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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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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Eye of the Falcon

I never thought I would live to see the day. It’s gone. Eda disappeared like all the others. Just like the others. One night it was a beacon for travelers and shipping to the whole world, the eye in the constellation of Menandas – and by next sunset there was only the night. Just a dark blemish where she once lie. The eye of Menandas gouged out, just like that. No fanfare, no nova, nothing. We wept, we all wept. The sailors most of all. Prices will rise on goods on top of everything else. Of course

We prayed and prayed. We prayed… many say we need to pray harder still and there might yet be some hope. I doubt it. Why should the south star be any different than the others? They say the gods are punishing us for something. Well, I did nothing wrong. We’re just a footstool to the divine. The Gods must just hate us. 

Well. I hate them too.

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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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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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“…it seemed that even the stars were in a rage, and that the fires rained from every corner of the sky, so that in days the wicked kingdom was in ruins. Shavali turned his eyes toward that window of the heavens and boasted, mocking Athaclem to strike down his chosen son if He were displeased with the despicable actions Shavali touted as achievements. Before he could finish his peace, the ruler was utterly erased.”

The Chronicle of Yuo 115:52

Few prouder men have walked this world than the old ruler of Lothis, the infamous lord Shavali. Born of no regal blood, he was chosen under influence of a vision by the 16th Prophet of Lothis to defeat the current despot. Incredibly, he was able to eradicate the old regime with the support of the people.

What followed was nearly twenty years of even harsher oppression than his predecessor. Though born a commoner, he was a master of playing both the political scene, and that failing, the military. It is said that nearly one in ten of his people died under his rule. Only by the intervention of the gods themselves were the people of Lothis spared.

Was it all true? It is difficult to say. Regardless, kings and rulers of all positions have studied this short account for centuries for insight and introspection. How could one from a poor upbringing have such little sympathy for his own kind? Or was it because of his background that he sought to distance himself from his past? Was Shavali just a pawn to show that commoners are not fit to rule? Is the tale only a lesson to not mock the gods?

Who is to say?

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