Siovak’s Grand Chart of the World


For trillions of years we have walked this world, unaware of our past. In a trillion more, we shall walk it again. We now know it is the cycle of things. To unite the world under our banner as it once was – so it shall again be for untold ages to come. One color as our descendants again conquer the ages of trillions.

Sinii Kadal, first Envoy of the Renaul State, -306y


Widely known amongst scholarly circles, Arregur Siovak’s famous map has been proudly displayed in the Gold Annex of the Grand Chroniclorum since the reign of Didak II. Though battered by years, thanks to the Archive’s preservation efforts the chart is still vibrant enough to captivate the mind of thousands of hungry inquirers each annum.

For most, this is far more between the pillars than they will ever see in a single lifetime. Mankind will surely one day reach the heavens to see the world from this perspective, but until that day arrives, the great Siovak’s work is the best substitute.

Duplicates like this one have been penned since our forefathers rode mighty on the plains, but still demand a hefty price. For the commoner, such a lavish view of the world is honestly excessive.

Nearly seven hundred settlements are marked, and there is no doubt that Siovak traveled to many of them in the flesh. Indeed, many of these cities have reached a legendary status amongst Avatos, with only the most hardened and grizzled travelers hoping to reach them at all. But for even them, wars and hostility of the nations may relegate the grand chart as the only way to observe them, if they even still exist at all. The heavens know that man’s impact in a lifetime is brief and volatile, and no end of cities have been attacked and left to crumble in the sands of time inside our nation. Doubtlessly the same must be said of other peoples, even to the ends of the world.

Perhaps a more existential question is to how long this map will be accurate. Cities and borders are one question, but how much has even the land itself eroded and shifted throughout the cycle? Even since the penning of Siovak’s account it is difficult to quantify. Add the siege that a thousand generations of earthquakes, floods, and shifting rivers can inflict upon even the hardest stone. Even if the chart and generations of copies survive that long, who alive today can attest to their reliability? Will even the world itself fade away or be reborn before this cycle comes to a close?

Eventually, even Siovak’s seemingly immortal tome will likely fade to the ravishes of the cycle. Whether that happens in billions or trillions of years, whoever will become Siovak in the next iteration will surely muse over these same thoughts as well.


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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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Rest for the weary

“Right as expected came those caravans of the underlands. Myriad multitudes joined in tandem, driving their alien beasts to the sound of equally strange horns. Brightly colored robes of glistening purple, iridescent red, vibrant orange. The whole spectacle was almost payment enough. Our entire group stood in awe. It was beautiful.”
Livona the Wayfinder, -302y

He knew there were bandits. They’d all crossed the Yuralae valley and back nearly ten times. Never ran into any, but he knew they were here. He thought for sure they’d all been careful.

The welts on the back of his head still throbbed. The blunt end of a quarterstaff. Even after all this time it still hurt. Days. Weeks. Who even knew anymore? There was no sun to tell the time. No shimmering bands to light the dark nights. No stars to tell where they were headed. There was only the musty darkness, rarely pocked with a speck of that disgusting glowing mold on some distant wall – but they hadn’t even seen that in hours. Now there was only the endless rattle of the cart to keep them company as it waded through an endless rocky ocean.

His wrists were becoming calloused from the cords. Still raw. He rolled his aching shoulders for what felt like the two-hundredth time. 

Damn it all! Tarthar and Bako had to be feeling the exact same thing. He could barely even make them out under the dim blocklamp. Must there be a tarp on top of the cart? It made it even harder to see than it already was. Ugh… He sighed loudly and rolled his shoulders for the two-hundred-first time. He caught the brief glimmer in the eye of one of the two slavers sitting with them. He sensed the icy stare piercing through even the smothering blackness. 

Any attempt to pass the time with conversation led to more intimacy with the quarterstaff. The only ones allowed to speak were his captors, and even they said very little. Not like he understood what they said anyway. Mumbling gibberish. 

More hours. A frustrating blend of his mind racing and agonizing boredom. He nearly failed to notice that he could now– barely– make out his marks. The lights were slowly getting brighter. Another transfer? A city? He doubted it could be anything good.  

What did– racing– running? Running! Running!

It was a blur. A guard lost his focus, maybe a knot in his restraints slipped… a pure act of primal instinct. He bolted with all his might toward the almost-invisible slope. Running, jumping, rolling, falling… it made no difference. The blackness that he dreaded this whole time quickly became his only refuge. 

What of Tarthar and Bako? They were lost. They couldn’t– There was no way to… He would come back for… No. Any inklings of a thought were pushed away. There was no time. He raced with all he had.

The light faded slowly, imperceptibly, but eventually, completely. For ages all he felt was the ache of his legs, the sound of desperate pant after pant, and the taste of blood in his mouth. Sprinting became running. Running became jogging. His tattered right shoe finally abandoned him at that one jagged rock. Didn’t matter. Sweat stung his eyes. He closed them tight. Didn’t matter. How far must he go? Further. That was the only answer. It took every ounce of strength to put one foot in front of the other. He nearly stumbled again. Another jutting stone. Weak legs. No, come on, come on. Left. Right. Pant. Left. Right. Pant. Left. Right. Pant. Left. Right. Pant. Left. Right. Trip–

Searing pain tore him awake. His shouts of agony only escaped his mouth as pathetic whimpers. He was caught. His mind raced. Caught by… did they?– no– this was… no–

Cold, damp rock pressed against his face. Against his legs. Against both arms pinned tightly. He couldn’t even tell which way was up. He could barely breathe. His eyes grew wide as he realized his state. No light– No sound except his struggles. Nobody there– 

Every motion wedged him deeper into the crag. His gasps became terrified wheezes. Oh god. Oh god. Have to– need to– no, no, no! He roared. With all of his might he pressed against the grain to take in a desperate breath–

“Help! — Help me!”

There was no answer.

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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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He did not speak

“He was the height of two men. He never spoke. His face? His helmet? His head was of resin. The steel man. He was not a man. Armor and sinew as one. Again he did not speak. Acted only. He acted against the trio. Helpless as newborns in a tempest. The man carried all three away. To bury? To consume? His intentions… his own…
I ran.”



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Deltani – Beyale

Some call the sun the beacon of hope. Others, the clear wind following the storm. I have no need for these.
The sun shines on the bay. The winds push it forth. But it stretches beyond them both. The sea is my home, and the spire my only knot.
It reminds me that I am free…”

Memoirs of a Sailor, -12y

Valley Star. The Gateway. Beyale. Jewel of Deltani and the port city of the civilized world.

The Deltanis often claim that the site of the city was marked with lightning by Robalem himself nearly 600 years ago. Once seeing it, it is hard to dismiss this claim. The grandeur of the city needs no defense.

Whether marked by lightning or not, Beyale was founded around 600 years ago, likely by the old Deltanis. The city has changed hands and names several times but has been a key player in trade and diplomatic relations in the area for centuries straight, almost entirely due to the location of its port. With mountains on the north and east, it is shielded from weather and is a safe haven for ships to winter. Its vanguard location in the bay and close proximity to several other major cities such as Deltani Mer and the Avato ports of Carthis and Rokur cement its status as the undisputed trade queen of the region.

Land travel in the area is difficult but not insurmountable. The mountains necessitate pack animals with hardy dispositions. Defense of the city in the past has been won or lost by the defenders holding the high ground, of which there is no short supply. Once passing the northeastern ridge, the land flattens drastically and the area is much friendlier to travel. Those that do not take the coastal route through Carthis often use this course to reach the Avato Capital.  

While the status of Deltani as an autonomous vassal of Avato is often a sensitive subject, Beyale is thankfully one of the less volatile centers and frequently seems less preoccupied with the political scene at large than the rest of Deltani. Riots are bad for trade, and many Beyales roll with the ethnic punches as a result to protect their livelihoods. Taxes may be another story, but that is a worldwide constant.

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