A Helping Hand

Part of a tooth came out that time. Ruyo’s hand smeared the splatters of his own blood on the gravel as he still kept trying to rise to his feet.
Bruised and scraped from the attacks of four separate pairs of boots. Hard to make out anything they screamed at him amidst the onslaught.

Wheres your fire, flamer??
She gonna rescue you now??
Robalem piss on such wastes of his name!!

He got the jist.

He hated everything about these effonos. Their stupid faces. Their stupid clothes. Their stupid– ridiculous– accents–

This stupid country! He hated it! He bit his lip in force as another streak of blood dripped to the ground. Ruyo looked the big guy straight in the eye as he smirked in defiance. He hocked a bloody mass of bile and let loose.

Square in the eye.

It wasn’t dark yet. Must not have been too long. Did he even really pass out? He remembered lying there for ages.
God, what an ache.

A few locals passed by in the distance, meeting him with hurried glances. None of the assholes even bothered to check him. Though labored, he climbed to his feet out of pure spite.

Gramma and Oliye both gasped as he limped his way into the tent. His younger cousin hurried off for a bowl of water and a rag as he painfully sat down on the floor to avoid getting the mats bloody. Would never hear the end of it from Gramma if he did. Thankfully, she was more concerned about him in this moment.

It didn’t take long for the truth of the encounter to make its way to the surface.

It’s true, Gram! It’s bad enough that I have to defend myself from those pissants, let alone you!

She sighed as she kept dabbing crusty blood off of his cheek. What a mess of a situation.

Language. …Ru, have you ever tried… well… mm. …not egging them on…?

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists as he glanced all over in frustration. No one was on his side! Gramma put a hand on his shoulder.

All I’m saying… is there might not be anyone that could handle… the way you present.
You mean what I present.
Gram, you know what I believe! Oraq rose! But She is coming back! She can’t not care about her motherland when it’s in so much trouble!

Gramma looked to the side, silent.

It was Her home! She was a person too! How could she sit by right now? She can’t! There’s no– way!
…But do you have to tell every effono you see?
We know one person for certain who ascended in this life. Effonos know the call too. But they can’t handle it because She wasn’t Avato!

Oliye piped in with her gentle voice from the stool in the corner. It only sounded irritating right now.

They’re not ready for the truth, Ru…

He glared at her, furious nearly to the point of tears. She froze for a moment before scampering away, upset. Gramma would console her later…

Ru, you know the call of the Flame.
I know.
But we can’t expect… well. …Someone to carry us. On that road.
I’m not! I’m still… walking! I just want– I just… I only want Her to help us!

The old woman locked gazes with her grandson. He saw only pain and empathy in her weathered eyes. She sighed one last time as she looked to the floor.

Dear… if someone has found perfection… if they had just washed their hands… why would they stick them in the mud again?

He knew deep down Gramma loved him. But he couldn’t handle her right now. To him, his best advocate was throwing him to the wolves. He rose to his feet once more and calmly stormed out. She didn’t follow.

He didn’t care what anyone said. Oraq had to come back. She is coming back.\


And She’ll make them pay.


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Pressing Questions

I thought aloud of the greater questions of life.

Kebo, why IS ambabo so salty?

A blank stare in response. I can sense the rickety wheels of my brother’s mind turning.

They put salt in it.

I shake my head, despondent. An unfortunately common occurrence in the presence of such intellectual deficiency...

Hmmm… Do they? Or is it just naturally salty? Are hababas salty?
They put salt in it.
I’ve never had raw hababas. Do they need to add salt to mute the taste? Are they bitter?
I dunno.
It makes you wonder why it is always salt that they add. Why salt, and not habecca or delbid or…
Just ask mom. She makes ambabo.
Ughh… don’t you ever wonder? It’s not about what they tell you it is or isn’t. It’s about… hm. …The joy of the hunt.

His mental wheels freeze. (Maybe they are turning backwards?) He shakes his head and resumes his menial task.

Man, can you just help me finish the dishes already?

A time will come when feeble minds will be ready for the most important truths. Until then, I will have to spend the essential pursuits in the presence of those fabled sages of the age.

Twinkling recollections

Darande the snake!
And that one?
Obel Yu the fat grung!
The one to the top? The tiny squiggly one.
…Uhhh. I don’t know.
That’s Elellu the lonely hunter. He hunts all day and all night for the emerald ludella. It used to be his betrothed, but she was hexed with a horrible curse. If he can catch her she’ll change back, but she’s doomed to run away from him because of her animal instincts. 
And that’s her right there, see? When he gets close she runs away. …But he keeps trying.

She paused for a moment in melancholic wistfulness.  

…One of these days, I hope.
Dobby grinned. Maybe he should turn into a ludella too!
I guess that would make it easier. Haha.

They giggled. Their breath formed plumes that faded away into the night air. It was especially cold tonight, but the canopy of lights was too much to resist. Hillilin put her arms around her daughter to keep them both warm under the blankets. Dobby hugged her right back.  

–Aha! That’s great though! You’ve been practicing.
Oryu told me some! 
Ahh. How many does he know?
Uhhhh I dunno. A lot.

Hilli smiled. Sometimes she missed being a kid. Oryu was a good brother. She missed her own brothers too. Not that she would have felt the same fifteen years ago! Dobby smiled back, ignorant of the nuances of a mother’s musings. 

What are stars made of?
Hm. Fire, I think.
How hot is fire?
Hm. I guess I don’t know. Hotter than a boiler I think. 

Dobby pondered for a moment.

Is the sun hotter than the stars?
Well. I guess it would have to be. It’s hotter in the daytime, you know. 
Yeah. It is a lot bigger… …Is the sun made out of fire too?
I guess I don’t know, sweetie. It might be. 

Minutes or hours came and went, not that it mattered much. They lie in silence, the trilling of night bugs the only company they needed.

I’m cold…
Me too. We can open the flap inside. 

The two jogged together back under the same blanket. The biting cold subsided as they ducked into the yurt. Dobby cupped her hands over her mouth and blew long breaths. A trick she was glad she knew. Mm. Warmer. 

“Hi, mom!” piped Oryu, busy playing some board game or another with the twins under the pulsing lamp. Hilli smiled sideways in confirmation. She glanced over to the pile of rugs in the corner that she needed to seam and sighed. 

The night was still young. Some things were more important. She joined Dobby in the middle of the floor, circular opening and laths of the yurt straight overhead.

Oh! I know that big curvy one! That’s Athaclem’s bow! And that’s his arrow shooting out of it… 

As her daughter continued to prattle off youthful wisdom, Hilli couldn’t help but smile.

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Divine Justice

I see the callous plumes rise high
And wonder why they have to die
Why the city’s end is nigh
Into the sky the embers fly

The jewel of Allano’s bride
Once home to those who lived and laughed
Now martyr for the nation’s pride
The vipers savaged in their wrath

I look beside the river deep
The maiden falls upon the shore
Prostrate floored and softly weeps
Softly weeps to cry no more

A fury like I’ve never known
Shines burning zealous in her eyes
I think her shaken to the bone
Until I see her slowly rise

In righteous rage she then declares
To gouge an eye demands their own
Her figure lights with blessed flares
As now my eyes grasp heaven’s throne

She burns in a celestial flash
I cower from the blinding light
Long-suffered trek resolved at last
Allano’s queen ascends tonight

She then appears beside the worms
Who persist cruelly in their sins
With no reluctance she affirms
And eyes ignite with ire again

Thunder cracks and lightning strikes
I see the demons try to fight
To wail like children in such fright
And enter the eternal night

The vipers sowed and reaped in kind
In mortal arms they put their trust
Her will imposed on those maligned
Turns spears to ash, their bones to dust

Allano’s vengeance is resolved
The smoke dispels – she stands alone
She gives to me a final pause
As I again behold the throne

I see her fade – and I implore
She cannot leave this mortal shore
My one strong arm and bedrock floor
The pearl queen whom I adore

Standing still no longer confined
A last look behind to me and the shore
Til finally she immortally shines
And smiles resigned – she cries no more

Many thanks to Ishfe Tarco for his rendition of the old Allano poem. Our condolences as to the unfortunate circumstances of his displacement.

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The Burn of Her Javelin

Farning hymn of war, -0y. Translated by Adtne of Kwawha.

Black sky! They cry.
Black moon! They cry.
For we are the ones who wrestled the rings
And we are the ones who tackle the beast.

Gaze upon the walls of Farning and despair!
Cower under the fury of our arrows!
Those serpents cry in fear of our strength,
Cry out, like a woman in labor.

The flame burns bright into the night,
The songs sound long.
None can best the greatest of men,
None can sing our song.

The Maiden looks upon her city and smiles,
Like a mother looks upon her sleeping child.
She’ll let no harm come to him,
And any who try will face the burn of her javelin!


Under her care we grow strong,
Shoot up fast like the crops of spring.
Grow nourished like the crops of summer,
To bring great pride upon the harvest.

Like the dew we’ll appear suddenly on our foes.
They shall be drenched in blood.
Her war mask shall shine red.
The harvested will harvest the world.

The might of the greatest of men
Will blow like a hurricane
Will flood like the Mandara
Will uproot like the quake.

Tremble, enemies. wail!
Every limb will be broken by the sword,
Or yoke,
Or plow!

We have been delivered,
but you cannot say the same!

Despite its popularity, great debate surrounds this song. Many Allanos hold it as unduly influenced by Rabanti notions, and view it as heretical and dangerous to their faith to view Oraq as ‘protecting’ any anchor of the mortal realm. The lyrics are set to the traditional Allano tune of Indina. For an attempted translation in the spirit rather than the letter, please see addendum

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The thunder of the plains, so deep, so loud
Who could make such force that quakes the soul?
I look to the horizon that once seemed so far
And now there is only blackness underneath the heavy sky.
Pressures of the deep under the ocean I see above.

Who can conquer this open sky?
Who can best nature?
Many have tried, but man is just a vapor in the wind
And they only flatter themselves.
Only one is the master of the expanse and it serves him the same as all other things.

The heavens are all the same to him,
There is no difference between the sky and the stars to the infinite.
And the one who tames the constellations can tame the sky
And the one who tames the sky can tame any turbulence in any man.

Every storm will pass,
And there is beauty to be found in any storm,
For the storm echoes the might of the almighty,
Just as the breeze after does his gentle mercy.

I have no reason to fear any storm,
Clouds or not, thunder or not,
I know who calls down the rain or causes it to cease.
Poem or song, rambling or inspired,
The truth is in who we trust instead of any thunder.

Transcribed from a song performed by a traveler near Tharman, Allano.

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A narrow path

…and so the Ascendant became the Incarnate, and all who saw her were amazed…
Verse 2410b

The room was filled with a thick and strong-smelling fog. Powerful drums like a beating heart echoed all around. The dark room seemed like another universe to the huddled children. Tense seconds and minutes… a hissing sound…


The kids shrieked. Before them stood Oraq, the God-empress herself. Cloaked in sparks and lightning – just like the stories! Her pearl war mask shone with an aura as a tell of her unearthly power. Each methodical step she took seemed deafeningly loud in the cavernous room. 
She slowly raised her armored hand and pointed with authority at the group. Each child felt that she pierced solely them. Her words were slow and mighty.

Cold sweat. Though fearful, the children stammered a staggered ‘yes’.
The teachers chanted and the children followed. All knew the words by heart.
“Sovereign empress incarnate! Our call is to carry the eternal flame!”
“To light the new age! That all may see the glory of Allano!”
“That our children may carry the flame forward! To succeed in their spirit!”
“To our queen, God, and ancestor!”

As suddenly as she appeared, Oraq vanished. The choir leader began chanting the familiar hymn The Bravery Lost and the children began to sing along.

Though muffled through the walls, it was just possible to make out moments of her partners’ booming song. Walking behind the curtain and onto the street corner behind the odeon, Malatye sat down and removed the pearl mask. She shook her frills and took a deep breath. The thing was so stuffy. If Oraq’s helm was like this one, no wonder she had such resolve. Thank the Gods for a breeze.

“You dishonor Her by making Her into a tame plaything.”

The actress looked over her shoulder. There stood a small elderly woman, a cold disapproval on her face. Malatye now found herself the one being pointed at.

“Do not mock the Incarnate with such blatant irreverence.” said the woman. Malatye sighed. Heard this before. Countless times.
“Look, I know what you’re going to say-”
“Do you?”
“…Our portrayal of the God helps the children understand Her better.” she sighed. “ We know our portrayal isn’t real. We aren’t trying to- hh- cheapen her calling or her message–”

The woman spit at Malatye’s feet.

“The God is so far beyond us that any portrayal is mockery! How can you claim to follow her path if you do the very thing she despises?”
“How is helping the children understand our faith despicable?”
“Man is not on the same level as the divine! You’re playing a puppet! You’re giving them false standards! They can’t save themselves without knowing the true goal!”
“The goal? ‘Our call is to carry the eternal flame? To light the new age? That all may see the glory-’”
“-How can you speak those words?”
“Because they’re true?”
“Don’t mock me-”
“Elder, please… why can’t you let us teach in a way that helps the kids? Ask any one of them- ”
“You are destroying them beyond the grave!! How DARE you take away their right to ascend?”


“…I respectfully disagree, elder.” Malatye said, quietly.
“The God would never be played by some slave. You must be the one in charge. Is this what now passes for piety? You lead the children in worship? A weak-willed whore like you? Selling yourself to false standards of eternity?” she scowled. “…You will never be able to free yourself.”

Malatye narrowed her eyes.

“If She could save herself then there’s hope for all of us. Or have you forgotten your teachings as a child?” the actress said firmly.
“The Incarnate found the path.”
“And so can we.”
“She was the God.”
“She was once mortal too. And she had no one to show Her the path. But I will show them in a way they understand.”

Another moment of silence. The woman simply turned and walked away.
Malatye looked to the sky and held her rosary tight. Oraq would understand. Surely…

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The best defense


Jeers and swears flooded the forum.
“What we need is another WAR!! Enough of this shit!” It was Noran again. Of course it was. The crowd roared in agreement nonetheless.
“If the militia can’t handle it, we need the regime to step in!” said another. More cheering.

Hannowatha rolled her eyes and sighed under her breath. The guildmaster screamed for order above the rioting. Thank the heavens. After a moment the noise died down.

“We know, okay? We know. We are hurting too. I lost two of my shipments last year, don’t you think that pisses me off too?” rebuked the guildmaster. Mumbles from the crowd. “Look, we don’t have the manpower the Kavans have. You all know this. It’s been this way for-”
“Are you saying we should just sit and take it in the–”
“Enough! ENOUGH! I swear on the heavens, if you all don’t– hh! …Look. I am going to slowly and calmly talk this through. Lobbying will not be accepted until after I have given the word! Are we clear?” the guildmaster stressed the last syllables with purpose as the guards adjusted themselves to appear more imposing.

More mumbling from the crowd. Hannowatha tapped her tail. Come on…

“Okay. We are here to address what to do about the ‘Kavan issue’. Piracy has gone through the clouds in the past few years compared to what it used to be. Again, we know many of you have lost cargo and even hands to the raiders, and we know that this has impacted your trades in the extreme. We suspect much of this is sanctioned by the Kavan government in an attempt to harm Deltani competi–”

This time the shouting lasted for several minutes before order could be reestablished. Several of the more violent protesters were beaten by the guards and dismissed. Noran was one of them, thankfully. The exacerbated guildmaster continued his address, more of the same. Everyone knew most of his content already.

Hannowatha’s husband leaned over to her.
“What I don’t get- is why the Avato navy isn’t more aggressive about this. Or just let ours do it. Why don’t they shut this crap down?”
“Other than it would mean helping the Deltanis?” she whispered in an irked tone. He rolled his eyes knowingly and chuckled.
“Yea yea… But it hurts them too. If we’re getting hit this hard I’d hate to imagine what Rokur or Tontako is feeling right now.”
“Uh. Yeah.”
“Is Avato scared of pissing off the actual Kavan government or what? Cause if they’re- er- the pirates- …if they’re supported by the government… and surely Avato know if they are… then maybe they’re worried that killing these pigs would make Kavan retaliate officially?”
“Wouldn’t that be a bit extreme for Kavan?” Someone behind interjected, “It’s basically like declaring war at that point. Would they really do it? I mean Avato could probably take them-”
“-Well I don’t doubt that their land troops could, but I’m not as sure about the navy…” her husband trailed on. Hannowatha stopped paying attention.

Nothing was really getting done. Anywhere, it felt like. She was just angry that their family’s shipments inevitably came under attack and confiscation by the Kavans and it was killing their livelihood. But as to why the upswing in frequency was happening was just speculation. No one had a clear picture of the politics behind the scene. Most people in the crowd were just talking to each other at this point. As her husband trailed on about his theories she began to listen to the guildmaster’s vain attempts to persuade his audience. He started to wrap up. She elbowed her husband and he paid attention.

“We are already filing our official protest with the Deltani government. I know for a fact that around 30 other ports around us are doing the same. They have the ear of Avato. I have confidence we will see results very soon.”

Bureaucracy to the rescue. Again. Fantastic.

“On the bright side, when our trade is hurting theirs hurts too. That might make ‘em pay attention.” whispered her husband. Great.

The guildmaster began to end his lecture. Some more minor speeches, some questions from the crowd as a formality… The whole gathering itself was really just a formality. Just to let the people know the Port Authority was aware of the issue. What made people angry is they just couldn’t do much about it, and the Authority knew this. People began to leave. Just had to pray that Deltani could afford to mobilize enough forces to defend its people and their trades from the eastward scum. And that Avato wouldn’t get in the way. Again.

Again… ugh.

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A Song from the Otigos

A song from the Ogitos, translated. To be played with accompanying instruments, preferably lyre, shong, and drum.

“Turn your ears and eyes to the heavens!
Turn your ears and eyes to the heavens! Praise.

Tigan was the first.
We are the children of Tigan. No equal has existed before or since.
He is the father of our nation, [and led our people away from] the demons of the desert. Praise.

Miress was the son of Tigan,
and Miratan the son of Miress.
Sidrak was the son of Miratan,
and Akkadir the son of Sidrak.
Akkadir the vanguard, the caretaker, he called forth a flood to destroy the wicked Khan of Dumessi.
What good are your boats now, river people? Praise.

Evek was the son of Akkadir,
and Kugavev the son of Evek.
Afkist was the son of Kugavev,
and Devukkah the son of Afkist.
Devukkah the singer, the poet, the savior of the decade of famine.
The rains came for us but no others, rainmaker! Praise.

Zugavek was the son of Devukkah,
and Eigek the son of Zugavek.
Kevel-Ek was the son of Eigek,
and Keval-Ol the son of Kevel-Ek.
Keval-Ol, the [rider-turned-leader], innovator, creator of the [true bow]. (note: the tivek)
A dozen armies felled by our arrows, pillar of the west! Praise.

Four more sons have since passed.
The time is upon us, though none know the day or the man.
We wait for the next. The one who will destroy our enemies and make them a mat beneath our feet once again! Praise and praise forever.”

Scribed and translated by resident journeyman Ione Boreg during his 3-year stay with the Keval clan of the Lan Otigos. The untranslated rhyme and meter is superior in Lan Otigo tongue.

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