wise decision. :mrgreen: As I feel it, hope is a virtue almost as good as sense of humour. :wink:

Headshot wrote:
P.S. Oh if you want to see me blather more about this, I seem to recall writing a lengthy exchange on the relation between Nagarythe and the rest of Ulthuan with Elithmar somewhere.... Though can't remember where! Hah! But I think in one of my stories here.

I am currently putting together Traveler's Guide to Ulthuan in culture section so I will check it. Perhaps you could add some flavour to the Guide (time for Chrace and Nagarythe will come this weekend - at least I hope so).

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:33 pm 
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Aicanor wrote:
Perhaps you could add some flavour to the Guide (time for Chrace and Nagarythe will come this weekend - at least I hope so).


Hmmmmm, I don't have much to add that isn't in the stories. :-k

Speaking of which, here's the battle with the druchii.

Let's see, chronology is winter, late year 5.


The wagon bumped and jostled its way down the narrow country path. The forest was thick in these parts, and the trail uncovered; every rut sent a jolt through the crude vehicle. In its back were crowded over a dozen elves; their crimson and silver armor, and fine white tabards, clashing with the crudeness of their conveyance. With each jolt of the vehicle, hands clutched at the careening sides. A few swears were raised.

The driver, another elf, but clad in the simple blues and greys of a merchant, turned to the figure immediately behind him: one wrapped in heavy, voluminous robes and cowl of bright burgundy and gold. A hunched figure, smaller than the warriors, the elf seemed isolated from the others in the back; it sat in silence with a hand resting on the back of the driver’s seat.

“My lord,” the driver said. “I apologize again for the meanness of your conveyance. But the road condition allows for little else. And the clouds speak of rain. We must beat the storm before it turns all into rivers of slime!”

“How much farther?” the robed figure asked, in a reedy voice. Within the cowl one could just make out in the fading afternoon light strands of long blonde hair, and pale blue eyes.

“Not much further, my lord. I was to the place just yesterday morning for trade. I know it well,” the driver answered.

The cowled elf grunted. “I am surprised we have not been met. Where are the Nagarathi?”

“Oh, I suspect they have been following our progress for some time,” the driver said nonchalantly.

“What? If they know we are here, then why not greet us? Or challenge us?” the robed lord said curiously.

“They watch. They wait. And they will only challenge when they feel the advantage is theirs,” the merchant answered. “They are not Caledorian, my lord. Not like us. Please remember this. They have no honor, and refuse to challenge openly. They use coward’s arts.”

Once more the cowled elf grunted, noncommittally. The wagon’s occupants fell to silence. Soon the long foreseen rain began to fall. It was cold, and laced with ice.

Then the wagon skittered into a low place in the trail. The water was pooling at the bottom, turning the trail there to muck. As the driver pressed the horses to pull the heavy carriage through the morass, a pair of elves stepped out into the darkening trail before them. Each bore a longbow slung easily upon the back. That in itself wasn’t unusual; the warriors in the wagon also were equipped with the tall Asur bows, and had quivers of arrows covered in waterproof waxcloth arrayed on their laps. But the two in the road wore no silver ithilmar armor. No matching tabards to identify their lord and fealty. They were dressed as vagabonds: brown and black tunics and leather breeches. Rough woolen cloaks, crisscrossed with patches. And where the elves in the wagon were fair of hair and complexion, these two were pale, almost sallow in skin. One’s hair was dark; the other light blonde. And both had half of their skulls shaved; though on opposite sides.

“What brings you out on the trail this evening, Trader Olayin?” the darker, and older of the two challenged the driver.

“Ah, Avyn’Ral!” the driver greeted and brought the wagon to a stop. “Its well met I’m sure!” The trader smiled. “And you too Avyn’Pol. I hope you liked the quivers I traded with you.” The two elves just continued to watch. “But I act as transport tonight. I bring travelers from my home, fair Caledor! Of majestic mountains, and warm southern breezes. Fellow warriors of the Phoenix King’s glorious armies! Who wish to meet with your Prince.”

“He is not our Prince,” the dark one, Avyn’Ral, answered. “He is Nagarythe’s.”

“Of course, of course. I meant no disrespect. Will you grant us passage?”

Avyn’Ral frowned. “You’ve come at a bad time. I… cannot make that decision.” He lifted his fingers to his lips and gave a short whistle. And then, like wraiths, a half-dozen more shadowy figures emerged out of the trees, identical to the two in the road. Except all of these held longbows at the ready, with arrows on the string, pointed at the cart’s occupants.

The cowled figure watched them curiously.

One of the newcomers, a young elf with skull completely shaven but for a narrow string of braids from forelock to long queue in the back, moved beside the two in the road.

“What say you, Narrin’Tim?” Avyn’Ral asked. The newcomer pursed his lips and studied the elves in the wagon. His face was grim and serious as he did so. Across his back was strapped a straight longsword. Upon his hip sat a curved falchion. And, strangest of all, the bow he carried was white as ivory, and delicately carved with figures of swans.

“Take them to the Shadow Lord,” Narrin’Tim finally said. “You will be watched,” he added to the occupants. And then he and the others slipped back into the darkness. The wagon continued down the trail slowly, with the two young elves walking along either side.

“Those were….?” The robed elf in the wagon asked, curiosity in his voice.

“Yes. Those were Shadow Warriors. Of the Host of Nagarythe. We are almost there,” the trader Olayin replied.

The trail opened into a clearing filled with the glow of blue lamps, and the ruddy reds of watchfires. Tents were being broken down about the clearing, by the rapid hands of scores of elven warriors. Crates were being packed, and horses saddled. Warriors were fixing armor to torso wherever the eye looked.

Only one large pavilion stood untouched in the center.

“The Shadow Lord waits within,” Avyn’Ral said. “Only one may enter. The rest can wait, and take their sup, over there.” He added and pointed to a campfire nearby.

The occupants of the wagon alighted. Lastly came the cowled figure. As he did so the watchers were struck by the differences. He was almost a head shorter than the other Asur. And his body seemed….slouched. He climbed down gingerly, and ungraciously, from the wagon. At the bottom he shouldered a metal canister-tube upon his back.

“You are….?” Avyn’Ral asked.

“I am Talossar. I will speak with the Shadow Prince.”

***

Talossar walked to the large pavilion, adjusting his wire-frame spectacles as he did so. He was painfully aware of the eyes following him. His limping gait made him stand out amongst the tall and fit soldiers all around. He cursed his malformed shoulders - not for the first time - and tried to stand more erect.

The Nagarathi warrior walked with him, and called out to the tent as they approached. With the word ‘enter’ he pulled open the tent flap for Talossar to stoop under.

Once inside Talossar saw two elves standing about the sole piece of furnishing: a table bedecked in maps. One of the elves was tall and slender, in the way of the northerners, with a mop of braided white hair. He was most remarkable for the many scars etched onto face and throat. He was chewing on something as he watched Talossar enter.

The other was even more tall, and gaunt, with long raven hair that fell loose about his pale face. He wore a set of archaic black and gold armor.

The Shadow Lord! At last….

The War Prince of Nagarythe’s black eyes were studying Talossar as the young elf came further into the light. Talossar was very aware of the massive great sword strapped to his back. That would be the blade ‘Spite’, he mused. The one his uncle mentioned that time in his cups….

Talossar pulled back his cowl, revealing a face that while not exactly handsome, was only seriously marred by the metal spectacles he wore; something unknown to most Asur.

“I am Talossar. I bring you greetings and warm salutations from my uncle, Lord Malossar of the High Reaches!” Talossar began. “He has sent me…us… here as a recompense of honor.” Silence as the two elves continued to study him.

“Us?” the Shadow Lord finally asked.

“Yes, I bring a contingent of Caledorian archers to serve within the Host.”

“Caledorians know archery?” the scarred one muttered drolly. The Shadow Lord raised his hand for silence.

“And I put my spellcraft at your service as well,” Talossar continued as if he had heard nothing. “Until such a time as the debt is paid.” He produced a letter from within his robes. “I bring your missive from the White Tower….” He offered it to the Nagarathi prince.

The Shadow Prince barely glanced at the letter of introduction from his masters at the Tower, instead continuing to study his face. Finally he said,

“You are the brother.”

“Yes,” Talossar admitted, and tried to meet the ebon eyes. He couldn’t hold the stare for long, and looked instead at the maps. He noticed the many fresh writings upon them.

“You are welcome amongst us. Go wait outside with your comrades. But be ready to move. Battle will be upon us shortly,” the Shadow Lord instructed.

Talossar left the tent, his heart pounding in his chest. Battle! He had no idea! So soon! He hoped he was ready…. He hoped he was fit….

The same laboratory accident that had ruined his eyesight and damaged his knee, had curiously enough, sharpened his hearing. And as he limped over to his fellow Caledorians he could hear the voice of the scarred one within the tent mutter:

“Does someone at the Tower not like us?”

But then a rider burst into the camp, and chaos ensued!

“They have landed! Two miles hence!” the rider shouted. “Near the village of Hoth’Gren!!”

The Shadow Lord stepped out of his pavilion.

“Soldiers of Nagarythe assemble! We march for battle immediately!”

***
Talossar looked up at the great multi-headed monstrosity bearing down upon him.

So this was a battle, he thought. The way his uncle described it- soaring through the skies; the feel of the dragon’s muscles rippling below; the terror in the eyes of the foes as the majestic ancient tore into one’s foes; blade singing from the sheath…. Was nothing like this. Standing in the cold rain and mud, trying to not wet himself while he watched some nightmare blasphemy nip at the air, and lumber towards him with the intention of feeding.

No this didn’t seem glorious at all.

He wished his brother, Calossar, was here. His baby brother: tall, handsome, the light in his parents eyes. From childhood he had known it. Even before the accident he was always a disappointment to his father – his misshapen body, and frail health, were nothing of the Caledor ideal. And his book learning. The late nights of tinkering in his room. Infuriated his father! Why couldn’t he be more like his brother? His brother knew the magic; but it came effortlessly to him. He still had time to race horses, and go to jousts….and woo the maidens. Yes, handsome and athletic Calossar had always been popular with the girls. He remembered how just after his 30th birthday, young Cal had found him in his study to inform him that he had bedded his first. “I’m a man now, brother,” he had said with a smug smile, knowing full well that the only attention that Talossar received in that way was bought with coin or favor. Not even the castle maids would look twice at the lord’s twisted son if it weren’t for some…encouragement.

And now Calossar was dead. Killed by some Druchii blade in a house of ill repute on the shores of the inner sea. And Talossar found himself missing him….

The culprit was dead at the Shadow Lord’s hand. No chance for revenge. So, at his uncle’s urging, he had come here to repay the debt. No way their family could tolerate that obligation! Not to the Nagarathi!!

He needed to concentrate or nothing would be accomplished. He focused on the Druchii war beast, and reached into his robes producing a pipe. He blew into one end of it, creating a brilliant quicksilver bubble out the other. Then calling upon the winds of magic, he sent the orb flying towards the beast….

Only to see the orb stop in midair, and burst like the bubble it was.

The Druchii witch was smiling at him then. She was very attractive…raven hair tied back in a bright scarf. She blew a kiss at him….

Aaarggh!! She is mocking me?? How dare she mock a Caledorian lord!!!

Talossar unslung the large cylinder upon his back. He placed it end up upon the ground, and produced a sealed beaker from his satchel. Breaking the seal, he poured the liquid red contents into the tube. Then bracing it against his foot, he tilted the contraption towards the witch’s detachment….

And lit the fuse.

There was a whoomp! And sparkles white and red flew out of the tube in a dazzling array of light and motion! They came down upon the small band of Druchi corsairs with a fury: burning skin and eyes wherever one of the embers touched. He could hear the screams from over here.

That would show her, Talossar thought, and smiled.

***
Palin’Tanith gazed up at the boiling storm clouds overhead. The Chaos winds were creating ghost flickers of green light among them, that swirled and dodge like will-o-wisps. But every so often, the thunderstrike! In the flash of white, he could see the spectral forms of the winged beasts circling overhead. They flew through the clouds like fish swimming through the seas. And they watched. Like predators. Hunger in their eyes. Waiting for a sign of weakness.

When their pale faces emerged from the cloud and darkness, he was struck again by the twisted contrast of the beautiful visages, with the raptor bodies. In the northern islands where he was from it was said that the beasts were once elves; corrupted and blackened during the first war with Chaos. It may even be true. He did not know. Or care. As long as he could kill them.

Tanith looked downwards, towards the small graveyard. He could see a small group of Druchii shades, lurking in the crumbled walls there. They were using their mechanical crossbows to fire deadly darts across the field, at the Shadow Lord’s unit, crouching on the other side.

“Ready your blades, boys,” he whispered, his voice throaty and raspy; it had been that way ever since the Hag’s knife, all those centuries before….

Spread across the Druchii alter. The hymns to Khaine. The laughter. Her beautiful face. And then the wicked gleam of the curved blade, slicing through the skin of his throat like ice fire….

He shook his head and broke the memory. “There’s our target.” He indicated the shades.

One of the young elves beside him swallowed, and said, “But Tanith! Those crossbows! They’ll cut us down before we even get close!!”

Tanith spun and gave the young warrior a sharp slap across the face. “None of that coward’s talk, Teth’Lyth!! You are Nagarathi! Act it!!” He grabbed the back of the whelp’s head and forced his eyes towards the Druchii scouts. “Those Druchii bastards are taking shots at our Prince. We ain’t going to let that happen.”

He released the boy’s head and then said to the others, “Now draw your blades! And follow me!”

They ran down the hill slope in a half crouch, all the while praying that the thunder would not come, allowing the darkness to hide their advance.

Just a few more seconds….

And then they were upon the Druchii! It was close. It was dark. Breath on breath. The stink of sweat. It was no sword fight. It was knives this close. The first he encountered barely knew he was there before he buried his blade in the bastard’s kidneys. He turned to dodge the next. Kneed him in the groin, and then brought his knife down upon the back of his neck.

The spine crunched under the blow.

It was over. No. Avyn’Ral was wrestling with one final shade upon the ground. Each one with knife in hand, but not able to make a telling blow.

Tanith strode over and then threw his knee down upon the Druchii’s long braid, pinning his head to the ground. Then he drew his knife across his throat.

As he did so, as ever, his thoughts returned to his first wife. That time, coming into his home after the raid. And there she had been, lying in the middle of the kitchen floor…. Her belly slit open. And beside her…. the pool of gore and blood that had been their unborn child….

It was said that one should serve in the Phoenix King’s army because of duty and pride. Because of love of country. And love of family.

Palin’Tanith did it because he liked killing Druchii.

One day, perhaps, Lileath, the Goddess of Renewal, would forgive him.

***
Narrin’Tim crossed to the far side of the graveyard. He could see the bodies of his fellow Shadow Warriors, pierced and mangled, strewn about those of the Druchii. Young Avyn’Pol gave a cry of anguish, and fell to the ground, weeping over the body of his brother. A spear-like bolt transfixed Avyn’Ral. His eyes were glassy and still as the rain pelted his face.

It was the brothers’ first battle. They both had just joined the Host.

Tim staggered forward, stunned, and in disbelief. He heard cursing. He looked over, and then moved quickly, kicking the body of a Druchii out of the way. Beneath it he saw Palin’Tanith, face gritted in pain, one hand wrapped about a dagger buried into yet another Druchii’s chest.

“Damn Druchii took my arm!” Tanith snarled. Tim looked: the old elf’s left arm ended just above the elbow. Blood was everywhere.

“The bastards took my arm!!” Tanith howled.

The Shadow Lord stepped forward. “Help him,” he commanded the others. The elf lord’s face was writ in fury, as his eyes lingered on the broken body of Palin’Tanith.

His hand suddenly reached out and seized Tim’s arm. Through bared teeth, the Prince said, “Sound the retreat.”

“But…the village. Hoth’Gren.” Tim stumbled out.

“Signal the evacuation,” the lord ordered, eyes now covered in the night. His voice though was as cold as steel.

“Then burn it! Burn the crops! Burn everything!! Leave nothing for the Druchii!!”

***
Epilogue

The interior of the healer’s tent smelled of sickly-sweet poultice and mud. The tent had been set up quickly, with barely enough time to spread some straw on the rain-soaked earth, let alone pack it down enough to be covered with woven mats. Narrin’Tim’s boots made sucking sounds as he walked across the tent, and then in relief, threw himself onto a canvas stool.

He was exhausted. He had spent the rest of the evening arranging the bin’tel; the Nagarathi practice of escape and evasion. In the millennia of warfare with the North, the people of the Shadowlands had adapted their lifestyle to being one that at any given moment the community could be disassembled; the people would flee into the forest and hills to an array of prearranged meeting sites, and all the while, appointed archers and shadow warriors would break off into teams to harass and watch the raiders. The whole system of bin’tel was designed under the principle of constant aggression. But also sensible aggression. A place can be lost. A town could be rebuilt. As long as the people survived, Nagarythe survived. “Our blood is our most precious resource”, the elders always said.

It was strange that Tim was one of the few Nagarathi to never have experienced a full bin’tel. His home among the skystones of the Western Hills had not been threatened by raiders in his lifetime. Consequently he had struggled to help organize the people of Hoth’Gren in the precious few minutes they had before the Druchii advance. And then he helped send out teams of Shadow Warriors, in pairs and small groups, to watch the Druchii army, and attack the pickets when possible. And then there were messages sent to the clans and other nearby villages. Warnings, as well as requests for warriors. And then the official letter sent by horseback to notify the commander at the Unicorn Gate to apprise him of the situation, and be the first impetus to starting the massive machinery of Ulthuan at war; all on the off chance that the raid was more than a mere raid, and was actually a beach-head for a full-scale invasion.

It was a mess. With the Shadow Lord writing, writing, and writing. And Narrin’Tim running this way and that, trying to instill confidence, and stop panic, and answer a thousand questions at once. And it was all the more confusing, because he knew that in the past it wouldn’t have been his responsibility. The old warrior lying in the cot before him would have managed all of it with a well-practiced eye and calm resolve.

Palin’Tanith lay there completely still. His right arm draped across his chest. The stump of his left, now covered in white gauze and green poultices, lay next to him. He must be sleeping, Tim hoped; probably under the effects of the powerful narcotics the healers used.

If only Anna’lis was here, Tim thought. With her magic she could help him more than any herb lore. He desperately wished she would walk through the tent opening right then….

“It’s over,” Tanith’s gravelly voice startled him from his reverie.

“Tanith!” Tim said relieved. “You are awake. You should rest. The healer said you should rest.”

“It’s over,” Tanith repeated.

“What is?” Tim asked concerned.

“Me.”

“What are you talking about?” Tim smiled. “You’ll be fine! The healer said so.”

“Don’t be stupid boy! I’ll never be whole again!” Tanith snapped. “I can’t be a Shadow Warrior with only one damn arm!! I can’t shoot a bow! I can’t fight! I can’t…. I can’t…”

“Tanith, please.”

“It’s over. I’m over.” Tim had never heard Tanith sound so broken. It frightened him.

“You could…. You could take a leave. Some time. Go home to rest,” he tried to reassure.

Tanith turned his head then, and faced away, towards the back of the tent. “It’s over. There is nothing left for me….”

“There will be no leave!” the Shadow Prince’s voice suddenly erupted in the tent. Tim started and stood. Tanith’s head swung around, and the old elf tried to sit up.

The Prince was standing there, silhouetted in the morning light drifting in through the open tent flap. His mouth and eyes were hard.

“Palin’Tanith! You have oaths to uphold! Oaths to me! Oaths to Nagarythe!” the Prince snarled, eyes holding the Shadow Walker’s. “You. Will. Hold. Those. Oaths.” He finished firmly.

Tim turned. He saw the flush of color in Tanith’s cheeks. The light return to his eyes. Tanith was nodding now.

“Yes, my prince! I will not let you down,” he barked.

“Good,” the prince turned to leave. “Rest now. Soon you will have work to do. Warriors to train. Campaigns to plan.” And then he slipped out through the flap.

And Tanith was still nodding, obviously deep in thought. Planning….

***
The hydra blood that she shared with the marsh lord, Syldra, was burning her tonight. The acidity in the blood – the virulent life it represented – had kept her from passing over to Khaine’s embrace all those years ago. But the pain was never truly gone. And tonight, in the rain, it burned.

But she was Druchii. Pain was of no concern to her.

“Get the shovels,” she snapped, and wiped the rain out of her eyes. In the distance she could see the light of the flames consuming the little fishing village nearby. The fool Nagarathi were burning it to keep her corsairs from sacking it.

Idiots! As if she would come all this way to steal wheat and fishing nets!

“Captain,” it was one of the new corsairs, just signed onto this trip. Her reputation was building in the ports of Naggaroth. It was now said that the marines and sailors under her command, more often than not, returned from a voyage with more coin than when they left. She had notoriety now. That was good; and bad.

There were eyes to be avoided.

“Shouldn’t we send parties into the village?” the new recruit pressed.

“No,” Reina snapped. “What we want is here.” She indicated the muddy graveyard. “Start digging.”

“But Captain-“

She drew her falchion with lightning speed. The tip a hair’s breath from severing the sailor’s jugular.

“Pick up a shovel and dig! Or I’ll have you on all fours digging with your mouth, cur!” she snarled.

Properly motivated, the corsair grabbed a shovel and disappeared among the tombs with his fellows.

Good. It was here. She could feel it. Soon the chalice will be found. And then, things would be…interesting.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:20 am 
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Well played Sir
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I read this this morning, but was on my phone and the whistle blew before I could finish the comment, I'm home now and the comment I was going to leave seemed too familiar. I went back through the bat reps and it was almost word for word what I wrote ages ago, except without the games play parts ^_^
I'm pretty sure I stole the lastname first name format from you. My main Mages go by Evelo Maethor, and Evelo Daggro, their father is Evelo Ohta'relen(my BSB), =P

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:36 pm 
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Young Eataini Prince
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It's the part where the Shadow Warriors charge the Shades that I love. Another of my favourites! :lol: Really though, I loved that part. And how Palin'Tanith loved killing Druchii...

:twisted:

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:52 am 
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@Tiralya

Oh feel free to reuse old remarks on these! I've got no problem with that. I mean, these are repostings anyways. Hah! :)

And it is kinda interesting that the same thought occurred to you the second read through. Hmmmmm....

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:30 am 
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Just checked and I didn't say anywhere near the same thing. :( Just some rubbish about Teth'Lyth being Tethlis said with a lisp. :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 8:25 pm 
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Hi all,

Still trying to gather up all the little story tidbits! And I swear to you I am still thinking about a new one. Just need to find the time! Work. Grumble.

Oh, and I've also started painting again, and am really itching to get in a game as well. Once these papers are graded I'll try to squeeze that in. Sadly though, I think my account on UB has expired. :(

Oh, and I've probably forgotten all the rules! Dabber will not be pleased. :D

Anyways, story wise we are finally at year 6, a fresh spring in the north, and the appearance of a new femme fatale....



AND THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES….

Spring had once again come to the North. The skies were sapphire blue, only broken here and there by clouds, puffy and cotton-like as they drifted lazily high above. The noonday sun was warm where it touched cheek or jowl; granting a strong contrast to the still cold breezes that blew from the north. But the people of the little port town of Tor’Alessa, were of the Cot’ii, the people of Cothique; they were used to the vagaries of early spring weather. And the town was abustle with activity that fine day; much of it centered about the many docks to which the town owed its livelihood.

By far the majority of the longshore elves were working alongside the mighty hawkship docked in the center. The ship’s prow glistened in bronze with a depiction of the raptor for which the craft took its name. And its lines were long, smooth, and clean. Its decks were of white wood polished to a fine shine. Even its silken sails seemed to have been recently mended. Teams of laborers were working at the vessel’s waterline, scraping and checking caulk. While even more carried boxes and crates up and up the ship’s ramps; filling its hold with all manner of supplies.

But not all those upon the docks were so focused in their activity. Upon one empty wharf sat two youths. Both were barely into their fourth decade, and so tall like their elders, but still many seasons until reaching an age and wisdom considered ‘adult’. They had completed their chores early that morning, and then slipped off to watch the mighty warship being worked upon. But watching others work grows dull after a while, and so they eventually had settled into one of the lesser used docks. Now with poles in hand, they sat at the end, casting, chatting, and bragging about the silverfins they would catch and bring home.

One of the boys looked up from his line, and squinted towards the horizon. “Hey, Jins. You see that? It looks like another ship coming into the bay.”

“So Maric,” his friend said with a shrug. “It’s small. Probably one of the fishing boats come back early. Like that time Ollyon got drunk at the wheel!” He finished with a laugh.

“No, no.” Maric answered with a shake of the head. “Look I can see it more clearly now. Right there past the south buoy. It’s too long and low to be a fishing vessel. Too small and fast too!” The boy pursed his lips and watched the little boat gliding through the still waters of the bay. It was sleek, and shaped like a schooner; only a single ‘wing’ sail unfurled to catch the breeze. “I’d wager that it was a messenger’s craft. Probably from Yvresse,” Maric finished, judging all things nautical with the practiced eye of the Cot’ii.

“Hmmm,” Jins said with only modest interest. His attention was still on his pole. Was that a tug?

“Wait a second!” Maric said with a start, and stood up.

“Maric! You’ll scare the fish,” Jins snarled.

“Look! Look!! There coming around the northern point!” Maric was pointing with excitement. Jins looked up. What he saw took the breath from his chest. There rounding the northern sandbar point, another mighty hawkship! The warhorses of the Phoenix King’s fleets were certainly not unknown in these parts; patrols ran through the harbors of Cothique constantly. Many of the young men of the village served at least part of their lives in the crews of the Great Fleet. But two hawkships in the harbor at once was very unusual.

And this one was slightly different. It was worked from whitewood, just like its docked sister. And its lines were as clean and supple as hers too. The banks of oars that emerged to help steer the ship into the harbor were of the same familiar northern oak and brass fittings, as they dipped into the waves and pulled the ship about. But whereas the docked hawk had sails of white and blue, this one’s sails were of a luminous golden thread. Their brilliant luster almost hurt the eye to look at! And there! There at the prow of the ship, not a hawk in gold, but a lion! The prow was bedecked in a great golden lion, roaring its challenge to the waves and horizon.

Jins eyes drifted up, he could see the banner strung out in the breeze – the winged lion; rampant and roaring!

“A hawkship from Chrace,” Jins marveled. That was indeed unusual. The hunters of the highlands were known for their ferocity in battle, and for a stubborn stalwart loyalty in peace; not particularly for their sea craft.

“Whoah!” Maric exclaimed. Jins looked over. In their watching of the new hawkship the boys had lost track of the little runner. The slender ship was now gliding through the inner waters of the bay, with a deft agility and handling, and drawing straight towards their dock. Both boys stood and hurried to reel their lines in, all the while watching the tiny courier vessel grow close.

It seemed to be crewed by one. A single lithe figure danced about the sail, untying the wing with practiced hands, and then with a few turns of the sail-wheel, hauling it down the mast. The figure next appeared at the aft, guiding the ship only on its remaining momentum until it finally came to rest against the dock with a bump and a thud.

A rope was tossed down. Jins, with a practiced hand, caught it and began fastening the boat securely to the dock. Ropework and ship knots were as second nature to the Cot’ii, as singing and drinking were to the elves of the inner kingdoms.

“Thanks,” a voice hailed from the vessel. Jins looked up and his heart leapt to his throat. The figure standing perfectly at ease - one hand on a mast rope, two feet on the hull railing – was a woman. Tall, thin, and of lithe-like build. She was dressed in black: from the short seaman’s coat she wore; to the long leather breeches; down to the calfskin boots of the high, Yvressi cut: the style of long boots that ran up to the middle of her supple thighs, with the leather clinging.

But it was her face that struck Jins. She was beautiful, but in an alien way. Her head was shaved along both sides, and the remaining black hair from the top and back was twisted into innumerable long braids, all of which were caught into a tail at the back. And her face was sharp in its lines. And there upon one cheek was deep blue skin writing.

Druchii! Was Jins first thought. He had never seen one of the foul northern raiders, but he had heard many stories of them. And how their corsairs liked to decorate their skin with the inks of sea creatures. But no, as he took a second look, he could see that the drawing upon the woman’s – no girl? She couldn’t be much past her coming of age ceremony – cheek was the elvish rune for Lileath, the Goddess of the Moon, Purity, and Renewal. No foul Dark Elf would pay her respect.

The newcomer in black jumped down to the dock with catlike grace and turned to the two stunned boys. She held out her hands, palm upwards, and said,

“Trade?”

The two boys shared a look. “Trade in what?” Maric said, with a little suspicion in his voice.

The corner of the elf-maidens mouth twitched upwards. “Labor,” she said, with a bit of an accent, and huskiness to her voice. “You unload my vessel. There are crates and boxes in the hold. All of it needs to be moved to safety within the warehouses.”

Jins nodded. “And in return, we get?”

“My ship!”

The woman then threw her head back and laughed at the two boys’ dumbstruck expressions. “Honest! I have no more need of her. Unload her, and the craft is yours!” She smiled at them then and said, “Deal?”

“Deal!” the boys shouted simultaneously.


***

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:07 pm 
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As your West Coast compatriot i'd love to go toe to toe with the infamous Shadow Prince once again! Lemme know whens a good itme!

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 5:02 am 
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Oh I'm all up for it! But don't you have diapers to change, Dad????

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 7:37 am 
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Poor Tim. All these women..

Headshot wrote:
A rope was tossed down. Jins, with a practiced hand, caught it and began fastening the boat securely to the dock. Ropework and ship knots were as second nature to the Cot’ii, as singing and drinking were to the elves of the inner kingdoms.

This one popped out at me. I love the little remark about the elves of the inner kingdoms. It adds great depth to the tale and gives it color.

Nice (re)read. As always

Rod

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Headshot wrote:
Oh I'm all up for it! But don't you have diapers to change, Dad????

Headshot


Of course he doesn't, even the youngest high elves have enough of a grasp of magic to do it themselves. ;)

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 8:39 pm 
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@ Eli

Yep, I wouldn't doubt the magical capacities of the new bouncing baby girl!! :D

And story....

Ok, me being a busy little bee and enjoying my tiny touch of free time - (Ok, yes I know I'm supposed to be working! But, c'mon! Elves!! Duh!) - I'm hurrying to gather the remaining fragments. So here is the next part in our tale in Cothique. My attempt to continue to 'flesh out' the cultures and peoples of my beloved North. (Boo hiss! You southerners! Or even worse..... Colonials!!!! Shudder..... :wink: )

Wish I could spend more time in Cothique. Such a lovely, blank spot on the maps of Ulthuan.....

Anyways, chronology. Still spring, year 6 of 'Spite's reign'.



TOR’ALESSA

Leaving the boys to their unpacking the elf maiden shouldered her pack, grabbed a bright crimson stave, then walked into the town.

Tor’Alessa barely deserved to be called a ‘Tor’. It was a midsized town of only a few hundred souls. And, perhaps more importantly, it was young. In a country where many of the cities were first founded in the fabled Days of Legend, before even the coming of the Aenarion, and thus could measure their histories in millennia, Tor’Alessa having been built only a few scant centuries prior, to help serve as a way stop and provisioning station for the newly sprung up trade with the man realms of Elthin Arvan, the ‘Old World’, made its ‘history’ barely worth mentioning. Yet the trade was good: the wealthy mortals of Bretonnia, Tilea, the Empire, and beyond, hungered for the fine crafts of Ulthuan with a passion that bordered on dementia; they traded ore, gems, and raw materials that the elves desired in return for textiles and some few of the finished crafts that the Phoenix King allowed to be sent to the ‘lesser races’. Most of the Old World trade was governed from Lothern, the Capital City in the distant south. Yet Cothique was the closest, and last, stop on the way to Elthin Arvan, and so small port towns like Tor’Alessa profited almost as much as the mighty guilds and trade house of Eataine.

The town had grown much in the past few centuries. Attracting elves, low and high, from throughout Cothique. Those that weren’t engaged within the trade businesses, found employ in the ship building facilities, or within the craft themselves. And of course with any busy port a whole medley of support and periphery services quickly came into being: taverns, produce markets, smithies, inns, and manufacturers of all types. In the human world, or the distant eastern colonies, a place like Tor’Alessa may have been deemed a ‘rush town’; a ramshackle affair of ‘get rich quick’ schemes, and unrestrained speculation and development. But not in Ulthuan. The town may be new, but the elves were very old. They built with an eye towards the land, the history, and the future. Tor’Alessa was just beginning its story, but the houses investing in, and building it, were doing it with minds ever watchful of tomorrow.

But those thoughts just flickered across the girl’s surface consciousness, as she strolled through the small dock-side market and towards the town’s main thoroughfare. It was good to be back in the North! The smells. The sights! The sounds! It was all different in the South, and the old cities of Tor’Yvresse and Lothern. Here the food was cooked simpler, with fewer spices or garnishments, but just as much attention to quality. She could smell the highland lamb, so popular in Chrace, stewing over an open fire, somewhere nearby. It sent her stomach into a tumble. But even that put a smile on her face.

It was good to be back in the North!

And besides, she wanted to find a tavern anyways.

She found one soon enough; a tall, brown wooden building, with the high peaked roof favored by the Cot’ii. She walked up to the front door, and swung it aside, striding into the interior. Even this simple serviceable building for the elven laborers and longshoremen was fronted with a wealth of colored glass, allowing for the spring day light to flood the interior in gentle oranges and blues. Her eyes flickered about the room: the many small round tables; the large hearth with roaring fire; the room set to one side to smoke the herbal mixtures from the eastern colonies; a bustling kitchen door flying this way and that as the servers came to and fro; the low bar, behind which dozens of fine vintages, from the cheap Yvressi blue, to the finest of Avelornian pink bodi berrywines, were slung in fishing nets strung from the wall. Another fashion of the Cot’ii.

But she was paying more attention to the people. And there! She found what she was looking for. Amongst the sky blue robes of the Cot’ii sat one, alone at a table, dressed in blacks and browns. His head was shaven upon one side, so that his lanky strands of bright blonde hair fell across the other half, partially obscuring his face. Which, from his profile, she could tell was very young. Scarcely passed the first century. Younger than she.

Perfect!

He was exactly what she needed. In that hall, the boy stuck out like yellow snow.

She smiled. That gave her an idea….

“I hear the Shadow Warriors,” she said loudly, immediately stopping the buzz of conversation within the tavern, “cannot hit the trunk of a tree, if they are standing bow-legged next to it, with their pants already undone!”

The room went utterly silent, except for the sound of the blonde boy’s chair going skittering across the room, as he leapt to his feet, knife in hand and a snarl upon his face. But as he turned, the scowl disappeared and a look of confusion filled his youthful eyes.

“Narrith lessa kynn’bar,” she greeted in the old Nagarathi tongue, a smirk on her lips. The boy, still looking confused, replied in turn and sheathed his knife. “I have travelled far and seek guidance,” she said, continuing the ritual exchange. The boy nodded. “I am Liliean.”

“I am Avyn’Pol,” he responded.

So young! She marveled. The fighting must be fierce in the north if the Shadow Warriors were recruiting from those barely into manhood.

“I was told that the Host was quartered in this city,” she explained. “I wish to speak with the Shadow Prince.”

At that a few of the more superstitious patrons made various gestures of warding.

She snorted with disdain. She knew better. The Prince was but a man. A special, tormented man, without a doubt. But no vengeful spirit from the Beyond. She was disgusted by the primitive superstition. It annoyed her.

The boy however merely looked thoughtful. “What business do you have with the Prince?”

She produced a sealed envelope and a parcel package. “I am a courier, I bring replies from his petitions. And…news.”

The boy nodded and smiled then, looking relieved. “Well in that case I can take you to him. I mean, I can at least take you to the headquarters. It will be up to them if you can see the Prince. Follow me.”

She fell in beside him as the boy-warrior left the tavern.


***

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 11:29 pm 
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Hey now diapers are a piece of cake! Not to mention i'm usually up swaddling in the late hours of the night which makes a great time to paint,

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 8:35 am 
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Headshot wrote:
So here is the next part in our tale in Cothique. My attempt to continue to 'flesh out' the cultures and peoples of my beloved North. (Boo hiss! You southerners! Or even worse..... Colonials!!!! Shudder..... :wink: )

At least my cousin isn't a Dark Elf. ;) The colonies are pretty enough...

thelordcal wrote:
Hey now diapers are a piece of cake! Not to mention i'm usually up swaddling in the late hours of the night which makes a great time to paint,

Souns like you're adjusting just fine to your new life... Either that or she realy does know magic of course.

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 9:15 am 
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The South isn't all dancing and singing. Yvresse is a quiet place now, people are always too busy doing the jobs of a dozen elves to enjoy spare time ^_^'

rdghuizing wrote:
At least my cousin isn't a Dark Elf. ;)

Oh snap!

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 4:28 pm 
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rdghuizing wrote:
At least my cousin isn't a Dark Elf.


Low blow!!!! (I mean, some of our mothers are Druchii. You think on that!!)

Mods! I'd like to report..... Oh right. Darn.

Ahem, look you colonial. You just stop throwing your imported beverages into the harbor, dutifully pay your taxes for Ulthuan's upkeep, cheerfully garrison the Phoenix King's soldiers within your homes, and honor the treaties that the Crown has established with the indigenous peoples near you. (i.e., Stop killing them and taking their lands willy nilly!!)

And if you do all this with care and alacrity, Ulthuan will be gracious enough that during the next great war with the Druchii, you'll be given the fabulous honor of providing the initial vanguard of cavalry to charge the druchii repeaters. Nice. Oh, and afterwards we may ask for you to send lots of money and material to rebuild Ulthuan to its former glory.

Don't expect recompense.

But for the meantime get back to growing cotton! These white robes don't spin themselves!! (But you actually won't be doing any of the spinning. You just grow the raw material and sell it to us at bulk cost so that the weavers in Lothern can actually create the gowns. Which we will then sell back to you at a mark up. Mercantilism. Learn to love it!)

:D

Tiralya wrote:
Oh snap!


Wait! I've heard that somewhere before!

You young-uns. With your mass-media....

Grumble. Grumble.

:wink:

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 7:17 pm 
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Tiralya wrote:
The South isn't all dancing and singing. Yvresse is a quiet place now, people are always too busy doing the jobs of a dozen elves to enjoy spare time ^_^'


You Yvressii complain too much! Come to the proper South, in Eataine. It's great here, we get to build sand castles. :D

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 7:29 pm 
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Tiralya wrote:
The South isn't all dancing and singing. Yvresse is a quiet place now, people are always too busy doing the jobs of a dozen elves to enjoy spare time ^_^'

You would have much more time if you were not constantly getting lost in the mists going to work.

Headshot wrote:
... But for the meantime get back to growing cotton! These white robes don't spin themselves!! (But you actually won't be doing any of the spinning. You just grow the raw material and sell it to us at bulk cost so that the weavers in Lothern can actually create the gowns. Which we will then sell back to you at a mark up. Mercantilism. Learn to love it!)

Of course only thing you can sell is your know-how, Northerner. But they say modern economy is all about know-how, right?
I would write more but I must get back to my dancing, singing and assembling war altars. :wink:

@ Elithmar, come visit, we get to build flying sand castles! :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 7:37 pm 
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Aicanor wrote:
@ Elithmar, come visit, we get to build flying sand castles! :lol:


Flying? Nah, I prefer terra firma.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 6:04 am 
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Aicanor wrote:
You would have much more time if you were not constantly getting lost in the mists going to work.

Getting lost in the mist is my favourite past time, not knowing where you're going, or where you'll end up. Trusting in the gods to guide your footsteps to where they're meant to be, how do you think the griffon was found? ^_^

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 9:34 am 
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Headshot wrote:
Mods! I'd like to report..... Oh right. Darn.

Don't worry, we're everywhere and watching you. :P

Headshot wrote:
and honor the treaties that the Crown has established with the indigenous peoples near you. (i.e., Stop killing them and taking their lands willy nilly!!)

You mean those savages and humans? I thought they were only there for sport or feeding the dragons. Don't worry, we wont take their land. They don't have any land to take anyway. We got that from them some centuries ago and they have short memories (even shorter if we modify them actually...)

Headshot wrote:
But for the meantime get back to growing cotton! These white robes don't spin themselves!! (But you actually won't be doing any of the spinning. You just grow the raw material and sell it to us at bulk cost so that the weavers in Lothern can actually create the gowns. Which we will then sell back to you at a mark up. Mercantilism. Learn to love it!)

We don't grow cotton. We grow cattle and indigenous people. The cattle (and indigenous people as mentioned) are considered a raw material. We're close to the Dragon Isles (we're from the city of Spires). Put those two together...

I would like to say that you're welcome to visit and that we can always use people like the Nagarathi who are resourcefull and cunning. Truth is we can find uses for every kind of people. See previous comment about dragons. Still, you're welcome to visit. Elves are generally not eaten. They are to value and almost always usefull (if only for keeping the rabble in check).

Does Nagarythe actually have any trade to speak of? I thought everything that is made there is simply "handed over" to the dark elves when they come for a visit. And that that was the reason you joined the legions of the phoenix king for free. (I'll give you a tip: we get paid...)
Headshot wrote:
You young-uns. With your mass-media....

Grumble. Grumble.

How old are you actually?

Rod

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 3:34 pm 
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Tiralya wrote:
Aicanor wrote:
You would have much more time if you were not constantly getting lost in the mists going to work.

Getting lost in the mist is my favourite past time, not knowing where you're going, or where you'll end up. Trusting in the gods to guide your footsteps to where they're meant to be, how do you think the griffon was found? ^_^


Do you know why you have such a small population (and no, not just some goblin invasion)? That's right, people keep getting lost in the mist and falling in the sea. Don't be so grim, be careful. ;)

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 4:30 pm 
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Swimming in the ocean is also one of my favourite past times, just have to watch out for the big fish in the the water ^_^'

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 4:31 pm 
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Headshot wrote:

Wait! I've heard that somewhere before!

You young-uns. With your mass-media....

Grumble. Grumble.

:wink:

Headshot

I hear people say 'young-uns' and automatically assume they're talking to/about someone else =P

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 5:00 pm 
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Elithmar of Lothern wrote:
Do you know why you have such a small population (and no, not just some goblin invasion)? That's right, people keep getting lost in the mist and falling in the sea. Don't be so grim, be careful. ;)

It is not that they drown and die in horrible accidents, they just can't count their numbers correctly. Also this is why they can't find their own Rangers anymore. They are too good at hiding. :wink:

Tiralya wrote:
Getting lost in the mist is my favourite past time, not knowing where you're going, or where you'll end up. Trusting in the gods to guide your footsteps to where they're meant to be, how do you think the griffon was found? ^_^

Good for you!

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 5:23 pm 
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Ultimate End Times Chronicler

Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 9:10 pm
Posts: 577
Is this thing on?

Uggh. Ok. The girl-man headshot is still hiding up in that tree. So I, Palin'Tanith, will be answering this mortal correspondence today.

Pol! You just write down everything I say. Yes, now! You work that mortal glass machine.

Tim! How does this thing work again? Don't you shrug at me!!

...And stop looking at Lili's ass!!!

Alright. What is the first message?

rdghuizing wrote:
Does Nagarythe actually have any trade to speak of? I thought everything that is made there is simply "handed over" to the dark elves when they come for a visit. And that that was the reason you joined the legions of the phoenix king for free. (I'll give you a tip: we get paid...)


He said what?! Whom does this mortal think he is??? A colonial, huh. Not much difference then. Heh!!

Look mortal. The only things 'made' in Nagarythe are hard elves, and sharp metal. We give the latter to the Druchii. Up to the hilt.

And here's a 'tip' for you: no one's getting paid after the vanguard charge of the light colonials.

Now you just get on back to your cattle. They are looking less bow-legged. And more lonely.

Hah. Hey Tim, do you think these mortals are smart enough to know I just insulted them? Wait. Is sexual congress with cattle even an insult for these mortals??? Huh, whats that? Headshot says 'yes'. But he's not sure about these Dutch mortals. Ok, then.

What's next?

rdghuizing wrote:
How old are you actually?


He's old enough to know to respect his elders.

What fool questions are these? Why do we even let this mortal in our camp?? Worse than Caledorians....

What's next?

Aicanor wrote:
Of course only thing you can sell is your know-how, Northerner. But they say modern economy is all about know-how, right?


Missy, we don't have an economy in Nagarythe. We have frugality. And we don't sell our know-how; we live it. But don't you fret none. You just get back to your sandcastles and singing, and be a good lass.

Now what are these other mortals here talking about? Yvresse? I know nothing about that. That ain't Rathi business. Let some Yvressi answer that.

Here. Put my mark on this fool thing, and let's be done with it! We have work to do today.

Palin'Tanith

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Seredain wrote:
Headshot, you are wise like Yoda


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 5:25 pm 
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Young Eataini Prince
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Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:41 pm
Posts: 3608
Ah, what a wonderful phrase "good for you" is. It makes you feel so bad... ;)

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"I say the Eatainii were cheating - again." -Aicanor
"Eatainian jerks…" -Headshot
"It was a little ungentlemanly." -Aicanor (on the Eatainii)
"What is it with Eataini being blamed for everything?" -Aicanor


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