The Gang of Five

It certainly has been a crazy year, hasn’t it?  Well, thankfully, a new year is upon us and here at the Gang of Five forum we have a new year of showcases, prompts, and themes to get the new year started in the right way.  We wish you all a happy new year, and we look forward to what you have in store for us this year!

For the month of January we have a new character showcase.  Please warmly welcome Littlefoot's Mother! :)littlefoot The character showcase topic for this month can be found here.

Also keep in mind that the December and January prompts for the fanfic prompt challenge is now open.  We are doing things a bit differently this season and allowing for people to either fulfill a monthly prompt or a suggested prompt during each month.  I look forward to seeing what you all come up with! :)  The fanfic prompt rules and list of monthly prompts can be found here.

First Entry on Fanfiction.net

Noname

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I've just posted the introduction to a rather large story I have planned for the game "Wizardry 8." It is on fanfic.net, but it takes some time for the story to be displayed there... so I'll just post the first piece of it here! Enjoy!

EDIT: Link's up! http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5580831/1/

Also note that it gets to be PG-13 later, so I won't post all that material on this site.

Introduction:

The land of Dominus was a mysterious realm, filled with a myriad collection of races and magics. Some were advanced, others were primitive. Some had powerful magics derived from nature, other derived their power from a form of science all their own. None of these races controlled the land in its entirety, though all of them wished to do so.

It was as if history had suffered a stroke; by some twist of fate or the will of the gods, there was stone-age technology existing side-by-side with goods from the iron age, situated next to bronze-age weaponry, all that existing next to goods which could not be made in our place and time! Every side had an advantage, every side had a disadvantage. The mighty Empire of the Higardi found itself somehow unable to overcome the wood-and-stone spears of the Trynnie, just as the forged steel of the Rapax could not overcome the natural bone and claws of the Rynjin.

An average citizen of Dominus, in as far as there was such a thing as “average”, learned to get along as best he could. For all the science possessed by some of the nations, rationality was seemingly thrown out the window. It seemed a greater impact could be had by praying to an ornately carved piece of wood than by spending years on end working with complex mathematics to create a spell capable of a similar effect to that which would emerge if someone prayed to that piece of wood for long enough. There was a balance, alright… where there should not have been any. By all logic, the strongest races would have killed off or subjugated the weaker ones, and instead of having dozens of races and nations competing with one another, there would only be three or four. Something was keeping this land in balance… something was keeping it all in check… and whoever knew the secret of Dominus would become so powerful… so mighty… and so… enlightened… he would either be a god… or be killed.

A part of the secret was already known to the lands. There were three artifacts, commonly known, created at the very birth of Dominus; the Astral Dominae, the Destinae Dominus, and the Chaos Moliri. These contained the very essences of life, knowledge, and change respectively. These were the means given to life by the gods with which to be born, grow, and die, only to begin the cycle again and again. Yet… even these items, fantastically powerful as they were, were nothing next to the forge. The forge had created them, the forge could undo them. Few people knew of the forge, yet whoever wielded it would be far more than a god to Dominus…

Yet, for all the cosmic-level enlightenment, and the soul-wrenching truths which lay hidden just beneath the surface, life went on in Dominus as it always did. The same routines, day in and day out. The Higardi were always trying to conquer and exploit new lands, yoking whole regions to their empire as a farmer would do to his oxen. The Rapax were killing and despoiling… as they always did. The Trynnie were living in their great forest, praying to the leaves, spearing game in the woods, carving idols… and carrying off whatever gaudy items could fit into their little hands. The Trang and Umpani were at war… again. They would fight over anything, and if there was nothing to fight over, they’d make something up. Each one accused the other of countless wrongs, and each one suffered many in turn. They really just wanted each others land, wealth, and control of valuable trade routes. Neither side would ever admit this.

The Umpani looked much like Rhinoceroses crossed with a human, and the Trang were insects with six arms, antennae, fangs, and no legs, crawling along the ground much like a slug. The latter race used steel blades as their main weapon, the former preferred the use of staffs, poison, acid, and their own stinging antenna. If they were to combine forces, they would be a serious threat to all but Guardia.

Guardia was the land of the Higardi. No, not a land… an Empire. The mightiest empire Dominus had ever seen, thank you very much. Yes, one of those empires; the kind that are rich enough to afford moral hypocrisy. The Higardi themselves were human. “Higardi” was the demonym of the people in the same way that an inhabitant of Rome was called a Roman. Of course, not everyone who lived in the empire was classified as Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Those “riff-raff” were classified as subjects in a complex classification scheme which was made up by some old men who thought that they could cut-and-paste living creatures into a scheme which just happens to benefit the most human-like of them… as if simply being human were a virtue… and to be a human who was part of the Higardi nation were the highest virtue…

The Rattkin were thieves, but at least they admitted it; the Trynnie would lie when they stole your gold ring, and the Higardi? That wasn’t “stealing”… oh no… when one ship full of pirates robs a village, THAT’S stealing. When a fleet of 1,000 ships loots an entire country in the name of the emperor? That’s not stealing, it’s spreading civilization! Right. Civilization. Uh huh. The Rattkin were more than just thieves, though. They were feared in the criminal underworld of Dominus as assassins and spies. The actual underworld of Dominus was filled with countless Rattkin spirits who went there when heaven didn’t want them. No one wanted them. They were a migratory race of human-sized rodents… outside of some ruins that they sometimes infested, they had no real land to call their own.

The Rynjin… what to say about them? They themselves rarely spoke, communicating using telepathy instead. The Trynnie called them the “mean fish.” So what if they were fish-people who ate a Trynnie or two on occasion? At least they stayed on their islands and in the water. If you ran into one of them, you were trespassing on their territory. They very rarely raided territory that was not their own, and they never fought a war for expansion. They fought a civil war every time their high chief died, but besides that, they rarely fought each other. Ironically, despite being one of the only two races which ate another one, they were the most peaceful of them all… at least in terms of conquest. Ask a fish if the Rynjin were peaceful… they would tell you “hell no!” The favorite food of the Rynjin was tuna.

On a far, far darker note were the Rapax. Commonly mistaken for a race of minotaur, the Rapax were actually closer to goats in appearance. Regardless of how they appeared, their diet was anything but that of a peaceful herbivore. This race was predatory, as their name would suggest; rapacity was their most common trait. It wasn’t always like this. Milennia ago, they lived on the grassy plains with the Higardi. When the latter decided that the Rapax’s lands would look better with human houses, roads, and cities, they pushed the Rapax out in a terrible war, eventually forcing them into a volcanic rift… there, they met Al-Sedexus… and suffice it to say… the Higardi’s plan backfired… real… bad. Now the Rapax are more dangerous than ever, having grown larger, smarter, stronger, and possessed of more wealth and better weapons and armor than they ever had before.

A myriad of other race lived in Dominus as well; the goblins tribes, the trolls in their caves, the orcs in their myriad of nations, the hobgoblins with their violent hordes of warrior, elves in the woods and cities alike, Dwarves in the mountains, and many others that an experienced traveler had probably seen before. Yes, there were dragons asleep on hoards of treasure, just as there were human monarchs who stayed awake while presiding over the same. A minor race in all this was the Mook; a group of eight-foot tall humanoids with a thick coat of fur and highly superior intelligence. Practicing policies conducive toward zero population growth, they only numbered in the tens of thousands, yet had an impact far larger than their small numbers would indicate.

Presiding over this was the mysterious Cosmic Circle, the gods which presided over Dominus. It was they who made the artifacts and the forge… it was they who made this land, and they could undo it. Since time immemorial, they had used the forge to keep a semblance of order in the land… then, the unthinkable happened… the Cosmic forge was stolen! The magic which had once hidden the artifacts vanished, and now, the whole of Dominus was up for grabs! This event had been foretold in a prophecy… one that had been long since discarded, save for a group of Higardi monks known as the Brotherhood of the Ascension… no one had believed them… until now. But even they failed to predict the coming of… the Dark Savant. Striking out of nowhere with an army of mechanical beings and magically-twisted servants, he crashed upon Dominus like water onto a rock.

Time has wrought many changes, and with them, much sorrow. The hopes of the common people in this turbulent time now rest upon hope that the promise of the Ascension is not a false one… whatever that promise may be! Even the Brotherhood doesn’t know all the details. All they knew is that the three artifacts must be assembled at Ascension peak, and then, they could gain entry to the Cosmic Circle… what they would find there… they had no idea. Very few did, and those who knew were not about to tell.

The only thing that was clear was that a new destiny was to be written… who would write it, and when… no one could say.

Author’s Note: Each race will be explored in detail for the next several chapters, eventually merging into a fuller story some time down the road. It gets complicated, so bear with me.