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  1. Courtesy: @Werew0lf @Jaelon The following is a small excerpt from a larger interview conducted with Sir Ruben of Middelan. I’ve done a number of these interviews with various citizens across the realm, and they typically focus on the general state of affairs. Additionally, I prefer to let the interviewee highlight whatever aspect of their lives that they wish to, finding that it leads to more organic conversation. I happened upon him while traveling on the road and spontaneously struck up a conversation with him. While he seemed quite eager to be on his way, to my surprise, he agreed to an interview. I walked with him for a time, and the following contains the insights gleaned. My interview with Sir Ruben was mainly centered on his general philosophy on life and the surprisingly ordinary perspective of a knight. One aspect that I found interesting was that Sir Ruben has collected a number of items that he ascribes a particular meaning to. According to him, they stand for significant turning points in his life, and this document provides a fleeting glimpse into the emotion associated with each item in his collection. Toward the closing end of our interview, Sir Ruben left me with a note that I’ve copied here. It reads as follows: KURĀKEN S.A. 159 It seems fitting that we begin with the most distinct piece in Sir Ruben’s collection. A shimmering longsword wrought of Thanhium and shaped into oceanic iconography. When asked about its meaning, Sir Ruben explained that the item’s symbolism was twofold. In one respect, it served as a way for the former apprentice blacksmith to attempt to craft something that would rival his father’s own sword. He spoke of his upbringing under a blacksmith and how it instilled a work ethic in him. Additionally, the source of the weapon’s material bears its own story. The materials sourced for the making of the sword were a reward to the knight by the realm for which he fought, as thanks for courageous acts and leadership during the skirmish of the Westmark. While recalling the battle, I noted that many emotions crept over his face, ranging from pride at overcoming odds to a generally resigned weariness. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. The day-to-day struggles of the common man are often accompanied by a crisis of faith. It is far too easy to experience the many evils of our world and let them corrupt us into lesser versions of ourselves. Freshly from the fields of battle for Westmark and baptized in war, Sir Ruben began to express doubts about the person he was becoming. Naturally, he sought to alleviate this by seeking the guidance of one Sista “Juli’el” Jenny. With her guidance, he found a way to metaphorically cleanse himself of wrongdoings and commit to a fresh slate of righteousness. He delved into his armory and turned a wicked blade into one with renewed purpose. An Azhl dagger, covered in a web of strange veins. Determined to overcome the blade’s poisonous nature, he committed himself to having it serve as a physical symbol of virtuous action. A badge of honor for his own struggle to overcome the evils that had stricken him. IMPIA S.A. 160 BŪRŪMUN S.A. 162 The next item bears a similar sentiment to that of Vox Draconis. It serves as a signature of sorts for Sir Ruben, and holds a great deal of emotional importance to him. Gifted on his 18th nameday, it was originally borne by one Húrin Ibarellan. This was quite an honor for the young knight, as the blade was already storied by this point, and the man who wielded it much the same. Húrin served as a source of inspiration to an impressionable Sir Ruben and would witness many of the man’s greatest triumphs and pitfalls. Whilst searching for a worthy successor to wield Būrūmun, Húrin found many lacking. Eventually, he chose Sir Ruben as the blade’s successor, finding no one more worthy to be its wielder. With it, Sir Ruben inherited a hefty responsibility to live up to the blade’s history and its previous wielder’s expectations. The weapon itself is an elegant katana, crafted from Carbarum and frosted with Lunarite to grant it a soft silvery glow. It is only natural that the next item should follow suit after the introduction of Būrūmun. Sir Ruben recounts a harrowing tale of a duel within which his opponent’s blade was shattered by this very katana. While initially disheartened at the loss of such a fine weapon, the knight was determined not to let the rare material go to waste. Sir Ruben repurposed the fragments into a Lunarite sword breaker. Its hilt is covered in the hide of a strange beast—a manticore—-and while it is not as ornate as Būrūmun, the sword breaker has a simple charm that is hard to ignore. The final item is one that, I must confess, bore the greatest interest to me. As an amateur scholar of sorts, I found myself quite fascinated at the concept that lay with the creation. An intricate ring wrought of Dracanium, bearing similar imagery of a dragon to that of Vox Draconis and yet appearing distinct. According to Sir Ruben, said ring possesses an uncanny ability. One can hear strange whispering while observing the ring in proximity, and reportedly, the consciousness of a dragon rests within. While the ring also possesses the ability to produce a dazzling display of light, it is the primary ability that bears most of my interest. The insights that could potentially be gained from such a creature are immense, and the perspective alone would be worth its weight in gold. The procurement of such a mysterious artifact is surprisingly mundane. Sir Ruben recounts that it was a parting gift for him and his wife, originally meant for his father’s possession but given to the knight in his stead. KINBOK S.A. 167 Thus concludes my excerpt from the greater interview that took place over the course of several hours. While we covered a number of topics, this seemed the most noteworthy of which to share with the public. The full accounts might one day be released amidst the “Times of Aevos,” and one might seek them out at that point should they wish. Many thanks to the reader, and I hope that this proved informative or at least provided some form of entertainment wherever you might be. A humble bard, Nashor. The following documents were obtained during the conduction of a search warrant by officials in a small tower near the remnants of Keep Breakwater in service of the Haeseni crown. Other materials obtained include a small bag of wizard powder, copious amounts of feathers, and some form of illegally modified crossbow. No suspects were apprehended in this raid.
  2. Courtesy: @Jaelon @Werew0lf @M1919 A depiction of two ancient knights in combat, circa 986. To those it may concern, primarily one Lorenz Gavaudin, @itdontmatta It is with a heavy hand and a heavier heart that I find myself forced into this situation yet again. As I find myself drawn into violence further, the sense of weariness grows with each passing day. And yet, one cannot turn a blind eye when it comes to matters of family. In his direst days, you abandoned my father, Sir Gaspard, to preserve your own hide or for personal gain. I cannot guess as to what your motivations were, and frankly it matters not now. The weight of responsibility demands I address this in the only way I have become accustomed to. I hereby issue a formal challenge to the named party. You may view this as the proverbial gauntlet being cast at your feet. While many would cast aspersions on the name of my family, I will state the terms of this duel clearly, so that my honor might not be questioned. I demand satisfaction for this grievance in the form of blood and steel, with only one of us emerging from this clash with his life. Furthermore, I have been made aware that you have possession of something you should not, for it belongs to we. I would see it reclaimed at any cost, even if it must be taken from your lifeless form. The meeting location, time, and further specifics shall be deferred to you as the one challenged, be it in either Winburgh, Whitespire, or as far as the stretches of jungle that so surround the Kingdom of Balian, and its capital. Signed, “Sir Ruben of Middelan”, Honorable Husband to Margaret, Dweller of an Undisclosed Oceanside Villa, Shepherd of a Lone Goat, Treasurer of Knitted Goods, Acquaintance of a Certain Maudlin Baruch, etcetera.
  3. A depiction of Mariya Karenina, Gustaf Otto's mother, whilst reading this missive. 24 R.R. ✠ The flickering glow of lanterns cast long shadows upon the snow-covered cobblestones. The townsfolk, usually bustling with life, were nowhere to be seen. The city Winburgh was nestled between rolling hills, and its populace knew a simple warmth to contrast the coldness of the surrounding winter. Within the fold of his burgundy garb, found he, Gustaf Otto van Aert, some roll of fine Myrinian herbs lit in light of their absence. A plume of smoke escaped his lips, and for that moment, he knew some reprieve. The river city’s Chambery had a library that boasted a wealth of knowledge—the perfect place to spend his quiet nights. He was there still when he closed his eyes, for his imagination worked wonders. He saw his sister to his left and his mother to his right. When they were open, Gustaf saw only his horse. That too, in his eyes, was alright, for she was good company. His hands were cusped as if he were praying, though he wasn’t. It was only that his ungloved hands were made cold by the winter’s chill. A few loose breaths on them fell short of warming them. In his youth, the books he read fabled his ancestors as regular descendants of dragons. If such were true, maybe his hands would be just a little more warm. And so too, might his life have been a little easier; perhaps if he chose a simpler route, ever, was he in a hurry. Another breath of smoke escaped him—sooner that, rather than some manner of complaint. Violence is a sweet sound to a man like he, who was born with neither his mother’s compassion nor his father’s reason. So then it should play back again until grows familiar. It had been a long time since he was a child or since he had read a book. Deep down, under a thinning facade of chivalry and nobility, perhaps he was simply a bad man born from a good seed. The face of a knight was a mask he wore—a stolen impression of his uncle. The strings that held the mask together might have been severed the same day his uncle took his hand, if he had told a lie. If he told the truth, whomever was listening would know they were undone sometime sooner. At any time, he’d rather go blind than see a light in the dark. When the Pontiff divorced his fellowship from Gustaf’s family, they burned a bridge. That same night, he marched upon a city and burned a church. The city had a name, and so it was Vallagne. Every life he took that day tore another hole in his heart. Yet, none so wide as the one made upon the night Caius Mareno went missing. A loyal man to his family’s cause. The men who wore teal might’ve been the closest thing he tried to make comrades of in his lifetime. If he listened to the wicked whispers and invocations the winds carried, he might believe the Mareno simply vanished into the ether. All around him, a sure menace was reflected in the eyes of men. In his own eyes too, yet not quite the same way. For all the books he’d read as a kid foretelling stories with only wicked ends, they prepared him perhaps for his own. The stories were well written and worth telling. After all, that is why they were put in books. This story, his own, had no such station or place in the world of importance. If anything, it was one worth forgetting. A good thing gone bad. No lesson learned, no sage wisdom offered to another reader. His reality paled in comparison to these fairytales and fantasies he indulged his youth in. Gustaf died in the siege of Brasca from some stray arrow. He died quickly and alone in a pool of his own blood. A gritty reminder to those who bore witness: blood did not in fact always run thicker than water. Despite the size of the gathering, his loneliness was in spirit. The one now estranged from his body. Jealousy kills, and as a result of seen and unforeseen consequences, so too did it take his will to live. Before his eyes overturned, they had a look of peace and understanding. It was his belief that whatever awaited him was a chance at something better. Charlatans, under the guise of friends, and platitudes in the form of false promises. His own wickedness and cruelty knew a limit that the world around him evidently did not. Perhaps the arrow was a kindness, delivering him from a world of sure destitution. Everything was as he made it out to be, and close friends he lost all but one. This account of Gustaf van Aert’s life was written by some druidic scholar who endeavored to document the life of a human noble. That same academic recovered some piece of parchment requesting his cremation instead of a burial. Per his request, no words should be spoken by anyone who might’ve wished to gather. Only silence.
  4. It was a fine show, undoubtedly something befitting the many frills and frollies that those in the lands of the north would amuse themselves with; a spider's spindle tells its tale, and so I tell mine. A bright sun shone over the armies of the coalition as they rode into Veletz’s capital town. King Aleksandr, donned in the armor of his regal station, sat atop his horse at the head of them all. No warrior was he, but as it had been told by his scouts—third-rate men, truly—the capital of our great league had been left ripe for the taking. He mustered the courage to join his forces to occupy this critical city. Having just departed from a ball thrown in their honor, the closest thing to military training they had enjoyed, the forces of Haense laughed and sang as they began to cross our humble wooden walls into our market square. Yet it was a trap! As wise as a fox, our Captain-General's nephew had been forewarned of this approach. “AT ARMS!” Cried Sir Gaspard, waving his own in the air, and onto the streets streamed five thousand six hundred, ready for battle and clamoring eagerly to defend their home. For a moment, across the narrow field of battle, the two armies locked eyes. Six thousand Haeseni, Hyspian, Balianite, Petran, Dwarf, and other such soldiers looked on in terror. Although they numbered greater and the battle should have naturally been theirs, instead of war and vigor, their days had been weaned on wine and vice. Each man then turned to their brave, good King Aleksandr, who should have been at the army’s front, as they asked what to do. Gustaf Otto, nephew of Sir Gaspard, led the army in an assault against this retreating mass of men. Nary a man was spared, but perhaps some few found shelter under rocks and muddy creek beds. Only the King of Haense and some of his retinue made it back to the gates of his city alive. Perhaps some few dozen of our own had been wounded and killed, trampled under the spirited surge, but it was no significant number. The coalition had been thrashed, pushed back to Haense or whatever hole they crawled from! Yet he was not there! Half a league or more down the road back to his kingdom, the King of Haense fled as fast as he could. His confidence broken and his spirit shattered, he left his army behind to do all he needed of them: die so that he may escape. While the coalition did not fight well or bravely, they did do this sufficiently enough. Trying to follow their disgraced king’s lead, this mass of men was cut down by a charge.
  5. ✠ DIVINE INTERVENTION ✠ "The consequence of a lost hand will find neither of us in lasting place of punishment." In the year 19 of the Age of Rights and the Age of Reckoning Sir Gaspard grasped the claymore offered to him by his squire. He sighed, staring down toward the young man that was his nephew. "For insubordination, for the taking of life which was not yours to take, the sentence is to take on half the condemned's punishment. You will lose this hand, and take upon your back ten lashings." In one swift motion, a sword then moved to remove the hand from his nephew's right wrist. Right after the irrevocable justice was passed, some sickening scream could be heard as a young man has his limb severed from his body. It echoed throughout the city, drowned out only by the thunder's occasional roar. The rain cast a thin veil over the adolescent's face so to mask the tears that crept down it. It was wet all the same. A few hours prior, darkening clouds cast an omen of the rain to come; this was accompanied by the thunder's distant cackling. Tension filled the damp air, and a figure adorned in burgundy garb emerged from the shadows. At eighteen years of age, he had brown hair that fell around his face and muddy-green eyes that flickered around the gathering. The boy approached the armored men with a simple stride and ever-thin patience. As he drew nearer, he caught sight of a familiar face. These men formed a circle around one woman, whose face was painted with a determined expression. She stood tall, not in posture, but perhaps in resolve. She stood taller yet when she found the company of Sir Gaspard's nephew in her periphery. A few hushed whispers were exchanged between them. The van Aert exhaled only once, with some mild strain. Once departed from its sheath, in Gustaf’s hand manifested some weapon of legend—a sword of deep blue coloring. It shimmered in the light, its blade absorbing it so that it might know a certain radiance. The crowd was large, and the words spoken were chaotic. In that moment, he found some stillness as well as resolve and stood himself between the gathered men and women. In that same instant, a familiar sound of spurs clanking against the stone-made flight of steps made another individual's presence known. The individual had a name, and so it was none other than Sir Gaspard. Orders were given, and orders were selectively misheard. The gathering grew as time passed. Despite the earnest nature of the Captain-General's pleas, by his nephew's accounting, they fell only on deaf ears. He had a simple thought that went unspoken: "Blood in my tired eyes, yet my ears might no longer suffer the toxin of deceit. A fair exchange." Thusly, another thought came to pass, this one to be heard by all of those present. "Uncle," spoke he, wielding the fabled weapon, "forgive me for what my sword will do." Before the sword made contact with the flesh of the man's face who stood before Gustaf, the sound of cutting could be heard as the air was displaced. Before long, a brawl ensued, which lasted only a soldier's moment. He and his uncle emerged victorious, and together they delivered the now-captive men to be sentenced. Not without further dissent and subordination, of course. Insults and some distinct lack of accountability were all he, Gustaf, gathered from the crowded space. His jaw fell agape when one of the soldiers referred to the Captain-General's right hand as a tavern wench. It fell further, when the only consequence to come of all this was the loss of a hand. His expression was as cold as the winter's chill that breezed through the city. At some point, his uncle ordered him to remove the soldier's arm; yet, earlier that day, Gustaf had different plans. The crowd stared in shock at the scene that had just unfolded before them. The tension in the courtyard was replaced with silence, except for the gasps of the onlookers. Blood oozed out of a slumped body, mixing with the rain from above and the mud from below. Three towering figures quickly became two with a fluid motion, and Gustaf’s sword liberated a head from the man’s neck. The disrespect and mockery of his uncle’s station and the name of Veletz itself—coming in excess from a disobedient lordling. The silence that washed over them now was deafening. “Nephew, I gave a clear sentence."Why was it you snapped?” Even from afar, one could see Sir Gaspard's struggle to process his nephew’s defiance. A simple answer was given. "I did not snap, uncle; no, I had a mere moment of clarity." Gustaf awoke as the silence of the clinic was abruptly interrupted by screams and footsteps. He opened his eyes as shadows loomed over him. Panicked voices filled the surgery room where he found rest. In his semi-conscious state, Gustaf turned to look at the spot next to him. The empty bed was now occupied by an armored man, the pristine, white sheets that were strewn over the bed were now dyed by blood. In his daze, Gustaf could not differentiate where the sheets ended and his tabard began. Only after the man spoke did he recognize his the sound of his uncle's voice; and too, did he notice he was without a good arm. How cruel. A man learned in medicine and alchemical feats procured new limbs for the both of them. Yet, it was not enough. The next day, he wrote unto a certain Jenny with promises of milk and honey elixirs. A bribe, or contract of that nature took not long for a woman like she to answer. So she did, manifest before him, in the square of Winburgh. He so bargained in exchange for a hand, a new one—without any ailments or drawbacks. In exchange for a hand of new make, he bartered an eye. The deity obliged, and so he stood before she, who was adorned in a miasma of purple wisps as she made short work of the task. Menace reflects oft in the eyes of men; in Gustaf's lone one, now, only some reality of what he perceived to be divine justice.
  6. 12th of The Grand Harvest, 18 of the Age of Rights and the Age of Reckoning A SHORT STORY, by Amelya van aert @bickando @Orlanth @M1919 .fr-credit-link{padding:10px 0;font-size:11px;font-style:italic;} “How many times must water fall upon a sharp-edged rock to round it?” “Again,” a shout, quiet behind cool curtains of pouring rain. Barely visible beyond that veil were two dark shadows, illuminated only by the flickering torches beside their spectator. The young Aert woman shivered, squinted. “Again,” called that voice once more - and behind it she could nearly feel the glare of those red irises trained upon her brother. “Again,” it came as a whisper, drowned out by the collapse of the second shadow once more. The pair seemed intent to learn; so he was blessed with the strength to rise on the eighteenth bout. His master was blessed with the overwhelming power to knock him down the nineteenth, to toy with him, to do it without even moving. “Let him rest,” the sister finally called out, unable to bear even the sight of it. “When he is ready,” the master replied in that callous tone, even as his gaze momentarily broke and betrayed some care for the boy. The twentieth bout began. The twentieth bout ended. “When will he be ready?” The sister asked as she tended to her fallen brother once more. Gustaf’s body ached to the bones. His mind had been attacked in a thousand ways, and in the bouts he had taken blows in a thousand more. “He will know,” the master replied, and the boy rose once more. What was Vyllaenen truly - what had he seen in a child, to test him so? “Again,” that dreadful word repeated once more, barely a mutter, squeaked out by a mere boy. Yet, to the teacher, it was louder an affirmation than any shout—for it proved what that elf had always felt—potential. .freetable-f06 p{padding:5px 20px;margin:0px;text-indent:30px;} .freetable-f06 b{color:#E5CDB6;} .freetable-f06-b{width:402px;border:1px solid #000000;margin:0px auto;border-radius:6px;-webkit-border-radius:6px;-moz-border-radius:6px;} .freetable-f06-name{font-family:georgia, serif;color:#27180A;text-shadow:#F8E1CA 0px 0px 5px;margin:-7px auto;text-transform:uppercase;font-size:25px;font-weight:bold;letter-spacing:1px;text-align:right;padding:10px 25px 0px 0px;width:350px;} .freetable-f06-ooc{font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;letter-spacing:.4px;font-style:italic;} .freetable-f06{background-color:#8F7154;border:1px solid #E5CDB6;font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:12px;color:#352516;letter-spacing:.3px;word-spacing:2px;line-height:14px;width:400px;text-align:justify;padding:3px 0px;border-radius:6px;-webkit-border-radius:6px;-moz-border-radius:6px;} .freetable-f06-divider{border-bottom:1px dotted #E5CDB6;width:85%;margin:0px auto;}
  7. Reminder: All of this is a rough draft purely for the sake of demonstration. If there is interest in making adjustments then further feedback will be taken into account. Hey everyone, A few updates ago Mojang increased the character limit for nameplates. What this means for LotC, is that it's now possible to display a wealth of information including statuses, roleplay names, health, and more all at once. An example of how the server currently functions can be seen here: An example of a new way to format names can be seen here: There's a poll attached to this thread; please be sure to vote in it and/or leave a comment with additional feedback. Secondly, the forums used to have badges in the form of circles (●●●) related to reputation or post count. It seems that feature has been lost over time. This is what they used to look like: We have three options: we can leave them removed, readd them in the form of text symbols, and lastly add custom images. In the spoiler below I'll leave a few references and those three options will be listed in the poll. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to vote on these polls -- each one matters.
  8. Hey everyone, As a few of you may be aware, Minecraft now supports 6-digit hexadecimal colors to specify custom colors other than the 16 default color codes. This introduces millions of new options for colors in text components. In simpler terms, this means things like custom emote colors are now possible. The first critique that comes to mind when suggesting a change like this would be something along the lines of: find colors that fit within the existing LotC ecosystem (no obnoxious gradients or neon colors). I understand there's a certain nostalgia attached to some of the current color codes too. It's my personal belief that the community can probably come up with a better set of color schemes and conventions than I could on my own, should we decide to implement some. Nothing is set in stone; this post is purely meant to solicit feedback and hopefully start a conversation. I'll leave a poll to gauge opinions. What's more helpful, however, are comments. I've run this idea by @Llir and @The60th. After a brief discussion and a cursory look at the existing codebase, this feature should be able to be incorporated on the server. The question is: how? The changes don't need to be dramatic, it could be as simple as adjusting the tablist's header and footer. A rough example of this can be seen below: Another idea is revamping some of the VIP colors. For instance, Ender and Bedrock share a color; the differentiating factor between them is simply one being bold. Here is an example of what it looks like now, as well as an idea for a way to make them differ. Should bolded characters only be reserved for staff teams? The last idea is adding custom emote colors as an ostensible VIP perk. We could preapprove a list of hundreds of colors as well as have a system for approving unique ones similar to the custom tag system for Aether VIPs.
  9. Hey everyone, I’m writing this post to solicit feedback on graphics for LotC. I’m the guy who made the previous, current, and ostensible future sets—I want to make sure they are in line with what the community wants (this poll indicates that they aren't). The idea to revise some of the graphics as seen below started when the assets got lost in a forum theme update; this includes the old VIP icons. Here are the two old sets of staff badges and icons: Presently, the donor icons for the LotC forums are broken. Here is what's broken, and this is an old screenshot of what it used to look like prior: After seeing the results of the poll, I went ahead and made another draft of the icons. I used whatever feedback was provided with substance that I could gather. Here is the result of that: Some of the LotC assets have lost their source files over the years, and some icons just look dated. The old adage also comes to mind: if something isn't broken, you don't need to fix it. I don't think any icons are set in stone or are going to be forced on anyone. Originally, they were rolled out just as a test to see if they were still possible with the present forum theme. I'll include a poll to gather feedback, but what might be more helpful are references or ideas by way of replies and comments. These icons are very changeable, and I'm very interested in making sure the community enjoys the assets they're using on a day-to-day basis. Thanks for your time. Here is a post using the "new" graphics. Extras: Also, a quick shoutout to @Amayonnaise for the dragon-themed Discord and Minecraft server icons; she is incredibly talented.
  10. [!] A series of missives would be posted around the Commonwealth of the Petra, the majority of which would be seen in its capital, Vallagne. ☩ ΉΣЯΣ ᄂIΣƧ ƬΉΣ ЦПƧΣΣП ✦ Hwæt! Þonne com oferne plegan, þær scēapa and gāt seofonfald hātan. Listen! When the game is over, the sevenfold shall be named, the sheep and G҉O҉A҉T҉. ✦ Hwilum blæd and wæstm þæs ofersēola fylð, ac him bið lytel freoðe āfre geteohod. ۞ ۞ Sometimes the abundance and growth of the high pasture shall fail, but little peace shall ever be bestowed upon them. ✦ Gesāwon wēardas, blēatsprǣce sēon, hwylce bēacna sēcþ, þonne scēapan fuglað. The shepherds have seen, they seek signs of bleatspeak, when the sheep are flying. ƬӨ ƬΉӨƧΣ ЩΉӨ ᄂΛᄃK IƬƧ FΛVӨЯ ☬
  11. CAUGHT IN THE REVERIE It was a still, warm afternoon as Strickland Banks departed from his small keep, a place he had yet to name. It was a humble place, little more than a two-building wooden abode sitting atop a rock. A well-built, sturdy bridge leapt over the river it bordered to connect the two sides, and from there Banks and his servants often took the time to fish. It was the most useful part of the keep, that bridge, as it allowed him to let the days pass along quicker. Occasionally matters were made livelier with the infrequent arrival of local tax collectors, and it was here that some of his more rambunctious friends would take the opportunity to play a few jokes on the poor man. Yet, days such as those had come to grow fewer and farther between. On the evening that Banks had received the land deed, he and his closest companions had spent the night at a local tavern. They were sketching designs for a grand estate, discussing the defensive necessities that such a keep would require, and arguing over the name it would carry: a signifier that this stretch of land was truly their own. That day was years ago. Some of his friends were still present, shuffling within and around the keep, and occasionally taking a few days to hunt, but most had since left. Two had died, Cutler and Hob, but the rest had ventured elsewhere, off to greener pastures. Whistling a merry tune, Banks continued along the lonely dirt road that led to Petra, where he could hopefully find an open tavern. Although the walk was long and lacked company, he didn’t mind it much. As the more rugged landscape near his keep gave way to the gentle rolling hills of the town, an increasing number of farmsteads and ranches came into sight. As he passed them all, Banks could see the fieldhands laughing amongst each other as they picked their grapes, children playing in between tall stalks of corn, and aging farmers instructing their sons on how to repair a broken gap in the fence. All was well for those unable to read their histories, he thought. It was well past midday as Banks finally reached the outskirts of Petra, a town similarly enjoying the fruits of the day. Making his way through a few streets, the gentryman eventually settled on a polished, recently-built tavern. A few denizens could be seen walking about the streets, but otherwise what life that may have existed seemed to be shuttered away for the day. It was the same last week. Entering the tavern, Banks was greeted by a bright, colorful, and well-decorated establishment. Something was cooking in the kitchens, and although he did not know what it was, it smelled good. Aside from the barkeep and a few hired hands, the only other person in the establishment was an old, lanky dark elf sitting in a damp corner. He could be seen drinking from a mug encrusted with cheap gems. Figuring he too would want a companion, Banks decided to sit across from him, with or without their permission. The elf simply greeted him with a nod and continued drinking. “Quiet day, isn’t it?” Banks asked the elf. “It’s been a quiet day for a long time now. Every town I enter, every pub I frequent, experiences a quiet day.” The dark elf responded, bitterly grimacing as he finished the rest of his drink. He gestured for another from the barkeep. “I suppose so, though the war against King Frederick made the notion of fighting quite sour in many.” The gentryman ordered a pint of mead. “Did you fight? I did. A shame to call that a war. I’ve seen bar fights greater than that.” Spat the elf “No, it ended before I could even arrive. It was a quick-run thing.” “A time before me, it seems. The rise and fall of great men, empires, kingdoms, the like. They began and ended not with meek whimpers, but with thunderous claps! We have lost it, I think.” Said the excitable young gentryman, sighing after. “Now, though, I sit at my keep and I fish.” “Hm… The cause is… fine, but I speak not of that. I have fought for and against many men, both good and wicked, and by my hand, or by the hand of the men I knew, history has been altered. However, I find that is not what stirs my soul.” The elf rapped his thin, wrinkled fingers on the rim of his mug. “Then what is?” The old elf paused for a moment, gathering his words, before taking a small sip and beginning again. “At each battle I fought, I stood beside the only family I have known. They, like I, were contemptible rouges, holding little else sacred but their own battle-brother, but it was in them that I found life" “I had a band of friends like that, too,” said Banks. “We didn’t fight any battles, well, we haven’t yet, but I think we will before our lives are over. Most of them are off and away now.” “Don’t count on it,” said the elf, finishing what seemed to be his hundredth flagon. “I thought the same just a few years ago. I keep humoring myself into thinking something could be a return to the days I sorely miss. To each and every comrade that I stood beside at Helena and a thousand other battles, I sent a letter.” He looked at Banks, his piercing eyes quite somber. “Dead. Retired. Missing. The whole lot of them.” “Could you not make new companions?” Asked Banks. “Perhaps.” The dark elf shrugged. “But it doesn’t feel the same. Victory is not so sweet when the men you cheer with are strangers, nor can defeat be consoled so swiftly when you drink alone. The men I knew were men who joined me as we triumphed over armies vastly larger than our own, and men who would stand by me even after a shattering defeat. Such a bond cannot be so easily forged.” Strickland Banks raised a brow, incredulous. “Outnumbered? A tale I hear from every old soldier. Surely you’re playing up the tale a bit more than you’d like to admit.” The elf smirked, raising his tankard to his lips. “Well, not always.” With that, the ashen-skin elf drifted into a drunken stooper; dreaming of vast pastures filled with sun-ripened strawberries.
  12. Courtesy: @Jaelon THE ORDER OF EXALTED GODFREY THE REDEEMER 5th of Godfrey's Triumph, 1887 Genesis The Order of Ex. Godfrey the Redeemer was founded by Lucian of Aeldin, a hedge knight who traveled to the shores of Almaris in the Holy Orenian Empire. Driven by the goal of establishing a foothold of his own and surrounding himself with like-minded individuals, Lucian traveled the countryside. He sought companionship amongst all walks of society, so long as they shared his moral values. Pious knights, merchants, and assorted peasantry without homes flocked to his cause; all were welcome within the halls of Mersten. The Apotheosis of Godfrey It is the doctrines of the Exalted Godfrey that served as the muse to generations of Humanity’s foremost scholars, warriors, and politicians. Upon reaping the rewards of his generous conquest of the known world, Godfrey’s Holy Orenian Empire would become the first in a long line of dominant human superpowers to impose its authority over the planet. Roads were constructed, feudal systems codified, and great walls were established throughout the nation. The strongest militaries in the world, such as the White Rose, House Flay, and the Teutonic Order, paid homage to the magnanimous conqueror whose ambition was as boundless as his piety and honesty. Ideals and Goals Whilst no man is perfect, Lucian found much to admire and mimic in the paths of those that came before him. A shared doctrine of discipline and honor laid the foundations for his brotherhood. It was not enough to simply claim allegiance to these ideals, but to exemplify them in all respects in your daily life. The Order exists to provide a home to those willing to set aside the pettiness of their normal lives and seek to embody these virtues. Many who approach the group find themselves unable to meet the stringent requirements. The Order is not explicitly dedicated to only martial respects. It is expected for all knights to become well-rounded individuals in all respects. Lessons on literacy and various crafts are not uncommon within the walls, and members are encouraged to live a multi-faceted and rich life. Tenets Skilled in diplomacy and combat, a knight of the Order serves as an official representative of Mersten in other lands. Though he uses force when necessary to achieve his goals, he prefers compromise to hostility. He seeks friendly alliances with good-aligned governments, common ground with neutral societies, and a quick and efficient end to evil. A knight should be the voice of reason, hesitant to engage in drawn-out, bloody encounters before exploring less extreme options. A knight should always aid a fellow brother with just cause. A knight should not loft his rank above his fellow man. All men are equal before GOD. A knight reinforces the ideals of the order by acknowledging the good deeds of ordinary citizens and expressing his appreciation in private meetings or public ceremonies. A knight should be learned in matters both scholarly and martial. Iconography Knights of the Order typically find themselves draped in the Mersten colors of purple and white. Being composed of various backgrounds, the garb is usually standardized in make and supplied to recruits of the Order. This uniform serves as a reminder that although one may hold rank and title outside of Mersten’s walls, there is a hierarchy to be observed within. One that is based on merit and ability rather than purely birth. Ranking and Recruitment Grandmaster Seneschal Knight Commander Knight Captain Knight Squire Page Those seeking recruitment into the Order are first interviewed to ascertain their intentions and if they possess the strength of character requested by the order. Should they not prove lacking, they are taken on as a Page. They will spend this time working on proving to the Order their conviction and aspiring to ascend to the rank of Squire. Once a Squire, one serves at the side of a Knight of the Order. They accompany them through battle and also assist in their daily affairs. Eventually, once a Knight has deemed his Squire worthy, he grants him a quest to complete. Each quest is unique to the Knight and varies greatly. Once said quest has been completed and the proof has been provided, the Squire is presented to the Grandmaster to rise as a Knight of the Order.
  13. Courtesy: @Nectorist HIS MOTHER'S KEEPER 22nd of Owyn's Flame, 1887 “Are you deaf, man? Your name!” The words of the ruddy-faced guardsman rung clearly in Thomas’ ears. His heart, which for a moment had stopped its heavy thudding, resumed again. As the blood began to travel through his veins once again, the man could think clearly. Best to give them a false name for now. The governor may be more inclined to hear me out, but I can’t bet my life on street watchers. Thomas looked away from the guard, and to the governor’s palace behind him. Brick, brick, and more brick. A man could spend a lifetime counting each and every one, laid perfectly atop one another. A short wall, starting from the palace wrapping around the estate; encompassing the post office, the granary, and the servant’s quarters, akin to how a mother embraced her children. It was the largest building for miles around, by far. Still, it was the home of a provincial governor, assigned to oversee farming and ensure grain shipments were sent on time. It could not hold a candle to the lavish courts of Montclair or Vesetta, never mind Langford or Pronce. Regardless, it was Thomas Augustus’ last chance at finding a home. It would have to do. “Well? I haven’t got all da-” “Edwin. My name is Edwin. I come from Fenbel. I bear news for Governor Richton, from Lord Amiel.” Thomas reached inside his overcoat, pulling from it a few crumpled papers. “The drought has rendered five of our mills unusable. I’ve come to see if Obel can spare any flour.” The guardsman looked over the papers for a moment before handing them back to Thomas. “Not that I can read them. Go on in.” He lifted his halberd and stepped aside, allowing the man entry. The interior of the palace was as similarly unspectacular as the exterior, though it was clear that Governor Richton had spent a small fortune on decorations. Rugs from Oyashima lined the floors. A mixture of boar, deer, lion, and other animal’s heads lined the walls. A chandelier, clearly made from the craftsmen of Arkent, hung from the ceiling. A handful of slaves, servants, and attendants scuttled throughout the house, but aside from that it was mostly quiet. Ascending a polished wooden staircase, Thomas made his way to the second story of the palace, where he was told the governor’s office would be. The second floor of the palace was little more than a narrow hallway lined with plain wooden doors, save for the very end, where a large double-door, laced with silver and painted black, was waiting. Presuming that this was the governor’s office, Thomas made his way down. Though he tried to keep quiet, his footsteps thudded loudly. When he had finally made his way to the end, he rapped his knuckles upon the door. Without delay, a low, guttural voice responded. “Come in!” Governor Richton’s office was nothing short of a catastrophe. Papers and books flooded the room in messy, haphazardly-stacked piles. Black tea, or was it ink, had seeped into one stack, and instead of throwing them out, the governor had allowed them to languish in a corner. The governor himself, a short, portly fellow of middling age, sat behind a desk that was no less cluttered. The only saving grace was the large, uncovered window in the back that led out to a small overlook. The room, thankfully not bereft of sunlight, could at least be shown in all of its unholy glory. “Sit, sit!” Governor Richton called out to Thomas cheerily, gesturing to the two seats in front of his desk. Both were occupied by stacks of papers. “Never mind those,” Richton assured him. “You can set them aside.” Thomas warily made his way over to the right chair and carefully moved the papers onto the floor. He sat in it and stared across to the balding, fat Governor Richton, who bore a small smile. “Thank you, governor.” He shuffled through his overcoat again, passing the same papers as before to the man. “I am sure you are aware of who I am.” Richton nodded, and his kindly smile turned into something of a smirk. “Baron Sirion informed me of your impending arrival… along with a recommendation that I have you thrown in the cells.” Thomas’s heart dropped when he heard the words. It was rare to even be received now at the courts and estates he ventured to. His lineage was too high to be allowed near the jobs of the common man, yet his family’s station was too lowly, too disgraced, for his presence to be welcomed or even tolerated. He had hoped that in Obel, a place greatly disconnected from the many great courts and intrigues of Aeldin, he could find a home. Now that final door appeared to be closing. “Please, Governor Richton! I’ll work for you in any office, high or low, and not resent my service. Give me a small room here, and I will work loyally and ably until the end of your service,” he begged. Richton did not respond, and instead looked over the papers that had been handed to him. “Your mother makes a similar appeal here, it seems,” he scoffed. “How kind of her, given the sort she was. Does she fare well?” Thomas thought back the beatings he had endured by her hand, the drunken mess she made of herself in the castles and estates of each host. More often than not, her incessant groveling and begging had resulted in the two of them being thrown out. More often than not, she had blamed him for it, and rendered another beating. The last time Thomas had seen her was well over a year ago, and by then it was clear the drink had taken what was left of her feeble mind. He quietly hoped she was either being well-cared for or was burning in hell. “As usual with her, Governor Richton.” He shrugged. ”Probably not too different since the two of you last met.” The governor laughed at that. “You've got her wit, at least. One of the few things she possessed. Tell me, Thomas Augustus, what do you know of tending a field?” “Nothing, Governor Richton.” “Of directing grain shipments?” “Nothing, Governor Richton.” “Of surveying land, so it may be sold and distributed for use as a farmstead, or any other necessary purpose?” “Nothing, Governor Richton.” “Of settling legal disputes between grant holders?” “Nothing, Governor Richton.” “Then what use do I have for you? Do you think I’ve room to sponsor some wastrel courtier? To give you a cushy job behind a desk that doesn’t require the brains of an ox?” The governor squinted at Thomas with small, beady eyes. “I thought you’d have learned from your father’s example. He went around begging for postings, as you once did. The fourth son of a man two generations removed from a baron in Sabonen, himself five generations removed from an emperor. Yet still, he called himself a ‘Horen’ and said that he ‘bore the blood of the dragons.’ He was no dragon, Thomas. He was a pathetic sod who married a wretched woman, and they both pissed away their meager inheritances.” “I understand, Governor Richton.” Thomas clenched his teeth, staring back at the man with a stony gaze. He had no love for his mother and never knew his father, yet he could hardly tolerate these insults to his family, to himself. “An hour before you did, I met with a cobbler’s son who was seeking work. Some of my farmers needed their shoes repaired, and we had few spares, so I hired the man on the spot. To think that I have more use for a cobbler’s son than for the ‘blood of the dragon’.” Governor Richton laughed again, though this one was far crueler. It was evident to Thomas that the man could no longer think of him seriously. “How old are you, Thomas Augustus?” “Thirty, Governor Richton,” he answered through clenched teeth. Richton laughed again, his large gut wobbling as he did so. “At thirty, I was overseeing repairs to border fortifications to the east. Yet, looking through your records now, I see nothing of note…” He flipped through a small stack of papers before him, neatly aligned and presented. “If I knew that my service here would be limited to being an object of your jests, then I would have brought a glove, so I may have challenged you for the slights you make,” hissed Thomas, gritting his teeth as he rose from his desk. “I bid you a good day, Governor Richton.” “Stop. There is one thing I see here, and it may just be your lucky ticket to make something of yourself, belated as it is,” Richton called out to Thomas, gesturing for him to return to his seat, which he did. The governor then put one of the many papers before him. “It says here that you took part in some anti-piracy operations off of the coast of Endaen.” “I did, yes.” “It doesn’t seem you served with any great distinction, but that matters little. You have experience, which is what my brother needs.” The governor rose from his desk for a moment. He waddled to a chest in the room and opened it, pulling from it a large map, which he unfurled atop the desk, knocking aside a quill and several books in the process. “He’s an admiral in the navy, if you weren’t aware.” Thomas’s eyes went wide, and his spirits returned to him again. “I know ships, yes. Anything your brother may need, I can do.” Richton nodded. He then pointed to a cluster of islands on the map, far to the south and west of Aeldin. “Here lay the Duchy of Furnestock. Have you heard of it?” Thomas shook his head. “I thought so. They’re far away, and have had little relevance. Until now. They’re a collection of sixteen islands, conquered by some prince from the far west half a century ago. Some of our traders have found that the islands are rich in spices, but we’ve long been denied the rights to found a port of our own. Now, though, the tides have changed.” He drew a circle around one of the islands on the exterior of the cluster, the smallest of them all. “Agathor wants a port here, and now we’ve the opportunity to. News travels slowly from the west, but whispers have reached me. Oren is no more, leaving Furnestock isolated. My brother has been authorized to lead a small fleet to force the governor to grant us rights to build a port. We don’t need, or want, the whole thing. Just one port.” “Am I to join this expedition, then?” Thomas asked. “Precisely. No doubt they’ll put up some resistance. It shouldn’t be too much, but we’ll need someone to lead the forces ashore. Agathor has been blessed with peace for years, but it means we lack men with combat experience. You bring some of this. Succeed here, and we can promise to outfit you a ship, which you may take to anywhere you want. However, it is best you leave Aeldin behind. You carry with you the burdens of a lineage that benefits you little, and parents that have weighed you in debt. Make a life elsewhere, Thomas,” the governor said, now quite sincere. He clasped a hand on the man’s shoulder. “Your mother, the wench that she was, saved me once. Consider this a favor repaid. I’ll let you reside in one of the guest rooms for tonight. Tomorrow I’ll give you a letter, which you are to take to my brother in Pronce.” Thomas sat there, stunned. For years, he and his mother had traveled from court to court, begging for some estate, some income, some job that they could work in service of the local lord, lady, or governor. In almost all cases he had been met with rejection, shunned for sins that were not his, and mocked for a name he could not live up to. Now, though, opportunity stared him in the face. He needed only to wrap his fingers about it, grasp it, and never let it from him.
  14. Halt

    Forum Signatures

    It’s been a long time since we’ve had any community graphics released. So, rather than throwing away my rough drafts for the new forum badges, I’ve decided to offer these banners up to the community for you all to use however you see fit. I’ll add a link to the source file as well, in case anyone would like to modify it for their own purposes. Similar banners have been created before; however, at the time of writing this post, the thread that had previously contained them has been redacted. However, credit goes to @Korvic for the original idea. To download a set of banners, simply click on the image.
  15. Courtesy: Council of Renatus PACT OF VERIDIAN “Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” 12th of Horen’s Calling, 1713 This pact hereby entails the principles to an accord agreed upon by the signees, to be adhered to by both their respective civilians and military alike. Should either principle be broken by a respective participant of either nation, then a truce will be inherently invoked, ergo allowing a maximum of three saints days wherein efforts to re-evaluate the accord, and, or, deem the accord no longer viable. Both signatories shall become at peace with one another, ceasing conflict between the two. Henceforth, both parties will adhere to a strict non-aggression agreement that will be enforced. Regarding the flow of goods and trade, no customs will discourage any exchange. Mobility between the nations will be enforced by both, and the roads swept of bandits who may harass our fair people. Both parties will aid one another in obtaining fugitives and criminals to their respective civilisation, unless one has a pact with said respective nation from which the fugitive hails from. Both parties will aid one another in the defensive means of any of the signatories providing they are aggressed upon. Recognising the supremacy each signatory holds over their race (Uruk, Man.) if this supremacy is contested then for the duration of the situation -- the pact will ascend into a full alliance. The Orcs of Krugmar will join in with the ongoing war against the EU, or any homogenous group, adhering to the commandments of “Desolation.” HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY, Antonius I of the House of Horen, Emperor of Man, King of Renatus, Marna, Mardon, Salvus, Seventis, Savoy, Courland, Santegia, and Norland, Duke of the Crownlands, Avar, and Frederica, Count of Helena, Alamar, Frederica, Thesmer, Thelen, Lorath, and Cantal, Baron of Darkwood, Gravelhold, Fidei Defensor, Protector of the Heartlanders, Highlanders, Farfolk, etcetera REX, Burbur’Lur Farseer and Elementalist of Krugmar, Protector of the Hou-Zi.
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