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>< The storm had passed and the sky was filtered by sepia gold, matching clouds hung low but were no longer dark in wroth. The waters of the ancient sea now calmed like the heart of the ship-wrecked fisher. His once-thought immortal anger had died and been reborn into partial understanding, and plenty of confusion, but overall peace. His body unconscious, he floated among the waves of the grounded sea as his mind floated through the seas of time and space. He saw things he thought impossible. Things many would find as blasphemy. Clouds, both earthly and interstellar flew past him, was well as close stars twinkling and lightning flashing, inhabited aerial oceans between the stars and rippling rainbow ponds, and ground growing and receding and changing color, black and brown did the hard porous stone shift before the untouching tired standing of the fisherman’s soul or mind. Which of the two he did not know, perhaps they were one. Away from the bounds of infinity and upon a large floating rock in the mortal plane, he lived breathless, face-down into the water-world from whence he emerged a little while ago. It was when finally his body approached the beach of the southwest, and when his fingers slid across the wet muddy sand his mind returned from the distant known and unknown, something cracking in his mind. The images flashed before closed eyes, the fantasy of reality. His drowning body close to the murky sea floor of liquid sand, the sea beneath the sea, the earth ready to devour his corpse. His eyes red with the pain of dying and blood vessels pulsing white before his pupils as the monster emerged from the brine. The memories flashed: the beast with skin of living stone and runes of glowing blue and eyes to match, spread out the branching gills on its neck and throat, and spoke to his mind, claiming coming peace to the soul at war. The behemoth put its head under the fallen body, and when it sunk onto a large rune of light between the eyes, the beast opened his prickle-toothed mouth and shouted the name of the corpse-to-be in a voice deep enough to rival the deepest trench. “THASOS” And with the ringing of the powerful shout his brown eyes darted open, and starving lungs pounded so hard that the man flung his head back into an arched neck with hair over his face and gasped like his first breath decades before, the echoes making many a creature take flight before he collapsed. His entire body washed up onto the white beach, his tired hands grasping the clumpy erosion as he attempted to view the land’s horizon and the sky beyond through the curtain of wet dark mane that veiled his sight. What felt like – and probably was – an hour had passed, and he began to finally crawl forward, the weight of exhaustion still tying him back. His green and brown skin tinged in burning from old Solis Magna. He attempted with failure to get up on his feet, three times the charm did the trick and up he went with a steady groan and a chorus of spinal pops. He looked around himself, his view of the world returning as the sepia filter waned and found his blade sheathed by his side, but his trident and the powered mask of his forefathers was missing. Not having the Mask of Mailflesh saddened him, he had grown to rely on this family relic and the loss meant losing a reminder of his father, but perhaps it was for the best and that hatchet be buried. His mind pierced, forcing him to continue. Foot prints, the first of them leveled by the waves, followed Thasos into the semi-arid plains of the New Land he found himself in. He thought some then commented in a parched utterance: And so I finally return to the homeland of the artificial bane of my people: Neateir. “Lead forward then.” In starvation Thasos picked the resources of the camp of his enemies after discovering it, and even crippled them so the devilish Metal Men of the Sea and their warlord Takadox wouldn’t be invading his home of Ketoteir while he was away to appease the beacon that held his leash. He left the light brush and travelled down the beach enjoying the fruits of his labors. Later, he noticed that as he made his way down the beach and eventually docks, none of the fisher-men and sailors recognized him. He had slain many of their lot after they slew many of his own. The Tajunites had over extended their fishing waters and reaped the food of his people, and he defended Ketoteir then too. He touched his scarred, bearded face with a smirk. If only they knew who they walked past, I might actually be overwhelmed by the infuriated thieves. I see now why the mask was lost… Night fell and Thasos stood before the walls of Tajun. He was commanded to go in there, the home of his foes. The walls were not the best, but from what he heard from the sailors and fishers on the beaches and docks, Tajun was ruined decades before in a war against half-giants. Men made of metal and flesh, half-giants? What sort of world was this? Ketoteir had been cut off from the lands to the east for thousands of years and so only some passed word of rumor and news reached his homeland; but many saw the clash of the titans and everyone saw the effects of their battle. Especially the homeland, the Whale Land, the return of the seas and the spread of green made the islands paradisiac, but also brought on new challenges. These thoughts came and went as Thasos found a gutter at the base of the wall, and was able to dislodge the temporary barring before replacing it and skulking about in the moonlit ravine city. Special white-blue fire danced in lanterns held by post and being alike, likewise held by both guardsmen and walking citizens. Much of the population had people like himself, agori of various ethnicities, but also the metal people like the ones who terrorize his homeland, but here they seem more peaceful and ill wanting of harm. Not all are like monsters he has faced. He looked down and sighed, and then looked up and smiled as he snuck through one of the street-levels of the canyon settlement and looked inside of the wall-carved homes that had yet to retire to bed. By the light of the white-blue fires and common orange fires, many a family and friends were laughing, and crying, and eating, and all around enjoying their company. They may be different, but really they were all just like his own people. There were wide ramps with stairs to the side that connect the levels of Tajun, so he took one and exited the white cliff-road before entering the next. Thasos felt the urge to go in a certain direction, admiring the view of the city as the central shallow river at the bottom glittered in Dimmelykt’s moonlight beneath a stretching grail, and continued until the urge stopped in front of a door, and he sighed, and began thinking of ways to explain before eventually and hesitantly knocking on the metal door. The weight in his brain had to be lifted. A heightful agori of sand-blue skin tossed and turned in his bed. He felt the nightmare as if he were there again. It flashed about him, initially in the distance, then up-close until the pale ghost was in his face, the texture of its mask being navigable to the eye lit by the glitter of a red jewel it was so close in proximity. It’s white bandaged hand crept out of the equally pale sleeve and grasped the bumpy forehead of the agori, and with it flashes of a purple crystal in an eastern desert, and metallic rocks in the sky from beyond the clouds floating down towards the ground. Then there was the image of a tall being in a golden robe being visible only by its back as a white light glowed in front of the figure from a pit and a humming grew louder until the man bolted upward in a shower of sweats and shakes to the sound of knocking on his bolted door. The agori breathed deeply, and listened. He was already scared from the vision, but he knew he heard knocking, and so listened for it to come again before letting his paranoia take over. He sat up shirtless on his bed, stiff as a statue, before getting out of bed gently and going to put an undershirt on, his eyes unblinking in doe-eyed fright as his ears concentrated. Suddenly, the knocking happened again. His heart began racing, and the tall man walked over quietly to unsheathe a short sword and hold it ready. He walked out of his room and approached the windowless door, standing outside before it as the knocking came again, this time a little harder. A single hard knock pounded on the door and the resident peeped in fright. A grizzled voice in a slight accent spoke softly but sternly. “I hear you little mouse. Open the door at once, I intend no harm. I need your help.” The resident stood in fear. He felt sincerity in the man’s voice, but his paranoia told him to not open the door. He must have waited too long as another pound sounded on the door. He mustered his strength to speak finally. “If you truly intend no harm, then please stop banging on the door, it doesn’t inspire confidence.” Not to mention it might attract guards “What do you want?” The stranger hesitated, then replied, “I need someone who can read and write, and I was told to come see you”. The resident then lifted a barrier on his door to reveal a peep-hole, and concluded that he was no Skrall. But he seemed kind of wild: He had unkempt hair that was damp, a green and brown face littered with scars, a short beard, and wore ripped up clothing. This guy sure has seen a thing or two, he thought. His curiosity almost got the better of him and almost unlocked the door, but checked himself, readied his sword, and asked another question. It was a bold one, but he thought it couldn’t hurt. “Do you work for any skrall?” The man outside sounded confused and replied, “What? What are Skrall? My patience is running thin and I have a headache, let me in already!” The sand-blue man was dumbfounded by his response. What?! How does he not know what Skrall are? Who is this guy?? There the resident’s curiosity got the better of him and he unlocked the many locks of his door and opened it for the stranger. The first thing the stranger saw was the tired, completely confused face of the man he needed to speak to, and it made him grin. The sand-blue agori asked him in bewilderment with the sword still in his raised arm, “Who the heck are you??” “My name is Thasos: sailor, fisherman, and guardian of Ketoteir. Now get that blade out of my face,” He said and then simply backhanded the sword out of the person’s grasp like he just swatted a fly. Thasos observed the house-dweller: He was taller than he imagined, actually just a thumb taller than himself, had a white undershirt on and long gray underwear, brown wavy hair and a reddish-brown trimmed beard, with darkness around his eyes. Thasos walked into the house without permission and looked around with his head, noticing some displayed artwork and a table filled with papers, before turning it to the side and spoke to the resident, “And what’s your name, mouse?” “It’s… Iaredios…” He replied. He couldn’t believe who had walked into his house, a living legend, more of an infamous one in the city in which he made his home. If Iaredios so inclined, he could get the guard and get reward money for getting an enemy of the city-state. But greed is not his passion and saw it for being only useful for basic needs and wants. He snapped out of his disbelief and described himself, “Hello Thasos, my name is Iaredios, and I am a chronicler. I collect things of historical value and write scrolls pertaining to things of the past and current events. I am guessing this is why you are here?” “Yes”, Thasos simply replied. Iaredios approached him and held out his hand, which Thasos saw and turned around to answer with a shake. The blue man noticed that his newfound guest smelled awful but tried his best to ignore it. “You are far away from home, why in the world are you all the way here in Tajun, at my home, at this ungodly hour?” he said and proceeded with a yawn. “I… I do not know exactly, Yardos. I was blindly led here by a beckoning. I just know that the weight in me needs to be lifted, and to do that it must be written down. You fit the bill I suppose, yes?” “…A ‘beckoning’?” A part of Iaredios questioned the fisherman’s sanity, but his spiritual outlook on the world had him intrigued over the wording. “I guess I do fit. But I must ask if we can do this when the sun rises? It is in the dead of night, man. And my name is Iaredios.” “That's what I said. I guess we can, but at least some of the weight must be lifted immediately, and I will not take no for an answer. The sea beast has cursed me with visions that haunt me and give me mental pain until they are moved. Prepare a blank scroll, scribbler, and tell me when you are ready, and I will pour out to you what comes to the surface of this inner storm.” Iaredios didn’t understand some of what was said but felt like he had little choice in the matter. The use of the word scribbler reminded him of a close encounter with the Skrall in the north, but focused on the task at hand. He closed the door and locked it, and gathered a blank scroll and ink and quill after clearing room on the table. Iaredios went to fetch a white robe and lit the lantern above the table with the white-blue fire used by Tajunites, and sat down. Thasos came over to the table and sat down in one of the spare chairs, and stared into open space as he opened his mind to the expansive library that was forced upon him, and his mind went through the expanses of time and space in the confines that were revealed to him. So he began, and the chronicler wrote with haste…