In the beginning, there was Chaos. Now the Wheel has turned once again.

First Spawning, First cycle following the abdication of the Pantokrator

A new generation of young have been born since Black Opal died. In accordance with her wishes, she has been interred at the Seal, her sarcophagus open to one of the cracks. Obsidian Eye opposed this, but Lapis, afraid of her own legitimacy being questioned, countermanded his complaints. At Black Opal’s death, and with Emberstream dead for many birth cycles now, the most cautious members of the Closed Council has waned. Ogon increasingly listens to his glory-hungry son, who leads the younger oracles in their lust for the power and resources of the surface.

And indeed, who can question that the surface is rich? Rich, and full of small weak beings that cannot question Agarthan might, even by the strength of their bodies. How then, might they fare against Agarthan armies supported by the wisdom of the Oracles? The politics of the Pale Ones are change quickly only compared to those of the Olms, but they are changing now. How can they not, when the Pantokrator no longer exists to force the old way? War looms.

The Oracles now ply their arts to observe the world around us. Moss Agate reports on the state of the topside, and of its geography.

initial-map

The land above (a plane called “Hexawyr” by its small furry denizens) is vast, many times greater in size than the ancestral caves of Agartha. Moss Agate reports that there are great caves due north, which would be easily fortified against the weak but numerous surface denizens, and would also make excellent homes for our allies, the Olms, who are not as versatile as we are and require water and darkness to breed and grow for most of their lives. Securing these, then, is a high priority, but to reach them we must cross a considerable distance over the surface, no doubt slaying the vermin that currently cover it as we go.

This journey will not be without danger, and so Deepthought has issued a recommendation to his people, and some of the great olms, desiring new spawning grounds, agreed to support our forces. The magnificent mental powers of the olms will help to protect pale one soldiers from any harm the topside beings (generally called “humans” in their own tongue) might cause. To secure their aid, Ogon has guaranteed that Pale One forces will guard and defend those Olms who join the fight, and has even mobilized a greater militia to support them.

turn-1-recruit

These units will join the Ogon’s standing retinue, which is commanded by his son Ontog. Some look poorly on such an honor going to such a young warrior, but Ontog is well schooled in the ways of war, and anyway no ancient lord has come forward in desire for the responsibility. Despite Ogon’s endorsement, this foray remains an adventure for the young.

The old, and in particular the Oracles, have a greater concern.

It seems that the Pantokrator has left. The Pantokrator, that being which forged the Seal, and which once held dominion over all of divinity, is absent. This can only signal a time of great turmoil, as the world once was before the Pantokrator’s ascension. This, perhaps, is what lead Ogon to endorse the territorial expansion ambitions of his son, but the other members of the Closed Council have different priorities, and are all taking action. Moss Agate believes it is imperative to understand more about the surface and what threats, previously checked by the Pantokrator, may soon manifest. She has sent out her own small retinue to scout the surface, and is endeavoring to procure more scouts for further surveillance. Lapis believes that greated magical power is necessary, a viewpoint that is generally popular among oracles anyway, and is propitiating the earth readers to instigate a coordinated natural research effort. So far, she has met with general agreement but none are yet ready to put in the effort necessary to make actual progress. Obsidian Eye counsels that we remain cautious and vigilant, and has worked a great spell to this end. His magic has surveyed all of existence, and identified beings with the potential to succeed the Pantokrator.

pretender-names

Though mighty in scope, this information is imprecise, providing us names, titles, and nations, but no concrete information about capabilities or even forms. Some of that information can be inferred, but no truly definite information is available.

One name in particular stands out, though. Black Opal, of our own nation, is a possible aspirant to the Thrones of Ascension. This is somewhat surprising, as she is dead, but it has merited no small amount of excitement from the oracles of death. Lapis, in response, belayed her efforts in organizing research and returned to the seal to examine the tomb. She has revealed that Black Opal, though indeed dead, endorses Ontog in his conquest of the surface.

With the support of two members of the Closed Council, the conquest of the surface is doubtless destined for great success.

Thus writes Stonetongue, Official Historical Engraver to the Closed Council and Second Underlackey to Chiselword, He Who Takes The Minutes.

Turn One OOC interlude

A quick point about the map: It’s build on a hexagon system, meaning that all the provinces are equidistant and each connects to six others. I haven’t played this sort of map before, but there are two obvious ramifications that it’ll have for gameplay: Most provinces will have more resources, and there are no chokepoints.

Anyway, since this is the first turn, a lot of people were raring at the bit and had in-depth introductions. Here’s the ones that were made as of when I took my turn:

bluster

My introduction was the first two paragraphs from this post.

Second Spawning, First cycle following the abdication of the Pantokrator

Two emissaries from other nations have been identified and brought to the hall of the oracles to state their messages. One is a being with wings, appendages which allow it to swim through the air as though it were water. It gives assurances about some issue that probably doesn’t concern us.

marshall

How can it expect us to be concerned about a mere marshal, when we guard the Seal which binds beings each nearly as powerful as the Pantokrator?

The other emissary is more dignified. This one, though one of the hair-clad beings of the surface, is large as though he were ancient, and he speaks to us many wise and rhythmic words.

1484098867478

Obsidian Eye tells us that this description more or less corresponds with the nature of the potential pretender at divinity who resides among the Niefel Giants, of which this poet is one. Despite the last line, it seems to be mere braggadocio, not a declaration of war. Though some suggest that this is theologically perilous, the form of the poetry has become a source of amusement for some.

In other news, Ontog has taken the army and begun his journey. We await favorable news.

Thus writes Stonetongue, Official Historical Engraver to the Closed Council and Second Underlackey to Chiselword, He Who Takes The Minutes.

Third Spawning, First Cycle following the abdication of the Pantokrator

More diplomats have arrived. First, an ordinary human.

run-on-sentences

These religious motives are meaningless to us. The only significance is that we shall note this force down as a potential opponent on the surface.

The next diplomat is also human.

weird-philosophy

These motives too seem meaningless. Honor, fear, and self-interest. With such a diluted message, they may as well say that they have no particular motivation. Indeed, they might more simply have said that they lack grace and dignity.

Yet the course bluster of religious humans and the meaningless vagaries of human philosophers are still more coherent than the words of the final diplomat. As with the poet, this one is larger than a typical human, but unlike the poet, his size and presumed age is not accompanied by skill with words or thoughts.

what-even

The Closed Council spent some time considering a message to send to the nations of the topside, but arrived at a wiser decision. Rather than emulating lesser beings in speaking when there is nothing to say, we shall retain our dignity and, lacking a subject of substance to discuss, remain silent.

Besides which, we have more important matters occurring.

army

The army of Ontog, kin to Ogon stands resplendent. Many of them boast copper armor, and they are supported by olms. And they have met the first enemy on the surface.

lel-really

These are members of that lesser race known as humans, as seen in their combat raiment. They are clad in the skins of other surface creatures, for unlike Pale Ones, the bodies of humans are hairy and ugly. It seems that they lack the knowledge of Earth needed to create armor, but they are lead by a mage. This will-worker uses the surface magics of the path of Nature, that same path which was mastered by Moss Agate, though he uses it more primitively. Nonetheless, his vine arrows kill a few pale ones before the humans meet the battle line.

battle-joined

It seems that even the powers of the Olms can stop only a few humans at a time, and so it is not possible to annihilate the surface dwellers without casualties.

first-expansion-result

Although the olms are fine, nearly a third of our Pale Ones died! Ogon isn’t pleased, of course, and to ensure that things go well in the future, he has increased incentives for volunteers.

need-more-bodies

Despite the losses, the battle was a victory. This is much-touted, and we end up with so many enthusiastic youngsters that our smiths can’t keep up with them all. Some elect to wait until better armaments are available, and are training meanwhile, but there are plenty of eager youngfolk willing to head out with only a spear.

The site of the battle, which the locals call Gipha, is now effectively pacified, but it must also be governed. It is close enough to Agartha that no additional infrastructure is needed, but a pale one governor is selected and a few local servants are drafted.

pd

Though there are many months remaining before even the first of our designs are complete, Ogon and his son are expanding the holdings of Agartha nicely. It may be the start of something marvelous.

Thus writes Stonetongue, Official Historical Engraver to the Closed Council and Second Underlackey to Chiselword, He Who Takes The Minutes.

The Time of the Hottest Sun upon the Surface, in the first year following the abdication of the Pantokrator

There have come more emissaries. Their ceaseless prattling is no longer of great concern to the Oracles, who tire of words without meaning. Deepthought has begged off, saying that he must return to the Deeper Waters for a time for personal reasons. Lapis takes the opportunity to leave as well, barely even bothering to justify her decision. Ogon and Obsidian Eye remain due to duty, but both seem to lack interest in the proceedings, Ogon visibly so. Only Moss Agate still holds any interest in the words of these humans, but I shall record them here nonetheless.

loadsawords

One announcement is different, though. Rather than directionless bluster, this human speaks of a war with a concrete target. The wars of humans ill-concerns us, but it is interesting that they consider themselves ready for war on this scale so soon after the departure of the Pantokrator.

war-turn-four

As to our own wars, Ontog’s force has once again pacified a surface province, but this time the casualties were so high that young pale one soldiers fled, leaving the Olms to drive the humans to rout. Though the province is ours, Ontog must fall back to receive reinforcements. Luckily, more heavily armored and trained individuals are now becoming ready to meet him, even as the eager recruits mustered last month leave on their own adventure.

map-turn-4

Moss Agate’s scouting party has turned up something worrisome. It seems that two of the three caves we had hoped to claim to the north are very close to a human castle. Humans build these castles and consider them and their surroundings important, and the humans of this castle are more powerful and numerous than any we’ve yet faced. This will doubtless be the first real test of our might on the surface.

Thus writes Stonetongue, Official Historical Engraver to the Closed Council and Second Underlackey to Chiselword, He Who Takes The Minutes.

Waning heat, in the first cycle since the abdication of the Pantokrator

Once more, the ear of the Closed Council is bent by the long-winded surface fools.

contrast

At least this time there’s one which understands the beauty of brevity. Nonetheless, the Closed Council has grown so weary of these diplomatic envoys that few appear to hear them. Only Obsidian Eye, ever dutiful, is always present. The others have more important tasks. Moss Agate has commissioned another scouting party. Lapis, having met no concrete successes in her endeavors to instigate an organized magical research initiative, grows wroth. Ogon remains concerned with military endeavors. The army of eager volunteers has taken a surface province with few casualties, probably due perhaps to their greater number of olms – eleven, rather than seven – and Ontog suffers embarrassment even as he withdraws to supplement his remaining troops. Meanwhile, new foes draw near our border.

map-turn-5

Moss Agate’s scouts deduce that the fortified surface-dwellers are larger than any we’ve yet encountered, and Obsidian Eye’s sorcery ties them to one of the pretenders to the thrones of ascension. These topsiders are the tribe of Tíen Chí, and their divinity is called Yuánshǐ Tīanzūn. Perhaps more worrying, we have seen a group of flaming topsiders, shaped like humans but colored differently, in the Witch’s Copse near the recently conquered province of Solam. This is worrisome because this group entered the area and butchered the jade sorceresses who lived there peacefully. Their territorial expansion, if not checked, may conflict with ours.

Thus writes Stonetongue, Official Historical Engraver to the Closed Council and Second Underlackey to Chiselword, He Who Takes The Minutes.

Cooling Weather on the Surface, First year since the abdication of the Pantokrator

Ogon himself has ceased appearing to receive foreign emissaries. As there is no longer a majority of the council present for these events, it is no longer official council business which must be recorded and will no longer be recorded here except in the case that it may be historically relevant.

Ontog has received his reinforcements and set out again, crushing the undead of the surface beneath his army with trivial casualties. The victory is marred only by the fact that the trajectory of the army, unwilling to anger the flaming Abyssians to the north just yet, does not journey towards the caves which would make excellent strongholds. The other party has met a harsher limitation: Their first real opposition.

This army, if you recall, is a horde of poorly trained and equipped but very eager young folk. They are assaulting a cavern which, Deepthought has told us, would be an excellent home to his people, and indeed it would be easily fortified as well. Though he is the newest member of the council, the olms who joined us at his recomendation add mightily to our combat force, so his recommendation was respected. he is Thus the prize is great, however this cavern is filled with the “Unfrozen”, a type of undead human who are relatively well equipped. Fortunately, these undead have minds, and are therefore susceptible to the attacking arts of the olms.

rabble

Unfortunately, it seems that they are lead by a very powerful mage, and even the chieftain holds items of power.

strong-indies

This power is great, and the warriors of the dead are strong as well. Though many are impeded by the mind blast of the olms, they reach the pale one militia fighters in short order, and immediately butcher so many that those not killed elect to retreat immediately and avoid unnecessary casualties.

running

This decisions is probably wise. It seems that these individuals are strong, and so shall not be conquered without the aid of an oracle, or barring that at least of several earth readers. Even this brief encounter has left many promising soldiers dead, though not enough to render the army impotent.

casualties

For the time being, that army is directed to conquer some tribal humans instead.

As for the possibility of mage aid, Lapis’ efforts to organize research have been renewed, and this time born fruit. She has enlisted an earth reader in the service of the council, who will now be researching the mysteries of alteration. Though it is only one thus far, she has the stipend allocated to hire an additional mage per month, and there are currently aspirants to receive that gold.

Moss Agate has also seen a small success, as the White Waste, the area now conquered by Ontog, contained a community of skilled scouts. She has issued a standing order that they be hired to survey the surface and report on the movements of major surface factions.

Thus writes Stonetongue, Official Historical Engraver to the Closed Council and Second Underlackey to Chiselword, He Who Takes The Minutes.

Cooling air, in the first cycle since the abdication of the Pantokrator

For the first time, a surface-dweller has said something of consequence.

actual-diplo

This proposition merited a revisiting of the discussion of our goals, which is often the subject of long debate among the Closed Council. These debates are often without resolution, but the need to respond spurred more concrete decisions this time. While Ogon intends to conquer the entire surface and nobody really disagrees with this goal, he cannot do so instantly. Therefore, there is no particular disadvantage to conquering one part sooner than another. What’s more, the group of surface dwellers that sent us this message is a powerful one, dominating multiple provinces and, it seems, affiliated with one of the pretenders to the Thrones of Ascension. We are also growing strong, as the taxes from the conquered portion of the surface are already entering Agarthan coffers. Then, we might as well fight them in the future rather than now. Because Moss Agate, who knows the ways of the surface well, has revealed a truth about their society. The surface dwellers do not engrave their oaths on the root of the world, but merely write it on papers. Paper is a substance they make from plants, and it is destroyed easily by weather, an evil and generally uncomfortable surface phenomenon. Because paper is frail, the destructive force of weather will likely have ended our pact by the time we are inclined to subjugate these humans of “Arcosephale” anyway.

With these things discussed and this assurance made, we sent the following message:

kinda-imperious-but-thats-fine

Thus ends the diplomatic report. The individual members of the Closed Council have all seen successes in their endeavors. Lapis’ research corps is growing, Ogon has received news of victory from Ontog and is deploying a third army of conquest, and Moss Agate has successfully trained humans to scout for us. Additionally, her scouts have identified two more of the surface factions that Obsidian Eye’s divination revealed to harbor a pretender to the thrones.

map-turn-8

While Ontog’s army was successful, the eager recruits were not. The olms used their powers to so reduce the human warriors that they fled, however the archers remained. The pale ones found that guarding the olms from arrows without the benefit of a shield was not to their taste, and quit the battlefield. The olms, not appreciating the loss of their guard, followed suit. This army has been ordered back into the same province, with orders to charge the archers this time. They will subsequently be returned to the capital for better equipped reinforcements.

Thus writes Stonetongue, Official Historical Engraver to the Closed Council and Second Underlackey to Chiselword, He Who Takes The Minutes.

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