Forums » The Keepings of Castigue

Third Letter - "A Night of Five Voices, Part 2"

    • 205 posts
    January 1, 2015 9:00 PM PST

    A Night of Five Voices, Part 2

     

    A six-sided sliver of the stone gave, though I needed both hands to push. Once this piece slid in up to my elbow, an entire six-sided door pushed in as well, appearing out of the seamless rock. Astonished, I slipped through to a descending hall with orbs of light tethered to each wall in volleyed array. Frigid air whistled around me from the unseen below and I regarded the clothing provisions very well. The hidden door then sealed up behind me. Turning quickly, I placed a hand on the frozen stone and lingered there for a moment, letting my fingers run across the grooves and smooth places. With no alternative, I turned back to the hidden hall, stepping down the stonecut steps for what seemed like a quarter of an hour.

     

    Near the end of my descent, an unexpected noise began to infiltrate the stillness. It was quite alarming when I recognized it, but unmistakable: the sound coastal waves make when they lap against rock. I was reminded of the line from the sailor’s hymn I’d often heard within the tavern of Ru’Lun, “The Tides! A song which never sleeps.” And in that moment, I too no longer craved sleep, for in the midst of night my mind was beginning to dawn. As I exited the final step onto a thin waif of a mooring, I saw a vast stretch of sea with hazy fog upon it and a thin coast beyond. Under the flint-struck stars, the harmony was a buffer to the biting cold.

     

    There also was a boat, not much greater than a common dingy. It was watched over by a very large, oddly placed statue... with a hooded cloak obscuring its face --

     

    “Good evening, Narian of Thronefast.”

     

    A hooded statue that was now speaking, of course -- to me.

     

    “Excuse me?” I exclaimed, and did so while nearly falling back into the water. “I - I, beg your forgiveness, sir. Sir?” I thought I heard a chuckle in reply.

     

    Unhindered by my surprise and seemingly very much expecting me, he motioned to the boat.

     

    “Time must not be misused, young Castigue.”

     

    “Of course,” I replied, and carefully obliged. His voice was deep and rich, even when soft, almost as though it was rising up from a vast cavern or carried through a magnificent cathedral before leaving his mouth, never losing its fullness.

     

    The boat was sturdier than I expected. It felt natural to take a seat in the bow and I watched the towering figure enter gracefully at the stern. I noted what I assumed to be a rather wide hilt or handle lift his outer cloak as he sat, just behind his left shoulder.

     

    We set off on the easy waves. Though it drew no notice at the time, I am still not certain how exactly the craft ferried, for neither of us rowed. There were no oars or sails and yet we sped along well. My stoic companion held the head of a steering paddle under his right forearm, which kept us on a precise line toward the shore, now becoming more clear in the distance. I began to feel cold from lack of movement.

     

    The breaking waves foretold of nearing land and I could now discern another figure, cloaked and motionless, standing upon the snow-covered shore. As we made land, I considered the final words of the Dwarf who woke me and how easily I had acquiesced. I was now in a new realm, in the pit of night, in the company of two unknown companions who I could not say one name between and certainly not their purpose. My introspection was broken as the one on the shore raised his head to acknowledge us. Beneath his hood were three distinct, ember-like lights, bright and perhaps burning. They were set  in a triangular pattern - two must have been eyes, I thought. When he spoke, his voice had the most delicate echo of itself; a resonance that was almost imperceptible --

     

    “When you emphasized the clandestine nature of tonight’s events, Khazas" he began, "I thought surely you would swim instead of risk a boat.”

     

    I was sure the name must have been spoken in error.

     

    “If your people hear of their King adventuring in the middle of the night...well, that wouldn't do.”

     

    This I keep to your confidence, Kaolyen. As we stepped onto the shore, I found myself in stride with the god-King of the Oldassan Dwarves, the one they dearly refer to as Father and yet fear with perfect respect. His might and discernment were emblazoned in the souls of every Dwarf I had encountered, so great was the sacrifice of his yielded immortality. This was my ferryman... Khazas, “The Refuge”? At that moment I stumbled completely in the thick snow, nearly tumbling back into the icy water while taking far too long to regain my balance.

     

    Mercifully, Khazas' full-throated laugh took attention off of my flailing about, and the well-timed commentary from our newest companion at my expense kept the Dwarf King’s laughter steady for several moments. “Rel-Cirin, you simmer speech like a master chef.” But when his laughter abated, a soberness fell on both of them. I wondered if those would be the only laughs we’d share on this journey.

     

    “Narian of Thronefast, this is Rel-Cirin of Su’Roa, the isle of the Archai.” Rel lowered his hood completely and I noticed it was of a peculiar, almost mineral-like fabric, with light scrawls all over, yet it rested like cloth on his broad shoulders. Strands of his hair were white, hued as the snows beneath our feet. Of the three burning spots, two were indeed his eyes, yet they shimmered in the way of a jewel. The third burning was centered in the midst of his forehead, and the thinnest veins of glowing heat traced organically over his face, drawing from his mouth and eyes.

     

    “Welcome, Narian.” He donned the hood, and started to lead us. “My people will hear of your name and of this night, I believe.” Khazas cleared his throat. “Of course, not for some time, Khazas.”

     

    The two of us followed him into the snow lands. I tell you very little of this portion of the journey, as it was miserable to endure and truthfully I don’t recall much. I know we walked for some time. It seemed to me as if the darkness of the night were enhanced, as there was a gloom and shadow that seemed to hang in the air. It was bitterly cold and the land itself was severely frost-chapped. In the midst of these surroundings, the mere strides of my two companions, wedded with whatever mystical empowerments enhanced their bodies, transformed me once again into the child with sticks for weapons, and I could not understand why I was there. For all those hours I could barely discern our direction. At length, I drew the courage to stammer a question across my frigid lips.

     

    “Where, k-uh...King -- or, Rel? ...Where might we all, the three of us… where are we traversing to?” Both of them slowed their pace a bit.

     

    “We are going to find your answers, Narian” Khazas replied. I whispered the statement back to myself, slowly realizing what was meant. “We are skirting the Tenebrous Tundra, the great buffer between us and The Kingdom Underneath, and doing so at night for --”

     

    "-- the what?” I cut in. “Oh. Forgive me. It’s just that this is certainly not the tundra we travelled through on our way to Khadassa. What is Tenebrous? And what kingdom could possibly exist out here?”

     

    The heavy crunch of ice crystals lent a tense tempo to the wait. Rel-Cirin’s voice hung in the air, like the ribbons of the dim auroras in the sky above us.

     

    “You have need of a king, Human. But you may not have all the king’s secrets.”

     

    After this we hiked in silence for an hour perhaps. As we walked, suddenly out of the endless mirk there appeared a towering silhouette before us. As I peered more carefully, I could see an array of them continuing into the distance; whether of ice or stone or gold, so bizarrely dark were they I could not tell. Khazas’ voice broke the quiet.

     

    “How long will this take?”

     

    Rel-Cirin didn't turn. “Moments, as I stated.” He lead us onto an icy sheet, as if a frozen river had formed a winding path among these looming cliffs. The Dwarf King continued, “And how long will we have?”

     

    “That, I cannot as easily say,” Rel-Cirin replied as he motioned us to a stop. Before us was a sheer, uncut face of relatively tall cliffs. I could almost hear the Archai smile, his thick arms lowering the simple but majestic hood. Yet as I watched Rel-Cirin approach the base of the tower-like stone, I noticed an unnatural element upon the rock’s surface.

     

    Beneath the high moon, the gloomy air around us seemed to thin as glimmers of light fanned out across the raw stone, like an explosion frozen in time. Rising higher than even Khazas, this burst forth in two beautiful wings, made of nothing but subtle, metallic contrasts in the stone. A weave, painstaking and intricate, etched in a way that whispered of mastery -- at once strikingly bold and yet soft and hidden. I have seen nothing like it in all of King’s Reach.

     

    Khazas cleared his throat and quite literally slid me behind himself. For in my study I failed to observe Rel-Cirin’s hunched posture, his cloak off and draped at his side. The thin ember lines that traced across his face were cut in deep red and orange veins over his bare, dark-muscled back. It was a vibrant contrast to the delicate flakes of snow falling and evaporating in his growing heat. He emitted a low rumble, like a volcano building pressure.

     

    As I peered from beneath Khazas’ raiment, it appeared as if the Archai’s hands were sunken into the rock. The glints in the cliff side began to glow. In moments every last metal flake was alive, transformed into a glorious and scintillating shimmer. Then the radiant glints began to race within the stone itself. They flew like grains of sand before an approaching storm, but in perfect concert. Their collective sound was a score of sizzles.

     

    When at last the bright symphony concluded, I gasped at what it wrought. In a tremor I turned my back to Khazas, but I heard the god-King exhale and regarded again the company I was in. I thought of you, Kaolyen, and of our research. Even the epoch of our peoples, most having lost the desire to know why we have all been tethered here to Terminus and displaced from our own respective worlds and realms.

     

    I stood there, amidst the fading lights smoldering around the heavy-breathed Archai, discerning the image now visible in the still-smoking stone: an insidious, winged Dragon.

     

    “Tel’Nharssis. The Snow Dragon.”

     

    If Khazas’ tone was even a fraction less enthused, the terror would've fainted me. Still, he left me in shivers and strode to the cliff wall, soundlessly pulling his mythical great hammer from his back. With one effortless blow he crashed the hammer’s head against the stone, eliciting a sharp ring that bounded off the cliff corridors all around us. A passageway opened in response, flinging wide from the impact.

     

    “Utterly overzealous, King.” Rel-Cirin was putting on his cloak, the water around his feet turning back to ice as it cooled along with his body. It was then I noticed the obsidian blade stuck in the earth. He retrieved it and with a twirl of artistic routine sheathed it at his waist, bent at angle.

     

    “Merely a knock, general. You are kind to unlock this old gate.” Khazas quickly scanned the cutting cliff tops all around us. Silence did not seem to allay his focus. “How long do we have?”

     

    “An hour, perhaps.” Rel-Cirin nodded at Khazas’ hammer. “Be certain to return with your ‘knocker’.” Then, a line I found most curious -- “The Ill Watcher has seen all of this.”

     

    Khazas produced a staff from beneath his cloak. “Of that, I was certain.” The staff looked like a simple stick in his hand. He struck it against the rock and the end ignited. His eyes turned to me, and he handed it with fingertips into my open, quivering palm. Then he knelt low, hunching before me yet still much taller.

     

    “I warn you now of him we shall soon see, Narian.” His eyes pulled me into his own, overcoming the rising winds that whipped at my face. “No matter how he regards you, his concern is only for himself. Do not forget it.” I nodded, vigorously. He turned to Rel-Cirin and whispered, “A moment”, then disappeared into the cave.

     

    Alone, I stepped toward the Archai. “Is this the only way in?" I grazed the handle of the opposing door, fingertips sensing the heat.

     

    “No,” Rel-Cirin replied. “But it is the most direct.”

     

    “Ah, I see. Well, will this Dragon be...cross when we find it? Coming so late and unannounced?”

     

    “The Snow Dragon is nocturnal.” He placed a hand on my shoulder. “And he already knows you are here.” His words again hovered over me.

     

    "Right," I covered. "The ‘watcher’ and all that." I began a chuckle out of uneasiness really, but his countenance altogether arrested me.

     

    Khazas emerged from the passage and beckoned I follow. At this Rel-Cirin turned his back to the opening and the Dwarf King and I departed into the dark.


    This post was edited by Joppa at February 22, 2015 9:46 PM PST
    • 85 posts
    January 1, 2015 9:15 PM PST

    Good stuff ! 

    • Moderator
    • 8793 posts
    January 1, 2015 9:18 PM PST

    Let me at that dragon! ;)

    /sharpens his daggers

    • 140 posts
    January 1, 2015 10:00 PM PST

    Nice!

    • 496 posts
    January 2, 2015 2:30 AM PST

    Sweet! Love it .

    • 352 posts
    January 2, 2015 4:14 PM PST

    Nice I want more!

    • 352 posts
    January 2, 2015 4:14 PM PST

    Sorry posted twice


    This post was edited by Kazingathi at January 2, 2015 5:09 PM PST
    • 496 posts
    January 2, 2015 5:10 PM PST

    LOL for some reason today many of my "thanks" are giving double credit LOL  guess getting thanked by me is special indeed ;) ;) 

     

    edit : hahaha post above me got thanked five times by me 


    This post was edited by Jason at January 2, 2015 9:17 PM PST
    • 162 posts
    January 2, 2015 8:53 PM PST

    Oh soooo good! Unless I am mistaken I think this is the first time we have gotten any lore regarding the Archai since the name change. They seem pretty cool, I can see the elemental sort to them. I do wonder though that we are seeing them with a god of a good race. In some the the discussions of  T'Jinn they seemed to say they were going to be a more "evil" race. This makes me wonder if along with the name change the Archai are a more neutral or good than the T'Jinn were.

     

    Really looking forward to the next installment! 


    This post was edited by cram9030 at January 3, 2015 8:09 AM PST
    • 278 posts
    January 2, 2015 10:19 PM PST
    cram9030 said:

    Oh soooo good! Unless I am mistaken I think this is the first time we have gotten any lore regarding the Archai since the name change. They seem pretty cool, I can see the elemental sort to them. I do wonder though that we are seeing them with a god of a good race. In some the the discussions of  T'Jinn they seemed to say they were going to be a more "evil" race. This makes me wonder if along with the name change the Archai are a more neutral or good than the T'Jinn were.

     

    Really looking forward to the next installment! 


    Very perceptive, cram9030. Rel-Cirin is not an exceptional Archai, in the sense that he is not a godking like Khazas. He is a significant member of their military though. I would try to scrub your mind of anything like the T'Jinn or even a classical elemental with regards to the Archai. They've been built from the ground up, and while they will certainly have traits in common with some other race in the great library of fantasy fiction, they were not drawn from any such "pages." I would classify them as a good/neutral race, and because of events that are about to unfold after the close of this letter, they do have something of a companionship with the Dwarves, at least among the ranks of leadership. Kudos, & good questions.
    This post was edited by Istuulamae at January 3, 2015 8:09 AM PST
    • 278 posts
    January 2, 2015 10:35 PM PST
    When I figure out how to do paragraph breaks on this site I will feel much better about posting, haha.
    • 162 posts
    January 2, 2015 10:43 PM PST
    Istuulamae said:
    When I figure out how to do paragraph breaks on this site I will feel much better about posting, haha.

    Yeah I having been having difficulty getting those working as well. I had to do edits on my post to get them in :)

    • 278 posts
    January 2, 2015 10:44 PM PST
    Mmmmm, perhaps that's the trick.
    • 162 posts
    January 2, 2015 10:55 PM PST
    Istuulamae said:
    Very perceptive, cram9030. Rel-Cirin is not an exceptional Archai, in the sense that he is not a godking like Khazas. He is a significant member of their military though. I would try to scrub your mind of anything like the T'Jinn or even a classical elemental with regards to the Archai. They've been built from the ground up, and while they will certainly have traits in common with some other race in the great library of fantasy fiction, they were not drawn from any such "pages." I would classify them as a good/neutral race, and because of events that are about to unfold after the close of this letter, they do have something of a companionship with the Dwarves, at least among the ranks of leadership. Kudos, & good questions.

    I am glad to hear it. After the name change to Archai I was envisioning them as a neutral sort of race just guessing on the origin of the name being from Aristotle's universal first principles making them be something fundamental to the creation or origin of the world. That interpretation sort of skews them away from evil at least and towards that neutral/good area.

     

    I did catch Rel-Cirin being called general and based off what you said it seems like they must have a very organized society to have such a clear ranking system. Will there possibly be political factions with the race? My mind is racing to quest with sides for involvement and against involvement, reflecting the good gods feuding in the War Wizards lore!

     

    I also have to say I am already really loving the way they are taking shape from this lore and hats off to you and the rest of the team!

    • 718 posts
    January 3, 2015 11:45 AM PST

    I love reading this stuff.  MORE!!

    • 205 posts
    January 3, 2015 12:08 PM PST
    Istuulamae said:
    cram9030 said:

    Oh soooo good! Unless I am mistaken I think this is the first time we have gotten any lore regarding the Archai since the name change. They seem pretty cool, I can see the elemental sort to them. I do wonder though that we are seeing them with a god of a good race. In some the the discussions of  T'Jinn they seemed to say they were going to be a more "evil" race. This makes me wonder if along with the name change the Archai are a more neutral or good than the T'Jinn were.

     

    Really looking forward to the next installment! 


    Very perceptive, cram9030. Rel-Cirin is not an exceptional Archai, in the sense that he is not a godking like Khazas. He is a significant member of their military though. I would try to scrub your mind of anything like the T'Jinn or even a classical elemental with regards to the Archai. They've been built from the ground up, and while they will certainly have traits in common with some other race in the great library of fantasy fiction, they were not drawn from any such "pages." I would classify them as a good/neutral race, and because of events that are about to unfold after the close of this letter, they do have something of a companionship with the Dwarves, at least among the ranks of leadership. Kudos, & good questions.

     

    In addition, I'd like to add that we are in the early stages of conceiving and developing a layered Faction/Alignment system. In short, our goal is to make Good/Neutral/Evil alignment (and all of the shades in between) exist on an individual player level, not a Racial level. That's not to say that the different races won't have certain predominant alignments, but from the player's perspective, there will be a lot of freedom, and a lot of consequences ;)

    • 140 posts
    January 3, 2015 12:12 PM PST
    Joppa said:

    In addition, I'd like to add that we are in the early stages of conceiving and developing a layered Faction/Alignment system. In short, our goal is to make Good/Neutral/Evil alignment (and all of the shades in between) exist on an individual player level, not a Racial level. That's not to say that the different races won't have certain predominant alignments, but from the player's perspective, there will be a lot of freedom, and a lot of consequences ;)

    *Fanboy squeal*

     

    Please tell us more! Its not only alignment, its factions too right?


    This post was edited by sajbear at January 3, 2015 2:45 PM PST
    • 205 posts
    January 3, 2015 12:56 PM PST
    sajbear said:
    Joppa said:

    In addition, I'd like to add that we are in the early stages of conceiving and developing a layered Faction/Alignment system. In short, our goal is to make Good/Neutral/Evil alignment (and all of the shades in between) exist on an individual player level, not a Racial level. That's not to say that the different races won't have certain predominant alignments, but from the player's perspective, there will be a lot of freedom, and a lot of consequences ;)

    *Fanboy squeal*

     

    Please tell us more! Its not only alignment, its factions too right?

     

    Correct - the goal of the system will be to incorporate both Faction and Alignment.

     

    All I can share at this point is that we want both progression mechanics (faction & alignment) to be unique from each other in how progression is accomplished. In other words, disposing of a threatening presence in defense of a nearby village may yield improved Faction with the denizens of that village. However, progressing in your Alignment will most likely not be that straight forward, or at least will be more multi-faceted than simply "kill people and become evil". Our goal for the system is to incorporate elements of environmental storytelling (aka, "A Dark Room") as a way to explore your character's internal self as you progress in Alignment.

     

    More to come when there is more to share ;)

    • 140 posts
    January 3, 2015 1:28 PM PST
    Joppa said:

    Correct - the goal of the system will be to incorporate both Faction and Alignment.

    All I can share at this point is that we want both progression mechanics (faction & alignment) to be unique from each other in how progression is accomplished. In other words, disposing of a threatening presence in defense of a nearby village may yield improved Faction with the denizens of that village. However, progressing in your Alignment will most likely not be that straight forward, or at least will be more multi-faceted than simply "kill people and become evil". Our goal for the system is to incorporate elements of environmental storytelling (aka, "A Dark Room") as a way to explore your character's internal self as you progress in Alignment.

    More to come when there is more to share ;)

    Sounds very interesting. I allways liked the factions system in EQ. The good vs Evil alignment is harder to do though

    But as long as they are to systems working side by side and are not depended on each other I'm not too worried.

     

    • 289 posts
    January 3, 2015 4:48 PM PST

    Is it General as in ranking system or is it General as in Rel-cin is more of a General Elemental and not specialized in Arcane or Energy or Temperature? 

    • 278 posts
    January 3, 2015 6:16 PM PST
    cram9030 said:
    Istuulamae said:
    Very perceptive, cram9030. Rel-Cirin is not an exceptional Archai, in the sense that he is not a godking like Khazas. He is a significant member of their military though. I would try to scrub your mind of anything like the T'Jinn or even a classical elemental with regards to the Archai. They've been built from the ground up, and while they will certainly have traits in common with some other race in the great library of fantasy fiction, they were not drawn from any such "pages." I would classify them as a good/neutral race, and because of events that are about to unfold after the close of this letter, they do have something of a companionship with the Dwarves, at least among the ranks of leadership. Kudos, & good questions.

    I am glad to hear it. After the name change to Archai I was envisioning them as a neutral sort of race just guessing on the origin of the name being from Aristotle's universal first principles making them be something fundamental to the creation or origin of the world. That interpretation sort of skews them away from evil at least and towards that neutral/good area.

     

    I did catch Rel-Cirin being called general and based off what you said it seems like they must have a very organized society to have such a clear ranking system. Will there possibly be political factions with the race? My mind is racing to quest with sides for involvement and against involvement, reflecting the good gods feuding in the War Wizards lore!

     

    I also have to say I am already really loving the way they are taking shape from this lore and hats off to you and the rest of the team!


    Thank you. Joppa has answered elements of your questions, but I wanted to fill in a few notes: 1. Yes, the name Archai hails from the Greek "arche", though it also appears biblically. The biblical name seems to mean more "ruler", and that is not as accurate for the race. But the name ties into their lore, as should all things, and I'll just say the name was given to the race, far back in their story. 2. Just want to affirm what Joppa said regarding factions. Characters/players in the game should have several options regarding factions within even their own race, in order to reinforce the alignment dynamic beyond simple "Archai = bad guy/ Elf = good guy".
    This post was edited by Istuulamae at January 4, 2015 6:44 PM PST
    • 278 posts
    January 3, 2015 6:19 PM PST
    Sogotp said:

    Is it General as in ranking system or is it General as in Rel-cin is more of a General Elemental and not specialized in Arcane or Energy or Temperature? 


    Purely rank, in this case, and specific to Rel-Cirin within the Archai. It will show up culturally, but is not a gameplay ranking aspect.
    This post was edited by Istuulamae at January 3, 2015 8:39 PM PST
    • 352 posts
    January 3, 2015 6:50 PM PST

    Thanks for the good questions and answers.

    • 278 posts
    January 3, 2015 7:01 PM PST
    Thanks for reading. Very much.
    • 466 posts
    January 4, 2015 3:17 PM PST

    Some interesting information about geography !

    And I ahev always been partial towards the Dwarves :)