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Tales of Shulannas and the Rua

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Black Coast,
Land of the Lathi,
Vostau Peninsula

179 CE

The Black Coast. It was a name which had stood the test of both time and language. Black rocks and black soil gave the land an ominous appearance. Many sailors and oarsmen called the Black Coast haunted, dogged by the nagging feeling of something otherwurldly on its shores. From the mists that oft covered the sea off its shores, the coast appeared as if some jagged void, reaching into the wurld. Even on a clear day, passing ships scarcely missed the sight of the shore, dark and foreboding. Perhaps it was a curse laid upon the land in ancient times, by some deity or trickster long since forgotten? Or maybe the result of some cataclysm that stained the shore and rocks? Whatever caused it, most agreed that it must have been of pure evil. 

At least, that was the conception from afar. In fact, upon the shores themselves, people groups from ancient times to the present had lived, even flourished. It was true, the land did not so readily offer its bounties as it did to tribes further west. The soil was acidic and did not always grow the crops that the tribes of the area wished for. But they made do - they always had. And with new horizons, history's development to this point, with the recent arrival of new peoples with new tribal structures to the land, the prospects afforded to the people of the Black Coast were endless, for trade, now made possible due to the long and interconnected tribal villages that now comprised the Lathi tribal grouping, brought with it food and quality goods from both east and west. And so, the denizens of the Black Coast traded eagerly and gladly with their Lathi cousins.

Their amenability to trade did not go unnoticed by outside eyes. The Lathi called them tiushuti - 'far folk'. They came in ships with wide hulls, powered by the men upon their decks who used long, shovel-like oars that moved in unison. Initially kept away by the harsh-looking landscape, the prospects of trade brought them nearer. The tiushuti had long traded amongst themselves, the walled hill-villages of their homelands largely kept afloat by interconnected communities of subsistence farms and small mines nestled in the hills. But as their technologies had increased, so had their lust for more trade and more reach across the waters. Now, these tiushuti were a fairly regular sight along the entire Northern coast of the Gauli lands, especially along the Black Coast, closest to their own homeland. 

The Akazia of the Black Coast had become used to a certain rapport with the traders of their tiushuti counterparts. The decentralised nature of their societies meant that a trade agreement with one was rarely a trade agreement with many different villages. The trade would take place with that one village and no others. As such, the Akazi, the leader of the tribe, was the one tasked with overseeing the trade agreements, while the Kyeni, the tribe’s Speaker, was tasked with recording it in spoken verse into the future, as Gauli tribes had done for centuries. To some, perhaps it was an inelegant solution to the problems of recording agreements and history, but to the illiterate Gaulian tribes, it was all they had, and they stuck to it fervently. The Gauli and the tiushuti had a rapport - the tiushuti announced each village with crude banners of various colours, and the Gauli readied the requisite trade goods accordingly. As the traders dined and made merry with the Gauli tribesmen, the boats would be filled, and then the tiushuti would be sent on their way, the successful conclusion of a prosperous transaction.

It was with this understanding, then, that Akazi Natkils of a tribe along the Black Coast was awoken by one of the guards. It was early in the morning, and today the mist clung thickly to the water and the coast. But peering through the mist, the guard had seen more than one tiushuti ship making its way from the north to their coasts. Quickly robing himself, Natkils prepared to meet with the tiushuti. It was not unusual for more than one ship to turn up, often for greater transfer of goods, but for some reason, the Akazi felt ill-at-ease today of all days. He shook it off. It should be fine. He made his way down to the shoreline. 

A guard noticed him as he descended. He was hugging his spear close to his side, keeping both arms around himself to stave off the cold morning air. 

“I see seven, maybe more,” he said matter-of-factly, “The fog’s too thick to see where they’re from.”

“Seven?” the Akazi repeated, astounded, “What one village would ever need a transport fleet so large?”

The guard shrugged, “Perhaps a union of tribes?”

“Sending one fleet?” Akazi Natkils shook his head. Even confederations tended to trade separately, “We will just have to watch and wait.”

The ships came closer, and as they made their way through the mist, the banners could be seen more clearly. One ship, seemingly at the head, held aloft a white banner, with a black marking on it that Natkils could not recognise. Beyond that, other ships had differing banners, some seemingly familiar, but not any that made sense - the time of year, the way they crept through the fog… It was all unusual. At last, the lead ship ran aground onto the shore. The black symbol on the banner appeared to be some kind of eagle. This too was unusual - trade banners never held symbols on them. This was someone, or something, new. But as the ships came ashore in the tribe, the northern horn blew. None had blown it in many years, but each guardsman and dignitary of the tribe knew what it meant.



The lead ship saw the Black Coast through the fog. It had an air of mystery to it that most aboard the ships of Arfram's fleet had never seen before. It was true, what the old traders said of the place. Amidst the fog and low sunlight of the early morning, it looked as if it were haunted. But Arfram, as well as the men aboard his fleet of ships, was not deterred. Arfram's commanders knew their plan well. His black eagle banner was the lead war-flag. He would mount the main offensive into the tribe. Arfram's brother, Arberxt, would mount an offensive to the north, having landed on the headland up the coast. 

Arfram's father, Arbalþ, had told tale of the Black Coast and its wealth of trade. He said that the men who inhabited the coast traded in gold, silver, spices, all sorts from all around the Great Southern Sea. That the land to the south, and its myriad trade networks, could reach all the way down to hot, arid but rich lands, all the way west to fertile lands of fruit and wealth, all the way east to rivers and yet further trade routes. That the people there didn't need to seek trade - trade came to them. That was more valuable than the meagre Sakspati trade that other Koudish sailors seemed intent on attaining across the sea. 

Arfram stood to gain nothing in inheritance from his father. He was a ‘stained child’ - the child of a former wife who had died, and his father had remarried, cutting off his inheritance entirely in favour of the spawn of his stepmother. It was the way of these stained children to seek their own fortunes, but for most Kudish folk, that simply referred to the raiding of a few dwerɣaz towns around Kudilanda. Arfram inspired many of these stained children at home, telling them of the wealth that they could gain across the sea. His father Arbalþ himself had served as a merchant before becoming Kuning of his own tribe, and so Arfram talked at great length about the benefits that lay for them across the sea. His compatriots called him Blakar, or ‘Black Eagle’, for he would fly across the sea and take it for the Kudiskfolk

That prediction of his destiny was what led him to the Black Coast that day. As the coast neared, he lit a torch on the port side of his ship, signalling to his brother to begin the attack. The ship touched the coast, and the Lathi horn blew. Arfram knew that his brother had attacked as he was instructed. The Koudish left their boats, and drew their weapons. The boatborne troops began to fire bows and arrows at the defending Lathi, before dropping them, picking up from the sides of their ships their shields and variously seaxes and spears. As more troops landed on the beaches, they formed in wedge formation, Arfram standing in the middle of the wedge. His compatriots moved forward slowly, shouting as they did so, and they could hear the troops of Arberxt doing the same. The Lathi tribe was in disarray. The guards, not a professional force by any means, began to rout from the beachhead, and the wedge broke to pursue. Many of the Lathi men were captured. 

Arfram’s troops moved to relieve the northern force, which was having more trouble. Forming again into a wedge, the Lathi line was divided in two and fell apart, many more being captured.


The victorious Koudishman brushed aside the veils of the tent which held Akazi Natkils and a few other notable prisoners which his force had taken. He was followed first by a cold wind. The prisoners had been stripped of their robes and forced to kneel, and the cold wind bit at them. The next thing to follow was the smell of burning wood. These Koudish forces had begun to loot and pillage the entire village, and Natkils could only guess what was happening to many who had been less fortunate than he. Finally, some of the Koudish commanders followed their leader into the tent. They were a strange group, some seeming just the same as a normal soldier among their barbarous ranks. Their leader knelt, and to Natkils’ surprise, spoke Lathi to him, but with a biting and cold accent to it.

“You are the leader of this tribe, yes?”

Natkils shuddered as he nodded reverently to the man. The leader cocked his head.

“I am Arfram Blakar, the Black Eagle. I shall be ruling this land from now on, and my sons shall rule this land beyond me.”

Tiushuti pig!” one of the other captives spat at Arfram. Seemingly without hesitation, the Koudish lord drew his seax and cut the man’s throat and neck, spraying blood onto Natkils, who squirmed with discomfort.

“Let this be a warning,” Arfram now spoke to the whole group of captives, “That those who cross me shall be executed without fail. But to those who submit, I shall deliver only prosperity. Live in servitude, and you will be rewarded by the gods and me.”

Natkils exhaled, fear and disgust turning to rage, “We are Gauli. We do not submit easily, and we do not fear death. Better death than captivity.”

Arfram seemed taken aback. He grunted as he rose to speak with his retainers in their harsh foreign tongue. They seemed to be debating something between them. Something Natkils had said took an interest to them. Arfram spoke from his standing position, one word in the Lathi language, quietly, as if turning it over in his mind.


He turned back to Natkils, and procured from his retainer yet another seax. He gestured for one of his group to bring another naked captive for him. The man obliged, and brought up one of the guards who survived the onslaught. Arfram cut his bindings.

“You will be my slave, unless you slay yourself in front of me.”

The guard, a pained expression on his face, took the seax that Arfram offered. Looking the Koudishman in the eye, he stabbed into his gut, letting out a grunt as he did so. Admittedly, one or two of Arfram’s retainers seemed not to expect this. But Gauli cultural values ran deep. It was one of the reasons they had managed to become the eminent group in Vostau - they took no prisoners, as captivity is the ultimate shame. They truly believed it was better to die. Arfram and his retainers returned to debating. Some of the expressions made by their group seemed to indicate a desire to kill. Others showed ambivalence. Finally, Arfram turned back to the Akazi, and cut his bindings.

“Not captivity then. You have ruled alongside your fellow tribal rulers before. I shall permit you to do the same.”

Natkils was unsure of how to take this. He remained at the floor, and gradually looked up at Arfram.

“But I shall rule over you. No longer will your realm be kept together by alliances, your word of mouth bonds with other tribes. Your realm will be kept together by me at its head,” he leant down again, but did not kneel to the tribal leader, “I will be your Kuning. And if I do not have your loyalty, then captivity or death - I don’t care which.”

Perhaps Natkils knew the weight of the words he was about to speak, or perhaps he did not. He spoke them nonetheless, at great difficulty. He harboured brief thoughts of treachery, another thought that Arfram and his realm would not last, that the Lathi confederacy would overtake him again. But these brief thoughts made way for that which became the policy towards all Gauli from that point on - Loyalty, Captivity or Death. In the face of those choices, Natkils alone could only choose loyalty.

“Long live Kueninka Aferam - I kneel to you.”

Edited by Vostau
Argh (see edit history)
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  • 3 months later...

A late Halloween post:

The Curse of the Slaughterhouse Kings

Land of the Medjaferraz,
Vostau Peninsula

527 CE


Balþablað sat in his chair, sharpening his sword in the night. It was a pastime he often engaged in, keeping the sword sharp and ready for action. He had used his sword before - often in practice, once or twice in small military manoeuvres while he was in training for his duties as the Eiþan of Ghaðakiz. He liked to think he was somewhat skilled with a blade. Able to handle himself, at least. The darkness was undisturbed - Balþablað preferred not to leave candles on while he tended to his sword - the darkness offered a relaxing solitude.

It had been two years since Balþablað Ghaðakin had inherited the throne from his cousin, the former King Arfara III Ardruhin. But ruling was a state in which Balþablað felt comfortable. Some had suggested he was too young - indeed, at the tender age of 17 upon taking the throne, Balþablað himself had wondered if the reigns might have better gone to another. There was one - the current Eiþan of Marko, another cousin of Balþablað's, who seemed more mature. In fact, it was quite odd just how insistent the Eiþan had been for Balþablað to give up what was rightfully his. Balþablað felt that, if for no other reason than proximity to the title, by descent through King Arfriþ III, his son Farabalþ, and even later a daughter of King Arfara II, the title belonged to him alone. The Eiþan of Marko might as well hold his tongue.

Though the Eiþan scared him somewhat. A strange, scrawny man, with sunken eyes, a grey face that always appeared to be miserable, his limbs long and spindly, like those of spiders. The Eiþan of Marko was known to have relations with the Dwerian people to the north - if the rumours were true, then "relations" in every sense of the word. Balþablað chuckled at the thought of a dirty tribalistic peasant girl laying with the Gauli-Rua nobleman. Would he smile then? Or would his face remain ever cold? But the Dwerians... People claimed they held magicks of an arcane and ancient nature. People did not know whether it was an invention of the Dwerians, or if it predated even them, but the rumours kept on returning - beware the Dwerian tribes, for they will kill with their magick. 

Balþablað tutted. All nonsense, surely. Perhaps in the course of his long reign, he would be able to lead a military campaign against them. Bring them to heel. He could even create a new Eiþanate for his unlanded brother Balþar. Yes, maybe even sweeten the deal with the Eiþan of Marko. Farafriþ III had lived to be over the age of 60 - think of what could be achieved with a reign nearly that long. Balþablað sighed in satisfaction. His was a life full of opportunity. 

He looked down at his sword. He felt that the sharpening he had done would be good for the day. The blade reflected some sparse light in the room. Though he felt as if he was seeing something unusual... A slight glimmer, but not from his sword...


The spider-like arm reached over Balþablað's shoulder. In its hand, a knife. The pain and force pinned Balþablað to his chair, the blade having ripped at his chest, and he struggled to breathe, feeling as if he were drowning. He coughed, and all he could taste was blood. 

"Every firstborn pretender of your house to the throne will perish - childless, alone and in great pain."

Balþablað looked up at the sullen, grey face of the Eiþan of Marko, seemingly unmoved by the violence he was committing. As Balþablað's eyes darkened, the Eiþan began to chant. The peculiar thing about the words he chanted was how familiar they sounded, and yet how alien they must have been... They seemed ancient, like a knowledge lost to time.

"Cxo. Axa. Tfio. Moic. Osc... Tae... Swo..."


557 CE


"Come on, Agtan! There's plenty more game to find here!"

The spritely young King, aged 18 years, darted ahead of his slower retainer. King Balþar II had ruled so far for six years. His father had suffered an untimely, yet ultimately peaceful death, leaving the King at the age of 12 in command of a whole Kingdom. Many matters of state had been taken care of, some by his mother acting in her role as Queen-Regent, leaving the young Balþar II to supposedly "learn the art of ruling". But of course, young men act as they will, and if given leave to do nothing, they may ardently refuse every lesson they are to be taught. Such was the case with Balþar. He far preferred time in the woods. He was an adequate hunter to outside eyes. Though in reality, Balþar was an extraordinary hunter. But not all time spent in the woods was simply for hunting.

At last, Agtan caught up with the King. He stood in a clearing, surrounded by mossy vines and leaves. The light filtered through it with a greenish tinge, and there was a small pond in the centre. Altogether idyllic. Altogether hidden.

"And you're sure there's no chance they'll find us?"

Balþar laughed heartily, causing Agtan to wince, "They never have before. I've come here every time I go hunting in these woods," the King dropped his bow onto the ground, and playfully punched Agtan's shoulder, "What are you afraid of? I am the King. You think a King has never had a subject sworn to silence on pain of death before?"

Agtan was altogether quieter about the matter. Balþar cradled his chin with his hand. Their eyes met, and Balþar smiled sweetly, "It will be alright. It always has been. It always will be. All I need is you by my side. Can you be here for me?"

Agtan hesitated, before nodding. In the clearing, playful teasing turned to flirting, which then passed beyond that. It was enough that Balþar missed the sound of twigs cracking nearby. He missed the subtle cloaked figures entering the clearing. All until they stood around the two. Only then did he notice. Remaining laid down, Balþar interrogated his retainers.

"What is the meaning of this? Do you interrupt your King when he is resting?"

One of the retainers spoke, his voice seemingly venomous with disgust, "Resting, is it? I only see perversion here."

"I order you, leave us. We will speak of this later," the King spoke again to the retainers.

"We will speak of it now," another retainer said, "And we will act on those words."

Agtan slowly stood from the King's side. Balþar gestured for him to stay down, but he did not listen. Drawing a sheet around his body, two of the retainers went to his side. Balþar's mouth opened. He managed to stutter out, "A-Agtan?"

"We have known of your perversion for quite some time," the first retainer spoke as Agtan was led out of the clearing, small silver pieces being placed into his hand, "And now our duty is to cleanse that perversion and set you on a path of duty. To become a king, no more an overgrown boy."

Balþar turned, his eyes and mouth wide open, to the retainer that spoke last. Speaking laboriously, with breaks between each word and increasing in volume, he spat, "am the King!"

The retainer in question hit him with a stick. Balþar felt it graze his face. The retainer continued. 

"We will continue to hit you, until the perversion has left you and you can take up your duties as King."

Balþar's eyes welled up with tears, though it was not from the pain. He felt like he wanted to slump down into the ground, be swallowed whole by it. But Balþar knew he was faster than his retainers. Seeing a gap, he darted for it. The retainers scrabbled after him, but he was too fast. He reached the edge of the clearing, and parted the mossy vines and leaves. The two retainers stood over the bloody body of Agtan, silver pieces scattered to the ground, their boots red and dripping. One had a bow in his hand. Both turned to see Balþar. He brought his bow upwards and reached for an arrow, drawing it back in one smooth motion.

"No!" a retainer shouted from inside the clearing.

But the arrow left the bowstring. It flew through the air and hit the King in the throat. The metal was cold, and the wood was coarse. Balþar could hear the commotion around him.

"You idiot! You've shot the King!"

The retainer who shot the bow stuttered and mumbled. The blood from Balþar's neck trickled down his chest.

"What do you have to say for yourself? Why have you done this?!"

Balþar sunk to the ground, his legs too weak to carry him.

"A-accidents happen. Hunting accidents. I-in the woods. No-one will know."

The King hit the ground, and all faded around him.


589 CE


Tale of a curse on his family line had hurt Aþalar in his younger years. First, his granduncle had perished two years into his reign, just at the age of 19. Then, 30 years later, his uncle had perished six years into his reign, at the age of only 18. King Aþalar II had been born 10 years to the day after his uncle's death. The curse weighed heavily upon him. His father had said that, when he was younger, some had heard of a curse, but few paid it any mind. Aþalar's father was settling in to become an Eiþan under his brother. But once he died, none could ignore it. Indeed, Aþalar's birth, at such a time, on such a date, sent shivers down the spines of many within the Kingdom of Medjaferraz. 

Aþalar remembered how careful his father had been, becoming somewhat paranoid, and alternating between different "strategies", if one could call them that. At first, Aþalar was not allowed to be alone in the palace. Then, the candles and torches were always lit to provide light. But eventually, Aþalar's father had settled on a simple solution. If Aþalar was alone, no-one could possibly attack him. And so it was that Aþalar spent much of his early life surrounded only by the closest of family members - his father, his mother, his brother. But when both mother and father died, Aþalar could no longer just be surrounded by close family. His tutors found him a quick study, an avid reader, excellent with numbers and mathematics. But he lacked in any form of social skills. 

Aþalar remembered that he dreaded his 17th birthday. It was logical - first 19, then 18, so 17 was next. When his 17th birthday went, he dreaded his 18th, in case it struck again on the same year as his uncle. Then, when that passed, he dreaded his 19th birthday for the same reason. Finally, he dreaded his 20th birthday. It too was logical - 30 years from his granduncle's death to his uncle's, then 30 from his uncle's death to his. But all came and went without any resurgence in the curse. Now, Aþalar dreaded any and every day. He was overdue for a curse. 

Aþalar remembered, one time when he was younger, a peasant woman accosted the royal family as they travelled to the inner palace. She had a bucket of blood. Aþalar's father had told him it was pig's blood, and that she was a butcher's daughter. She spoke in a thick accent - Aþalar was never good with accents. But she shouted some words at the family as she threw the bucket of pig's blood onto Aþalar - "Now I have bloodied the slaughterhouse". Aþalar thought she must have done, to get the blood out of a pig.

Aþalar remembered that he used to ask people if they were here to kill him. His father had told him that was a very rude thing to ask, but why did he have to stay quiet when it was something that occupied his own mind so much? It seemed to him that, no matter how long it took, he was always expecting death. A victim of circumstance and a curse. But which was the more harmful - the curse or the fear of it?

Aþalar was 22 now. It would not be his birthday for another 82 days. Most definitely a numerically insignificant date. However, Aþalar felt ill-at-ease with the presence of his uncle, Eiþan Agtar, in the room with him. The two were alone. The candles were lit, as always. It was midday. Aþalar resisted the urge to ask the question. But Agtar soon confirmed it to him anyway.

"I'm sorry... It's nothing personal. You wouldn't understand. I just- maybe if you... Then my own son, he'll be safe."

Of course. Quite right. Aþalar turned away from his uncle, as the sound of a knife coming from its sheath rang through the room.


606 CE


Curses were such a horrifically pagan thing to believe in. In the years since the death of King Aþalar II, both a nepoticide and regicide by the cowardly Agtar, the Kingdom of Medjaferraz had adopted Cytoric Christianity. Churches were being built throughout the land, a populace once superstitious and believing in witchcraft, ghosts and ghouls were quickly becoming civilised. King Allablað mourned the fact that his father, Allan, could not have been there to oversee, and indeed to witness, the great progress being made. Instead, he had been killed by a mob of pagans while spreading the word of God. They had even made a saint out of him. But it was no curse. Allan was not the first child of his father, and he had two sons who would continue his legacy - Allablað himself, and his brother Allafriþ. 

Of course, Allablað had been slow on the matter of having his own children... That was no-one's fault, though. Allablað had been brought up knowing that God's plan for everything is set out. He surely will have children, and they surely will bring glory to the great Kingdom of Medjaferraz. 

Allablað had ruled now for eleven years. He had come to the throne when he was only seven years old. It was a longer reign than any others who had been accused of carrying the curse. They now called it "the Curse of the Slaughterhouse Kings". Something about a peasant woman and some pig's blood... To be sure, Allablað could never completely get the story of the curse out of his mind. It always remained in the back of his head, just beneath the surface. Ah, but tonight was All Hallow's Eve. The day was to celebrate the saints of God's holy church, not some pagan superstition. He dressed in his finest linen garments and strode down to the palace chapel, in which a statue of 'Hagios Allaneos', or St Allan, his departed father and now the patron saint of Medjaferraz. As he stood to commemorate his father, Allablað's brother, Allafriþ, appeared next to him. Allablað spoke first.

"Truly, I always remember him most around All Hallow's Eve."

Allafriþ murmured in agreement. The two brothers stood in silence a moment, before Allafriþ spoke up.

"I've never really stood up to it for so long before. I feel that the nose isn't quite right," Allablað looked in shock at his brother as he continued, "Maybe the eyes too, I'm not sure."

"I don't know what you're talking about. It very much looks like him," he gestured to Allafriþ to show more respect, before continuing to say, "Nose and all."

The Chaplain noticed the two, and moved towards them, bowing in reverence to Allablað, and making customary gestures of respect to both, "Your graces, I am pleased to see you here on All Hallow's Eve. Would you join me in prayer for the souls of the departed?"

Allablað moved to join the chaplain, but Allafriþ quickly interjected.

"Father, do you think we are in the right?"

Allablað was given pause by his brothers petulence, but the Chaplain smiled towards the Eiþan.

"When we walk with God, we are always in the right."

"What I mean, Father, is are we right to reject the pagan ways completely? Surely they have much to teach us, as we do them?"

The Chaplain stopped a moment. "It is my opinion that if the pagans had anything to teach us, they would have done so. As it stands, there is nothing they could teach us that we do not already know from the holy word of God."

"But what if they are teaching us, and we are now too tied by dogma to listen?"

The Chaplain sighed. The 17 year-old Eiþan was an inquisitive sort, but tended to ask inappropriate questions. Allablað felt nothing but embarrassment, but the Chaplain continued.

"The pagans would have you believe that they have 'cursed' your bloodline, while the Lord declares your bloodline clean. Perhaps the pagans have great tricks, and many mysteries, but they all pale in comparison to the mystery of faith in almoghty God."

The Eiþan smiled politely, and bid both the King and the Chaplain farewell, turning on his heels presumably to head out of the palace. But the King was puzzled. Why would Allafriþ bring any of that up? Did he have doubts? If so, why ask those questions so publicly? Allablað could not know. He said prayers, then retired to his chambers.


That night, Allablað awoke slowly, but in enough of a start to be confused. The room was dark, no candles or torches lit the area. And yet it seemed darker even than usual. Allablað rose to look. Sure enough, the window shutters were closed. Who would have done that?


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