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 Ayralef, anyone?

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Shady Knight
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:04 am

I agree with the above two posts. I hate cardboard cutout stereotypes, 'specially toward humans. Sure, we screwed up innumerable times, but we accomplished just as much.
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:12 am

ZionAtriedes wrote:
Mal, bro, you know that I'm as much of a pro-human guy as you are, but let's be real. We're humans; we expand. I'm not saying we're jerks, and certainly not morons (although I do believe that as our environment becomes easier on us, we get a little stupider), or that we're sheer destruction. But I don't see Ur-Sagolians as being tree-hugging hippies or Native Americans. I'm not trying to pull some James Cameron shit or anything, but you know what I mean.
Oh, of course. I'm just trying to avoid him, at the same time, making the entire Human Race a James Cameron RDA (see: The reverse of the Na'vi). Humans expand... so Felarya lost its healing nature and is a toxic dump hell-hole. Humans overpowered the Giant Predators... so forced them all into slave labor at minimal rights just because the option was there. The people who forced 'em into slave labor similarly are so filled with Hubris that you could have a paraplegic mime break free of the situations the Giant Predators are held in.

Furthermore, if the above is included, it shouldn't be all we see. The Humans in the story shouldn't be there simply to point out "Look how much better Felarya's timeline is, and how horrible humanity is, and how only the token Human Characters (who'll probably die in the bargain rescuing) and the Giant Predator characters have a heart.

I know OP hasn't even hinted at such, just putting it out there early on that if it doesn't include such in the final product I'd be pretty interested. I mean, Felarya right now has almost the reverse for Giant Predators instead of Humans (a good deal of them are dicks that'll purposely play with their food, and while not morons one could readily argue on their intelligence due to certain civilization [or lack thereof] limitations), but we can still quite readily see many Giant Predator characters as interesting, sympathetic, breaks from the mold that aren't clear "Black and White" differences, etcetera. If Ayralef were made, I'd hope to see the Humans / Nekos / Elves / Demi-Humans at least somewhat similar in portrayal, with there being enough redeeming qualities that one could be sympathetic to the average man (Just like the average Giant Predator is still sympathetic to degrees).
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:35 am

Malahite wrote:
ZionAtriedes wrote:
Mal, bro, you know that I'm as much of a pro-human guy as you are, but let's be real. We're humans; we expand. I'm not saying we're jerks, and certainly not morons (although I do believe that as our environment becomes easier on us, we get a little stupider), or that we're sheer destruction. But I don't see Ur-Sagolians as being tree-hugging hippies or Native Americans. I'm not trying to pull some James Cameron shit or anything, but you know what I mean.
Oh, of course. I'm just trying to avoid him, at the same time, making the entire Human Race a James Cameron RDA (see: The reverse of the Na'vi). Humans expand... so Felarya lost its healing nature and is a toxic dump hell-hole. Humans overpowered the Giant Predators... so forced them all into slave labor at minimal rights just because the option was there. The people who forced 'em into slave labor similarly are so filled with Hubris that you could have a paraplegic mime break free of the situations the Giant Predators are held in.

Furthermore, if the above is included, it shouldn't be all we see. The Humans in the story shouldn't be there simply to point out "Look how much better Felarya's timeline is, and how horrible humanity is, and how only the token Human Characters (who'll probably die in the bargain rescuing) and the Giant Predator characters have a heart.

I know OP hasn't even hinted at such, just putting it out there early on that if it doesn't include such in the final product I'd be pretty interested. I mean, Felarya right now has almost the reverse for Giant Predators instead of Humans (a good deal of them are dicks that'll purposely play with their food, and while not morons one could readily argue on their intelligence due to certain civilization [or lack thereof] limitations), but we can still quite readily see many Giant Predator characters as interesting, sympathetic, breaks from the mold that aren't clear "Black and White" differences, etcetera. If Ayralef were made, I'd hope to see the Humans / Nekos / Elves / Demi-Humans at least somewhat similar in portrayal, with there being enough redeeming qualities that one could be sympathetic to the average man (Just like the average Giant Predator is still sympathetic to degrees).
That's pretty much what I thought you meant. I just pointed out those things so that others who saw it wouldn't misunderstand what you meant. I'm all for a balanced portrayal. After all, the giant preds are no saints.
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PostSubject: Introduction to Ayralef   Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:37 pm

The last few posts have left me very encouraged as it seems this subject has at the very least stimulated some discussion. All of you bring up valid arguments about humanity in general. And it's something I've always strove to highlight in my writings. The dual nature of humans and other intelligent species is forever a source of debate and conflict. Humans have done some very bad things. But there is another side to us as well, and that side is worth saving.

I'm going to post my original introduction to Ayralef here to give all of you a better idea of what I'm planning.

Over 2,000 years ago, a burgeoning empire of sorcery and technology was crushed in a single day by a devastating calamity. A group of God-like beings known as "The Guardians" struck down the civilization before it could attain enough power to dominate the planet. The human beings who established this empire were either destroyed, or scattered to the four corners of the globe, never to consolidate their power in one place ever again. In the absence of civilization, a wilderness thrived; a wilderness where both the plants and the animals grow to enormous proportions and prey upon those smaller than them. On this world, humans and those like them are an endangered species, hunted by predatory giants that are both like, and unlike, themselves. This, then, is the world we all know as FELARYA!

But what if human civilization had not been struck down?

On a different world; one very much the same as Felarya that shares the same origin... the empire, known as Ur-Sagol, was not destroyed. On this world, there were no Guardians, and therefore no force capable of thwarting the spread of mankind. On this world, the "little people" rose up and overthrew the giants. They changed the course of history! The forest of vast trees and foliage was either cut down, or cleansed of its hidden threats. Cities sprung up where otherwise there were none at all. Humans multiplied, and struck alliances with others like them... Elves, Nekos, Tinies. The giant predators were either pushed to the fringes of civilization, or domesticated so that their appetite for humanity was literally bred out of them. The empire spread slowly across the face of the world, covering a vast area. Thus was born the mirror opposite of Felarya. AYRALEF!!

But not all of the threats are gone. Ur-Sagol has indeed grown powerful and large, but there are threats to its existence, both from without as well as within. To the north, an ancient evil lurks, one that on Felarya would have been defeated by the same "Guardians" that destroyed Ur-Sagol. She has attracted a cult of followers, both human and giant creatures alike, and her eye is fixed on world domination. Only Ur-Sagol stands in her way! To the west, one species of giant has refused to bend to humanity's will. The Fairies have banded together to stop the empire's spread, determined to turn back the clock and restore the untamed wilderness of ancient times. To the east, another human culture has come to Ayralef, one from another dimension, who seek to conquer the world for themselves. This empire of super-advanced technology and military prowess has built an imposing mountain fortress, and is determined to subjugate whoever stands in their way... be they human, OR otherwise! And even inside Ur-Sagol's borders, complacency and ambition are slowly weakening the bonds of law and order that have bound mankind together since the beginning...

The radically different histories of Felarya and Ayralef, have produced radically different versions of the major players on each world. Those that on one world delighted in eating Humans are, on the other, friends of humanity. Some of those who might have been good have instead turned to evil, and vice-versa. The story has been changed, the script has been flipped, and the book of destiny has been utterly rewritten!

Welcome to Ayralef!


An apple to whoever guesses the identity of both the aforementioned "ancient evil" to the north, and the "other human empire" to the east. It's not hard. If you consult the Felarya Wiki you should be able to guess fairly quickly.
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:50 pm

Well, I'm not sure Negav is an empire but I'll throw that ticket in the hat. And I'll also take Ur-Sagol for 2000.
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:05 pm

Well the threat to the north sounds like Déméchrelle, but that doesn't match the map, as she is north-west of the ruins of Ur-Sagol.
The people to the west sound like the Miratans.

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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:03 pm

Oldman40k2003 wrote:
Well the threat to the north sounds like Déméchrelle, but that doesn't match the map, as she is north-west of the ruins of Ur-Sagol.
The people to the west sound like the Miratans.

Ding Ding Ding!! We have a winner!

Right on both counts. You're right, Demechrelle slumbers northwest of the Ur-Sagol ruins on Felarya. However, on Ayralef, Ur-Sagol is a lot larger and covers a much larger area, so 'north' is accurate in this instance. And the Miratans are to the east, not the west. But I'm sure that's what you meant to say.
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:41 pm

Hmmm....

Historically, the Dridder Empire was a contemporary to the Sagolians, actually outlasting them over a hundred years.

In this alternate dimension, what became of it? Allied to Ur-Sagol? Conquered? An enemy of Ur-Sagol?

What about other human expeditionary force - the Delurans and Vishmitals? I'm assuming in this timeline Anna would still be human as it is less likely she got eaten and there's no Guardians around anyways.

Another, more esoteric point - if there are no Guardians, how did Felarya survive the War with the Correctors? As well, would that mean that without the Guardians to make them, there were no Titans?

(One explanation for this could be that the Correctors are the reason there are no Guardians - in this timeline they were slightly more successful and killed every one of them. But, somehow, the Elementals were enough to still beat them."
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:47 pm

JT has a very valid point there. No guardians means the correctors win.
Unless it was a war of mutual annihilation and the guardians and the correctors wiped each other out. I think that suits better.
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:32 pm

Anime-Junkie wrote:
JT has a very valid point there. No guardians means the correctors win.
Unless it was a war of mutual annihilation and the guardians and the correctors wiped each other out. I think that suits better.

Good point. I wouldn't have thought of that. I'll take that into account. What I posted was just an introduction anyway and wasn't meant to be entirely too specific. But a war in which the Guardians were annihilated makes a lot more sense than a "Felarya" where there just weren't any to begin with.




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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:36 pm

Jætte_Troll wrote:
Hmmm....

Historically, the Dridder Empire was a contemporary to the Sagolians, actually outlasting them over a hundred years.

In this alternate dimension, what became of it? Allied to Ur-Sagol? Conquered? An enemy of Ur-Sagol?

What about other human expeditionary force - the Delurans and Vishmitals? I'm assuming in this timeline Anna would still be human as it is less likely she got eaten and there's no Guardians around anyways."

I actually accounted for those in my historical outline of Ayralef, but I didn't post that because I didn't want to overstep my bounds or monopolize the input session. I'm loving the assistance here! Keep the suggestions coming because I'm sure I'm missing things that would be obvious to some of you. This is exactly the kind of help and participation I was looking for.
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:01 am

What a strange and interesting idea this is.

For some reason it made me think of Alternate Mina doing tricks and singing for an audience at some aquatic theme park. This of course leads to a plot line in which a small child befriends her... and after that it pretty much follows Free Willy verbatim, with the whale replaced by a mermaid. And she probably eats some ambiguously evil park-security type dudes, too. Laughing

In any case, I can't really imagine writing out any of this in actual story form, but it was an immensely amusing diversion nonetheless, which has hopefully served to clean out some of the writers block I've been languishing under.
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PostSubject: Opening to Ayralef   Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:14 pm

What follows is the original opening chapter to my first Ayralef story. It was a rather ambitious undertaking considering the characters involved. The story features several of my OC's, plus some alternate versions of Karbo's most famous alumni from Felarya. And before anyone asks, yes, Karbo was aware of this at the time it was written and I did have permission.

I am posting this chapter just to illustrate how different things are between Felarya and Ayralef. I don't want anyone to think I'm showing off or anything, but I do this in the interest of drumming up some participation from other authors and artists. At the very least if I can draw some critiques and questions from the forum I can perfect my idea going forward.

Later on I'll post some character profiles of the various cast. The unique thing about the profiles is that they will include both their "Felarya" origin and "Ayralef" origin so that you can compare and contrast how different events led to characters being different.


******************************************

TUESDAY, 3:00 PM. POM-ANGKOR, CAPITAL OF UR-SAGOL.

The raindrops outside beat a rhythmic staccato of tiny thuds on the window pane located directly behind the desk. Corbin's eye drifted outside through that window while he awaited word on his proposal from his superior officer, General Olendorf. The water running rivulets down the glass made the city outside seem as though it were slowly melting. In a way, it was kind of hypnotic, the distortion of the rain, and the pattering of raindrops. For a moment, Corbin almost forgot he was standing before the desk of the Commanding General of the Ur-Sagol Imperial Army.

Corbin Landau was a moderately tall gentleman, about 6'2", standing in a full suit of white armor. His rounded helmet was tucked in the crook of his arm, while a light blue cape fell over his backside from his shoulders to his calves. He had black hair and blue eyes, with a small scar decorating the right side of his stubbled jaw. Corbin was about thirty-five years old, but still in great shape for a man his age. He didn't even have all that much gray hair poking through his façade of youth yet.

The sound of the clearing of a throat snapped Corbin out of his reverie and brought him back inside the office. Olendorf had set the paper he was just reading down in front of him and looked up at Corbin, then back down at the paper meaningfully.

"This is quite a proposal," the old man gruffed diplomatically. Olendorf's voice sounded like rocks scraping over metal from years of smoking.

"Does it not meet your approval, my lord?" Corbin prompted.

"Oh no, quite the opposite," Olendorf stood up slowly and turned around behind his chair to look out the very window Corbin was just staring through. He clasped his hands behind his back as he continued to speak. "I just have one question. What possessed you to come up with such a… unique idea?"

Corbin shifted his weight from one foot to the other. In response, his armor clanked like a collection of pots and pans. He'd worn his ceremonial white armor to the office today as a show of formality. "Remember the Island City Raid a few months back?" he asked the General.

"How could I forget?" Olendorf grunted.

"Well, sir. We certainly succeeded in liberating that city from Fairy control sure enough. But there was a tremendous amount of damage done before we got there. A lot of people were eaten or crushed. A lot of money will be spent rebuilding that city, and even then the possibility of Fairy counterattack is high, given that the city is practically right on top of the border between our lands. It's an easy and relatively lightly defended target. Which makes it a target of opportunity."

"I know that already, Vice Commander, get to the point," Olendorf interrupted him.

“That’s where ‘Project Arbalest’ comes in, sir,” Corbin said. “Imagine, if you will, a small, but versatile team of warriors and familiars who can mobilize rapidly, move quickly to a trouble-spot, and who can arrive early on the scene of an attack or crisis and buy time for the army to get there while keeping damage to a minimum and protecting lives. But that’s not all we could do. We could also perform special operations into enemy territories, like espionage or search-and-rescue. Operations that are too small for the whole army, and tasks which could be performed without the red-tape or political maneuvering that currently hinders this military.”

“Go on,” Olendorf prompted.

“In a nutshell, I’m talking about a team that can accomplish many things for the sake of the empire without having to mobilize the infantry or alerting our enemies. A mobile unit that can operate clandestinely, but who has enough firepower to shake a few trees if necessary. These people I have listed here… Not all of them are officially part of Ur-Sagol’s military, but they’re good people who love this empire. Most importantly, they are the best there is at what they do.”
"And of course their familiars are nothing to sneeze at either," General Olendorf turned around and pinned Corbin to the spot with an intense stare.

Corbin faltered a bit. "Er… yes sir."

Olendorf held the glare for a little longer, before his face broke and he couldn't stop chuckling any longer. "Alright, Corbin," he said. "If you were anybody else in this army I would be lecturing them on presuming too much. But you're one of the best soldiers I have ever had under me. You'll make a fine General one day when I'm gone. I suppose, if nothing else, this will be a good learning experience for you in a leadership role."

"So you're saying it's alright, sir?" Corbin's eyes lit up.

"Yes, Vice-Commander," Olendorf took a stamp from its ink tray and held it over the proposal. "I'm giving you full license and permission to assemble this team of yours. Go and get your people together. Of course I will be expecting a demonstration of this team's ability to work in concert when the time comes."

"Naturally, sir," Corbin agreed.

"Very well," Olendorf pounded the stamp firmly onto the paper. The red ink it left behind spelled the words: APPROVED!

WEDNESDAY, 12:15 PM.

The weather today was considerably better than yesterday. A good day for flying. The sun was shining, the breeze was steady, but not stiff. And the temperature was warm and pleasant. All in all a perfect summer day in central Ayralef.

Corbin and his familiar, an Ascarlin Harpy named Marlena, flew together towards the gigantic tree that formed the centerpiece of Pom-Angkor. The city got its name from that tree, as it dominated the landscape and cast its shadow over at least half the vast metropolis at any one time of day. At noon, its looming shadow was shading the central part of the city directly beneath its spreading branches and thick canopy. Corbin liked the giant tree more than anything about this city. Whoever had the brilliant idea to not cut it down when the capital was first established was certainly a forward-thinker. There was one other, one who lived inside the tree itself, who would readily agree with Corbin.

"Coming in for a landing, Corbin," Marlena sang. Corbin held on tightly to the metal bar hanging from Marlena's harness like a hang-glider, as she changed her body angle and brought her bird-like feet down to alight upon a balcony jutting from the side of the academy. Her giant wings relaxed and folded at her sides.
"Perfect landing as usual, Mari," said Corbin as he undid his safety harness and dropped down the short distance to the balcony floor. "Okay, I'm free. You can shrink down now."

Marlena closed her eyes and concentrated, and her body slowly shrank from its gigantic size until she was no taller than her master. Marlena was Corbin's familiar. And like all familiars who were natural giants, they were taught size-changing magic so that they could shift to Human size when not in service.
Marlena was a thing of beauty. Her white downy wings were well groomed and cleaned. The hair on her head matched the color of her feathers, while her eyes were a soft pink in color. The harness she wore had shrank with her, as had the brown leather bodice she wore for modesty's sake. When she was done shrinking she opened her pretty eyes and smiled at Corbin.

"Would you like me to wait out here or follow you inside, honey?" Her voice was like a constant musical lilt. Her speech graceful and dignified. Hard to believe that Harpies once upon a time were noted for their "fowl" language.

"Come on in, Mari. It's not like he'll mind if you come along," Corbin offered.

Marlena had landed them on a thick tree branch, about fifty yards from the vast trunk of the tree. Directly ahead was a hollowed out portion that was carved perhaps thousands of years ago by whatever had lived there last. Now it was occupied by a man, one of Corbin's best friends and fellow knight; Isaiah Rider.
Isaiah was a mixed breed. His father was Human, a man named Mikhail who lived in the City of Negav. His mother, on the other hand, was a Fairy. Not just any Fairy either. From what Corbin understood, apparently Isaiah's mother was none other than the Queen Lucrecia. Ur-Sagol's staunchest opponent! It wasn't something Isaiah wanted general knowledge, so only a select few knew the truth. But what wasn't a secret was Isaiah's Fairy-half, which was obvious if you looked closely at his ears. Because Humans were naturally very wary of Fairies and their kin, Isaiah was not particularly welcome in the city below. He served Ur-Sagol as a favor for Corbin, lending his knowledge of the wilderness outside Ur-Sagol's borders, but he spent most of his time sequestered up in this tree. No one other than General Olendorf, Corbin, Lea, and Marlena knew he lived here.

"Isaiah," Corbin called out as he knocked on the front door. The shape of the hole in the tree was slightly triangular, and Isaiah had shaped the door as such.
The door opened fairly shortly and a man who looked to be in his upper thirties stepped outside. His brown hair was graying on the sides and was trimmed short. His slightly pointed ears book ended a rugged face that always looked like it had five-o-clock shadow on it. His eyes were light blue, almost this side of gray. The frame of his body was lighter than Corbin's. More lean. The two men were almost the same height, though.

"Corbin. Marlena," he replied shortly. "Is something wrong?"

"No, nothing's wrong," said Corbin, smiling at his friend. Isaiah didn't like to waste words. "I've got news. May we come inside?"

Isaiah turned without a word and left the door open for them. Corbin led his familiar inside. Corbin took a seat on a handmade rocking chair while Marlena flew up to a wooden peg sticking from the wall and perched there with her feet clutching the banister. There was a rounded hole in the tree trunk that she could look out of while she sat there and waited.

"Tea?" Isaiah offered, holding up a kettle. "The water's gone cold but I could warm it up again."

"That won't be necessary," Corbin waved his friend off. "I've got a busy schedule so I can't stay long. Remember that plan of mine I told you about? My proposal for a strike force of mobile warriors?"

"Ah yes. 'Arbalest,' you called it, right?" Isaiah sat down in a chair across from Corbin.

"That's the one. I got it approved yesterday," Corbin was feeling slightly giddy. "General Olendorf wants me to assemble the team personally and arrange a demonstration for him and the other superiors."

Isaiah sat down at his table and steepled his fingers together thoughtfully. "You want me to be on the team, don't you?"

"Not only that," Corbin corrected, "I want you to be my lieutenant. My second-in-command."

Isaiah's eyebrows shot up in mild surprise. "Me?"

"There is no one I trust more," said Corbin sincerely. "You're a great fighter, you have a solid sense of duty, and you have never given me a single reason to distrust you. The fact that you're half-Fairy won't even factor into the offer. This is an under-the-table military enterprise, strictly hush-hush… for the time being anyway. Officially this team will not exist. So your participation will not, in any way, compromise the image of the team."

There was a protracted silence, followed by: "I'll have to think on it."

"I cannot leave without an answer," said Corbin. "And I won't take no for an answer. You're the best man for the job."

“Am I?”

“You are,” Corbin asserted. “This team will be, among other things, conducting certain missions outside of Ur-Sagol territory. Given your background, you will know better than any of us what lies outside our borders. You know the wildlife, you know the plant-life, or most of it anyway. You even know some of the terrain having lived in some of these places yourself.”

“You’re sure this ‘background’ of mine won’t cause some friction within the team?” Isaiah pointed out. “There are those who hate anything associated with the Fairies.”

“I’m well aware of that, and I admit there’s a possibility of trouble should your secret come out,” said Corbin. “But most of these people are people you and I already know. I promise you, the majority of the team will be on your side. Besides… Lea will be on the team.”

Isaiah narrowed his eyes at Corbin, “Yeah? So?”

“Don’t be coy with me,” Corbin cracked a wry grin. “I’ve seen you two together.”

Isaiah faltered and broke into an amused smile. "I suppose there are more productive things I could do right now than be difficult. And since it's you asking, I see no reason to refuse. What exactly will our mission be?"

"Quick-strike; special assignment," Corbin described to him. "Missions that are too small and too fluid for a much larger military force to handle. Including, but not limited to, espionage against our enemy. I'll have a much more detailed list of duties when we get the team together for our first training session."

"Which I'm sure you already have scheduled," Isaiah finished, still grinning. "So what do you want me to do?"

"I'll be handling recruitment within the city," said Corbin. "There'll be some mutual friends of ours on the team, but also some people I have yet to meet. There are three in particular that lie outside of Pom-Angkor, elsewhere in the empire. I want you to handle recruitment of those people."

Isaiah frowned again. "Wouldn't that be detrimental, to send a half-breed out to recruit soldiers?"

"These three aren't soldiers," Corbin corrected. "And only one of them is actually Human, so at worst you'll have difficulty dealing with one of them. If that."
"I'll need a list of names and locations," said Isaiah.

Corbin held out a small scrap of paper before Isaiah was even finished speaking. The reclusive knight reached out and took the list and scanned it.

"Negav City; Meshach Prison; and Miragia Preserve," he read aloud. "Those are certainly quite a trip from here."

"If nothing else, try to hit the prison and the preserve before you come back," said Corbin. "Those two in particular could really help make or break this team."

"This prisoner…" Isaiah pointed out, "why do you think he's going to help us?"

"Because I'm giving you the authority to offer him a pardon in exchange for his services," Corbin responded. "And don't worry about whether we can trust him or not. This guy isn't a murderer or something. The way I hear things, he's just a guy down on his luck. But he has something in his possession that could be a boon to this empire in the right hands."

"Hmmmm." Isaiah looked at the scrap of paper again. "I'll leave tonight. If nothing else this idea of yours is intriguing enough to see how it's going to turn out. I assume you have a portal reserved for me to get out to these places quickly."

"Reserved for exactly three pm this afternoon," Corbin stood up from his chair.

Isaiah shook his head and gritted his teeth. “You bastard,” he said with a grin. “You really just expected me to say ‘yes’ didn’t you? You assume much of people. Sooner or later that’s going to come back to haunt you.”

“My mother used to tell me the same thing,” Corbin went to the door as Marlena flew down from her perch. “Three pm, Isaiah. Don’t be late. Those portal bookings are expensive.”

“Am I ever late?”

THURSDAY, 9:05 AM

"Okay, everyone!" Professor Lea Landau entered the classroom and cut straight to the chase, as she always did. Her students turned from talking amongst themselves and faced forward. "I've got a fun lesson for you today…"

"For a change?" a smart-mouthed boy student in the back of the class quipped, much to the amusement of his classmates.

Lea smiled at the joke, but it was a hard smile. "I'll tell you what, Kyle. You can tell me just how exciting you think today's lesson is on Saturday, how's that?"

"Oooooh!!" a few students verbally winced on Kyle's behalf. Kyle tried to pass it off as if it didn't bother him, but the way his body slumped in his chair told a much different story.

"Anyway, we have a guest today. A guest who represents an integral part of your future lives as Mages in this empire," Lea continued. "Each and every one of you, at some point after graduation, is going to be assigned a familiar. All Mages and Knights in service to the empire eventually get one. This person will become your weapon, your… assistant, your best friend, but most importantly, he or she will be an extension of yourself. Your familiar will come in one of three forms: A Naga, a Centaur, or a Harpy. He or she will be chosen on a number of criteria, but no matter which one you get, you will be completely responsible for them, and of them. They will follow your every command, if you only remember one important thing. Familiars are people too! Treat them as you would treat a family member, NOT a pet! If you disrespect them, well… always remember that deep down they are carnivores, and that their ancestors used to love eating Humans."

Lea wasn't sure who made the noise, but there was at least one audible gulp at the end of that statement.

"Now, without further ado, I'm going to introduce you all to my own familiar. Please give a warm welcome to Crisis."

The classroom door opened and in slithered a slim, blonde Naga. At the sound of applause she blushed slightly and waved. Lea was not surprised to hear a few of the boys make certain noises indicating they thought she was cute. Crisis was a well-known favorite amongst Naga enthusiasts, with many voting her 'Cutest Naga in the Empire' in a recent magazine poll. Crisis was dressed in a simple loincloth to hide her privates and a brown cloth brassier to maintain her chest modesty.

Crisis dutifully slithered up next to Lea and bowed at the waist. "Hi, everyone! I'm Crisis. It's nice to meet you." Her cheery disposition was infectious, as most of the students said 'hello' back or giggled and waved.

Lea let the noise go on for a minute or two before pounding her podium with her teacher's gavel. "Okay, boys and girls. That's enough. You'll have some time at the end of the lesson to speak with Crisis personally."

Lea grabbed a pointing stick and stepped down from the podium. "Now," she continued her lesson. "Obviously most of you have seen familiars before and most of them have been of gigantic stature. Crisis is no exception. Her true size is somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty to ninety feet from head to ground. The reason she's my size right now is because of the size-changing magic that every familiar is taught before they’re pressed into service. This technique was stolen from the Fairies a long, long time ago and adapted for the empire's uses in this regard. It is convenient in that it allows a creature normally hundreds of feet large to fit into a space built for a human.

"Care and feeding of your familiar is best done while they’re in small size. An adult familiar can pretty much take care of herself. The only thing you have to be mindful of is feeding habits. Nagas especially are known for eating almost anything. They can unlock their jaws, if need be, like so…"

Crisis, on cue, wiggled her chin, eliciting some muffled cracks from her cheeks, then, dramatically, she yawned her mouth open so wide she could have fit a full grown bulldog in her mandibles! The class recoiled somewhat in shock before Crisis closed her mouth and reset her jaws.

"This trait they obviously inherited from snakes," Lea pointed out. "My point is that an important thing for you to remember is that size is key. The size-changing magic also changes the size of their appetites. If you don't want your familiar going on a feeding rampage as a giant, feed them regularly and keep them at human-size for feeding. They can, and usually will, take care of themselves if you don't. Sometimes with disastrous consequences. Nagas especially get hungry frequently. Why, Crisis here once decimated an entire farm full of animals because she skipped two meals the day before."

Crisis threw her arm behind her head and laughed sheepishly. "Ahahahahahah! Aw, Lea, you promised you wouldn't tell them about that…!"

Lea smirked and poked Crisis in the side with her pointer, which elicited a squirm and a giggle from the blonde Naga. The class chuckled a little as well.

"Familiars," lectured Lea, "whether they are Nagas, or Harpies, or Centaurs, have a lot in common with humans. They have thoughts. They have feelings. They feel the same kind of happiness and pain you do. And yes, most of them are even ticklish." Lea tickled Crisis again in the ribs with her stick to demonstrate, causing Crisis to giggle even harder, coiling her tail up defensively. The Naga slid out of Lea's reach with the stick. The class laughed again at the adorable reaction.

"They all have different personalities," continued Lea. "Some are playful and kind, like Crisis here. Others will be less so. It is your responsibility to learn your familiar's quirks and wants the same way you would learn from your loved ones. Always remember, the better you treat your familiar, the more loyal they will be toward you. Don't ever make the mistake of assuming they're just mindless slaves or objects!"

A student raised his hand.

"Yes, Burton?"

"Professor, have people ever slept with their familiars?" he blurted out. The rest of the class laughed out loud.

Lea rolled her eyes. "I get that question every year. Yes, there are instances of Mages and familiars falling in love with one another. Such relationships are not prohibited, but I urge you to proceed at your own peril in regards to romance. Break-ups between people are hard. Breaking up with your familiar might just ruin an otherwise beautiful partnership forever! So guys, if you get a female, be gentle with her! Don't expect your familiar to just put out for you!"

"Knock-knock," somebody said from the classroom doorway, drawing everyone's gaze.

"Ah, speaking of someone who gets along famously with his familiar," Lea segued. "Class, say hello to Vice Commander Corbin Landau of the Imperial White Knights, and his lovely familiar, Marlena."

Everyone stood up as the knight entered with his Harpy hopping in after him. Again there were some whistles and cat-calls from the boys as they checked out Marlena. She too was quite lovely to behold.

"Hello trainees," Corbin said. "You may be seated. I just need to speak with Professor Landau here for a moment outside."

"I see," Lea said. "I figured this wasn't a social visit."

"Hey, professor!" another boy shouted. It was always the boys, for some reason, who spoke out of turn. "You both have the same last names. Are you married or something?"

Lea actually lost some of her composure and blushed slightly. "Hey now!"

Corbin held up his hands for silence. "Actually, young man. I can answer that. You see Lea is not originally from this world. A few years ago she was stranded here due to a dimensional shift. It was actually Crisis who discovered her and introduced Lea to me. To make an incredibly long story short, I adopted Lea into my family so that she could become a Mage. So you might say she's more of a sister."

"If that's the case, then why is she blushing?" one of the girls demanded.

"S-silence, you!" Lea burst into full blush despite her best efforts.

Corbin chuckled as the class laughed full bore now at their teacher. "Heh… sorry if I caused any trouble, sis," he said to Lea. "Crisis… Can you and Marlena entertain the students while we're outside? This will only be a minute."

"Sure thing," Crisis gave a casual salute.

"Of course," Marlena added.

The chattering and questions began even before the two adults were outside the classroom, but the volume was muted as Corbin slid the door closed.

"What's this all about?" Lea asked, a bit crossly. She didn't much like having her composure rattled in front of her students like that.

"Pack your things, Lea," Corbin said happily. "I've just gotten you a promotion."

Lea looked up at her adoptive sibling. "You mean…?"

"Yup," Corbin held out the copy of the contract General Olendorf had stamped with his approval. "The 'Arbalest Project' is approved. I didn't even hardly have to do any selling. The General agrees that a small, talented strike force is just what this empire needs. As promised, you're on the top of the list of warriors. We could sure use your Weather Magic."

"Wow," Lea replied. "I honestly didn't think it would get approved. But I did promise you I'd join if you pulled it off. So… when do I start?"

"Our first training session is scheduled for next week," Corbin replied. "You have until then to tender your resignation to the administration and say farewell to your students."

"Can Crisis come along?" Lea asked pointedly.

"Are you kidding?! She's half the reason I wanted you on the team," Corbin said dryly.

Lea punched him lightly on the shoulder. "Nice. I guess I really can't say no then."

"Outstanding!" Corbin beamed at her. "I've got a few more recruiting visits to make this week, so you won't see much of me for the next several days. I'll leave you to your business."

THURSDAY, 11:37 AM

There were days, more often than not, when Anna Demorah was utterly convinced a bunch of monkeys would make better assistants than the supposed "techies" she had working under her command. Today was just one of those days.

Taking a long drag on her cigarette, Anna glared at the five or six brainiacs assembled in front of her in a row; all men. If looks could kill, Anna would be reducing all of them to ashes with laser beams from her eyes!

"So," she said, puffs of smoke exiting her nostrils like the breath of some hellish beast. "Which of you clowns do we have to thank for this?"

'This' was a reference to the broken down portal she and her team had been tasked with repairing. It was a device entirely made and powered by technology and human ingenuity. It wasn't one of those mystical, magical portals that turned on with a wiggle of the fingers that most people preferred. Anna hated those. She hated magic in general. Yet another reason why she questioned, almost daily now, what the hell she was doing on this world; serving an empire she wasn't even originally part of; all in the name of foreign relations between her people, the Delurans, and Ur-Sagol.

Of course, if it had been a magical portal, Anna wouldn't be standing in front of its smoking hulk right now, contemplating murder.

Yelm Storgard, one of the self-proclaimed geniuses on her staff, raised his hand meekly. He was standing second from the left as Anna faced. Like most of his compatriots, he was balding, pasty, and desperately thin. UN-like most of them, Yelm did not wear glasses.

Anna narrowed her eyes and stepped over to where Yelm was standing. She got right in his face and blew a puff of smoke. She could see the sweat droplets collecting on his mug from this distance.

"Before I beat the living pants off of you," she said with exaggerated calm, "why don't you explain to me why we're all suddenly back to square one on this project?"

Yelm visibly shrank from her presence. "I, uh… I kept seeing errors coming upon the computer diagnostic of the portal's operating system, right? So I tried rebooting a few times, but the error wouldn't go away. I concluded it must be a hardware issue rather than software. I did an inspection and sure enough, I found the source of the problem. There was a misfire between the 'electron dialator' and the 'dimension-flux compensator'."

"Uh huh," Anna interrupted. "And why exactly didn't you notify me of this problem before doing anything?"

Yelm bit his lip nervously. "B-because… I, uh… wanted to surprise you?"

"I see. Well, in that case you succeeded wonderfully," Anna gritted through her teeth. "Although I can't tell you I'm thrilled, you certainly threw me a curve-ball there, Einstein. Continue. What did you do next?"

"Well, I… I grabbed a hydro spanner and… tried to loosen the dialator to broadcast a wider beam and transfer more power. I-I could have swore I was turning it in the right direction--"

"Did you TURN… THE MACHINE… OFF, first?!" Anna raised her voice a few notches.

Yelm looked as if he wanted to slap his forehead. "No…" The scientist, realizing his error, cowered before Anna. He was visibly shaking as he saw the pink-haired crew boss begin to fume, and quite possibly wetting himself too. If he wasn't, he was very soon going to be!

Anna clenched her fist and raised her arm as if to backhand the nerd. The fist she raised still had the smoldering cigarette between its fingers, but she didn't care. A little burn to go with the bruise would double the lesson. With a sound like cracking celery, she struck the scientist, knocking him to the floor on his hands and knees.

"GRRRRRR!!! DO YOU REALIZE JUST HOW LONG IT'S GOING TO TAKE US TO GET NEW PARTS IN TO REPLACE THOSE TWO COMPONENTS?!" Anna roared loud enough for the whole lab to hear. "IT'LL BE WEEKS!! WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ORDERING THEM ALL THE WAY FROM DELURAH BECAUSE THEY SURE DON'T HAVE THOSE PARTS ON THIS STUPID, BACK-WATER, HOKEY-POKE WORLD--"

"Anna!" someone shouted, interrupting her tirade.

"WHAT?!!" Anna spun around and saw a familiar looking knight standing on the other side of the broken portal, the outer ring framing him like a mural on a dinner plate. He had a far-too-pleased look on his face. Seeing someone else so happy right now only made Anna angrier. She turned her ire on the knight.

"Corbin Landau!! Buddy, considering you just stole my thunder, you'd better be here with some fabulous news for me!" Anna snarled at him.

"You seem to be under a lot of stress, Anna," Corbin said amicably.

"BITE ME!!"

Corbin held out a rolled up piece of paper in his gauntleted fist. "How would you like to be reassigned, Anna?" he asked.

Anna's anger drained out of her like water from a bathtub. "Is that what I think it is?" she asked, not daring to hope.

"If you still want to be the official Techno-Wizard of Team Arbalest, you have to give me your decision now," Corbin teased.

Finally!! Anna could not have said 'yes' emphatically enough!

TO BE CONTINUED…
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:38 am

You know, I think this works rather well. (Though if this is now going to be a story thread, it should probably be moved to the story section.) It's well written, and the alternative versions of the canon characters are convincing. Well thought-out. Although "ace team" stories are far from my favourite, it sustained my interest throughout. I'd say this is starting out nicely, with definite potential.

I'll admit the use of the name "Angkor" in the city's name threw me a little. It made me imagine Khmer architecture for the city. Which is fine, since Ur-Sagol in Felarya vaguely has that feel - but it does make me think of ruins rather than a live, bustling city. Razz Still, it's a tiny point. And in a way, I suppose it may even be appropriate: What lies in ruins in one world is brought back to life in yours.

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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Sat Feb 12, 2011 8:21 am

French snack wrote:
You know, I think this works rather well. (Though if this is now going to be a story thread, it should probably be moved to the story section.) It's well written, and the alternative versions of the canon characters are convincing. Well thought-out. Although "ace team" stories are far from my favourite, it sustained my interest throughout. I'd say this is starting out nicely, with definite potential.

I'll admit the use of the name "Angkor" in the city's name threw me a little. It made me imagine Khmer architecture for the city. Which is fine, since Ur-Sagol in Felarya vaguely has that feel - but it does make me think of ruins rather than a live, bustling city. Razz Still, it's a tiny point. And in a way, I suppose it may even be appropriate: What lies in ruins in one world is brought back to life in yours.

Well if you think it should be moved, I have no problem with that. This started out as a suggestion/invitation thread to try and get people interested in participating in my idea that's why I originally put it here. I don't know how to move threads around, or if that's something only Mods can do.

Pom Angkor is a city built around the base of the Giant Tree. Whereas on Felarya the tree is the centerpiece of a sprawling forest, on Ayralef, the forest was largely cut down and a city was built there, although the founders of the city left the Giant Tree standing to shelter their metropolis. Since I haven't found any evidence anywhere that anyone came up with a language that Ur-Sagolians spoke, I simply invented the name myself.

Pom = Great
Angkor = Tree
Pom Angkor = Great Tree or Giant Tree. Basically the city is named for the humongous natural wonder that overshadows it.

Some things never change, however. It's still the home of Crisis, Lea, and Anna. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Ayralef, anyone?   Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:27 am

Mercatur12 wrote:

Well if you think it should be moved, I have no problem with that. This started out as a suggestion/invitation thread to try and get people interested in participating in my idea that's why I originally put it here. I don't know how to move threads around, or if that's something only Mods can do.

Depends on what the main purpose of the thread is going to be from now on. If it's primarily going to be a story thread, I'll move it to the appropriate section.

Quote :

Pom Angkor is a city built around the base of the Giant Tree. Whereas on Felarya the tree is the centerpiece of a sprawling forest, on Ayralef, the forest was largely cut down and a city was built there, although the founders of the city left the Giant Tree standing to shelter their metropolis. Since I haven't found any evidence anywhere that anyone came up with a language that Ur-Sagolians spoke, I simply invented the name myself.

Pom = Great
Angkor = Tree
Pom Angkor = Great Tree or Giant Tree. Basically the city is named for the humongous natural wonder that overshadows it.

*nods* It's just that, Angkor being the name of Cambodia's most famous temple (so famous it's actually on the national flag), the name in this context brings to mind a certain imagery. Which is actually quite suitable.

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