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2.9 – Hanging Lanterns

Lanterns save lives. Your duty is to make sure they stay lit, you hear me? Out there, right outside those walls, monsters live, and like it or not, people get stuck outside at night more often than you’d think. That’s why we establish way points, safe houses where folks can stay and wait the night through. And a lantern marks Each. One. Of them. They’re what keep the monsters at bay. I’ll say it again. Your jobs are to make sure they stay lit. The wards you learn are precisely for that reason. So don’t be pansies. You walk out there an hour before sundown and you don’t come back until you know each lantern on that road is flickering, you hear?

— Frederik Long at the initiation of new Seven Cities Wardsmen

 

“Finally! For the first time in my life! I’m getting my own room! Woohooo!”

“What are you, a kid? You don’t have to get so excited.”

“What do you know? You’ve never had to live with seventeen people in a three-bedroom house before. Look at all this space you have!” Nattiq gestures at the expanse beneath my tree.

“S-seventeen?” I sputter. “You have that many people in your family?”

“Ah, no. I have more. That’s just Mom and Dad and the younger kids. My three older brothers and my older sister are married already, so they’ve moved out. You’ll make me a cool room, right?”

“Make it yourself. I’ve got other things to do right now.”

“But you said you’d make me one.”

“Alright, alright already. Give me some space. I’ll make it. But there’s something else I want to do first, so just sit there and watch quietly.” I take a deep breath and shake out my shoulders. I can’t believe how much better I feel now that I have a body. I feel so much more confident about everything. I grin.

“Here I go,” I say under my breath. I grab as much ice I can with manipulation and drag it along in a semi-circle. Soon, I have a deep, wide ditch almost completely circling the tree and a small mountain of ice piled up where the circle would connect. It slumps against the base of the tree. Hm. I strengthen and shape the ice and then hollow out the underside so the ditch runs underneath, then create a series of ice handrails on either side. A bridge, granted, a steep one, but aesthetically pleasing nonetheless.

I begin to shape the hole that marks the entrance to my underground caves, or rather the ice around it. The hole itself is still pretty enough, with the garlands of vine-shaped ice, but lets continue the vibe I’m creating. I raise pillars in a semi-circle around the hole and decorate them with carved hydrangea flowers. A sloping octagon for the roof, peaked at the center and flaring at each corner, carved tiles that look like scales and a statue of Timp decorating the peak. A pagoda. I hang Chinese lanterns on the underside of the roof and light them with |aura of light| and |aura of warmth|.

(more…)

2.4 – Safe Harbor

It’s a goal in my life to travel to all the wonders of the known world. Each one offers something unique, and I plan on experiencing all seventeen. From the floating isles of Hardiff, to the hanging temple of Jo Goth–and those in between: Platimenia, the city at the edge of the world; the giant Edith Statues that dominates the Milana Mountains; and the Carepen Gates, the massive structure that spans a continent. I’ve been to the Tolk Mushroom forest, to the unusually sized shells at Seashell Cove, and to the Balancing Pillars at Fare Caolan, but there are so many others I long to see, and new wonders I long to discover.

– Iolian Yosef, Wanderer

 

I’m miffed. The sun’s going to come up in a couple of minutes or so, and my stupid guests aren’t going to be up to see my magic show it looks. I use my perception to wander around my domain a few minutes more, occasionally having Niko nudge them to see if they’ll wake, then reluctantly give up. How someone can sleep so long, I’ll never know.

I glance at them once more, then gather all the ice around my core. I want to see everything with my own eyes. I take a deep breath, and then I surge. Like a tidal wave, a geyser even, I burst out of the ground surrounded by ice. The sun peeks out from the horizon at that moment, reflecting off the prisms in the ice. Everything sparkles, and it hits me harder than the magical underwater world. An overwhelming feeling of nostalgia assails me.

I’ve lost something. I stare at the sun, slowly growing higher using my ice, the massive pillar already dozens of feet above the ground. The hole in my heart only grows wider as I realize for the first time, I don’t belong here. This was never my world. I look up at the stars that are beginning to fade with the sunrise, searching desperately for home. Which star was mine. Where did I live? What was my life like before I was stolen away? Was there anyone there that longs for me? Do they long for me like I long for them? Is it possible to miss something you don’t even remember?

There’s nothing here to answer my questions except the sun glinting off the ice for miles and miles. I am an alien to this world. My home, far away and out of reach. The sun flares even brighter and the feeling I had down in that underwater world returns in force, the sadness banished from my mind. I will rise like this sun, shine over everything on this planet, and make a world like it has never seen before. If I can’t go back to a home I can’t remember, I’ll just make my own and thrive like no one’s ever seen before.

For an instant, I see it. My domain spreading for miles and miles on this unforgiving terrain, budding with life and people. I grin, my ice pillar reaching 300 feet into the air. I pause for a second, gathering more ice around me in a bulb on top of the pillar. Movement on the ground catches my attention. Ah’m and Nattiq are up and outside my caves below, standing on the open ice and staring at my pillar rising in the sky. I smile again.

Here goes to the first step. I take another breath and then burst outward. Huge offshoots of ice strain out from the enormous bulb of ice atop the pillar. I branch them. I branch them again and again and again, over and over, intertwining them in a similar way to my roots down below. I branch them until they become so thin, they turn into |ice silk| drifting in the wind, so long that when they float down from their sudden growth, they brush the ground. I pull at some of the little beads quickly forming on the |ice silk|, shaping them into long thin leaves thickly decorating my swaying branches, then make everything glow with |aura of light|.

I pause cover the whole construction with my influence and then to take a look at my handiwork. A slight breeze causes my branches to sway and rustle, drifting to and fro like those underwater jellyfish. It’s calming. I can almost smell the green. It smelled of life. Ah, |aura of souls|.

It felt like a breath, |aura of souls|. I gathered the aura together, tightly winding it and compressing it, filling it with thoughts of life and growing, thoughts of a teeming forest, damp and fresh after the rain, and when I was ready, I released it like a breath into my massive ice tree. And the tree breathed it in. It rustled and moved and came alive. It was a simple life, even more so than a true plant, but it was alive nonetheless. (more…)

Torrents

Torrents.
It pours.
The sound thunders, muted in its steadiness.
The scents waft upon a slight breeze–
green, growing, damp, then drenched.

The world ceases to exist for a moment.
Then, the rain passes.
The heavy downpour is gone.
The buckets that once were fade away,
and a light drizzle replaces it.

The sun shines in the shower.
The thundering silence of the blanketing squall a memory,
but the smell of it remains.
A reminder of the brief, fleeting
torrent.

1.8 – Eira and Evolve

What is the main difference between man and monster, for it surely isn’t the shape. Many races of man are more strange, more obscure, than some monsters will ever be. Is it intelligence, then, or perhaps the ability to cast skills. No, my dear sirs, that cannot be the answer, for how well documented are the strange beasts that come nigh unto man’s intelligence, as well as the various skills they employ. No, there’s only one difference, and that is a monster’s ability to evolve.

– Of Monsters and Men, 883

 

I need more silt. Also water. I need water. I had originally wanted to fill the other half of my garden-in-process with water and create sort of Feng Shui effect… I decided against it. It’d look funny. Let’s go with just more soil instead. Maximize planting space. I’ll create another room as a pond and resting spot for my fishies. Although they’re fine swimming in the air, I think it’d be better for them to be where they are naturally supposed to be. You know, underwater. Besides, plants also need water. I really need to figure out an irrigation system for my garden, but I have no idea how to get water that’s not salt water.

For my fishies, it’ll be fine, they live normally in salt water. Maybe I can send them to find some salt water plants under the ocean for their pond later, if there are any. But that won’t work for my lichen, I think. It’ll need fresh water, at least every once in a while since it’s already a hardy plant. But I’m still not sure where to get fresh water. Melting ice is an option, but I can’t really melt ice at the moment. Hmmm let me chew on this idea for a while.

I send some fish down the hole with the pots for more silt. I also create some more pots to send down for water, even though I can’t do anything with it at the moment. Maybe having some nearby will give me inspiration. While I’m waiting for them to come back, I start to think again.

I also need to find a more viable food source for my fish. It’s not really practical to keep sending them down the hole, not to mention dangerous. And I still haven’t figured out if they can eat plants. I don’t really think that lichen will cut it, though. If only there was a plant that grows meat. Ug! So many problems have begun to pile up recently. It’s making me wish for back when my life was simpler. It’s all the whale dog’s fault. Stupid whale dog.

(more…)

1.7 – Winter Lichen

The greatest feeling of all the world is when something you’ve planted for the first time sprouts. It feels like you are worth something, that you are needed and loved, because each man knows that plants are the only thing in this world that love unconditionally. They will care for you just as much as you care for them.

– Therian herbalist

 

You know, when they’re not attacking you, sliver fish are pretty to look at. I’m not scared of them anymore. Scratch that. I was never scared of them. It was more like… just a nervous feeling, you know? ‘Cause I don’t get scared. Nope, have never once been scared in my whole life. Ahem. Back to the pretty fish.

It doesn’t take me long to notice that after bonded with them, their scales took on a slight green tint. Adding to the green lighting from my ice berries, the fish almost seem to disappear if they’re not moving. Once they move, a bit of light catches on them and their scales flash silver. It almost makes it feel like my room is underwater now. Huh, I think I can use this. They’ll be great little guards for my hole. If anything scary tries to climb up the hole while the fish are in it, it’ll be like trying to climb through a garbage disposal while it’s on. They’ll be shredded! Muwahahaha!

As I’m thinking this, one sliver fish comes up to me and nudges me with a feeling. Hungry. 

“You’re hungry?”

Hungry. Suddenly, all the sliver fish turn towards me and stare at me with their wide eyes. Hungry, They all nudge at once, HungryHungryHungry. 

(more…)

1.6 – Sliver Fish Swarm

Every environment has it’s bottom-feeders. For the Eastern Lakes, it’s the Giant-legged Sturgeon; the Suon Kiin deserts, the tiny Scorpion Vulture. the Kith Kilan forests, the Rubber-bellied Carrion Newt; the Rou Ban highlands, the Laughing Spider-dog; and for the little know ocean under the Rhew, it’s the Sliver Fish–Just to name a few.

There are many, many bottom-feeders in the world, and most hardly present any danger to the common traveler as long as they are even somewhat prepared, except… except perhaps the Urban Cockroach.

– Barmir’s Guide to the Unknown, 976 

 

It’s been about a day since the naitaka attacked. I can’t really bear to be in the same room as it, but I also can’t bear the cost of transporting at the moment. If another thing comes when I don’t have any mana… I don’t want to think about it. But I’ve had enough moping around. I can ignore it, so let’s settle on some more… constructive things.

Floor first. I need to harden my floor. I can’t handle another entrance if something else decides to break through my floor. So, I pack it. It feels a bit different than just moving ice around or swallowing it. I have to squeeze, and it actually makes me tired, like I’m lifting weights or something. It’s a weird feeling since I don’t have any muscles.

Someday, I’ll get around to that. The more I recall random feelings of having a body, the more I seem to miss it. I wonder if there’s a way that I can get one. It would make things so much easier, honestly. As a plus, weirdly enough, packing ice didn’t seem to take up as much mana. I had thought it’d be the other way around. Huh.

After newly reinforcing my floors as much as I can with my level of [Ice Manipulation], and my walls while I was at it, I turn my attention to new rooms. Don’t blame me for running away. That open hole is dangerous. Even now it feels like an open mouth ready to swallow me whole. The feeling it gives me is so much worse that my first entrance. It’s like a constant tooth ache in my mind.

(more…)

1.4 – The Akhlut

There are many things under the ice flow. Not much on top of it, but things, dangerous things thrive underneath. I wouldn’t stay in one spot for long. Whatever lies down there has ways of finding you as you walk above the ice.

– Therian Traveler 

 

“Oh, it’s just me and my little rubber ducky

Singing and splashing in the tub!

Oh, my days are peaceful

And my nights are fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine,

As here I rub-a-dub-dub!” I sing.

If I had to guess, it’s been about a week or so since the staircase fiasco. Those first few hours after I woke up from mana deprivation were the scariest of my life, right after nearly dying in the blizzard. I kept thinking that something was going to pop through my open entrance. Nothing ever happened, though. Well, unless you count the massive snow drift that had come in through the entrance. Nearly gave me the cold status again. It took some experimentation, but I finally figured out that I could spin ice in a way that it resembled spider silk. It gave me my very first achievement! Here look.

You have earned the achievement: |Ingenuity!| – Manipulate something to the extent that it is now something entirely different than what it once was. (+3 path points; unlocked |Ice Silk| as an addable attribute; {Ingenuity I (0/50)} path)
|Ice Silk|: A curious type of ice formation that has many similarities to spider silk. Twice as strong as silk, its durability causes it to be highly sought after by adventurers, however, it melts easily unless enchanted, Many types of Arctic Spiders form this type of silk, but in certain circumstances, it can form naturally on its own.

 

(more…)

Train Station

Here I am just sittin’,
Sittin’ by the train station,
Waitin’ until 3:00.
Time is goin’ slowly.
I am countin’ my heartbeats;
A rhythm goin’ tick tick tock.

Got a little letter
Tellin’ me to meet you here
On a Wednesday afternoon.
Time is gettin’ closer.
I’ll wait a little longer,
‘Til I see that handsome you.

I’m not imaginin’,
The scene that I am seein’:
You leavin’ the west bound train,
I see your cheeky smile
Lightin’ up your sparklin’ eyes,
Hair all wet from mistin’ rain.

I jump up from my seat,
And run a little faster.
Pick me up and spin me ’round,
And I’ll whisper to you
That I’m glad you got back safe.
I squeeze you without a sound.

Tell me that you love me
And say you’ll never leave me.
I’ll smile from head to toe.
Been waitin’ forever,
And now I get to see you,
I’m never lettin’ you go.

How I’m glad I waited,
Sittin’ by the train station
For you to come back to me.
I’m countin’ your heartbeats,
I rest my head on your chest,
It’s the place I’m meant to be.

Chapter 5 – Page 2

He wasn’t going to make it. He felt it the moment his feet left the air duct. He reached out as far as he could, stretching his limbs to their utmost, but fell just a few centimeters short. His hand brushed the rail as it slipped past his grasp. A spark of electricity ran through his fingers when it did. He felt his stomach drop as he fell.

“Seven!” He heard Lex yell.

Then, the world flipped.

Seven hung in the air for a second before slamming into the cooling unit. It hurt. The railing caught him right in the gut. His stomach crawled up his throat, and he vomited.

“Seven! Are you alright? What happened?”

It took him a second before he could respond. “It went back, I think,” he said hoarsely.

(more…)

Chapter 5 – Page 1

“Hime, you lazy roat! Get up. You sleep like a hog. It’s noon already,” Mevin said as he ripped Lex’s blanket off.

“Five more minutes,” Lex groaned as he waved Mevin off.

“Nope, not going to happen. Now get up before I dump this bucket of ice water on your head.” Lex bolted up. He glared at the bucket in Mevin’s hands.

“You wouldn’t.”

“I would. I still haven’t gotten my revenge on you threatening my pay yesterday.” He held the bucket aloft in a position to launch its contents.

“Stop! I’m up. I’m up. Why are you attacking me this morning?”

“Two things. We’re in sight of the boarder wall, and, well it’d be better if you just see it. Seven’s having a bit of a problem. And I’m not attacking you.”

“Where is he?” Lex said as he stood up. He grabbed a shirt and combed his hair with his hand. Then, he headed out of the bedroom.

(more…)