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Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:18 am by Sentinel

Hi all,

We're aware of a peculiar forum glitch that's causing some subforums to be locked.

Due to the lateness at this time, it might be a while before the glitch can be remedied, because despite my best efforts and as far as I can tell, everything seems to be working fine admin-side. It may have …

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Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:56 pm by Sentinel

*wipes sweat from brow* Whew, political correctness is a lot of hard work. But it has to be done.

ANYWAYS, we did it - we (almost) survived 2016 which, I think we can all agree, was pretty damn terrible in many ways.

Regardless, it was a good year on the forums - we've met some new faces, set out …

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[FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

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[FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:01 pm

In the world of N'al Ren, the Godmother has returned.

Mere hours after Aidec and his father, Lyall, have been reunited, the father-son duo are forced to venture off once more to confront yet another threat to N'al Ren - Leanalva Dovastintska, the leader of a crime syndicate and a draconian witch to whom Lyall and Marin were indebted almost seven years ago.

But when Aidec and Lyall travel to the isolated realm of Caruvitha, the two find the darkest parts of their past repeating itself, all the way back to where it first began - in death.



Infinity's Row: Syndicate - Part I
November 22, 2015


Last edited by Sentinel on Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:20 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by WritingBookworm on Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:15 pm

:O Oh my gosh, this is going to be incredible. I can't wait, Adrian! ^.^
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:04 pm

Prologue

Her poison-red dress swished back and forth in hush tones as Leannalva Dovastintska marched calmly into her Lookout - a great semi-sphere of a room lined with stone made from fire and shadows. An ethereal, yet sinister violet light spilled through the room from an unknown source.

In the center of the Lookout rested an ancient, granite pedestal, surrounded by 5 equidistant circles with a final circle directly in front of the Godmother. Almost lazily, Leannalva withdrew a sharp, diamond knife and sliced the tip of her finger, writing six words - if one could call them such - onto the pedestal.

TEUAIQUW
AUEAW
VETUIB
BCAUCOB
AEGUUU
UEMAL


After she had done this, the Godmother shook her hand, instantly removing herself of her wound. Meanwhile, the words on the pedestal slowly trickled to their rightful places - the first five pooling into the surrounding circles, and the last taking up the final sphere.

Her red dress began to billow with the winds of dark magic, an unsettling shadow overtaking the soft violet light as five images materialized before her.

Then, just as they appeared, so did they suddenly flickered away.

"Damn it all!" she cursed, banging her fists on the pedestal. Ever since the Row took him in, the boy's life had been fleeing from her grasp every which way - through Rixala's demise, Kilezhan's downfall, and now Miklos. But something else was wrong with the plan now; she had no control over the prior narratives, something even Caruvithan fatebending promised her. Did she do too much? Had the gods, or perhaps the universe finally decided to step in and wrestle the power back?

Before her rage could continue, a final image shimmered throughout the darkness - a hovercraft, heading directly for Ald Ruhn. Leannalva looked up, and her temper was replaced with a glimmer of hope. She could already detect it now, as well as the passengers on board - but for her to make an appearance in public at this time would be catastrophic. The Zenh'aliems were already hard enough to hide from. But they would be dealt with soon enough.

No, she decided. It would be best for the new arrival to come to her, to be expected. After all, she hadn't had visitors to her museum since the Farenarts fled many years ago. A nice reunion with the Godmother was just what they needed... perhaps she could finally get what she wanted, and then more.
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Hime on Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:32 pm

OMG YAY
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:41 am

"November 22, 2015"

Aw, look at me, trying to make promises as if I can keep them!

soon
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:32 am

Chapter 1 - Ultimatum

I'm at least glad we got to Ald Ruhn when we did.

The trip to the Godmother's museum went by in a blur. The ruins of the capital city bore no more impression on me than Old Fa'alwind did - it felt like this past year or so, war had taken over my life.

I stared out the window in silence, my father in the co-pilot seat while Miklos pulled his legs to his chest.

"Aidec," Lyall said.

I continued in silence. My father just sighed.

"Son, a lot has happened within these past months. Zenh'aliem, Blundeau, Nocturne... I know this seems like just another job-"

"It is," I muttered.

He sat in silence. "...You're right. Then again, that's what you signed up for, right?"

I clenched the controls. "Hardly any other member of a past Squadron has had a life as crappy as ours. I don't understand. It's like the worst possible candidates for heroes managed to coalesce at once. And now this... will it end? Will it ever stop? Do happy endings exist?"

There was no answer. I found myself quite content with the ensuing silence, so I switched the topic.

"Hey Miklos?" I asked. He lifted his head up in the rear view mirror.

I cleared my throat. "Am I... can you tell if people are Jun?"

He shrugged. "I guess I'm more sensitive to Jun hosts. But don't worry, you aren't as unlucky as me. Or Natasha. Or Yupik. Or Ebony..."

I raised an eyebrow. "Ebony Marachelle? She's...?"

Miklos winked before returning to his moment of solitude. My father simply shook his head, before pointing out towards the window.

"There it is," he declared, totally confident of the nothing he was directing to. Miklos and I traded glances.

"Um. Dad," I said, confused. Lyall simply turned to me.

"It's a building in a place where you'd least expect it. Right now you'd least expect it to be among a bunch of ruins. So, simply shift your expectations."

I had no idea what my father was talking about - but apparently Miklos did. "It's very stand-offish from the rest of the city right now, Aidec. Just think."

"Whatever," I muttered, but turned to the window, imagining some highly-polished, intact museum standing alone in a sea of destruction.

"Oh. SHIT!" I screamed, pulling back on the throttle. It appeared right before me, pink and purple brickwork filling the windshield - it took all I had not to crash through the glass ceiling of the building. A thud from behind my chair and a weak "Ow" told me Miklos was not safely strapped in to his seat.

"All right, son, land this thing," my father commanded, shaking off the adrenaline rush. "It's time we have a little chat with my former employer..."

*  *  *

It was a very nice place. Filled with highly illegal artifacts, of course. If not for that, and if it was constricted by the universe's laws of space and time, I'd probably give it five stars on travel.aldruhn.nr.

Of course, that's not including management. The Godmother's bodyguards were not at all happy with our visit, leading us straight to the head honcho's office itself. I couldn't see under their hoods, but from all the growling, I determined they were not human - and very hostile. Including management, definitely a negative eight stars.

The office was a half-sphere, about 10 or so meters across and 5 meters high. It definitely didn't seem like it should have fit into the building's dimensions, but then again, magic. And the whole place had a purple glow - and not from any natural light. It seemed - it felt - as if history itself was being channeled into the room, for the sole purpose of having a way to see.

"So nice to be in this room again," my father muttered, rubbing his chin. The woman before us, a gorgeous and tall redhead, leaned on her desk, sizing us up.

"Farenart spawn! I've heard so much about you two," the Godmother jested, giving us a very not-pleasant smile. It seemed as if she wanted to eat us.

"Of course you have, you spy on literally everyone that could be a threat to you these days," my father retorted. The Godmother waved a pale hand at him.

"Oh Lyall, honestly. You and Marin have been given every reason to trust me and you just stomped those into the ground. I guess that caught up to you in the end, though, didn't it?" She smiled again - obviously enjoying the troll-fest as my father's face turned into a beet red. "You still have a chance though - I can easily take care of the Zenh'aliems. That weird guy from Dhe Duine may prove to be more of a challenge, especially with his broads, but I love challenges-"

"Wait," I interrupted. "Dhe Duine? What are you talking about?"

The Godmother regarded me with a cold stare. "There's a lot about the world you remain so ignorant of, Aidec. Your question does not surprise me at all. Please do not interrupt me again."

I gulped, glancing at Miklos. He just shrugged. Villains.

"Anyways, I'd be happy to take care of your personal problems, for a price. And you know what that is, Lyall." The Godmother turned her stare towards my father, who echoed my gulp.

"Godmother, you do know the axe is gone now-"

"-Di Garsh piss. That axe is not what Kihvrad says it is. He's a phony-"

"-a guardian, miss," Miklos started, to which the Godmother raised a hand.

"I said. Do not. Interrupt. Me!" she shouted. "If you want Zenh'aliem out of the picture, if you want your little troubles out of this place, I'll need Sentinel to do it. And Aidec knows where it is."

Everyone in the room turned to look at me. "I... I do?"

The Godmother nodded. "You still hold it close to your heart, dear boy. You only need to will it to come, and it shall return. Bring the axe to Mount Calonis by the end of the week, or your lives will become a living hell - and this time, it won't be my doing."

She raised a hand and moved it in a circular motion as if wiping a slate clean. The setting before us materialized into a new one - we were back outside.

"Aidec?" Miklos asked. "What are we going to do?"

I looked at my hands - as if expecting my old weapon to reform there. They clenched into fists, which I lowered as I stared at the hovercraft. I ruminated on the question for a while.

"We do what she wants - we bring it to Mount Calonis."

Lyall raised an eyebrow. "Give her what she wants? Really?!"

I turned to my father, smiling. "Oh, that's funny." I dropped my tone down to a whisper. "I don't remember agreeing to that."
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by WritingBookworm on Fri Jan 08, 2016 10:16 am

Aw snap Aidec :O But anyways, that was amazing, Adrian! I'm already loving the Godmother's character ^.^
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:10 am

Chapter 2 - Sentinel's Return

"So," I asked my dad as he turned the hovercraft's ignition on. "How far away is Caruvitha? A couple hours?"

"Try weeks," he replied. "It's not in an easily accessible place. The jet streams in the airspace don't really allow for common aircraft to enter the country easily. And with this rickety thing? Forget about it - we're taking a pit stop at Port Farvel instead. At least there'll be a trade ship with a considerable amount of speed, hopefully the trip will just take a good 6 days."

Miklos groaned. "Don't tell me you mean ocean..."

"Yes, Mik, I mean ocean. It's much safer, and faster. Trust me." My father spoke with a very paternal tone in his voice, causing some of my nerves to relax. It almost felt like we were a family.

Which we were, technically. Through pretty despicable circumstances.

The flight to Port Farvel - a beautiful seaside town where many travelers entered and exited N'al Ren - took little time. As we flew, Miklos and I examined the countryside. Pillars of smoke from distant villages spoke for themselves; the Second Great Clan War was dawning. And it would be ugly.

Along the way, my half-brother kept muttering to himself about the tides and rapids, cursing under his breath.

"So... you're afraid of the ocean?" I asked, curious. Insensitive, yes, but curious. After all, we were related - I could pry if I wanted to, right?

He cringed. "Yeah... it's what destroyed my hometown. I can't bear to look at it... I sound like a coward, don't I?"

Miklos' face was drastically different from what it was months ago. The powerful aura of a Raven Jun host was now missing, revealing the imperfections in his face - minute scars, unkempt hair, some slight acne. He was, essentially, a normal young adult now.

"No," I replied, trying to think of a way to relate. "I, uh, I'm nervous of heights."

"Bullshit."

"No, I'm serious. I had to help fight this Iron Dragon over a year ago, and my friend and I were forced to jump onto a hovercraft. It was... it was scary. I didn't like it, honestly. Now, whenever I'm high up in the air, I keep thinking of that moment - those few seconds of uncertain terror. I'm super thankful for Resh's hoverboard skills." Such an admission was just as humiliating as Miklos' fear of the ocean.

He didn't seem convinced, though. "Really," Miklos said, cocking an eyebrow. "How are you able to keep composure when you're flying hovercraft?"

That was a good question. One I didn't have the answer to. "I... I don't know. I guess I have to. I don't have any other choice."

"None of us seem to these days," my father muttered. The rest of the trip was met with silence.

*  *  *

Despite the apocalypse raining down on N'al Ren, we were still able to find some traders and shippers willing to have us on board. One in particular stood out to us - a portly man with a glass eye, cane, and scraggly long beard. The walking stereotype of a seasoned sailor.

His name was Gregor, and despite his intimidating appearance, he was probably one of the coolest people I've ever met. Under the guise of continuing shipments to and from Caruvitha, he and some others had been transporting refugees to neighboring countries at no cost. When he heard of our plight, he was instantly on board.

"Hell yeah I'll help yeh!" He exclaimed, hobbling over to the dock where his ship, the Deliverance, rested. "Been wantin' ter help out the Row fer a while now. Heard rumors of some bitch tryin' to take over space n' time n' shit." Gregor sized our group up. "Is this all ye got?"

My father nodded, hesitantly. "I have some contacts in Caruvitha that may help us," he replied. I shot him a cursory glance, to which he seemingly ignored.

"Well as long as it ain't the TK Force," Gregor responded, as if we knew what he was talking about. "Sons o' bitches never look out for their neighboring countries. I don't mind a bit o' isolationism, but at least accept some refugees fer Ciel's sake! Then I wouldn't have to worry about these poor souls."

He clapped his hands. "All right now. I'll have someone park yer hovercraft somewhere safe. Time is o' the essence, now. Chop chop!"

*  *  *

Nothing eventful happened for next three days. My dad and I attempted (with no luck) to retrieve Sentinel from my essence. Miklos was on starboard puking his guts out. Gregor discussed his days in the Caruvithan and N'al Renian navies.

I didn't notice anything was wrong until flashes of blue filled my vision.

It was during lunch on the fourth day. Me, my family, and four other refugee groups were eating beef stew with potatoes when the migraines hit me.

My father dropped his spoon once he noticed I fell out of my chair and began to curl up on the floor. The pain was simply too unbearable - it was like something was cutting into my brain as well as my chest.

"Aidec!" He shouted, trying to get me into a more suitable position. Several sailors hoisted me up by the shoulders in an attempt to bring me to some sort of sickbed. That's about the time the blue flashes were greeting with red, and an incessant ringing filled my ears.

The room rocked back and forth - it was the screaming that told me it wasn't just the migraine. Something was definitely wrong, and all I could hear were Gregor's brief shouting about a sudden squall, boiler malfunctions, and orders to get to the top deck.

I felt myself stumbling topside. Another rock of the ship to port, and the sailor on my left flew into the guard rail, all the way on the other side of the deck. The remaining sailor directed the rest of us to a lifeboat near the front of the ship.

That was all I remembered before the entire ship blew into smithereens.

*  *  *

Faint silhouettes of flotsam drifted before my vision. The blue flashes had gone - in its stead was near darkness, accompanied only by a weightless sensation.

Some form of consciousness had entered my mind - I knew I was not drowning. There'd be a lot more pain... I think. I wanted to move, but something paralyzed me; perhaps the force of the boiler explosion did irreparable damage to my spine.

My vision flashed again - it appeared to be Port Farvel at around the time of the original Clan Wars. The town was abandoned, except for one figure leaning tiredly on an axe facing the sea. He turned around, showing me a face I had not seen in ages.

"...Kihvrad?" I asked tentatively. "Is this Purgatory?"

The old paladin shook his head. "No, Farenart. You're still alive. Where you are doesn't matter - what you need does. And what you require... is this." He held the axe out in front of me. The cobalt blade glistened in the glaring sunlight.

"Sentinel..." I breathed, looking up at Kihvrad. "I don't get it. Why is it so special?"

Kihvrad shook his head. "In due time. For now... rise."

I took hold of the axe, feeling a buoyant force pulling me upward. The rush of cold sea air knocked me out once more.

(Once again, a one-shot from yours truly. I'll probably go back an edit, but what are the odds of that amirite)
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Mythie on Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:37 am

You are wonder for and this is amazing! I'm not really sure how I didn't read the first part but now I have and I'm super excited for more!
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Re: [FINISHED]Infinity's Row: Syndicate

Post by Sentinel on Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:08 pm

Chapter 3 - Fatebending

I woke up to hot sand scalding my back.

Groaning, I craned my head up slightly, attempting to look around. Palm trees, seaweed, and the peaceful sound of lapping waves surrounded me, soothing my aching bones and muscles.

I sat upright, legs sprawled out in front of me. Sentinel laid in the sand right next to me, pristine and elegant in the shining sun. Shakily, I rose to my feet, picking up the axe as I got up, and set out in search of any survivors.

But I didn't find any. Instead, I found Tuakana1.

Tuakana, a boy roughly my age, and his people had darker complexity - not exactly that of Rafael's, but a few shades lighter. They bore these white shawls - apparently to cloak themselves from the sun's rays - and had assortments of jewelry, ranging from bracelets and anklets to ear and lip piercings. They were pretty badass.

He led me to a village, lined with fisherboats, clay huts, and a prominent town hall in the center. The other villagers rushed up to me, bearing towels and offering food. It was quite obvious I was not looking my best.

"Welcome to Jamais, Caruvitha," Tuakana greeted. I simply looked at him with wonder.

*  *  *

"So, let me get this straight-"

It was about midday, and Tuakana (accompanied by several village elders) sat me down in front of a bonfire. A spit in the middle rotated slowly, cooking an animal whose taxonomy I couldn't pinpoint, but tasted really freakin' good. I had relayed the events of last night to them - the shipwreck, the vision with Kihvrad, and Sentinel's return. Despite their otherworldly appearance, I had feared the natives of Caruvitha would reject my story.

"-you have terrible pain in the head, see blue flashes, get blown off of your ship, then suddenly have your axe again? And that metal axe became lighter than water and..."

"...led me to shore," I finished. "You don't believe me, do you."

The chief, who asked me to only call him Kiari2, tossed a bone into the fire. "Oha3 Farenart, you could not be more wrong."

I looked amongst the people. "Have... has anyone found other survivors."

Tuakana stared at the sand. The rest of the elders suddenly regained interest in random objects around us. Their silence was telling, but the looks on their faces hid something - a thing they'd rather not bring to the table.

"Alright," I muttered, getting up from the sand. "I get it. Ciel or something wants me to fight Dovastintska myself." I turned on my heel, trekking towards the shore. I had to get away for a while.

Behind me, I could hear the village elders discussing fervently. I didn't catch all but the last two lines of conversation:

"Ta maiit koe korengoi ite ta goron. Hiam karowh toukou...?"4

"E pai keore moeam o ki... garien neite koe horeka moeam."5

Of course, I had no idea what it meant. But whatever it was, it determined what would soon happen next.

"Oha Farenart," Kiari called. "We... we have settled on a necessary choice."

I turned to him, wary of the tone in his voice. "What... what are you going to do?"

Kiari looked at me right in the eye - it was quite clear he did not want to do this. "...We're going to use the forbidden magic."

*  *  *

"We have no word for this magic in our language," Tuakana told me. "It's a very risky trick. The government in Tal Katahn calls it 'fatebending,' and banned it ages ago. We do not blame it, especially with the makutu6 gaining its power."

"The what... oh. Dovastintska," I replied.

My friend shuddered. "Don't mention her name. We hate her just as much as you do. Not only does she grossly misunderstand fatebending, but she brings shame upon us Taketa7."

Five of us - me, Tuakana, Kiari, and two other elders - were circled around a formation in the sand. It was now nighttime, and the starlight remained to illuminate the task before us: five circles, all equidistant from each other, with a larger one in the middle.

"Is everyone ready?" Kiari asked. None of us responded.

Simultaneously, we all raised our knives. Tuakana traded a shaky glance with me - it was clear this was his first time performing a fatebending ritual.

Swiftly, we brought our knives down upon our fingers, drawing blood. Kiari said we just had to touch our respective circle, but I got a little overzealous, and the stream flowed until it touched the sphere.

Quickly, I inserted my finger in my mouth, stemming the flow of blood temporarily. Five violet beams of light shot from each circle into the central sphere. An otherworldy wind howled from the sand beneath it as the center glowed ultraviolet.

"Oha," Kiari shouted. "We must hurry. Tal Katahn will know soon!"

I nodded. "All right, all right!"

Okay, I muttered. Just take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Focus on Dad. Focus on Miklos.

My entire body shuddered. I could see them - dead, floating towards the bottom of the sea. I had never seen either of them so... lifeless. So truly dead. Tears began flowing, but I continued. It wasn't over.

Now... This time, Kiari's voice echoed in my head - he was aiding me. Will the opposite. Let imagination turn to reality. Shift the boundaries, adjust the variables...

It flickered in my vision, struggling to retain stability. They were there, rushing up along the beach, rushing into the village, discovering-

A shockwave of violet light knocked all five of us back. The winds died down, settling sand on my face, my hair, my clothes. My spine had landed less-than-perfectly on the handle of Sentinel, which had been strapped to my back for the duration of the ritual.

"Aidec!" I heard a shout, and then felt a hand lift me up off of my back. Miklos brushed the sand out of my hair.

"Ugh..." he groaned, and dimly in the starlight, I noticed - his nose was bleeding. "This doesn't make sense. We were dead, we were in Purgatory... how can we be there and here at the same... it can't be necromancy. Or Sanctumism. Otherwise the memories wouldn't be... wouldn't be clashing like this... it hurts, what is it?"

Kiari explained the phenomenon. "Cognitive dissonance, or kapua. You have two memories in the same place. It does not fit the brain's view of time as a one-dimensional line, but rather as it really is - another dimension of existence entirely. Your mind will ease itself, as will your father's, oha."

Lyall staggered towards me, looking haggard. "Did... did you..."

I nodded. "Dad, I couldn't go on without either of you two. Frankly, I wish I could have saved the others... but Kiari says that it's impossible if you haven't had a long enough connection with them."

"No, no," he said, stepping back and wiping the blood from his nose. "No, I get it. It's just... Aidec, that's powerful magic. Disorganized magic. Changing reality, changing the past, it hasn't been perfected, nor will it ever be. Dovastintska is building herself up for failure. Listen... I am forever thankful for what you did. Miklos can attest for that. But... promise me. Just, please, promise me that-"

"That what?" I demanded. "Dad, I can't lose you. I can't lose what's left of my family. You don't know how hard it's really been for me, having to lose my brother, then mom, then my friends and cousins and... I can promise you a lot of things, but I will never promise you that I won't save your ass. No matter the cost."

Lights flooded Tuakana and Kiari's faces, who instantly put their hands in the air. I turned to them. "...what?"

The helicopter blades answered that question soundly.

"TAL KATAHN FORCE! PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM." A sharp, gravelly voice penetrated my ears, and with the click of automatic rifles, I instantly obliged, throwing my hands into the air. They were instantly grabbed by padded gloves that slid them into iron handcuffs.

"Gentlemen, you're under arrest for use of illegal magic and accessory to a felony crime," the TKF agent informed us, to which I rolled my eyes. Great. A weight lifted from my back - they confiscated Sentinel.

"You better give that back to me," I muttered. "I worked way too hard for it."

Someone snickered. "Like hell, kid. How'd a punk like you get a beaut like this, anyways?"

Miklos growled. "He's not a punk. He's a Row member," my half-brother retorted. I looked at him, pride stricken across my face. He simply grinned sheepishly, as all seven of us were escorted onto hovercraft, headed for the capital city.

1. Caruvithan word for "brother." All Caruvithan translations will appear here.
2. "Leader." In Caruvithan tribes, elected chiefs forfeit their birth name in exchange for an eternal title.
3. "Friend." Commonly used for amiable foreigners.
4. "The boy grows weak at the news. Do you suggest...?"
5. "I would not dream of it... but this is no dream."
6. "Witch." Commonly references Dovastintska, aka the Godmother.
7. "People." Taketa is the official Caruvithan term for the indigenous people of the archipelago.


Yet another one-shot. I was really focused on writing this just to explain fate-bending a bit more, as well as establish the tribespeople a bit and lead into some more "plotty" stuff.... If anyone has questions about Caruvithan fatebending or anything else, let me know. There's some stuff I might have left out for plot reasons, but I'll try. I'll try.
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