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Then and There, Now... and Where?

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5/1/2019 19:23:24   


An old Ranger, a proud people. Stories stir the forest.

Farthwark used to be much safer. Oh, hush, Iím not that old. Sure, there were always monsters. The closer you get to Darkovia or the Scar, the worse it gets. I hear it was even nastier back when that whole mess in the West... Yeah, thatís the one. No surprise the Frogzard Knights werenít too happy with all the skirmishing, eh? Nobody wants a repeat of that.

But you know that Iím talking about. Weíre practically having to explore this place all over again. Iím not the only old Ranger swearing that the woods arenít the same anymore. Some places got all twisted. Same path winds differently to different people. Havenít found the trail back to my friends at Gul- Alright, alright, Iíll get on with it.

Just donít get creeped out if I sound all different. You might ask me for the stories, but itís the fire what tells them. I donít have that much of a say on which ones get told. Now hush.

They were many, once. Just as importantly, they were as one.

In long-gone days, it was said that nowhere where the light of day shone was safe from the vengeful gaze of the Umazen, for the righteous warrior-tribes were as numerous as the sunís rays and as swift as a fork of lightning. Their cities dotted the continent, and some even took to the seas, ever in pursuit of those who would dare to strip others of their freedom. Havens, bastions... Wherever they settled, the land itself became golden, bristling with energy. The more practically inclined would say that they instead settled where the land favored their power. If only more than ruins remained...

Some elders, and those who enjoy a longer lifespan than most humans, still remember the sight of the Umazen of old. A far cry from the lone roaming warriors of today, whose oft-unchecked aggression waxes aimless when the unending hunt grows long and solitary, these gilded ancestors moved with purpose. They knew when and where to strike, ending the vilest of trades wherever it dared hide.

Some respected allies hold a fainter memory, so much longer than four crowns ago. Respect and unspoken vows keep this story a secret, some holding out for the day when it is no longer relegated to memory. Painful as it be to admit, they must also take care not to let this story reach the ears of those who crave revenge.

For if raiders and slavers are the stuff of cautionary tales, you have the Umazen to thank for that. They did not merely hunt down the wretches wherever they hid - They drove them into their caves and forts in the first place. The Radiant Crusade. It was as if a storm spun from the sun itself marched across the land, a shining scourge to drive away those outlaws that preyed on the younger settlements and the budding sea trade.

Perhaps the Umazen were once themselves slaves, or a past coming of the Devourer birthed a culture of aspiring... if rather zealous... heroes. The farther back one gazes, the harder it is to find someone who can or will say with any truth or certainty. What is certain is that of those bearers of the secret, none foresaw that such righteousness could end in ignominy, secrecy and little but wrath and harried survival amid the remnants of a once proud society.

... Hold on. Play dumb, I think I heard them. We might just catch these bandits tonight. What? As long as you keep the fire going, I should be able to finish it. Now just act like a merchant drooling about the Chosen's coin, or something.
Post #: 1
5/1/2019 19:31:02   

Is that a Jojo Now and there, here and there reference?

< Message edited by darksampson -- 5/6/2019 18:34:48 >
AQ  Post #: 2
5/1/2019 21:07:12   
Irene the Unyielding
Umazen Emancipator


We were as one, once. More importantly, we were many. Enough to shine so brightly that no shadow could hide our enemies. Darkness rejected them, and a new generation of pirates turned them away with steel and powder. Only their hideouts on land remained... And by Sun and Thunder, there were enough of us to end the nightmare and show the people they could stand up to the horrors of slavery.

There were enough of us to inspire a

Enough to maintain cities on every region, each a beacon for the dispossessed and a call to arms for the strong.

...there were enough of us to champion the liberty of all without having to sacrifice our own.

How could it have gone so wrong?

Four crowns later, we still recover. We gather the descendants of those who didnít find our final legacy, our Last Gold. We refuse to give up the fight, even if we must endure the shame of doing so in lone, secret raids. We merely fight, survive and rebuild, so that our descendants can live as fully as our ancestors. But there are so few of us left... Who knows how long it will take?

And now that sickness has taken the Prince Consort... Never mind. Itís precisely because we face terribly difficult times that we must stand together, and each do what we can do best. One of our warriors is worth ten of theirs. A team of our men can work wonders as fast an army of theirs can build a hut. In time, weíll rise again.
Post #: 3
5/1/2019 23:00:43   
Andreas the Stalwart
Excelsior Guard


We were many, once. More importantly, we were as one. Marching like thunder, shining like the stars. We worked together, sharing our toils and burdens, to be ready for the next fight all the sooner. Our differences combined into a greater whole.

We seized land from the worst of the worst, held it for their captives to reclaim, and steadily ripped the slave trade from history. And we did it together. Our complementary forces were our pride and joy... The hoplites that could hold a phalanx with unending energy, and the gilded skirmishers that could annihilate the enemy once they broke against our lines. The Radiant Crusade was made possible by this unity, and our enemies scattered in the face of it.

How could we let it go so wrong?

It was a morbid lesson, to steadily lose that binding agent of victory while our enemies gained it for the sake of survival. How the tables turned, and how we still toil to rebuild. There are fewer still left of them, and in time there will be none. But the damage is done. Just look at us. Where once we did everything together, now we each do what we are most suited to, and only that. Thundercarve runs smoothly and the walls are unbroken, but you could cut the air with a blade. We sacrifice our freedom so that our descendants can enjoy theirs from birth, but if it takes so long to reach that day... What freedom will they know of? If enough generations pass, will the ends be forgotten, lost in the means? Our enemies might as well have won if such a time comes.

I... I stand loyal, even after our old Captain deserted. We preserve the historic ways of the Umazen Hoplites, by the Directive of the crown. But Lords help me, Iím beginning to think Iraklis had a point...

< Message edited by Andreas the Stalwart -- 5/1/2019 23:05:10 >
Post #: 4
5/2/2019 0:42:51   

*eagerly awaits the next*
AQ  Post #: 5
5/2/2019 13:18:23   

I would like more of this
AQ  Post #: 6
5/2/2019 14:47:53   

A well written intro to the Umazen. I don't think the Umazens have had a fleshed out description of their history and culture until now. Cray, your writing is fantastic. :)

AQ DF AQW  Post #: 7
5/2/2019 17:45:26   


You got them chained but good, huh. No, itís fine. Iím just used to having to teach soldiers to shackle them properly. Make sure they canít use their fingers. But you did good, kid. Itís nice to teach younger folk how to do things, but itís nicer to see them take the initiative and learn.

Your friend, though... Well, you might want to carry the rope from now on. Donít want her to tie herself to a cloud or something. And donít get me started on that scruffy-bearded rookie.

Still, theyíre good, strong kids. Weíll need them when we find the bandits weíre really looking for.

Of course these arenít the ones! You canít possibly think thereís just one big group of bandits in the whole forest. No, weíre out here looking for some special wretches. These guys even dare go after orc camps. Now, the forest isnít making it any easier on them, but they keep trying, sure as the Lords.

Hah, you did keep the fire alive. Sípose Iíd best get back to it.

Hm? I told you, itís the fire, not me. Which I guess is just a fancy way to say that I call on the magic, I donít work it. Síbetter for everyone that way, trust me. Dreams arenít a domain you want to consciously mess with, and donít even ask about Nightmares. So...

The tide turning against the Umazen came as a surprise to all. The cause, on the other hand, did not.

The laurels of victory can be... intoxicating. The Radiant Crusade grew short on targets, and endless as it may be, it soon stagnated. As the Umazen had made it the very axis of their culture... So, too, did they. With stagnation came conflict and disunity. And though they never truly warred amongst each other, a twisted moral was born for the story of their collapse.

Disorganized people often need a common threat to finally cast aside their conflicts and work together. To make their differences work together when they can, and resolve conflicts efficiently when they cannot. Unfortunately, this does not only apply to those of good intent.

As the Umazen became divided, struggling with the transition to a more conventional way of life, their foes neither forgot nor forgave. Far from seeking redemption either, they hungered for a reckoning. Vengeance was a bond and a catalyst that drove them to seek out all enemies of their enemies. To comb this land and others, as well as history itself, for any threat they could unleash upon Umazen lands. And though most of them would be consumed in the fires that arose... What they wrought was enough to decimate the decadent, distracted warriors.

Thus the arrow became a cycle.

The hourglass turns upon the daughters of light and sons of thunder. Their foes live on... in a manner. The losses of war werenít the only consequence of their choice of allegiance. But what manner of life have the crusaders reclaimed?

Wha-? No, Iím awake!

... And youíre not. Oh? Got your rapt attention, do I. Good. This is the part where the fire really gets going. It likes adventurers, you see. People like you get it the most interesting stories every time you close your eyes.
Post #: 8
5/2/2019 18:02:04   
Irene the Unyielding
Umazen Emancipator


How long have I been here? It feels like a dream, but I'd be waking up by now if it was.

This fire doesn't... burn right. It doesn't burn at all.

Hold on... Who are all these people? You're not Umazen. I don't know any of you. Why would I be dreaming about you?
Post #: 9
5/2/2019 18:13:18   
Andreas the Stalwart
Excelsior Guard


The fire again. The dreams get more lucid every time it shows I think I can usually control them. How come I only remember them when I'm dreaming?

But... This one isn't my dream, is it? This looks like the open forums for the Council of Examplars. I haven't been to the outdoor addresses since I joined the Guard.

There's Irene again... And who are all these outsiders?
Post #: 10
5/3/2019 0:48:44   

Pleased to meet you, I'm a magical girl of love and justice! *makes a quick curtsy*
AQ  Post #: 11
5/3/2019 5:09:31   
Rafiq von den Vielen

pleased to meet you, i am the 114th voice in my head... the others are busy singing random songs about the pope, fire, mechanisms and blood
Post #: 12
5/3/2019 11:57:50   
Irene the Unyielding
Umazen Emancipator


Yes, all of our young warriors bear some magic, even the... oddly short ones. The Light's blessing can take some time to grow in you, fret not... You haven't neglected your training, have you?
Post #: 13
5/3/2019 12:00:53   
Andreas the Stalwart
Excelsior Guard


I guess this is about as coherent as any other dream so far. Though it's more like the times with the eastern heroes we hear about, always asking questions...
Post #: 14
5/4/2019 13:27:06   
Red Blood

But of course one always should seek the knowledge where one can find it with the unknown always being a tempting prospect. Granted that pursuit can also be dangerous although it looks like everyone here can handle more than just a few zards, to say the least.

AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 15
5/5/2019 0:15:48   

I'm not that short! >.<

And I'm still practicing! I swear I wasn't slacking on my training schedule, I was just taking a break to rest my eyes!!!
AQ  Post #: 16
5/5/2019 13:38:04   
Irene the Unyielding
Umazen Emancipator


Hmph. I see. An outlander. Seeing that Guard had thrown me off...

Though I do hope he has recovered by now. Their former Captain's disappearance has shaken Ilias... And all the men of the Guard.

We stand in the Wyrd's Blaze, then. And I didn't call upon its stories this time. Very well, outsiders. Whatever the tale, ask your questions. But do not expect the secrets of our people to be easily surrenderedó Even if our enemies haven't discovered this feat, I won't assume everyone who calls on this fire will keep being trustworthy.
Post #: 17
5/5/2019 13:45:07   
Andreas the Stalwart
Excelsior Guard


Betrayal has a way of inspiring paranoia. Oh, Irene's taking charge. That's good - If anyone knows about outsiders, it's the Emancipators.

We've got too much to do to leave the city, and only they get to go very far... Well, whatever this fire is, she also seems familiar with it. What are you here for?
Post #: 18
5/5/2019 18:58:33   
Red Blood

Yes, betrayal certainly is a bitter pill to swallow, and indeed some of our number may have loose or less than pure intentions. Still, plenty of number would swear to the Elemental Lords our intentions are pure for what is worth to you both. For my first question may you explain Wyrd's Blaze as you call it? As falling asleep exhausted around a magic campfire isn't a usual part of my affairs, but walking through a Land of Dreams, and Nightmares isn't exactly what I call strange. Not exactly the biggest secret if we all happen to be all under its effects after all so maybe it would just be the thing to loosen the tongue, and sure you two might have a few questions of your own to ask in the end.
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 19
5/6/2019 0:33:55   
Irene the Unyielding
Umazen Emancipator


There's not much to say about it. It wants stories, and it gives others back. It can show you people who know things you need to know. But once you know it, it can come to you unbidden. And it can happen the other way around, too. Like you have to pay it forward. It doesn't seem to find shifty characters... But I'm not trusting it blindly.

I've relied on it enough in my expeditions, so I assume I now have to pay it back by helping you.
Post #: 20
5/6/2019 1:30:04   
Primate Murder

Is it a natural phenomenon? Or the will of some greater being, perhaps?

Does it have a will of its own? And if so, what are its goals? Can we rely on its benevolence or, at least, neutrality?
AQ  Post #: 21
5/6/2019 2:01:39   
Andreas the Stalwart
Excelsior Guard


If she means what I think she does, she just answered about as much of that as our people know. At least all the Emancipators who use it share. And if it's stories or tales of adventures that it wants, then it's not really for us men to know about it.
Post #: 22
5/6/2019 2:26:17   
Primate Murder

Hm, I see. In that case, may I impose on you to answer a few questions?

There are a lot of rumors going on about Umazen. It is said that they are trained to fight since age 3. It is said that their man are slaves themselves. It is said that they take payment for their deeds even when not offered.

Since the only umazen that I have met over my travels have been bandits, they may not be the best representatives of your culture and tradition. Would you not share the story of your people?

How did the umazen come to be?

Who rules over them?

What are their goals in this day and age?

There have been portents of dicontent among the fractions of umazen, after all...

< Message edited by Primate Murder -- 5/6/2019 2:29:15 >
AQ  Post #: 23
5/6/2019 14:00:18   
Andreas the Stalwart
Excelsior Guard



...Has it gotten so bad that outsiders think that? The only people they could've heard that from is Emancipators or deserters. You don't think... Iraklis has been saying that?
Post #: 24
5/6/2019 15:31:05   
Irene the Unyielding
Umazen Emancipator


Clearly you are no enemy of the Umazen, to say such things lightly without expecting reprisal. That we would tolerate, let alone harbor slavery, or even subject our own men to it! What manner of perverse reversal of history have our enemies spread around the East while I hunt their scouts in the Expanse?! Listen, outsider: Our men may be smaller and weaker than us, but they are tireless, peerless team workers! They have as hard of a work life as our lot in the military, but they are a current coursing through our land and sparking life into it after so many generations of loss; they build everything we fight so hard to protect!

Hmph. There's no point in becoming upset with you. You clearly meant no ill. But it's an Emancipator's lifelong commitment to rout out slavery wherever it may hide. We carry out the Radiant Crusade in place of the legions of our past. That someone has been spreading such a rumor... I will have words with my sisters who scour the East. For what it's worth, I doubt Iraklis could be behind this slander. He hasn't been gone long enough for his word to spread so far and wide, and I'd like to think even that deserter has some honor left.

You've heard much about our history already, from what I caught the tail end of before recognizing the Blaze. If you want to know our origin, that's quite the history lesson. I'll keep it short by saying that our people were born while the nations were still young, and enclaves could rise well outside the reach of the law. Places where diplomacy and commerce existed in a twisted form, where raiders and renegades traded in things no just person has any right over. Our origin lies in those first few who could not abide this any longer. Daughters of the Sun and sons of the Storm who came together under the rule of Cadmia the First, the original Prime. Those so richly blessed by Light and Energy birthed our tribe first as a builders of a haven to the dispossessed, then as a scourge against their oppressors. We spread far, and in time there were other tribes, and multiple Primes. As you now know, that... That didn't last. Even with her descendant uniting our remnants and leading us to safety, we are a dim sliver of our former glory.

We are now proud subjects of Kandra the Wise, who is committed to restoring our people to prosperity within her lifetime. A tall ambition, but she is a more than capable ruler. Our goals remain ever the same. To complete the Crusade and create a future where our children merely study it as history instead of living in a world where even the slightest shadow of slavery remains.
Post #: 25
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