Of all the Akora who fell to the world during the Singing Starfall, there was one in particular who made the most impact. By far the largest of her kind, it was her who very nearly brought destruction to Observatory. It took the painstaking effort of the most powerful Strigid to alter her course, though upon the Strigid’s success she was bound for the massive island Venatoria. As she landed, some old and buried settlements were uncovered and others were more deeply buried as all the island’s sands shifted. A nearby sandstone structure was collapsed by the shock-wave and its guardian, angered, came to find what had demolished the place she was entrusted to protect.
This guardian, a Magia with centipede-like features named Karna, dug up the orange glow that had been quickly covered over with a sheet of sand. Whether the entity below intended to destroy the structure or not was of no concern, Karna wished only to rip apart the thing that had destroyed her countless years of commitment. Then, as she uncovered the gemstone being and gripped it so as to drag it from the sand, she felt an odd sensation. It was a feeling of weightlessness, like the anger she felt had lifted from her. Moreover, as she pulled the 20ft tall mass of gemstone she felt barely any weight at all. The sand below her feet did not even slide as she reached the top of the pit.
She let go of the gemstone being and her feelings returned to her, though her looming anger was less passionate. It was then completely overshadowed by shock as the mass of gemstone became animate and rose to its full height. The creature looked at Karna and tilted its head as if in questioning. Then, it looked to its own body, covered in odd holes though they were all filled with sand. A soft glow of magic enveloped the Akora and the sand was carried from its body in a golden flow of energy. As its body was cleared and a flow of air became a calming whistle as it breathed through the Akora’s form.
The sight and sound was enough to make Karna forget about the reason for her fury for just a moment. However, once that moment passed Karna had not forgiven the Akora stood before her. Without warning, she struck out at the Akora, only to be met with another strange sensation. Her strike was not weak by any regard, yet as it impacted the Akora the force of it was completely nullified. Her momentum was brought to a complete halt and the energy of her strike was dispersed into a chiming sound. Despite her failure, impact with the Akora’s form brought back the feeling of calm for another instant.
The Akora looked down and once again emoted the same feeling of questioning. It became clear that this Akora could not speak, though it had a solution for this. The tone of its body’s whistling changed to one that expressed confusion. Another odd feeling for Karna, it was if the feeling itself was carried by the waves of sound that entered her ears. She got the feeling that the Akora had received her anger when they made contact, somehow, this situation was only getting weirder. Unsure of how to communicate why she was angry, she just pointed towards the fallen sandstone pyramid in the distance and then back to the Akora angrily.
After some frustrated shouting from Karna, the Akora managed to piece what had happened together. Its landing had destroyed the structure that the Tertian was pointing towards. It was deeply saddened by this, though Akora were blank slates this one had genuine remorse for what it had done. Karna could feel it through the Akora’s whistles. Then, that regret turned into feelings of atonement. It was clear that the Akora wanted to do something to make things up to Karna. However, when confronted with the idea something sparked in Karna’s mind. She hadn’t left that pyramid in centuries- she was completely oblivious to how the world had changed. She did not even know if the one who tasked her with protecting that pyramid was still alive. She wondered what purpose there was to it, why she had even remained there for so many years.
It wasn’t as if she just wanted to forget about it. She was proud to have served her ruler as protector of the pyramid of Cephei. She wanted to carry on that memory but she also had the sudden and deep urge to move on. There was nothing for her to ask of the Akora, apart from one small thing. She requested that the Akora carry the name Cephei after the destroyed pyramid and the city that once stood around it. The Akora accepted, though after this exchange Karna was just as aimless as an Akora. The newly named Cephei conveyed a feeling of purpose and offered to guide the way, beginning the journey of the Songstar.
WHISTLING STAR – CEPHEI
In more ways than one, Cephei was an oddity among the Akora. Whereas her kin were awakened utterly aimless, she had a goal from the moment she could move. She knew something the other Akora didn’t, though she was not equipped with the ability to tell them. After her meeting with Karna, Cephei wandered the sands of Venatoria in search of other Akora who had been wedged into the sands. Karna told Cephei what she knew but her knowledge was that of an age passed. Even she was surprised by just how much of Venatoria had fallen beneath the veil of sand, to her knowledge the island was still populated by a flourishing population. She worried for her brethren who had been appointed as guardians of other key locations, so she made it her own personal mission to bring them to the outside world as well.
Cephei gathered the Akora, though Karna’s quest to recruit the Pendra ended in failure. Each of them were set on their task to protect, no matter what Karna told them. It was if they were possessed and Karna was left as the lone Pendra who managed to avoid that fate. The only thing that could quell Karna’s sadness was the presence of Cephei. The two spent a lot of time on Venatoria but both of them knew that there was an entire world beyond. Karna hoped that the rest was not so barren, though Cephei knew it as fact. She could feel the countless pulses of life across the world, though regardless of them her goal remained the same.
Cephei had to gather as many Akora as she could. This was her nature as the ‘keystone’, the piece that held together what the Akora were collectively. Some time after the hungering creature came to Tertia, it and its realm of origin were sealed away by the god of gateways. The singing starfall came in the wake of that seal shattering, for the Akora are the physical embodiments of the seal. Given life by the remnants of the deific magic that created them, the natural goal of the Akora is the recreate the seal and prevent the hungering creature from returning. Why they have life, why they can move by their own will, is so they can come together and fulfill their reason for existing.
This was the purpose that Cephei could not tell the other Akora. She had no means through which to convince them of what they were meant to do other than by transmitting a vague feeling of urgency. For the other Akora, who had already found and strictly resolved themselves to their own purposes on Tertia, that was not enough to sway them. After leaving Venatoria, Cephei was only able to gather a handful more Akora together. Though, in her journeys not all was dire. The people of Tertia had been through irreconcilable strife, many found themselves lost or in a state of panic. Cephei’s ability to calm drew these people to her and she took them in as a sort of growing family.
She journeyed the entirety of both Crobayoris and Pradas and by the end she had amassed a huge community around her. Cephei was a beacon under which people gathered to find others like themselves and to attain a direction in their lives. Truly like the Venatorian city that was lost, Cephei marked a prosperous unity of people with a form of wealth that could not be matched. Her wealth was the people she guided, even though such a thing was not her initial goal. In time, Cephei realized that it would be impossible to recreate the seal that the Akora came from. However, she hopes that the solidarity she spurs will create a tight shield to defend the world should the hungering creature come once more.
In her journeys, Cephei came upon the knowledge of the battle for godhood. Though she has no will to battle, she believes that ascension would allow her to become the seal once more on her own. She would not have to worry about the world that had been so kind to her and she could spread her feeling of calm throughout the universe. The thought of a unified universe allowed to live in peace sticks with Cephei and if the opportunity to ascend comes to her, she will take it without a second thought.
Karna’s history began in the first millennium of current history, when Kovec stilled actively ruled over the sandy isle Venatoria. She built her kingdom under the ideals of might and glory, that under the glaring sun it was those of her isle who shone the brightest. She cultivated a great pride in her people and had them build massive, complex sandstone structures simply as a testament to their intellectual superiority. Trade was not done with produce or currency; instead jewels, fine crafts and magical items of Kovec’s own craft were passed from hand to hand. Everyone was blinded by richness they did not even realize the harshness of the labor that Kovec had them do.
The sandstone structures were the cornerstone of Venatorian society. They were the pinnacle of the people’s achievements, though the purpose they were built for forever eluded them. They were convinced by Kovec that within the sandstone walls she crafted gateways which led to a world of true perfection. She created this goal in Venatoria, for its superior people to grow and those who prove themselves the most perfect would be allowed to reach the other realm. The truth of it bore far less wonder or glory.
The interiors of the sandstone structures were all designed as dungeons and their deepest chambers were Kovec’s laboratories. Those who she deemed ‘perfect’ were simply lab rats, brought in as bodies for her to test her mind-manipulation and mutation magics. Society would believe that they had gone to Kovec’s fabricated world when in truth they were just her meat puppets. The failures were slaughtered and the successes had a new goal implanted into their minds. They remembered the greatness of Venatoria’s society, though they knew nothing of the supposed perfect world.
They knew that they had been chosen by Kovec to become the eternal guardians of the sandstone structures. They were the ones who would protect the legacy of the great island even after hundreds of generations had passed. Their new forms, twisted mixtures of humanoid and either scorpion or centipede, were given to them by their ruler so as to fulfill their glorious mission. They had even been gifted a version of the old god’s own immortality. Lastly, their limitations were placed in their minds. They were not allowed to ever stray too far from their post or exit the sandstone structures for fear that they would be invaded in the guardian’s absence. They could also absolutely never enter the deep chambers, which they believed were filled with Kovec’s own riches.
Kovec named these guardians the ‘Pendra’, precursors to the Weavers of Morus society.
Prior to her placement as a Pendra, Karna was a bandit queen. Anywhere there are riches, there will always be thieves to take the fortune for themselves. Venatoria, as Utopian as its people believed it to be, was no exception to this. Karna was born in a city named Cephei, located on the western coast of the island. Within a community of the fortunate, Karna was the sole daughter of a family in the highest echelon of wealth. Her sense of self-superiority was unmatched, due to her family’s wealth she considered herself better than anyone else in Cephei. Her wealth mattered to her more than anything, though she found that earning it normally was a slow and ineffective process.
Thus, the path of life she chose was based entirely on proving herself better than others. She took to a life of thievery as she stole the wealth of others to add to her own. Irritatingly, her natural talent was enough to assure that she would never face consequences for her heists. It only added to her ego and she justified her acts with narcissism. If they had issue with her taking their fortunes then they should have been good enough to stop her. She never even bothered to keep a low profile, she continued to live in her family’s massive estate and hoarded the entirety of her treasure there.
The name of the bandit queen of Cephei quickly spread across Venatoria due to her public presence. Some were drawn to Karna’s air of betterness and even offered to hand their own fortunes over for free. Others hailed her as the next ‘perfect’ who would be brought into Kovec’s nirvana. Though, most fell under the categories of either ‘envious’ or ‘angry’. Many Venatorians were hypocrites, willing to see themselves as superior to those of other lands but prone to frustration when others start to act superior to them. The number of enemies that Karna had was endless; her house visited by the greedy, the self-righteous and even assassins. None escaped with even an ounce of her property and those who faced her directly had their severed heads tossed into the middle of Cephei’s busiest marketplace as examples.
It was inevitable that Karna would catch the attention of Kovec. Indeed, Kovec kept an eye on Karna’s growing infamy for a long time before personally paying a visit to the richest woman on Venatoria. When the two came face-to-face, Kovec told many of the fictions of her supposed nirvana. Of the fortunes that existed there, of the society where the ‘poor’ had wealth far beyond Karna’s own. Karna did not believe in the realm and only agreed to go when Kovec promised she could return if it was not all that was promised. No harm in it, Karna assumed as she allowed herself to be brought to the deepest room in the great Pyramid of Cephei. For better or worse, that was the last the Venatorians ever saw of the bandit queen.
Karna was made into a Pendra and her mind was altered beyond restoration. She became as all other Pendra were, a guardian for a land intended to be abandoned. That was, until, her pyramid was annihilated by the fateful falling of the Akora who would take the name Cephei. Initially, her falsified purpose drove her into a vengeful rage for the being who had destroyed what was essentially her prison. However, as she stepped away from the collapsed sandstone and drew closer to Cephei, her mind began to change. The rule that she could not leave the pyramid had been broken and subconsciously she took in the state of Venatoria. No longer the island of pride and wealth she once knew, instead just a desert where glory was naught more than an echoing memory.
Kovec’s mind alterations were unraveling, though the old god’s interference would not be dismissed so easily. The fake memories were a knot in her mind, one that had been tight for centuries upon centuries. When she touched Cephei and felt the first pulse of peaceful energy through her body, the knot started to become loose. After Karna and Cephei chose to journey with each other, Karna began to remember just who she was before becoming a Pendra. The memories came at random and made no sense to her at first but over time she recovered the personality she once had. The narcissist with sticky fingers emerged once more, though she was far more mellowed out than her previous incarnation.
Her having been tricked by Kovec knocked her down several pegs and her experiences with Cephei made it impossible for her to become as selfish as she once was. Instead, she began to eccentrically hail Cephei as the superior entity, much to the Akora’s concerned tones. After Karna failed to liberate the other Pendra, she dedicated herself to an eternity in Cephei’s footsteps as her right-hand woman. When the two journeyed Crobayoris and Pradas and Cephei’s following grew, it was Karna who obtained the resources to sustain the moving settlement. The means by which she did so were perhaps not particularly legal, though her perfect record of never being caught has yet to be broken.
‘ATAXITE’ GEBEL KAMIL
Gebel Kamil is a powerful, stone-like Akora whose body was fueled by equal parts magic and rage. Under normal circumstances, when an Akora awoke, they were a blank slate. They had nothing; no direction, no memories, nothing. Of all the Akora, Gebel Kamil felt this utter emptiness so much that it pained him. He felt as if something was missing from his being, as if he had been stripped of something he once had. As he explored the world around him to find what it was, he turned up with nothing. The only thing that came to him was a sense of discomfort, a screaming at the core of his being that told him he was not where he was meant to be. He knew not the conditions by which he had been given life but he was certain that Tertia was not where he belonged.
Then, he met with another Akora. This Akora was also unsure of their purpose, yet they did not have any will to find what it was. They wandered idly in search of a new purpose on the world they had awoken to. This is what felt natural to most Akora, yet that entire idea awakened a senseless rage within Gebel Kamil. They were not meant to be there, they should not be looking to fit into this world so obviously not meant for them. Gebel Kamil angrily smashed that Akora until they were nothing more than lifeless shards. When sense returned to him, Gebel Kamil had come to a solution.
He knew two things. The first was that the Akora had awakened on this world and the second was that they did not originate from there. He concluded from this that the lives they had been given were intrusive to their being. Tertia had effected them in a way it should not have, thus Gebel Kamil decided he must take away that interference. He theorized that, in death, the Akora would return to where they were meant to be. As irrational as his violence was, other Akora began acting the same way by his example. They had not yet any other purpose to follow, thus they saw Gebel Kamil’s train of thought as being completely logical. They gathered with the sole purpose of purging the rest of their kind before finally destroying themselves, thus ‘fixing’ their mistaken existence. Gebel Kamil believed in his way of thinking absolutely, until he met with Cephei.
Gebel Kamil had heard stories of the Akora who emanated an aura of peace wherever she went. He also heard that within her following were many Akora that she had brought over to her side. In his eyes, it was a slaughter waiting to happen. He approached the Songstar with his intentions laid bare; he wanted a fight to the death. Karna was the first to step up but Cephei sensed just how dangerous the seething enemy was. There were none other than Cephei herself who could come out of a fight with him unharmed. Thus, she personally stepped up against the raging Akora. Gebel Kamil saw it as her serving herself up on a platter, until he attempted to strike the first blow.
Cephei’s body did not crack, nor did she seem to even budge at all from the attack. The volcanic force of his fist was nullified completely, converted into a loud chime that echoed across the lands. He tried again, and again, and again, yet he could do no damage to the titan in his way. He did not realize it himself but each consecutive blow of his got softer and softer. While Cephei made no explicit counter-attack, it could be said that she was striking back. Each time Gebel Kamil exposed himself to Cephei’s aura, his rage which had awakened upon his first meeting with another Akora slowly quelled. He let out all of the anger that he had generated towards the others of his kind and when he stopped attacking it was because he had none left. For the first time since his awakening, Gebel Kamil felt calm.
Once Gebel Kamil had been sated, Cephei transmitted her feelings of urgency and purpose to him. Gebel Kamil understood that Cephei knew something important, likely about the Akora. The original purpose that he sought, though Cephei was incapable of telling what it was explicitly. After having expended his rage, just the fact that Cephei knew was enough for him. He reflected on the culling of the Akora that he had started and ended up choosing to go with Cephei. If there was any chance that he could be led back to the true purpose he sought, it was with her. Moreover, with her influence, he thought that it may be possible to redeem the other Akora that he had sent down a path of destruction with his actions.
Gebel Kamil now acts as the primary bodyguard for Cephei, violently dealing with the rare situations that cannot be resolved with Cephei’s aura. He has not had to act often, his power is immense enough to act as a deterrent for the few who would consider turning a harmful hand towards the whistling star.
Eldfjall is the first and, bar Sandalphon through technicality, the only Cast to have come up to the surface of Tertia. Whether or not his case is one of extreme oddity or if he is a harbinger of more to follow has yet to be seen, though the prior seems far more likely. Eldfjall came to the surface by digging through Tertia’s mantle and rising up from a volcano in Chwalu. The reason for this remains completely unknown, though it was most likely just a yearning for exploration on his part. While they don’t have a particular need to put their intelligence to use in their natural environment, Cast do have well-developed brains. This makes it reasonable to think that Eldfjall actively decided to make the journey rather than it being a case of a Cast becoming extremely lost.
The first to discover him were, unfortunately, a fellowship of the cult of Sandalphon. Regardless of his intelligence, Eldfjall knew absolutely nothing about the surface. His first experience with above-worlders was a group of fanatics who believed him to be a personal gift from their beloved magic-giver. He was swept up by the cult members, not to be hailed as one might expect but to be abused. Cultists of Sandalphon are mad and these were no different, they believed that death by the claws of a cast would be akin to being slain by Sandalphon themselves. Once Eldfjall was in their possession, they kept him locked up so he wouldn’t wander and only brought him out when they wanted to be killed by him.
Eldfjall, however, was not so easily provoked. Other Cast may have been quicker to defend themselves but Eldfjall just took the abuse. He wanted to experience the above world and if that was how it was then so be it. It wasn’t like he had standards and he wouldn’t get hungry so long as he could take bites out of the stone walls. Eventually, the cult members decided that Eldfjall’s inactivity was a sign that Sandalphon wanted them to live on and continue the practices that brought the Cast to them. They stopped prodding at him but did not release him from his imprisonment. Despite their hailing of the Cast, Eldfjall was little more than a trophy to them at that point.
Then, Eldfjall heard the sound of chiming. It was faint, especially so in the underground base of the cult of Sandalphon, but the vibrations of sound reached him. As he could have done any time, Eldfjall ate through his bindings and dug his way back to the surface to find the source of the chiming. The cult of Sandalphon was quick to notice and the matriarch of the fellowship swiftly followed suit, though Eldfjall had already tracked the massive collective of people surrounding the soothing sound. Focus was quickly drawn to him, no surprise considering he was the only Cast to ever come to the surface, though Cephei quickly determined Eldfjall’s passive nature.
Eldfjall found peace among the group and began to understand things about the surface that he had been denied. Cephei sensed Eldfjall’s naivety and it reminded her of the Akora in a way. She conveyed her want to guide to the rest of the Songstar and they were quick to adopt Eldfjall like he was a lost child or puppy. When the cult of Sandalphon came to take Eldfjall back, he was able to determine one thing about them now. That they were ‘bad’. Cephei echoed this feeling and immediately Gebel Kamil stepped up against the cult. They demanded Eldfjall’s return and Gebel Kamil refused. When they threatened to resort to violence and magic swelled up in the matriarch’s hands, they were reduced to a smoldering crater by the Akora bodyguard.
Eldfjall is now on a path of learning with the Songstar, constantly doted on by the other members. He is positively spoiled, though the encouragement towards him is clearly effective. He has managed to grasp an understanding of language and has learned how to defend himself by the guidance of Gebel Kamil. Having been shown such kindness, he now even has the aspiration to one day bring other Cast to the surface so that they might know the joys he has felt. Eldfjall’s journey is still in its earliest days but it is certain that his coming to the surface was a tremendous step for his kind.