One Hundred Thousand Years Ago Or So...

Discussion in 'Roleplaying Forum' started by ytzk, Jan 11, 2012.

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  1. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now, several things happened very suddenly...

    A great black line appeared in the sky, as though the heavens had been ripped in half.

    A white light flashed to the east, as though a second sun were rising.

    A noise erupted so numbingly loud that it sounded like dead silence, except that your ears were bleeding and the very earth was vibrating with it.

    A blast of hot air toppled trees and aurochs, and flattened upright apes like stalks of grass.

    A rolling black cloud of hot dust blanketed the valley, blotting out the sun and making it like trying to breath dirt.

    For those not blinded, deafened, pummelled and/or suffocated, it was as though they had died under a curse and now wandered the Barren Lands as hungry ghosts.

    Of course, most of the peoples didn't truck with that sort of nonsense: they knew what they saw and they said what they knew.

    "THE SKY IS FALLING! THE WORLD IS ENDING! EVERYONE IS DEAD!"
     
  2. Grossenschwamm

    Grossenschwamm Well-Known Member

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    THE SKY IS FALLING! THE WORLD IS ENDING! EVERYONE IS DEAD!

    In about 100,000 years, what was happening to the lucky people at this festival, including Otro, would be given a name;
    Shell shock.
    His beard and hair were singed, giving off that acrid odor of sulfer and char. Otro had never seen such a sight as was laid before him, but had heard tales from his master, Hassa;

    You may sometimes see fire streak across the sky, for it comes in flaming showers during certain times of year. But, once in a great while this fire will kiss the land beneath our feet. It will be a terrible vision of destruction - there will be a ball of fire on the horizon, the very wind will flatten you like a mighty mammoth, there will be a deafening sound...and the air will become choked with dust to blot out the sun. What comes inside the fire is a gift from the heavens. All people covet this gift, this Thunderbolt Iron...more supple than stone, but just as sharp when made into a blade. It looks like nothing beneath the sky. You may be graced with this mighty Thunderbolt while you can still make tools and totems, as I was in my youth.

    Otro took the heavy iron amulet he wore in his hand and looked at it before heading to Garn Hassa's stand at the Carnival of Strange Ideas. His master was bowled over on the ground, and it seemed painful for him to breathe.

    Master...it's here.

    You know what to do, Lefty.
    Hassa winced.
    The Thunderbolt hit so close...my old bones couldn't take the fall it gave me. I'm far from dead, though. Get this gift and I can show you how to use it.

    Otro knew it hurt Hassa's hands too much to work with anything...it must nearly be time.

    I will.

    Rifa was sitting dazed on the ground where the Grudges Tournament was being held. The guy that tried to rip her off before was in front of her, unconscious - again.

    ...I'm pretty sure I won.

    Well, all you need to do is collect your prize; the heavens gave us a gift. We need to get it for our people.
     
  3. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now, something was about to happen at the Carnival of Strange Ideas, something truly magical.

    It has been noted that these were no-nonsense people - they had to be in order to survive - but today the heavens had rained nonsense upon them. What they needed now was to make sense of it, and that was impossible, until...

    A jaunty tune on four strings sprang up out of the dusty darkness. It was wholly inappropriate for the scene, which made it perfect. Then a voice accompanied the instrument and, with the song, sanity, strength and purpose returned to the peoples.

    There can be no words to describe the power of music, except to say that the power was there. The words of the song were simple and the melody seemed trivial, but thousands of desperate, panicking people gradually calmed down and thought sensibly, and it began with the music.

    Oh, our time together ended today.
    My brothers and sisters have died.
    Yesterday we laughed and played.
    Today I ready their funeral rites.
     
  4. Arthgon

    Arthgon Well-Known Member

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    Animagus knew that there was real danger approaching (or else his companions would not be THAT alarmed), but something like this? No. Through his agility and his cool mind he pulled his companions and himself out of danger.

    Before anyone knew it, a fiery rock plunged into the earth with dazzling strength and speed, killing those who stood in its path instantly. Those who were not that luckily died a slow and agonizing death through impalement, decapitation or losing limbs by the flying debris, choking on the dust that blew over.

    Those who already survived THAT were burning to cinder by the falling bits (who broke loose through the impact) of the fiery rock.

    When Animagus got up (after he really sure that they still were not in danger) he looked around for survivors.

    What he saw was as if the world had come to the end. Everywhere he could see was dust, broken stands and trees, bodies (sometimes missing all kind of body parts) and bloody body parts. Some were even melted to their stand!

    He was happy to see that Otro, the girl that was with him, Nago had survived the onslaught.

    Suddenly a tune began to play who calmed the survivors.

    “Mmm...nice music. Who is playing?” Animagus wondered.
     
  5. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now apart from the mass of humanity broken and burnt in the valley, millions of tons of bewildered boemoths were also very upset and decided, as one, that now was the time to stampede west.

    The hundred of families still alive grabbed their few possessions and their loved ones and scattered into the hills.

    All there is to see is dust. All there is to hear is thunder and screaming. Even the music is silenced now; you must flee the valley.
     
  6. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now Nago and his family had come from the highlands on the coast to the far south. Therefore they fled to the bay, seeking passage on one of the large canoes of the fisherfolk. Nago secretly knew he could bribe his way back into the empire with the news of this thunderbolt strike.

    The peoples of Animagus and Otro fled mostly to the north, following the herds back to the great plains of Eurasia. In their stories, the mammoths were a kind of god, and they would lead the people to places of safety.

    Others, like the little forest people, fled to the west, to the great lowland jungle in the mediterranean basin. They were generally agoraphobic anyway, and this had just confirmed their suspicions that the sky could fall on their heads. They retreated to the cosy canopies of the rainforest.

    To the east lay densely wooded river valleys but judging by the flight of birds in the sky, a forest-fire was burning there now.
     
  7. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now, the age of mammals had begun some forty-eight million years previously and for all that time, the cutting edge in survival had been the family bond. As a result, it was very common to see a lost child/calf/cub gravitate to the nearest adult seeking comfort and assurance. So a young deer, having lost sight of its mother, would stand beside a mare instead. For an orphan, any mother will do, in the not-always-naive hope that, for a mother, any infant will do. In this way, the human foundling, Animagus, had been protected and nurtured by a she-wolf and he, in turn, had protected and nurtured the orphaned Scar.

    It was not too surprising, therefore, that a young mammoth*, stunned and lost in the stampede, came to be standing beside Fang in the dust. Fang, for her part, was phlegmatic. Firstly, because the mammoth, while tiny for a mammoth, was still the size of a big ox and, secondly, because it was clear at a glance that it was scared out of its wits.

    *Now, when we say mammoth, we think of the wooly mammoth, but these were older, bigger, balder and more diverse: At least a dozen species of protopachyoderm had ruled the earth for five million years or so. The apes had only got it into their heads to walk between trees after the elephants had spent a million years deforesting the earth to suit themselves. Apart from being much, much bigger than humans, mammoths lived many times longer. They were also much smarter, or at least they thought so.

    Mammoth matriarchs carried centuries of knowledge and millennia of lore. They navigated across the surface of the earth in vast, stable societies as rich and as intricate as anything humanity has formed. Where they held a grudge, generations of humans were punished. Where they felt indulgent, generations prospered. Where they travelled, abundant seedlings sprouted from all over the world. To say that mammoths were like gods was to miss the point: mammoths were gods. There was no talk of intangible, immanent forces; when humans spoke of the gods, they could point to them, looming on the horizon like they owned the place, which they did.
     
  8. Arthgon

    Arthgon Well-Known Member

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    For a few moments, Fang did not know how to react to this new situation, but then her motherly instinct (that kept on lingering) took over. The first thing that she wanted to do is to comfort him, or else he may run away and get himself killed. After a few tries the young mammoth finally calms down.

    Because there is no time to feed him at this moment, she will do that later. Quickly went Fang and the young mammoth (who was holding her tail with his nose) to her “”mate”” and the others for they were already standing by an old man.

    Animagus was surprised at first, but then he was very happy.

    "Lucky girl. I know that you always wanted to have kids. What do you think of how we may call him? Haethor*, perhaps? “ he asked.

    At first, Fang look down but then it was as if he nodded in agreement.

    After some counseling the group went to the south. Noticing that the old smith is in no condition to walk on his own, he was placed on the back of Haethor.

    "There will be a long journey ahead. Lets get going. "
     
  9. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now, the little mammoth had a name, but it was unpronouncable by humans. That was unimportant.

    What was important was that he was part of a Herd. His ears were ringing and he was blind from dust and fire, but he held on to someone and followed them. It wasn't his mother, but someone.

    The smell was indescribable. It was all very strange. They stopped in a cave with a lot of others. His mother wasn't there. He fell into an exhausted sleep, full of nightmares.
     
  10. Grossenschwamm

    Grossenschwamm Well-Known Member

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    Otro decided to paint an image of his bizarre traveling party on the wall of the cave where they all slept.

    He depicted the Thunderbolt Iron falling from the sky, as well as the huge fire it started and all of the unfortunate dead in its destructive wake. They were represented using a symbol of Otro's tribe that meant "Many lost faces."

    He painted himself with his newly singed hair and beard, as well as his goods wrapped in the giant deer hide on his back.

    Animagus was shown with Fang and Scar at his sides.

    Rifa always insisted that she was painted with a number of fists above her determining how many times she had knocked somebody out during the day she ended up in a painting. She managed 8 today, 2 on the guy who tried to cheat her during a trade (once at Otro's mat and once at the final match of the tournament), and one for every other level of the tournament she won.

    Hassa was painted sitting against the supine Haethor, the lost young mammoth who had recently joined. Haethor was painted with no eyes, as it was rather obvious he couldn't see, and Hassa was painted with an aura to show he was nearing the end but still had some affairs to attend to.

    There were many others in the cave along with the depicted party, and they were represented with another of Otro's tribal symbols that meant "Huddled masses."

    After the image was painted, Otro took out his obsidian knife and began cutting off his hair and beard where it was singed.

    This was, indeed, the most bizarre chain of events Otro had ever experienced.
     
  11. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now, the many language groups broke down into their various component tribes, of about a thousand people each - less now. The tribes were formed up of clans of about 200-300 members, which in turn divided into family groups of about forty. These family groups were the unit of survival on the planet. Life could be quite leisurely and secure within the group, thunderbolts notwithstanding. For an exile or an outsider, life could be very difficult indeed. So each family group had departed the valley, following its own traditional migration, albeit some months early. Otro knows that he can rejoin his people at what we now call lake baikal in the springtime, nine months hence.

    For now, the little band of refugees was the family group, or as near as any of them had. They all sat around the same campfire, beneath the mural Otro had painted. They all stared at the painting for a long time, mammoth included. It was like that music which had played in the aftermath, it made sense of something insensible. When the sun rises and the weather clears, everyone looks to Otro, waiting to follow his lead.

    [ooc - would you like to be responsible for a motley tribe of refugees or just a small team of adventurers?]
     
  12. Arthgon

    Arthgon Well-Known Member

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    While waiting for the sun, Animagus began to wash the eyes of Haethor and see if there is any real damage. Yes. It seems that there is a small possibility that they MAY fully heal, but because he was not that sure, it was better that an expert see to it.

    “Do not worry, everything will be okay. “ Animagus said to calm down the young mammoth.

    Those who have survived the onslaught of the impact of the great fiery rock crowded the cave. Man and women of all ages (some wounded, but still healthy and strong), little and young kids who clanged to their mother in fear. All were seeking comfort and warmth around the same campfire.

    Now the one thing that was on the group's mind was “What to do with all these people?” It was not correct to leave them here, but at the same time, it was hard to keep everyone alive until they reach the southern beach.

    “Otro, What is the best thing that we should do next? And what to do with all these people? “
     
  13. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now there was a lot going on the valley that day.

    As in any other natural disaster which disrupts the social order, there were bands of desperate people looting among the abandoned camps. Also, in a much older form of the same behaviour, there were predators of all shapes and sizes who had decided to take the day off from preying and were scavenging among the many corpses instead. The valley had become a much more dangerous place to be.

    The fisherfolk who had fled the previous day made an appearance in the morning, paddling from the southern seas in their large canoes. Several people ran to the water and tried to swim out to them, but not one made it, for the fisherfolk had a saying for situations like this: "Stay the fuck out of my canoe." They paddled out of reach and watched as the sea swallowed the refugees one by one. The few that reached a boat alive were unceremoniously clubbed to death with oars.
     
  14. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now the previous evening Hassa had spoken secretly to Rifa.

    Grand-daughter, I have had a vision.
    What did you see, grandfather?
    There will be famine and war, the people will dwindle, because of the thunderbolt.
    What can we do, grandfather?
    You will find the thunderbolt, now. I will show Otro how to craft it into a weapon, and a talisman for our people. Go now, grand-daughter, our ancestors will keep you safe.

    And so, Rifa ran through the night. She found a way past the fire-line in a water-meadow on the hills and beyond that, an empty land of powder-soft ash. The trees smoldered but the upper canopy remained green.

    There, in the mud of the crater she found the thunderbolt and carried it back to the cave.

    Now, it was the size of an ox's head, and in those days that was saying something, and Rifa was a young woman, but she was also a neanderthal and a hunter. She had been carrying ox's heads through the night almost as soon as she could walk.

    Rifa...! Is that what I think it is?
    Otro asks when she returns.
    Rifa grinned and nodded.
    You're incredible, and singed. Have some water.
    Thanks. Listen, Hassa had a vision...
    I know, we've been talking. We need to build a forge, a big one.
    Hassa can't travel far. We won't make it to the winter camp, even with the elephant.
    I know. We can stay here. This cave has good stone and we can capture the sea breeze for the forge.
    Hmm, alright. I guess we can gather bones and then fish in autumn. For now I'm getting some sleep. Watch my back okay?

    END OF CHAPTER ONE.
    ooc - please excuse my temporary sequestration of your characters, Gross. Let's now fast forward in time. How do you spend six months in a cave with a bunch of foreigners?
     
  15. Grossenschwamm

    Grossenschwamm Well-Known Member

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    OOC; No, I apologize. I took a little vacation and neglected the RP. Hmmm...well, Rifa got the meteorite. I think I'd like to do a small adventuring team, but I'll see what I can do about getting the people to cooperate.

    It was winter. After Rifa had gathered the Thunderbolt from the crater near the valley, Otro set out to design and build a forge under Hassa's direction. He gathered what large stones he could to build the walls nearby, but others had to go out farther to find ones Otro himself couldn't carry due to his leg. Soapstone is common all over the planet, and was well known at the time for its soft yet dense form good for making pipes to smoke ceremonial herbs. However, it was also found that it's very heat resistant, and good for holding warmth in a single area - making it great to use in constructing a forge. A low-set stone igloo-like structure with a hole to collect wind from the sea, a chimney to vent smoke, and an open face that could be covered with a large, flat piece of soapstone to build up heat.

    Trying to unite so many cultures into the belief that helping the outsiders all around them would actually benefit them too, was not an easy task. Initially, Otro had to ask what particular skills allowed each respective tribe to flourish throughout the ages. Given the age range of all those in the cave, of all the available tribes, it was easy enough for the literally minded Otro to realize a combination of these strengths and the ability of the young to learn from their elders would create a mutually beneficial environment for all those in the tribal amalgam.

    There were tribes that predominantly foraged, while others would hunt. Of those that foraged, some were very knowledgeable in edible (as well as toxic and psychedelic) mushrooms. Some were experienced in mainly the edible vegetation that flourished in the lands around them, such as wild berries and various other fruits, as well as tubers and greens. Of those that hunted, some were primarily anglers that took their bounty from the sea or lakes nearby. Others would take small and medium game, and still others, Otro's and Animagus' people included, had knowledge of hunting the large and most powerful of prey. Included in their experience was whatever game and plants were available in this valley, due to the amount of time people spent here and the regularity of the festival.

    It was tense at first, but people eventually eased into life as a community and shed their fear of other cultures that was only overtly obvious when they had to live side by side. Spiritual leaders would still argue, but that was fairly normal. Especially when one man's guiding spirit was another man's dinner, though sometimes it was both.

    Fires were pretty interesting. Different tribes would take turns starting the fire, and it seemed there were almost as many ways of starting one as there were tribes. Some people brought in kindling and sparked it with flint, some would rub sticks together, others used a notch system where they'd have a wooden base with notches, a straight stick that fit it, and would rotate the stick to make a piece of bark underneath it catch a spark. One tribe even collected Haethor's droppings dried them out, and used that to start fires with any number of the other methods available to get a spark.

    After the completion of the forge over two long months, Hassa spoke to Otro.

    You have collected more than enough coal from having built fires from cooking and for warmth. The forge you've made is exceptional, and should serve your needs well. You must decide the form of the talisman and the weapon you will make, and start a fire. When you've started, I'll instruct you further.

    At this point in time, Hassa had lost a great deal of weight, and wheezed when he would breathe. The closer he got to teaching Otro all he could, the more he let himself slip away.

    ...Of course, Master.

    In his younger days, Hassa had come into possession of an oblong piece of Thunderbolt Iron that was conveniently flat on one side. He used resin and sinew to attach it to an oak handle, making a fine hammer - and the only one suitable for working with the freshly discovered Thunderbolt.

    Hassa told Otro how to break the Thunderbolt into pieces by heating it and cooling it rapidly, just like what happens when a hot stone falls into cold water. The makeup of the meteorite is what allows this to happen, with certain internal structures having a different density from others. Ox femurs were used to manipulate the meteor out of the forge, and a tray made of auroch ribs was used to quickly carry it to the water. A piece large enough to be made into a wearable totem broke off, and the rest of the pieces could be heated and hammer welded into a larger tool, with a decent amount left over for future projects. Otro made smaller hammers for fine details on the totem with some of the smaller pieces.

    There was a large, flat piece of granite to be used for striking the Thunderbolt, and animal ribs were used to manipulate the hot iron as it was being worked. It was noisy work, but eventually Otro began to crave the sound of metal ringing against metal. He spent weeks forging and hammering his masterpiece, and it slowly took the shape of a weapon no one had ever seen before. He was instructed by Hassa to place it in the water, and was told it would break if a mistake had been made while forging. It didn't break.

    It was a single piece of Thunderbolt iron about 3.5 feet long, with a handle he wrapped in hide (to absorb shock and assist the grip) long enough to accommodate two hands. It had a blade a little over 2.5 feet long, but on the whole it was surprisingly light considering what it was made of. Otro sharpened it on one side, starting with sandstone and working his way up to the piece of granite he made it on, giving it an incredibly sharp and mirror like edge.

    The totem he made commemorated the fortune of the falling iron, the lives lost in its wake, the skills learned, and the young mammoth who found its way to the cave with him. Oddly enough, all of those things could be represented by the same image according to Otro's tribe; A mammoth head. However, it had to be made in a particular way to reflect each thing. Fortune is with full, curved tusks. Mourning is with broken tusks. Knowledge is worn tusks with grooves, and a young mammoth is represented with larger eyes, more often than not. The totem ended up with one full tusk worn at the tip and with grooves, one broken grooved tusk, and larger eyes.

    Shortly after Otro's task was completed, Hassa died quietly in the night. A ceremony was held according to Otro's tribal customs; A chasm was found and Hassa was dropped in, wrapped in an animal hide with his most valued possession, which was a rose quartz blade. Prayers were given to the local deity, who just happened to be Haethor.

    The days were shorter and colder, and the solstice would arrive soon.
     
  16. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    [ooc - very well done; welcome back]

    Haethor mourned Hassa's passing visibly. The old man had always been so gentle and his smell had almost, but not quite, become as comforting as his mother's had been.

    He watched as the body was prepared and wept large tears, which were more usually a sign of fatigue in elephants, rather than grief. Afterwards, he would return to the gravesite often, just to remember. This behaviour deeply impressed the others and Hassa's legend grew.

    Animagus, as the friend and caregiver to Haethor, Fang and Scar, and as an unusually ferocious-seeming man, had automatically ascended to the rank of alpha-male, what we might call the king or chief of the little tribe. They didn't call it anything, they just all knew it.

    Otro, meanwhile, as an extrordinary artificer and artist, and the heir of Hassa, was universally regarded as the wisest-man or wizard.

    Working together, they were held in awe by the disparate survivors and easily contained the political strife within the group for those first few months.
     
  17. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now among the northern tribes the tale of the falling star was told like this:

    A great stone fell from the sky and struck the earth, causing a huge explosion of heat and dust.

    Among the ancient empire to the south where Nago had fled, however, the story went like this:

    The gods struck down the foreign devils with a magical thunderbolt, and this is a sign that the One True People should go to war.


    Now, "war" in the empire was an ancient tradition designed chiefly to keep the young men from causing trouble at home. It amounted to a collection of cunning old women setting a bounty on so-and-so people, or such-and-such land. The reward was always the same: If you win, you can leave the circle of lost boys (ie, the army) and become a man (ie, marry a tribeswoman).

    This served the dual purpose of selectively breeding for strong warriors while suppressing neighbouring tribes at the same time. To say nothing of conveniently removing the mobs of sexually frustrated bachelors from the empire. All in all, the empire depended on regular war and a thunderbolt in a fertile river valley far from the First Plateau was the perfect cassius belli.
     
  18. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now, among the survivors there was a young man named Grebon, which means 'Look Out!' or 'Beware!'. He was a typically hyperactive member of an unusually dynamic race of people who called themselves the Nyamnasorr, 'the birds without feathers'. (They reasoned that all two-legged creatures were birds.)

    Now, in the rivers along which the nyamnasorr dwelt, there lived an ancestor of the modern sawfish and, inevitably, the rostrum of the sawfish was coveted as the most impressive and efficient weapon of choice when going to war. For hunting or butchering, it was clumsy and unwieldy, but for posturing or hacking at an aggressor, it was unequalled.

    So it was that Grebon of the Nyamnasorr was skilled in the art and science of swinging a sword, even though swords had only just now been invented. Being barely four feet tall, and built for speed rather than strength, he could barely lift the newly-forged thunderbolt, but he demonstrated the principles of swordsmanship for the others to learn.

    The question arises, Who shall wield the magical weapon?
     
  19. Arthgon

    Arthgon Well-Known Member

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    While Animagus knew that Hassa would eventually die from his wounds, it was still a bit of a shock for him. For Hassa has been a good and gentle friend for all of them in the group.

    As the morning sun rises, people began to prepare the body of Hassan and buried him according the customs of the tribe of Otro in a chasm (wrapped up in animal skin) with his prized possession.

    During the ceremony, people began to pray for his soul and the local deity. Who seems to be Haethor.

    Through the death of Hassan, Animagus (to his surprise, but it was a true honor for him to lead them) automatically ascended into the Alpha-male of the tribe. Otro, the apprentice and the true heir of Hassa became wisest-man or wizard.

    Both of them ruled the tribe righteous and with wisom. Preventing political strife and wars between tribes and clans.

    Now that the weapon (made by the 'Thunderbolt') was ready, someone should wield it.

    After a long discussion about this topic with Otro and Rifa, Animagus said.

    "I think that it is for the best for all of us that only the one that can prove that he/she is worthy should wield this weapon. This is to prevent strife and bloodshed.
     
  20. Grossenschwamm

    Grossenschwamm Well-Known Member

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    "I think that it is for the best for all of us that only the one that can prove that he/she is worthy should wield this weapon. This is to prevent strife and bloodshed.

    Grebon has taught us how to fight effectively with such a weapon. Perhaps the worthiness could be determined by a non-lethal tournament where the participants fight with sticks?

    Otro eyed Rifa warily. She was the most competent fighter and hunter his tribe had ever seen, though he tried not to determine her victory based on what he already knew. This was because he hadn't seen other warriors in the newly amalgamated tribe engage in combat.

    Rifa caught Otro's gaze and had a particular look on her face - her brow was slightly furrowed and she was smiling. She had been out with the hunting parties and had engaged in some scuffles, so she knew what to expect. She already knew how the tournament would end, but win or lose, she was going to have a blast.
     
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