Okay, I promised a villain next, but I put a small something together today for my daughter-- a Hook, if you will, for the Fantasy world I was going to revive, detail, and give to her when she is comfortable enough (and finds a group) to run her own.
And because of that:
I don't know if you come this way or not, but given that this is quite likely to drift well out of the scope of super heroes, would it be possible to move this thread to General Roleplaying? I should have thought of that sooner, I suppose, but I'm thick like that sometimes....
Moving right along. This really was just sort of a lengthy stinger. It doesn't go anywhere, really, but gives a small taste of what at least two of the races are, and how the world of Ta' La-Kreth came to be.
Enjoy (or hate. The first group I unleashed this one certainly did. )
(Of Sun and Sky)
First there was the Goddess, and She walked the Heavens of Night, and where Her footsteps fell, they were illuminated by the joy of the Sky itself, so great was the honor of Her attention. She wandered the Heavens of Night for a thousand-thousand years, searching forever for Her equal, with whom She might conceive children. Alas, She found no equal, and the lights of Her passing paled from brilliant fire to the remorseful blue we know them to be today, so great was the sadness of the Sky at the loneliness of the Goddess.
The Goddess was as wise in these Times Before as She is today, and also as powerful then as we know Her to be, and in Her wisdom, She understood that She had not failed in Her search, but had instead proven that She had no equal, as we know that She does not even today. Her power, vast as it shall always be, allowed Her to create a new place in the Heavens of Night, an endless nest of forests and rivers, hills and oceans. A place of soils and rains, for Her own t’lkreth-- the nest for Her glorious children-- would be the great and perfect Ta’ La-Kreth, the place She wove from the Heavens of Night, and the place She still watches today. The place She created of Sun and Sky.
It was here, in the fertile and warm soils, that She laid Her first clutch, the Holy Eight who would grow to become the lesser Gods: Lai’ka; Wind and Rain-- She who would be the God of Change, was hatched first, for it was Her power to cause Change that would open the eggs of Her seven brothers. She first opened the egg of her Azhum, He who would become the God of the moving waters, and then that of Kallath, He who would assume rule over the forests, mountains, and the far-travellers to distant lands. Oh, when the Amphii learned the skills to craft boats….
One of the many and perhaps the greatest gifts of Lai’ka is new knowledge, for She so loves the Change new knowledge wrings-- and when she changed the Amphii’s knowledge to understand the crafting of vessels that would carry them far into the deep waters and far up the rivers, then did the Eldest Brothers have their first quarrel, for Kallath believed us to be travellers, even though we may cross vast lands with ne’er a foot on land, and Azhum held that all things on the moving waters were as much His domain as the waters themselves, and the things within them. Kallath picked His battle unwisely, for even an Amphi child can drag a furrow upon dry land, but Azhum’s might is such that He may dig holes in the waters. In the end, Kallath was left with a jagged scar so deep and so profound that His very Nest bears the same mark to this day. It was on that day, too, that the First Clutch knew that They were in fact Gods, for who else had the power to inflict such pain on the First Clutch of the Goddess?
As the Godlings grew and travelled the world, They found those things in which They each took delight, and the seven brothers of Lai’ka divided the Ta’La-Kreth of the Goddess into seven Aspects, and placed rule of these Aspects amongst themselves, and presumed to rule Ta’La-Kreth for a time. Their mother-- the Great Mother that is the Goddess-- returned to survey Her children, and was displeased at their presumption. Still, as She is always the Great Mother, She loved Them, and She could not bear to see Them destroyed, so She instead ordered Her sons that They would each build t’lkreth of Their own, outside her Great Nest, but as She loved Them and could not bear to lose Them to Her sight,, and as They had taken great care during Their rule of Her Nest, She allowed to Them that Their own Nests should stay forever in the near skies of Her own, and there they remain to this day, visible to all who will turn an eye to Her skies, and at night, when any number of them are in the Heavens of Night overhead, their brilliance lends enough light that even the eldest of the Amphii may safely find his path on open land. Only Lai’ka was allowed to keep her feet in the Ta’ La-Kreth of Her mother, for only Lai’Ka did not seek governance over that which was Her mother’s. Further, the loving Great Mother, as Her sons had truly cared for Her world even as they squabbled amongst themselves, allowed Them to continue to reign over the various Aspects of Her world, on any day or night that Their own Nest was visible in the sky. This is how great is the Forgiveness of the loving Mother.
In time, with Her Children now grown and Her sons partly banished, the Goddess grew lonely, as mothers who have known children are want to do, and grew again heavy with eggs, so great was Her desire for more children to raise. She again took to Her Ta’La-Kreth-- Her nest made by Her hand of the Sun and the Sky itself, and deposited a great clutch-- unknown thousands of eggs, and, so that they might not also become Gods and also become arrogant in their powers, scattered them about the corners of Her Ta’La-Kreth and bade that they be not shapers of the world, but dependant upon it, and this Great Clutch was hatched, and was the Amphii, who will, by Her design, forever be tied to her Ta’La-kreth, and forever her Children.
There are those, even among the eldest Amphii, who say that we are weaker, for we cannot rise above our need for grains from the land and meat from the forests and the sea, but the oldest Skins tell a different story to those who can read them. They remind us of the Wisdom of the Goddess. They tell us that we are different, and have been given no divine power. They tell us that we are weaker, for we must toil and eat to grow and to live. But also we are many-- more, far more, than the seven of the First Clutch, and that our needs have taught us to rely on each other, to cooperate and share burdens in ways that that the First Clutch in the arrogance of Their great power could never do. Our perceived weakness has molded us into a complex society that thrives and grows and bears for the Great Mother Goddess more children and grandchildren besides, which is something that the arrogance of the First Clutch could never allow Them to do.
And we know the Love of the Goddess, as not only does She allow us children of our own and all the bounty of Her vast t’lkreth, but She allows us to beseech Her and Her First Children for intervention, as She has not only allowed Them to retain vestiges of Their rule of the Aspects, but has obligated Them to always be vigilant. Her Wisdom, tempered by Her great Love, has found for Her First Children punishments that They cherish.
That is why She watches us so closely, and always. We, the Ahmphii, are Her children, and every place that we have ever set foot is Ta’ La-Kreth, the t’lkreth of the Goddess Herself. Alway are Her eyes upon us, staring down Her gaze of Warmth and Light from the endless blue of the daytime sky. She watches us again through the eyes of Her First Clutch, who are charged with keeping us safe when both of Her eyes are closed. She watches us because She loves us, because She knows that we are weak and will often need Her intervention, and most of all, She watches us to ensure that we will not develop the arrogance of the First Clutch when we discover the true potential of our strength. Praise the Goddess for Her Wisdom. Praise the Goddess for Her Love. Praise the Goddess for Her watchful gaze, and for that of Her eldest Children. Especially, we praise the Goddess for our lives here, in Her blessed Ta’La-Kreth.
The teacher beamed softly out onto her class. Tellings from the Great Tale always held the children so rapt. Usually, with Soft Summer approaching, there were wandering minds and eyes that drifted toward the windows, beyond which soft breezes played with the grasses in the warm sun. Today, though, every eye in the round clay room was on her. And why shouldn’t they be? She had chosen her spot well, standing in the pool of light that filtered through the open vent in the top of the cone-shaped structure. It was a good place to stand: it cast her in light brighter than that which filtered in through the low open windows spaced around the room, and the sunlight felt delightful upon her skin. She smiled inside herself that with the breezes through the window being drawn to her on their way out through the vent as they warmed that she was privately enjoying the very pleasures the children were dreaming of as they sat on the floor near the low benches around the perimeter of the room. Again her inner mind chuckled: it was amusing how, as the weather warmed, those low benches inched closer every day to the edges of the round room, nearest the windows.
Adding to the distractions of the children, this was a particularly delightful Soft Summer day: the breeze was light and constant, but swirled playfully with the thin drape of her wrap, and the scents of Soft Summer blooms so permeated the air that she could taste them upon her skin, even where it was covered by her wrap. She beamed again at the children around her. It wasn’t as if she was old enough that she did not appreciate their desire to play in the sunlight or roll in the fresh blooms of the fields--
“Mother.” called a sharp voice. It wasn’t that there was sharpness in the tone; it was simply the nature of the voice: quick and blunt, with more force and volume than should be used. Language was gift of Lai’ka, after all, and should be treated as an art. This was the voice of someone more inclined to use it as a tool, hammering thoughts into the air. The tone was respectful, inquisitive, and innocent-- a respectful child. But her people…. Goddess love and protect them all, but her people… So hurried. So forceful. So unconsciously self-important and accidentally impetulant. So…. Ha’arii.
She looked at the Ha’ari child-- there were four this season. The Amphii had done so well with them since the beginning, and the Ha’ari settlement beyond the hill had begun to blossom. She could not remember a season when she had ever had more than two of their kind at her lessons. Fortunately, like many of the Amphii here and in other places, she had become accustomed to their look: their strange, narrow mouths and their faces made long by an abundance of skull above their eyes, and that odd special structure that thrust their nostrils from a face otherwise flattened by an extremely short jaw. Hardest to get used to was their skin. Not only was it not the warm yellow-green or vivid blues of the Amphii, whose bronze and golden highlights could tell tales of generations of lineage, but it was almost completely one color, lighter where their heavier clothing hid them from the gaze of the Goddess’s Eyes, but it was so… It wasn’t dry. It wasn’t wet, as was often found on the Amphii who made their livings in the water trades, but it wasn’t precisely dry, either. It was…. Oily. Not disturbing to any great degree, no more than the light film the Amphii developed when wet repeatedly and for long durations, but disconcerting at times, particularly since it appeared dry when looked at. Their skin was grained, too. It was soft, to be certain, but it wasn’t the perfect smoothness of the Ma’risu; it wasn’t even slicked to smoothness like those in the water trades. In fact, when a Ha’ri was wet for long periods, positively _horrible_ things happened to its skin!
The feathers, though--- the feathers of the Ha’arii… So fine. Long, flowing feathers, so fine and so delicate as to be finer than the finest threads, softer than even the softest of downy barbs on a newly-hatched shathir, yet longer than the rachis of the longest-known feathers of the greatest sky swimmers. Too soft to stand erect, they flowed and tumbled downward, sometimes straight, sometimes in waves, occasionally in wavy circlets, a captured living river that flowed from their heads, the crest feathers of the Ha’ri defied anything known in the world, yet the thickness with which the crest grew, and the length to which the Ha’ri were capable of growing them…. They were beautiful when preened properly, as they carried a shiny depth and inviting softness unlike anything else in the world. The Amphii had named them “Ha’arii,” meaning “finely-feathered. The feathers, though, like the skin, were all similar in color. And like the skin, there were a variety of colors expressed amongst the Ha’ri: silver, white, assorted yellows, orange, red, black, and shades of brown too numerous to name, yet any given Ha’ri, regardless of the color of his feathers, would have feathers of only that color, with perhaps a few highlights of a lighter or darker shade of that color. As they matured, most of the Ha’rii would slowly molt and some of-- and eventualy all-- of their crest feathers would be replaced with silver or white or gray, and for the years during which this molting was taking place, the results were spectacular. Sadly, about half of the males would lose their head crest entirely, or in large part, during this molting. No one, not even the Ha’ari, could say why this was.
The crest was not their only feathering, of course, but the rest of the feathering on their body, while seemingly similar in delicacy of structure and the fine-beyond-even-the-finest-of-threads design, was much more sparse. Not patchy, but unexplainably short and widely-spaced, as if to show off the color of their skin, which ran from almost-whte through to sand-hued yellows and as wide a range of browns as did their feathers. For some reason, the feathering of the body was much more pronounced upon the males, and oftentimes all-but-absent on the females. Perhaps the females lost their body plumage early as the males lost their crests with age. Likely she would never know, for the Haa’ri had never been able to explain it.
The child before her was respectful, she saw, and had risen to her knees and leaned forward (she had supported herself upon her hands-- making her pitiful Ha’ri claws visible as she splayed her unsettling Ha’ari one-thumbed hands on the clay floor-- before calling for attention. The teacher graciously overlooked this unmannerly lack of hands opened and spread outward from the elbows, as the Ha’rii had no tails with which to balance themselves in a proper bow and they made do demonstrating their emptiness by spreading their fingers across the floor and pressing their palms flat. This child had long black feathers that were wrapped neatly in a leather thong, keeping them from spilling to the floor in a beautiful light-catching silky cascade. Still, manners were important, and such a brilliant display of plumage could have hidden her hands. Whoever was raising this child was taking the job quite seriously.
“Inquisitive One. What may I offer you?” she replied warmly, in the oldest tradition of teaching. As the child leaned back to her knees, the teacher noticed the eyes. The eyes of this child-- the length of the crest suggested that this child was female, but it was so difficult to tell at this age-- were a lovely gold color, and bright against the soft smooth inviting brown of her skin.
“What of the Eyumohn, Mother? When did the Goddess decide the Amphii needed companions? From where do the Eyumohn come?” Her question asked, the child settled back to a comfortable position on the floor, leaning against the low bench she share with two Amphi children. “Eyumohn,” the child had said. Typical of the Ha’arii: while the Amphii have come to realize that they do not do it intentionally, the self-important nature that the Ha’arii hide only from themselves no doubt demanded such as this. The name borne to them by the Amphii-- the liberators of their kind-- the name borne by them for a thousand years!-- had not been good enough when they had decided to live independently of their liberators and teachers. No, that bedevilling and no doubt Esh-Kahn (the youngest and most self-centered of the First Clutch)-inspired need to do every tiny thing for themselves (and then boast about it for a hundred years or more) certainly would have driven the Ha’rii to rename their entire kind on nothing more than a whim. And in their typical short-sightedness, they hadn’t even given themselves a name that meant anything. Except ‘Ha'arii,’ of course. It would always mean Ha’arii.
“That, Inquisitive One, is another, later part of the Great Tale. For you see, Inquisitive One (she prayed briefly to Ampylis, God of Discernment, Judgement, and Knowledge, to know for certain the gender of this one so that she could simply say “child” without insult), the Ha’arii, so far as we understand it, were not the get of the Goddess, but instead a gift to the Amphii-- perhaps a reward; perhaps a test-- from Lai’ka, who brings Change to all things, and new things to Change and be Changed. Should all the class desire it, I will tell this Tale as well, for I have well-read the Skins upon which it is written, and knowledge of the past is something to be carried forward always, for in this way and this way only, will we know when we should not pray for Change.”