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In the world of Taj’Herren, opinions on civility were rarely agreed upon. Throughout the vast and quickly changing geography of the unique planet, many different views had been established on what was human, and what was savage, and what everything else was. One of the first places to separate man from beast was the Dwarves of the Bayside, a miniature people of whom learned to harness magic through meditation and worship to the ‘God of the Glaciers.’

They were a harsh clan and race, a summation of the most difficult and stern beings, of who strictly studied ‘The Magic of the Waters.’ They did not speak any particular language, and instead had grown as a culture through telekinetic strengths, of which now do not exist. The reasons for this sudden change in communication are unknown, and no ancestral links to the dwarven culture of that time are known to still be.

Far south of this, in the forests of Taj’Nar, civility was never discussed or agreed upon in any sense. People did as they wished, and this was frowned upon in other cultures. Ornately, the forest was perhaps the most advanced nation in war tactics, as they had discovered a piece of information that they had taken years to decode.

A small group of three outsiders, known as the ‘Opticon’ had come to the forest, and had been able to speak the language of the forest people, as well as that of which was referred to in the manuscript. It depicted an inevitable war, and over the next three hundred years Taj’Nar would prepare.

The news spread to neighboring lands after the three Opticon guests had disappeared to a world of their own, of which they described as the ‘vanquishing totem of evil’, they would say no more about their home.

The hills, bordering along the edge of the west of the forest, and then stretching north across the globe, hadn’t had a name at that time, until several hundreds of years later where a man named Harrad would crown himself the ruler of the massive valley, and create his kingdom.

The hills stopped their activities abruptly as well, preparing for years based on the words of the Opticon guests…

Northward of the hills; defying the laws of normal geographic landscaping, turned into thick, horrid swamps. The rejects of the world would spawn and thrive in these unfit conditions, and they would play the role of a bullied child, bursting with anger after many years…For the most part, the people thought the prophecy was foolish, and the Opticon men were foolish for trying to deem it true. However, in the murk there were some who believed in it.

East of this thick cubic region of marsh, were the flatlands. These lands had been seen fit by the Bayside people, as well as the common folk of the growing colony of Runafasto. And so over the years, as they discovered how to harness the materials of the land full of rich soils and tall grasses as well as patches of trees and caverns of minerals. They would create and build, and so be it that they would secure themselves from the hostile swamps, and the mountains of which were further east of them.

Recognized as barbaric and savage-like, the Vendran people of the mountains – thus named after themselves as Vendrans, surprisingly kept to themselves for many years. Although they highly valued physical strength and stamina, they were very religiously devoted, and were the first of the world’s people to create their own manifesto of worshipping, even before the more intellectual ‘Bayside’ colonies decided to worship their own gods.

Far south-west of Vendra, the forest continued, although at a certain point in time it became divided in two. The western side of the forest – keeping in mind the forest stretched across the entire southern hemisphere – was known as the forest of Dak’Herren, symbolizing dominance in their unique language. The other half was known as Taj’Nar, symbolizing courage in their own language. The combination of these two massive forests would come to symbolize unity, although they would create this through war, and thus the name of the entire world would be created: Taj’Herren.

As war brewed, evolution continued, and the prophecy became a serious part of Taj’Herren’s agenda, the last place to act upon the Opticon visit would be the cities. Far too intelligent to believe in a strange manuscript, they would neglect it, and still would on the day it was born…

* * * * *Bayside City, modern day.* * * * *

Tantalia had been fourteen when a robed figure had approached her in the comfort of her front yard. She had never been afraid of strangers, like a good girl should be, and this was no exception to her bold personality.

Hello there,” said the man. She smiled briefly and continued planting her flowers, struggling to dig a stern root from the dusted grass; her attention was away from the man. “Hello there,” he repeated, and she remembered he was there. She looked up at him, and raised her one eye, blocking the other from the sun, and replied.

“Hello,” she said, she gave a courteous nod and once again neglected him when he did not state his business. Some few minutes passed, and she felt his looming presence over her still… When she realized he wasn’t going to leave, she glanced back up at him and smiled, “is there something I can help you with?”

Yes, there is.” He began, his pitch was now much deeper, and she was surprised at this, as it did not at all match his appearance. The man was tall, but very slender and had a pale and youthful face, mostly around the eyes and fore brow. His lips were thin and wispy, and his chin was stout, as if having been pushed inward, she examined him, and then was startled to hear him speak again, this time in a voice similar to his first. Is your name Tantalia?”

“Yes,” she replied, she wasn’t scared, but unease began to creep through her. “It isn’t common that hooded strangers know the names of young girls before they introduce themselves, unless their aims are for the worse,” she said with pride, hoping to give him a jolt and send him off, he just laughed a hardy chuckle as if they were old friends.

“Nothing of that sort, Tantalia.” He said, bending down, and was smiling lightly; the paleness of his face was not evident in the shadows of his own hood. I just come here with an offer.”

“What could you possibly offer me that I wouldn’t need to rummage through my parents drawers for?” She asked sternly, making no eye contact with him. She felt him fight back an anger that he never released, heaving a happy sigh. Perhaps he was simply frustrated, as co-operation would have brought him to his goal, and so he simply jumped to the business he wished to attend to.

“You struggle in the art of white magic in school, do you not?” He asked, and Tantalia laughed, as he had answered her question upright. She played along.

“What’s it to you?” Tantalia replied, faking anger. She felt this man was not as innocent in his cause as he showed. Having known too much, jumping into her school progress once he had confirmed her name was Tantalia. Siphon gave a familiar chuckle, stepping forward one step.

“I’m a commissioner from the school board, your grades have been noted to be below average, and so I was sent to tutor you in the arts of magic,” said the man, he smiled when he saw her look up with intrigue in her eyes. “We are a small system, and so I must be sent to help you. There are none else that can attend to you, unfortunately. She smiled; perhaps what he had known was not so devious.

“So, I’m Tantalia, as you already knew somehow, and you are?” She asked, and noted his quick search for an answer. He opened his eyes wide apologetically.

“Torek… Apologies Tantalia,” he gave a swooping bow; she was taken aback by his strange antics. “If I may speak with your parents for verification.”

“They aren’t home, sorry,” Tantalia said tonelessly.

“Nonetheless,” Torek began, “I suppose with your permission it could be arranged…It’s only a school matter, after all.”

“I don’t want any help,” she said, struggling to tear the same root from the ground.

“Oh, do you not?” Torek said. Smiling, he weaved his hands in an articulate pattern, the weed vanished from site, and the flowers she had planted bloomed instantly in seconds, where it may have taken months to grow them fully. Tantalia gazed in sheer amazement.

“Well…” She began. “I do need help amidst this garden, not to mention my grade average.”

“So it’s agreed?” Torek said.

“Agreed,” Tantalia replied.

“Two nights from this day, you will meet me in the barracks of the school, the first door will be opened slightly ajar, and you find me there. We start with basics, and soon enough you will be conjuring vast spells of your own,” he said confidently. Tantalia smiled, gazing into the sky with delight.

“One question,” Tantalia said, interrupting his rant of happiness and his list of amazement, and snapping out of her potential-covered gaze.

“Yes, my dear?” Torek replied.

“How did you know where to find me?”

“School records,” he replied quickly. She nodded.

“Just checking,” she said, her attention diverted to the garden, scraping a circle around a set of barbed-trifan’s. She threw in a handful of blue seeds; they bore orange marks on them in the shape of crescent moons. They sparkled as the soil blanketed their fall, as if gleeful for a safe landing. The plant buzzed, Torek merely watched as its roots shot out into the ground and the head of the plant growled in an infant-like way.

“Quite the plant you have, Tantalia,” Torek said, dipping his head to see more.

“Yes, they are sort of synonymous to cages… For the garden to keep out pests, their senses of smell and agility can allow them to sweep down and kill an ant in its sticky jaws,” Tantalia said, she threw two cockroaches towards it, before they hit the ground the barbed-trifan extended itself into the sky and devoured the bugs. “I plan to put them all around the garden, and the best part is they don’t harm humans as long as you have these,” she said, gesturing to the blue seeds, “they strengthen the plant.”

“Interesting,” Torek said blatantly. He bent down to observe them, seeping away in a burst of bubbly blue liquid, the soil seemed to cringe as it entered, stilling as the plant it bore visibly pumped the liquid through it.

“I know, magic would be preferable, though,” Tantalia said, warming up to the stranger. Her voice was innocent and child-like, even in her teen years.

“Then I shall see you,” Torek said. He took a bow. Tantalia’s back prickled as his shrouded figure came in closer.

Torek took his leave, he was out of sight within seconds, and the blinding sun clouded Tantalia’s view any further. She weaved her hands in the same pattern, a bead of white mana descended to the flowers, they wilted instantly. She gave a sigh of anguish and left the garden to its own problems. Walking inside, she saw Torek stalking away down the mid-day road. It grew colder that very second.

* * * * *Runafasto, modern day.* * * * *

Runafasto, since its creation, had been the tribe of all tribes to grow, expand, and dominate the world that was so empty and free hundreds of years ago. If there was one word the people of the land had thrived with, it was to conquer. They were hungry for victory always, and were willing to fight at any costs. It was strange, and few knew why, but even the women, of whom played little role in both the ancient and modern society of Runafasto, would build and fight.

This was all before anybody had decided what was to be what, and when the realization came to the people that they needed further guidance, so began the era of kings, for women were considered the same as men until they distinguished each other as the strong and the weak after close examination, years later.

The first king of Runafasto was indeed the Lord Arkalia Runafasto, of whom was immediately a stand-out man of the tribe.

He had not been native to the tribe, or the expanding city, and had arrived in the midst of a days work from the south: The eastern portion of the Global Forest, Taj’Nar.

Hungry for a fight always, three strong men, whom Arkalia Runafasto never named during his rule, but spoke much of to motivate - and to gloat of his story-like entry to the Runafasto way – stepped up to him, with wooden cleavers drawn. They were sharp, and could easily kill, for Arkalia wore no shirt at the time. He accepted the challenge, as they glared at him, in the way of his un-requested entry. He slew all three of those men without a sword, and it had happened quite fast.

Immediately, all the citizens respected him, for physical strength was nothing to fear in Runafasto, and never would be. Arkalia’s victory was famous from that day, as after he had killed them, he set to work building, without a reason why, and continued to do so for a very long time.

If there was ever to be another king, they would have to challenge both the king, and two other men of the king’s choice to a duel. If the king was slain, or if the duel ended by some other reason and the opponent came out alive, the king would leave his post, and be executed for weakness.

Arkalia was challenged hundreds of times, perhaps thousands, in the years of his rule. The people, all of them, were aware of how productive he had been, but the glory of a victory over him was enough to quell a man’s boasting and pride for a lifetime.

Every time, however, Arkalia came out victorious, but it was also noticeable that every time he did this, he was slower, less alert, and weaker. Arkalia was aging, and so the challenges stopped for some odd years, for the people realized that time would slay Arkalia, and not their swords or fists.

The years passed, and soon the challenges continued, and yet Arkalia still stood, and still continued to kill every challenger that passed. He had slain countless, and now the people despised him. Unintentionally, he had wrecked families, and narrowed the ranks of his own army. For these reasons, the productivity of his rule meant nothing to them, and so they rioted one night.

The people arrived at his tent, an odd two dozen of them, stealthily wishing to murder him. They were aware as to the terrible dishonor this would do them, but they also felt that the city was ready for a new king, and that they would have the support of the people immediately.

Arkalia was not there, and instead was a note written by him, of which said this:

Dearest citizens of my clan, and home, Runafasto,

I feel sorrow to see that my time here is inevitably expended, and that a new king, one with the strength and vigor of my previous self, is in order. The necessity of killing me in the night is no longer required, as I have left this fair and ever growing city, to find the gift of eternal life elsewhere. Nothing that will help to keep me a man of history is here, and although I’ve slain many, and perhaps will kill more, I’m old and thus I am useless to the city of strength and brutality of which is named after myself: Runafasto.

It is with this letter that you may cease your hunt against my name, as I will not return to Runafasto to claim it until many years from now. Whomever I have under my wing to fight, you must prepare for. Be they scum, or dryads from my old home in the forest, I prey you are ready for the war at hand in the years to come. When I discover the secrets to eternal life, I believe you may all see why I was never afraid of you all, and only ran on this night so that you may all have a worthy adversary when you conquer the flat lands of this unnamed world. Good day to you all and I hope you spend your years preparing well…

Runafasto was indeed preparing since the ancient times, for they were now a prosperous nation of trade, battle, and living. They had continued to elect kings, but felt that in order to instill some margin of rationale, that the king would sit on the throne and would face challenges only once every rotation of their glaring sun, somewhat equal to about forty-six nights and days.

In modern times, they had still heard or seen nothing of Lord Arkalia Runafasto, the founder of a grand nation.

* * * * *Runafasto, modern times.* * * * *

The leader of the vast kingdom Runafasto stood amidst a grand well. In the center of a room composed of gold, silvers, and bronzes lay a well of roots and ivy. The man sat patiently, undisturbed as a green shimmering gas-like cloud seeped through his skin, and strengthened him, and instilled a temporary courage and vigor within his muscles, as well. He was grateful for this, for he was an aging king, but had gradually begun to look as if he was a young stern man. Carnofus had a rare gift, perhaps the only man alive now, to be graced with its gift, as instead of growing weaker with age, he dreamt of outlasting all living things. He was reversing time, and becoming younger. With that, he was stronger, and could rule for as long as his world existed.

In his chamber, as well, was a grand picture, and within that were the faces of two grand kings. The first was obviously just that. The face of Arkalia Runafasto nested itself within the ancient picture, with a twinge of smile and anger. Carnofus had spent hours observing it, trying to find which emotion portrayed on it was the dominant one. But alas, he would never know.

The next picture was that of a king that few but him respected. He was from one hundred years ago, exactly by coincidence. He was remembered as a tyrant with irrational ideas and a performer of dangerous operations and treks. But Carnofus had a deep admiration for the King Lendal Twestius, and so there he hung.

The well ceased the giving’s of life, and Carnofus opened his eyes to an empty room. He jumped to his feet, almost touching the ceiling. He gave a smile; his power was growing faster than he had ever dreamed. His visions of physical perfection were interrupted by a knocking on the door to his chamber.

“Enter, and bow,” said King Carnofus.

“Lord Carnofus, granting me with your presence is most grateful of you,” said the sentry guard.

“Greetings, Akure, what do you bring me today?” Carnofus asked, trying to hide the deepened pitch of his voice, as a result of his mana-well’s gracious gifts. He saw Akure cringe at the sight of King Lendal Twestius, but he always did this, and so Carnofus ignored it.

“The saddest of news, also quite alarming,” Akure said, keeping his voice soft, so as not to agitate the King. When in his meditation, he was quite prone to sudden bursts of anger.

“What of sad news? Speak now, Akure.”

“Two of your senates in the council of elders were killed ruthlessly upon exiting the kingdom as of perhaps…Half of an hour ago. None saw it, but the time is assumed correct, as the guards mistook their shifts and so a half hour delay was created before the next arrived at the front courtyard…”

“An attack from the mountains?!” Carnofus boomed and Akure stepped down, but spoke nonetheless; he would never set aside his fear of the king.

“Nobody spoke ill of the mountains, this attack was different…”

“We haven’t been on the best of terms as of late…” Carnofus mused, “Yes, it is likely they want the well,” Carnofus was quick to assume, and took comfort in believing it was for his prize, instead of something that might require him to work. Akure fought back against his judgment, for he himself was much more controlled in his temper, and dared not grow angry with his king.

“No, Lord and savior of our kingdom, this attack was unnatural. The senates were attacked by some unskilled assailants; they wish to be found out. I believe it to be a trap, so does Refen, and Tartulian.”

“Speak not of them! They are unimportant in the manner, my well must be protected, and so we will march to the mountains.”

“I believe it may have been the swamps, they’ve declared war on other lands in a similar matter, and they have been quiet…”

“Blasphemy!” Carnofus roared, “I will not stand for such an act of dishonor as to kill my senates!”

“What have you concluded, my lord?” Akure said, confused.

“This, Akure, was a clumsy job, and you are right. I know of one clan that leaves marks of such unskilled murder, as well as declaring battle in such a filthy and cowardly way… attacking our kingdom was the worst of mistakes, so we will venture to the dark plains north-west of here immediately,” Carnofus said, pulsating with the green mana. His main senate, Akure, was happy to have persuaded Carnofus away from his judgment of the Vendran tribes, and more over to the swamps, whom would be expecting battle. Akure cleared his mind, for now all of this business was for Carnofus to take care of. What he did worry of was his excessive use of stolen green mana, which he was sure the legendary treefolk Goliath, would wish to have back. Even without the fear of Goliath, Akure did not approve of this, as its powers made him irrational, and unfit to be the king he had been in the beginning.

“Lord Carnofus, there is one more matter...” Akure said, breaking away from his self-induced entrancement.

“Yes, speak Akure,” Carnofus said, impatient to test his new vigor on the ‘scum of the swamps’ as he often said. He was perhaps too bold and quick to judge, just like any king he had heard of, although he was the only one on his world to lead ‘civilized people’ as he believed anybody outside Runafasto to be savages, and seldom aided them

“This…Assault. It was indeed a messy job, as said. Do you not think it was intentional that we discover it was them? I believe stealth is in order when this attack is arranged. The less aware of us they are, the more likely they will drop their guard and whatever they have set for us won’t be an issue.”

“Agreed, Akure,” said his king, rather absent-mindedly. Akure took the silence.

“Your warriors have been informed, I called an assembly. We believe it is necessary to leave within a few days time, so that it appears as if we are unaware as to who has done this.”

“Tactically sound, you are doing well for yourself” Carnofus said, pondering his thoughts.

“My thanks, good king, and yet the entire kingdom is attacking itself in a fit of superstitious contemplation, we must restore order…” Akure said inquisitively, Carnofus didn’t listen. He was in his own questioning thoughts.

“As to what?” He said, finally processing this last comment as being unrelated to the to-be assault on the swamps.

“Oh, good king, I failed to mention who the senates were…Of your party, two were slain amongst several who exited, some even did so before the two slain senates. That points to something, my lord. These two senates were more important than the others. And both of them were ancestors of the last two men to challenge King Arkalia Runafasto to a duel. It’s a loosely based theory, but people are actually starting to believe that he found immortality.”

“Nonsense, that’s impossible.”

“I know, my lord, I know.”

“King Arkalia, alive and in the swamps…” Carnofus said laughingly. He quickly put on his silky-white robe and left his chambers in skulking steps of pure strength. Akure followed, closing the large bronze doors as he took his leave.

If you want to be a writer, pack up and go home. If you want to write, welcome aboard.

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The following comments are for "A World Ajar: Chapter 1"
by carnifex

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