Open Pieces and Parts

The people of Syka join together to restore the lost treasures of the past

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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Pieces and Parts

Postby Gossamer on July 10th, 2020, 4:21 am

When all the headdresses were firmly settled in place on the totems and those that had found them and assembled them loosely gathered in front of the new idols... the stone and wood statues began to shimmer. They grew slowly and expanded in size until they were enormous. As they did so, they lost their solid forms. The wood and stone of their structures turned translucent and began to gleam as if the effigies metamorphosized into giant ghostly figures that were far more realistic than the totems had ever been.

The parrot beat its wings and took to the sky, more the size of a wind eagle than an actual parrot. The chimp screamed in laughter and scrambled up the nearest tree, hanging from it effortlessly, the settlement clearly seen through it. The elephant totem grew from its small size to the size of an ashta and then kept growing. The Commons barely contained its size. The fish, seemingly not bothered by not being in the water, grew and stretched, becoming a huge barracuda that swam around the crowd in a ghostly haunting form.

Someone, Mathias perhaps, had slipped the Panther's headdress on and had stood back and somewhat away from those that had gathered the pieces, watching quietly and with curiosity. The Panther turned out to be a ghostly jungle cat roughly the size of a draft horse with long fangs and a set of claws that were formidable at the very least.

The creatures shimmered, translucent, and one could see magical runes swirling inside them. The circled the group, the original statues having vanished, and seemed to look to the group gathered with curious intelligence. The chimp swung from tree to tree, luminous trails of glowing light following it. The barracuda defied all logic and simply swam as if the air were as dense as the sea. The parrot cawed as its huge wings found maneuvering through the trees difficult. And the elephant pawed nervously, shuffling around The Commons as if waiting.

They didn't have long to wait. In the center of The Commons, on the ground level, life burst into being. Green suddenly erupted in the sand and cobbled stone there, flowers bursting into bloom and insects boiling up from the ground. A woman manifested there, beautiful, in a gown made of living things - life of all kinds - curling around her. Snakes formed the straps of the living dress while fish swam around the hems of her skirts and sleeves.

Butterflies escaped from her bodice, and a multitude of other creatures formed the fabric in between. The more one looked, the more creatures one would see... foxes frolicking, birds fluttering, mice climbing arms, and descending legs. She was life herself and it was evident as she manifested in the midst of the Settlement, a pleased smile on her face.

"You are very brave to retrieve my guardians and rebuild them. They could have turned on you the moment you assembled them. But they did not... and I can only surmise they have judged you worthy of their presence." She said softly, her voice fertile and abundant as it echoed out across the gathering.

"There are places in Mizahar that hold the Goddess of Death close. The Isle of Black Rock is one such place. There are places in Mizahar that hold Uldr and Undeath sacred. Sahova holds him sacred and he is often present. Long has there been no representation for me. And as the Gods themselves circle this place and get ready to fight over it, I am clearly making a move and staking my claim. I am Kihala, the Goddess of Life, and I claim this settlement that will soon be a city as my own. I charge you, all of you, to build a shrine to my name and make sure that I am known among you. There is so much life here and you people are slowly learning to live among it. I want to encourage you in that." The beautiful woman said gently. Her voice was resonant but not at all loud. Everyone in the crowd however heard her clearly.

She was lovely beyond what was humanly possible with an ethereal strawberry blond mane of hair that trailed down her back and moved like a living thing. Her hair seemed as much full of life as the dress she wore was. Crystal blue eyes met the gazes of each and every person gathered before she continued on. They were liquid pools of life; lakes full of fish and seas teaming with whales.

"In exchange for a shrine that will house an altar to bringing notice to me, I gift this settlement with five guardians. Place them strategically around the settlement and know that they will protect you in times of strife if such protection is needed. And to those who found them, gathered them, and reassembled them.... I will gift one more thing... an icon that is a mark on their flesh. They, The Founders, and those I deem worthy once my shrine is built will hold these icons etched on their flesh. If they have children, so too will their children be born with them and the ability to summon and control the guardians as their parents can. These icons will allow them to summon the Guardians as needed and control them in the defense of the Settlement." She said softly, turning to look at Robert, Marino, Onaona, Tazrae... and even the ghostly Adeliz felt eyes on her wherever she'd vanished too.

The huge ghostly creatures circled Kihala, each bowing to her in their own way as they passed before her no matter how far out in sky, air, or trees. Even the elephant treading a circle around The Commons offered the Goddess a slight bow each time it passed before her gaze.

"These are not gnosis marks. I will, however, be on the lookout for those to join my ranks among the people here. Those that serve me are called the Marassa. If the shrine is built and people are faithful in maintaining it and placing offerings on the altar within, I will look to expand my ranks from those who dutifully tend it and mark those worthy. I have no priest or priestess here and rarely do I create one. So it will be up to you to build, maintain, and see to the Shrine. I trust you to do it right. My presence here will repel others who are less than accommodating to those who just want to live and thrive...." The Goddess said.

Then she gestured and all five people felt a burn that held no pain on the underside of their left or right wrists. The Founders felt the effect too, even the ghostly woman who'd retreated in her shyness and uncertainty. All of them, those now bearing the icons, could suddenly feel the guardians as they moved around and heard their warm voices within their heads. The guardians were instantly recognizable by those bearing the icons as sentient. And they could feel in their hearts they could just reach out and ask... and if the asking was worthy the guardians would respond. The sense of knowing these creatures had enormous age to them, vast intelligence, and above that power.... endless pools of power. Magic touched the minds of those that wore the icons and they could taste it... knew it was real.

And then Kihala waved her hand. The guardians, in their ethereal forms, swirled down and resettled into the totem statues. This time, however, they were whole and complete, with no parts looking like they could be ever separated again. The statues were beautiful - made of stone and wood - and were about the size of an average human in height.

"Don't forget. This is a pact. You fulfill your end. And I will see to your protection. There are events aligning that will bring trouble, deep trouble, and its already started. This is something I can do to help divert what will touch the world from this place slightly. But it also depends on what others do... your actions included." She added, glancing through the crowd, locking eyes on Kultra and Vas where they stood next to The Founders. Something transpired in those locked gazes before Kihala smiled and slowly faded.

The life, spreading out from where she stood, made no move to vanish as well. Instead, flowers bloomed, giant tropical things that were full and heavy. A tree sprouted and grew, stretching up to the sky. It bloomed and then fruited, the fruits hanging low and heavy, smelling delicious. It was an unrecognizable fruit, unknown, but appealing nonetheless.

When she was gone, everyone was silent for the longest time. A chime then two passed... when the fifth chime hit, it was like everyone was released from some sort of frozen spell and everyone began talking at once.

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Pieces and Parts

Postby Marino Oceangem on July 18th, 2020, 4:51 am

Quietly Marino gathered with the rest before the completed totems. He looked at Tazrae for guidance, not quite sure of what he was supposed to be seeing. Then it happened. Started as a blur in the air like heat rising, and Marino was half tempted to wander close to see if he could feel anything radiating off the totems. Was tempted because quickly afterward the totems started growing larger, their depictions more realistic with every passing tick. Only their forms were becoming more incorporeal as they did so, not much different than the woman who had helped them with the pieces before disappearing into the jungle.

He didn’t have the time to search for a connection though. Marino was too busy taking a few hesitant steps back as it appeared to him that the creatures would never stop growing. A cold tingle ran down his spine and he suddenly felt like he couldn’t catch his breath looking as the parrot apparition suddenly took flight. The others likewise similarly prowled around in their other wordly way, the biggest offender being the fish with rows of sharp teeth that petching floated off the ground. Marino’s mind was in shambles.

Huddling closer to Tazrae and Onaona before he realized what he was doing, he stared at the creatures with noticeable apprehension. The change of behavior rang out like a discordant note in his mind as he realized how scared he was. More importantly, he remembered his promise to himself last season to not let that fear master him like it was now. Filling with stubborn resolve, he straightened his back and forced himself to look at each of the creatures in turn.

For the most part, they didn’t seem to be hostile. He thought this from a place of a man familiar with predators thanks to his on going education at Syka, and his time on the water as a boy. While these were obviously not natural creatures, they did resemble them not only physically, but with their mannerisms as well. An if there was one thing he knew about animals is that the peaceful calm could change on the flip of a miza. Doubly so for magical spawns such as these.

His eyes sought to capture Onaona’s attention as he briefly turned away from the creature when something else happened. Towards the center of the commons, green plants sprouted from where previously there had been none. Flowers and insects sprouted from that green as well, a woman appearing soon after. Marino’s jaw dropped open, and something inside him broke. A small twinge of resistance that perhaps this was all a dream that he was almost on the other side of. Instead of that solace, the reality he found himself in was suddenly so much more real, and he felt like he was teetering on the precipice of a cavern. He reached out for reassurance from Tazrae, not sure he’d find her with his gaze locked on the woman.

She was speaking now, this Kihala in a voice that was as magical as the dress she wore. It reverberated through him, her words echoing in his mind as he silently repeated them to himself. It was all he could do to adjust to this new reality that had been thrust upon him. How could he have suspected that dabbling in finding a few totem pieces would result in summoning a Goddess. One he had not even known about before this. There was so much to understand, and her voice was soothing. To be honest, that and the fact he was surrounded by all his friends was the only reason he hadn’t broken right now.

He had never met a divine being before. It felt to his as if he was a tattered washcloth before such radiance even as she addressed him by name. Marino managed to close his mouth but not wipe the stupefied expression from his face. She gestured towards him and he felt a warmth on his arm that made him look down to see a mark had appeared above his right wrist, glowing with a multitude of colors. A cool calm washed over his mind as it reached out to connect with the others that swirled around them. The others? He struggled to grasp the connection he now shared the beings Kihala had referred to as their guardians.

Through the connection he could feel the weight of their minds, and knew at once that they were no mere animals. He started apologizing before he even thought about it, before he even had time to wonder if they had heard his mind before this mark was made. Marino didn’t care. He made up his mind to make it up to the guardians for his earlier trepidation as well as his decidedly uncharacteristic judgment of them before he finally decided to just shut up. His heart was telling him that and more about the beings. He focused back on Kihala as she finished speaking before disappearing. A great tree grew in her place, one that shuddered to life heavy with strange fruits on its branches. The world was briefly so quiet that all you could hear was the waves crashing against the shore and the rustle of wind. Then it relapsed to some sense of normalcy as everyone started talking at once.

Marino was no different, turning towards his group of friends and looking more or less overwhelmed from the whole process. “What do you think she meant by that last part. The part about something coming that we need to prepare for? An what about this shrine for that matter. I-” There was that chill again, traveling up his spine though he managed to stiffen it this time and remain standing straight. Marino held up a hand, and then continued. “I’m sorry, no you first. I need a bit to collect my thoughts.” He said as it appeared he was interrupting pressing thoughts from them as well. “Please, continue.” Marino insisted.
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Pieces and Parts

Postby Robert Glenfeidh on July 25th, 2020, 1:54 pm

Robert gaped at the sight as the totems came to life, his hands dropping to his sides as he watched the see-through creatures move in total freedom, in defiance of any laws of nature he'd thought immutable. The panther approached Anastasia for a heartbeat, the two almost nuzzling, before she returned to his side and sat there, joining the Lhavitian in awe of the sight before them.

What... ?

He sat back on his haunches as Kihala manifested, a hand reaching into his pocket and touching an small stone figurine, as if seeking reassurance from the un-moving statue. Struck dumb by the clear display of divinity, his eyes flickered here and there, watching the flora and fauna blossom from her body; even catching a glimpse of an Okomo nimbly climbing, making his heart leapt a beat.

He listened to her assertion, absorbing her words and attempting to keep them fixed in his mind, wondering about the unknown phrases she spoke of, several of which resonated with an ugly tone within him, that reeked of repugnance, disgust, and sheer horror.

Uldr? Undeath? What the...

His back straight, Robert met her gaze steadily, trembling within as even with her comforting words, there was real power, a magic beyond all that he'd even seen or imagined back in the city of the stars. There were the mountain streams, the oceans, and the unfathomed breath of the deep that echoed in his ears.

He touched the mark in wonder, smiling faintly as he felt the depths within the guardians, delighting in the warmth that they gave out as if they were Syna themselves, and wondered at how they could even be so.

The sense of unease spread throughout Robert as Kihala spoke of the troubles to come, and he felt helpless in that moment; what could he do? He knew nothing of sword or shield, or of the profound magics that he'd only heard tales about.

Even as Kihala disappeared, Robert gazed at the massive tree that grew in her place, and the aromas that emerged broke him from his reverie, his mind going into overdrive as it ran through all the fragrances and smells he knew by heart, examining the bouquet of the fruit and deeming it good; he wondered what he could make, with such a divine gift to Syka.


He ran through all that he could remember of her words as Marino spoke, mind racing as fast as a Svefra casinor with full sails in a gale, before slowly speaking.

"If something's coming, we need to prepare. The guardians will help, and building the shrine will help us. I..."

He shook his head, as if to clear the mass of thoughts struggling to make sense.

"I honestly have no idea." He looked to the Founders, utterly lost and feeling out of his depth.
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Pieces and Parts

Postby Onaona on July 28th, 2020, 9:38 pm

Onaona shrank back as the translucent beasts rose from their totem likenesses, wonder and fear curdling in her gut. She wasn't the only one. Robert and Marino were both glassy and wide eyed. Robert falling back to his haunches and holding tight to some sort of touchstone in his pocket, while Marino huddling closer to her and Tazrae and shared loaded glances. But it wasn't until the Goddess appeared that the Otani truly fell apart.

The being was otherworldly beauty dressed in life and the miracle of creation. Even standing still she was in constant motion, plants and creatures living out entire lifetimes on the sleeves of her dress and the depths of her eyes. Her divinity was overwhelming, the richness of her voice devastating. She spoke and everyone in the Commons couldn't help but listen. She called herself Kihala, the Goddess of Life.

In all her long life Ona had never met a god face to face before, not even her own. Now confronted with such power she could feel her entire being falling back onto what it was made for. Devote! Serve! Listen! But at the same time something higher and more present was going mad with confusion. This was god, but it wasn't her god. The creatures were bowing before her every time they passed her gaze, and the Otani could feel a building pressure to join them.

Kihala explained that she was staking a claim on this settlement over the others that circled, ready to fight for it. She wanted a shrine, and to fill her ranks of Marassa from those worthy amoung them, to serve her and her domain of Life. In return she would gift the city with the massive, stalking guardians that prowled amongst them. What were they going to protect them from? Ona wondered, but deep down she already knew. They were going to protect them from the nameless gods that circled like feeding sharks.

A sudden burning on the underside of her wrist had Onaona flipping her left hand over. On the underside was a glorious rainbow mark. Suddenly her head was full of voices that were neither hers or Laviku's, but those of the translucent totem animals. Ona recognized them almost like the Kalvikasi, beings both ancient and unknowable, here to serve their goddess and her chosen.

Having said her peace, the goddess returned the beasts to their totem state, though larger and whole. Then with one last look at the assembled crowd that Ona could feel straight through her being Kihala vanished. She left behind a wake of plant and wildlife, enormous flowers and fruit-heavy trees and the fresh, earthy smell of abundant life.

The Commons were quiet for one tick, then two, then everybody started talking at once.

Marino was the first to recover, though not for long. His logical questions petered out as he struggled with the enormous scope of whatever it was they were suddenly in the center of. Robert too, seemed to want to take action but didn't know where to start. Onaona gulped down a breath and tried to help pick up where they left off.

"The Gods want Syka. You are Syka, so they want you. You have to prepare for... prepare for..." Her thoughts were spiraling, and she fought for a moment to stay focused. "War? No, prepare to be a battleground for someone else's war. Where do we put the totems? I'll take one out to sea, protect you from... She wants a shrine, who will build..."

Something was bending in the Otani, she could feel it creaking, ready to snap. Stress was blooming in a riot of confused colour across her body but her expression was surprisingly blank.

"I- I can't", she suddenly breathed, her fingertips digging into her face and the mark on her wrist. "Claim? What does she mean? That's not my god. That's not my god and this is not her city. What do I do? Tazrae, what do I do?" She turned to the Innkeeper, desperate for leadership, wanting nothing more than to be told what direction to take. "Am I disobeying? Who am I disobeying? I can't help make a shrine for another deity, can I? What do I do?"

To refuse something so divine went against everything she was made to be, but to serve something other than Laviku betrayed everything she was. Even if it meant protecting the city she couldn't put either aside. The Otani was tearing herself apart trying to fit these two essential, disparate parts of herself together.
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Postby Tazrae on July 30th, 2020, 6:16 am

There was magic woven all over Mizahar. Tazrae had heard stories over and over again. Her father had told her some of them when she was young in his gifted animated way. They’d always come alive for her, from the spilled words to the grandiose hand gestures and even to the shadow play he’d made in the firelight of the main hall. Tazrae never thought she’d be living one. And what a story it was…. lost treasure, sacred statues that came alive, a Goddess laying claim and striking a deal that no one actually had a chance to say no too.

Tazrae watched the creatures assume the visages of life, not quite real and not quite unreal as they cavorted around the clearing. She’d never seen anything so impressive and terrifying all at once. Though it was ghostly, the panther’s claws were real. And though it was massive, the elephant’s eyes were still gentle. There was a reverence in them as well, as if they held Syka sacred or more perhaps that it was they turned the ground they danced into a space holy enough for their goddess to walk upon.

Tazrae was not unfamiliar with Gods. She’d met one on the Veronica on her way to Syka. Her body still bore his mark and her ears still burned with his words. He was an old man in her eyes, with a gaze that was timeless and a voice that had a timbre she’d never hope to describe or even mimic. Kihala was something else though. And anyone looking at her could have never mistaken her for anything but life. Her form was writhing with it, but not in a horrific way. Her way was beautiful as if she held the smallest most colorful beetle as sacred as she held the snakes in her hair or the small furry mice that seemed to writhe around the helms of her gown… her very living gown.

Tazrae stood there silent, jaw slack, taking a moment to really absorb what it was she was seeing. As soon as her brain was thinking again, she dropped down on one knee and bowed her head. The sheer power rolling off the woman told her that this creature was not human…. but was so much more than one of Tazrae’s kind could ever be. The Goddess of Life didn’t diminish Tazrae’s existence though. She somehow made it more fulfilled. As the girl stared through her lowered lashes, listening and learning. There were guardians for a reason. Something was coming. They would be needed and if something that powerful was needed to defend the Settlement, that meant whatever was coming was huge.

She made the mistake of meeting the goddess’ eyes once, briefly, and saw what was in them. More life… teaming in the oceans. It was seductive, overwhelming, filling her up with life as well. For a brief time, locking gazes with the Goddess she felt the world all around her acutely and it was beautiful. It was like a song that all songs were sung from. It was like the warmest most welcoming hearth fire. Tazrae had no words for it, no thoughts… she was just feeling, experiencing, living exactly in that moment.

It was a hauntingly strange situation. Marino reached for her and Tazrae put out her hand. Their fingers entwined briefly, reassuringly, before they parted. Taz was still on her knees though her head was no longer bowed. She was watching, her attention rapt.

Then the Goddess spoke. She laid out terms, gave generously and expected a lot in return. Nothing she said sounded unreasonable, though Tazrae would have to do research on the places and deities she named for none of them were familiar to her. The analytical side of her mind made notes as the Goddess spoke, even as the poetic musical side of her watched in awe already forming a song. Kihala’s Song.

She watched as their world contracted and expanded; the life around them reacting to its Mother. And the whole time she felt outside of the happenings, like a witness to something but not exactly part of it… not really until the mark appeared on the underside of her left wrist and the voices of the Guardians echoed through her mind. Then… finally, she seemed to awaken from what could only be considered a dream to dive head first into the fact that it was reality around her.

Taz sought Marino’s gaze, locked eyes with Onaona, then caught Roberts look. She had no idea where the ghost was, or she would have sought her out too. Taz could feel a connection between the five of them, something beneath the surface, linking them to this place and these magical creatures. Magic. She tasted it, felt it, saw it… first hand. It was something that hadn’t been actually real to her before. She’d never seen it… not really. But here… now… she understood the fear, the power, and knew all the stories she’d heard must be true. This little demonstration, the flowers, the tree growing and blooming then fruiting… it whispered that those stories very well could be true.

Tazrae knew firmly that she would build a shrine. She would tend the flowers herself that grew at the new tree. She would remember the bargain, and if no one else upheld their side of the pact, she would. If it could help protect this place from what would touch the world…. whatever that was… she’d do it. Syka was now her home. The Innkeeper had built a place and put down roots. She wasn’t leaving and if she could protect it, she would.

She only hoped Rhaus would understand and approve.

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Postby Adeliz on August 1st, 2020, 1:37 pm

Adeliz hadn’t made it far into the jungle before something changed. Maybe she was meant to not belong. Maybe it was fate intervening. Adeliz didn’t know, but what she did know was that whatever changed didn’t feel right. Whatever those totems had been, whatever they were now, they had been separated for a reason, and fate had intervened to place her elsewhere when it happened. Something was unleashed, and in the core of herself, Adeliz felt a power entering the area, power that was beyond anything Adeliz had yet encountered in her short existence.

And the, Adeliz felt it. Eyes. There were eyes on her as she tried to separate herself from whatever was happening with the totems. They had contained something, something that shouldn’t’ve been released but was. Whatever was released watched her, stalked her.

Desperate to escape its gaze, Adeliz let go of whatever fragile hold she still had on the world of the existing, but even as her materialization faded and she with it into the nothingness between existence and nonexistence, the eyes never left her. As much as she tried to separate herself from the world of the living, it would not let her go.

While the others enjoyed the comforts of the Goddess’ words and presence to explain what was happening, Adeliz received no such explanation. All she knew was she was being watched by eyes she could not escape, and no matter how much she clawed at her frayed sense of self, she could not separate herself from it.

So detached from life, the ghost couldn’t explain what this sensation was, only that she didn’t like it, but the more and more she fought to free herself, the more she realized that she knew this sensation. She had known it, experienced it for the briefest of times at the beginning of her soul.


And at that realization came a sudden burning, not the pain of the sunburns she had once experienced but the unending itch that came afterward as her skin tried to heal. It was the most unpleasant sensation, not because of the burn but because of the fact she was feeling. It had been so long since she had tasted life outside of the pitiful representation she was given secondhand through beings she possessed.

She looked to her left arm and saw the mark there, and at once, she understood what it was and who it had come from. The thoughts and intelligences of the guardians swimming there told her so. They had been chosen by Kihala. The Goddess had claimed this city and these people as her own, chosen them to be hers.

Rage. That was all Adeliz felt. This Goddess had no right. Where was Kihala when death had taken her? Where was life when Adeliz had been ripped from it? Something Adeliz didn’t like filled her at these thoughts. Hate.

How dare life stake its claim on her?

She seethed and tried to claw the mark free, but it wouldn’t budge. It was as much a part of her as her, and as she realized this, she calmed. She didn’t have to like it, but it was there, and she could use it.

So Kihala had claimed them? No, the ghost realized, Kihala needs us.

Adeliz found comfort in that. She could play along, for a time, but she could use this as much as Kihala used them. They were just pieces for Kihala to use in her play for power. They were all just pieces and parts, and for a while, Adeliz would pretend like she fit.
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Postby Willjan on September 1st, 2020, 1:14 am

Willjan and Des sat at a table in the commons, heads down on their arms staring at the drying pineapple in front of them. This was another experiment. It was far too humid in the bungalow to air dry these fruits, and so here they were - attempting to dry them at the highest point on the peninsula they could find. While the commons was high up, though, it was integrated into the forest. The trees insulated the air around them. And the pineapple sat there, mushy in their own little salt puddles.

They had not participated in the totem gathering; Willjan had deemed it a waste of time. When others began to gather in the commons Willjan didn't look up but continued to stare at his sad, little puddles of mush. On the other hand, Des was thanking the heavens for a distraction, and stood to watch the procession.

Then life burst around them. Vegetation sprung from sand and rock, erupting with blooming flowers among vines. Dragonflies and butterflies chased each other around the commons and an ethereal barracuda 'swam' in front of Willjan, causing him to kick back from his chair in an attempt to stand and back away at the same time. He fell and landed hard on the deck, turning to see a woman almost painful gaze upon. A sort of effulgent beauty. Willjan, still sprawled on the deck, got up then and righted his chair, and listened, rapt with attention.

The goddess made a claim the land, which was interesting. He hadn't realized that's how things worked for the gods. Territorial claims? Did they truly squabble over land like the ruling Dynasties in Kenash? He had thought they'd be above such things, somehow. Not that he knew anything about the gods.

The goddess then marked those she deemed worthy. Marino and Tazrae, Willjan knew. Two others he did not. Then she seemed to peer far off into the jungle, though he could not tell where. Last, the goddess looked at two more strangers by Mathais.

When the goddess left, it was like a heaviness had been lifted. A moment of silence and then an uproar grew up among the crowd.

"What do make of that?" Des asked.

"I'm guessing that those marks will be collars as much as blessings. Did you hear the goddess? It was a pact," he said.

Des snorted, "Are you really trying to say that a blessing from the goddess of life could be a bad thing Will? Gods, you can be arrogant sometimes. Look around yourself." She waved her hands at the butterflies chasing themselves around her.

"I suppose... what's good for Syka will be good for us," Willjan said.

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