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    I'll never be
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    your beast of burden

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  1. A newly-literate reinmaren peasant spends many nights hand-copying this codex by quill and ink, determined to understand the ways of the true faith despite a desperately lacking vocabulary. Furthermore, the reinmaren breath behind the scripture inspires fraternal sentiment. Verily, a new aspirant to worship is born.
  2. Penned by TRH Suzana Suzecht & HG Oksana Sarkozic, c. 1938. Written in Raev, translated to common by Vladimir Sarkozic 1 N THE TIME since the folk’s migration to the lands of Aevos, the people of Adria have grown affectionate of their contemporary landscape, tilling the farms, milling the woods & mining the spoils of the earth to find fruit of their exodus. Rich is the grass of the midland sire’s backyard, for he can plant a bush of Balian-raised tomatoes and harvest a bounty to rival the fertility of the skies upon which our ancestors frolic eternally. Of beasts, the country is evermore plentiful than any across the freeholds of the league, boasting spawns of wolves, treacherous bear encounters, and a sudden influx of the sighting of mystic bodies that come to haunt or cheer the good men & women of the Hamlet. These unnatural happening-upons are said to be liable to the ghoulish woods that act as a shadow to Eagle’s Peak, mirroring the Witch’s Wood of our beloved Veletzia, may she see relife in her death. Natural or of occult origin, all the creatures endemic to the stretch of our home entertain legendary tales and firsthand recountings within the daily prattle of the folk. Therefore, to preserve the memory of these tales before another evacuation is demanded of us, the Adrian bestiary is thus erected in the imperial year 1938, twelve years post-exodus. She will serve as a guide to the unknowing traveler, detailing the presupposed nesting areas, latest detections & dangers of each ‘beast’ (which will include all manner of creatures, not only those dangerous to us) individually. Our dedication shall be to all those Adrian children whose youth will hug these lands forevermore. Especially to our children: Matthaus, Vacslav, Ilse, Janek, Andriy, Tobiasz, & Austinya. 2 The alderswood is inhabited by all manner of creatures that benefit from the dark veil of the pine canopies, with overflowing herbs, roots, grubs & creepers to sustain a bevy of activity. Forest dwellers are most often spotted by huntsmen, travellers wandering through the adjuncting roads, & youth out at play against the wishes of their parents. Due to widespread paranoia regarding the woods as cursed, there is a general agreement that the forests are prohibited to all those too weak to defend themselves from improvident beings. Cottage hermits are most likely to narrate their discoveries within the woods, meriting the people’s hesitant appreciation of their lifestyle. The Witch of the Woods; w Yaga The Witch of the Woods is the most loathsome of the forest dwellers, feared by all, but especially the young ladies she is said to target; according to legend, she consumes the souls of sad or depleted girls in exchange for the elongation of her life & power. She was assumed to have fallen to the Mori’quessir on the initial establishment of Veletz, yet sightings resumed within the thickets after the inception of Castle Aldersberg on the edge of the forest. The Witch is known to wear a black veil that corrupts her womanly shape into nothingness, a silhouette that molds to the night and is only noticed by the white lantern she carries on a knot of branch-rope bathed in blood. The witch is manifested by the hum of her wicked song, a tune of ancient Adrian soldiers warped into a crackle of deathly lilts & breaking notes, with the complements of a bronze bell that hangs beneath her lantern emitting an eerie ‘ding’. No girl who has ever encountered the Witch has lived to tell the tale, thus, her depictions are exclusive to the mouth of mostly hunters & knights who’ve eyed her outline and escaped before she came to haunt. Little is known about her place of residence, though folk insist on her inhabiting a bramble of elkwood logs erected on a foundation grounded from the bones of her victims. Her witnessed abilities include ensnaring & breaking apart the five senses with the ringing of her bell, the ability to elongate the fabric of her veil to act as a claw to clasp onto her victims, & a dust of some unknown powder she scatters in the wind that reduces one to their knees in paralysis. Folk swear by her apprehension to deaf people because they cannot hear her song, so it is advised that one wear earmuffs when entering the woods if they wish to avoid the yaga. The Pine Devil; w Svedzonyak The Pine Devil is the great terror of the forests, a predator to all without exception, though known to target woodcutters, millers & harvesters as vengeance for his creation. He rose from the rubble of fallen trees, taking the shape of a corpse of rotted branches & black mulch with dried autumn leaves for a bush of hair. Others envision him as a fox with putrefied wooden flesh for fur, standing on its hind legs & holding a curved can. In either form, he stands at the height of nearby trees, and can morph & camouflage to fool unlucky wayfarers into stumbling into the spiny clutches of his spindly wooden fingers, or the sharpened pine cone he wields as a mace. He was first discovered long ago in the wastes of the County of Dobrov, a haunted town that existed during the times of the Holy Orenian Empire, and trailed after carriages fleeing the area following its absolute decay to the earth. Some have attested to spotting the Pine Devil outside their windows in the dead of night, though this is rare, as his sustenance is from live animals roosting in the trees, and he would rarely be required to enter human villages. The Forest Fae; w Fieje The forest fae are said to be related to sprites of druidic origin, corrupted by the enchantments of the alderswood to appear as luminescent winged mice producing rays of white against the dark backdrop of the forest. Their presence is noted by a choir of whispered squeaks that drafts wind through shrubs and bushes. The fae are kind to humans, and contain saliva that acts as a universal salve of healing. Thereby, the adrian people often leave sick children and the elderly to shrubs purported to harbor fae. However, the fae only heal those who retain their childish imagination, as the apt for creativity is what is exchanged for the salve of healing, leading many to speculate that politicians & tax collectors have been given to the fae in youth. Though not evil in nature, once disturbed, the fae multiply in numbers rapidly to produce a monsoon that can knock the strongest of men from his feet and even blind. Captured fae have been said to burn into a fine mist for healing teas, used in local remedies. The Porcubear; w Medraz The Porcubear, a towering beast adorned with hardened spines, presiding as the sovereign predator within the alderswood. The spikes serve as an armament against the wandering woodsman, piercing steel with ease. The Medraz’s influence reshapes its habitat, tearing trees asunder to fashion its haven for hibernation, which becomes its place of residence for the winter until it comes to roam once more. This ruler of recklessness then roams untamed, forging a wake of havoc and a landscape transformed. When roused, its wrath knows no restraint. Its flesh marries porcupine and brown bear savours, as the name suggests, while its cast-off quills often form into unforeseen arms. 3 Townstalkers are those creatures that hide in plain sight beside the villagers, or are most often spotted inside the borders of townships rather than outside them. Regarding those creatures of malice, the townspeople fear these creatures less due to familiarity, and have developed more astute methods of fishing them out among innocents, and punishing them should they show their faces. The Masked Witches; w Velkadunya The masked witches are lightly connected to the Yaga, though there has been little to forge this connection outside of their gender, as the masked witches are neither hermitic nor possess the naked abilities of the witch of the woods - their strength is created in numbers. Any good man would be frightened at the discovery of his daughter’s commencement into the wicked covens of the masked witches, which have possessed many a fair maiden of Adria into forfeiting their souls to iblees’ grasp. Such a deal curses their eyes to accustomate poorly to heightened levels of light, leading to the wearing of leather masks over the face during the daytime, something they may hide with the use of thick full-face coverings of varying color. Once initiated, witches are said to practice all sorts of vile magics, including sacrificial sabbaths, pagan prayer to demonic altars, cannibalism and etcetera. The most telling sign of a witch in the dark is a perpetual smile that never dims, for their power under the moonlight is such that it grips all of their emotion into pure joy. The most successful method of protecting oneself from a witch upon discovering her is to bring a candle close to her face, for it will cloud her eyesight for at least a minute during which to forge an escape. To be rid entirely of a witch and free the maiden’s soul from Iblees to allow her entry into the seven skies, one must burn her upon a pyre of black lavender. The Gremlins; w Svedorf In plain view of their unsuspecting Adrian patrons, the Gremlins thrive under the guise of children or dwarves. Under the fluff of their flesh silhouettes, their diabolically ugly green faces corrupt into a fiendish miniature olog’s, standing no higher than 5 feet and no lower than 3, with thin bowed legs and vestments of sewn grass. Echos of their genesis begin in the tale of Smirrat, a vile & greedy dwarf that was punished for his thieving by being dunked headfirst into a muddy pond and left for 20 days, only to later spring from his burial split into a horde of gremlins out to cast their revenge upon the poor & wealthy alike. Folklore spreads that all must remain wary of encountering a svedorf camouflaged as an ill-behaved child, hence a method of straining them from the flock includes tossing the thing into a body of water to see if they sink rapidly, as the svedorf are stupid creatures, and so love to pool their pockets with the spoils of their havoc-making, rarely storing their hoardes of pilfered treasures. The Moon Maiden; w Misyachna In the crypts beneath the chapel of Bl. Hugues Sarkozic dwells an ancient crone, her lamenting wails echoing through corridors of legend. Feared by the youth and invoked by mothers’ tales, she becomes a revenant that haunts the dreams of Adrian maidens both young and old. Within the stone confines of Castle Aldersberg, a mournful symphony of sorrow is shrouded by howls of the wind. In daylight, a spectral form takes shape, radiant with an eerie iridescent shimmer that illuminates her figure. Yet, as the sun retreats, her presence solidifies beneath the moon’s gentle gaze, casting an enduring shadow marked by an eternal grief-stricken countenance. None know the origins of this spectral lady, though several accounts of her haunting yowls have made her a staple of the Castle’s nighttime ambience. Few men have encountered her, making her a figure detestable to the feminine sex, which merits her hatred for having once been cheated in the game of love by an ancient inhabitant of the Castle, or its lower structures. The Tuvmas Tickler; w Tikluzhev Over the midnight blackness of Tuvmas nights, the clip-clop of hooves can be heard as the tickler prowls across Adrian rooftops, wide red nostrils flared as it hunts for the scent of our dozing children. At a brat’s standing, the tickler is apt to climb through the smallest of crevices to visit bairns’ bedsides, awaking them to infect them with his boisterous laugh. If irresistant to its siphon, the child begins to cachinnate along with the beast - and it promptly devours their happiness forevermore. Once taken, their happiness can never be returned to them, and the memory of the Tickler is remit. Many a story circulates of the tickler’s theft of the spirits of adrian men, yet the being itself has never been seen by grown folk, nor has it ever slain. 4 Beasts at large across all the expanse of Veletz are deemed frolickers, including those animals that roost above the peaks of the mountains & roam through the wild grasses of the league’s plains. Krvoplak’s Greyfurs In the heart of the rugged Midlands, a formidable pack of grey wolves prowls under the guidance of its white alpha, its visage stained by a crimson slash, a lasting testament to a harrowing encounter that couldn’t halt its reign. Krvoplak, aptly named the “Bloodhowl,” has earned a fearsome reputation, notorious for its lethal prowess that has claimed the lives of many a brave soul who dared cross their path. This carnivorous band traverses the sprawling landscapes of the Midlands, their presence speaking of the untamed wilderness of the region. Endowed with an innate cunning, these lupines epitomize nature’s tenacity, seamlessly adapting to the diverse terrains of their domain. They roam woodlands and fields with equal ease, their haunting howls a chilling reminder of their possession over these brutish acres. Whitbunnies Whitbunnies are the most docile of the creatures enumerated, though unlike their fellow hare brethren, whitbunnies are a pest to farmers & any else who plant their own crops, for instead of foraging, they love to creep upon gardens and devour vast expanses of homegrown herbs & vegetables. Outside of gardens, they are most often found lazily dozing in flower patches in colonies numbering ten or more. Colored in a light creme tone, they make a horrible pet, despite vexing children’s ceaseless beseeching. The Dragon of the Valley; Avgun Known as Avgun, the Dragon of the Valley is said to embody the spirit of Emperor Aurelius, a creature of both awe and dread. The mountains themselves tremble with its roar, heralding omens both good and bad, either alarming the Adrian folk of profound change soon to come. Beware, for the wings of the Avgun cast a great and harrowing shadow that may leave those below it breathless for a few moments. He is said to occupy the loftiest summits of the Midlands, inspiring countless souls to brave perilous quests in pursuit of its fabled lair. Stories weave tales of treasures of gold and scales that shimmer like imperial purple and cost just as much and more, enticing adventurers to their doom from which they never reemerge. c.1938
  3. The Illness of The Countess of Emalyne ( art by 28idle ) Within the cavernous cysts below the lower forests of Veletz, the Countess of Emalyne had finished to spin a broth of remedial liquids, the boiling spine of its kettle red-hot by means of the hearthfire wherefrom it had been unearthed seconds before. Her freed hand raised a silver ladle to her cheek, clicking 3 times against the spot where the bone of the jaw met the neck- an action of habit -and lowering to chance a whiff of the steaming mixture. She could feel the illness evaporating from her for just this moment, when the heat consumed her aspects and drowned the morbidity pervading her. The burning scent of her skin’s grip ‘round the ladle’s handle did not deter, as the stones of her health desired livening warmth. After years of sitting in ill-begotten flaccidity, heat was all she could feel on this earth. The sunlight had begun to hurt, yet the cloak of the fire within these dark caves instead healed. She had sworn to several that, at times, the flicker of moonlight against her cheek mixed with the kiss of a burning candle radiating beneath her index finger charmed her mind to lucidity. Hans had searched far for medicines to soothe the endless fainting spells & drying coughs, as well as the affectations of the head, the clamping of the stomach, the reddening & grating of the skin. . . all failed, only serving to amplify the weakness of Suzana’s aging humors. With each child it worsened; her contamination capitulated with Janek, who was born bleeding uncontrollably from the nose, as so often the Countess did in the black of night. In a night of mind-numbing tremors that left her of poor psyche & rationale, Suzana’s ailing body was compelled to tremble its way through the trees of the alderswood. She came upon the cave where she now stood, alone with bodily sweats acting as the water of her eyes. The lit fire within had called to her, and sans the hesitancy that a person with a fear of death might inhabit, the Countess had strode forth to discover it untended by any. Seeking desperate repose, she descended to the unkindness of the cave ground, and later awoke to find her pain numbed. Persisting on the curative properties of this specific pyre, Suzana had begun to return to the subterrane dwelling on each midnight since, should sickness not immobilize her entirely. Thus, she dubbed this cave the wielkapli (great giver). 1937 On every night whence she made the journey up the Eagle’s Peak, the Lady Suzecht would endeavor to collect twigs and fallen branches in her leather satchel to fuel the wielkapli’s bonfire, that which had become her foremost confidante. However, these wee articles were soon exchanged for more sacrificial items: a nest of beetles, a hummingbird’s egg. . . futile life would be surrendered as ember in exchange for her recovery. Most recently, she’d had her guardsman heft a cauldron of silver to erect above it as a pot from which to incense meltwax balms from the critters she’d plunder from the canopies. Yet when it became known to her that it had not been only her life that had been robbed of its early delights, the orange, blue, and scarlet of that inferno grew cold to her. The Lady hungered for a heat like fever. How to achieve it, she could not gather, but from this day forth, she would begin to boil & brew until such a solution was found to her. Sleet fingers dripped with the blood of a pig, falling like droplets of rain to hiss as they hit the foam.
  4. Ines conspires to bind a Caelian's spilled blood to her doll of straw.
  5. The ghastly figure of the Countess of Emalyne kneeled before the cinders of the pyre she'd erected the month prior. Her once-fortified mind had long since been lost to illness and an all-consuming plague of her wretched heart, yet in her dreams remained the image of he who had once so often been the flame & fire of her days. This ode had been cultivated throughout the passing of the days since she'd heard the news, fueled by the various letters exchanged between them, which bristled eerily into the night air as the black of ashe reaped their memories to nothingness. Her youth was gone - her light, and her beauty. And so, too, was now gone her hope.
  6. From within forests, a pyre is constructed of ashwood & dried embers, a fire lit to ignite the flames to thaw Suzana's dead heart.
  7. "Though y have niet met w father, y know him to have held a gentle soul. Jest unfortunate that he could niet see w truth before his passing - Adria was of such welcome to him in w earlier years." Suzana noted to her housecarl, Hans ( @persz ) as they made their way for her daily prayers. "Y shall task meaself with returning Adria's holy repute to w light of canondom as his funeral favor. There z many wrongs to right in w coming years." Her voice faded to whispers as they crossed the arch of the white chapel, harkening herself unto the pews with a head bowed in reverence.
  8. Suzana bade her time for this letter's publishing inside the feasting chamber of Emalynesburg, peering over the expanse of Adria from the slit of the nearest window. Cigar in-hand, the raev woman crosses the lorraine: "Peace jest all we seek - y pray they give it."
  9. [!] A letter is posted blatantly upon the door of the Chieftain of Katzak's most adored tavern, public for all to see. Dishonorable Ludrik von Katzak, Mind vyr business - or, grow a pair of balls to address this problem to w Duke rather than palm vyr mouth in shock and run with vyr tail tucked between vyr legs straight to w fools that would nod their heads e give vy slow-witted congratulations for vyr slanted expose. That moy adrians all worship this false idol found deep within a basement that y have niet seen in mea entire life jest the logic of a bumbling zhenya, or a propagandist seeking reasons for the continuation of the slaughter of mea home. Do vy have niet shame? Vyr mother does for vyr mere existence. With mea love, Suzana Sarkozic. Countess Emalyne. P.S: Send me w address. Y will fumigate for vy. Do niet come.
  10. "Moy will see what becomes of home now, papej." Suzana lit her father's cigar from across the parlor window, the courtiers of Emalyne that pranced about to ready the forthcoming Dumapalooza becoming yet another inconvenience to the anarchy of her day, "Henry said this jest all they needed to end their coalition - but y do niet believe him to be true. Y believe they would rather see moy in w grave. Y can only ask GODANI for his mercy."
  11. "They do niet want peace, they want revenge." Suzana commented dryly to the little maid that prepared her morning bath, the talk of the day lingering in her thoughts through slumber and into dawn. "They scream moy jest dangerous, yet look at whom lured his enemy to GODAN's place of worship e struck at their chance then, like slithering spineless lizards, with niet an ounce of evidence to justify mea papej's punishment. They can niet speak of any 'peace terms'. A peace that silently whispers of w signatory's death jest a peace that jest lying, a peace that jest niet peace at all - jest purely a coward's trap."
  12. Suzana dipped a coarse white cloth into a boil of alcohol, lifting it to press it tenderly over her father's battle wounds, correcting his every hiss and blunder of pain with her own stony admonition: "Stay still - vy have already suffered much, what could another jeer on w skin cost vy?" She then paused, placing her palm above his nape: "Yam proud of vy." @Beamon4
  13. Suzana rode for home beside her father & the accompanying retinue this day, dread permeating the lining of her stomach throughout the short ride to the walls of Velec; upon catching glimpse of the Castle she'd always called home, the Sarkozic's eyes moistened with tears, and all she could feel was relief.
  14. A groan befell the air: "Y wish they did niet call him w Duke-regent without Duma." Suzana palmed her cheek as the publication was read to her, the news coming to the stoic girl neither as shock nor as sorrow. "The Varoche sought to coup mea papej without putting him to trial, but even then, yam sad to hear that he was niet given trial before his death, as still, jest the Adrian way. Moy continue to commit crimes against w culture of w republic; from either side jest peace condemned, e now, look how they have invaded a neutral state to quicken their aims, akin to warmongers rather than folk defending their home." "Papej -" Her eyes raised to her sister from the chaise, attempting a brittle smile, "Papej has niet abandoned us, he has abandoned w holy sanctity of humanity."
  15. Suzana glowered in pensiveness, studying the silent quell of smoke and fire that grew in the distance, a fire routed to where the new Adrians had torched the fort that protected the heartland capital from the fiends at slaughter. "E still, jest a game of men's honor that kills a folk and their culture - y wonder sto looms for moy now. Will it be foolish glory, or death sans justice? Yam tired of the wait. Y have no more tears to give."
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