Jump to content

Sovereign States!


Recommended Posts

Shameless plugging away! So there's a worldbuilding competition on DeviantArt coming up, called Sovereign States. You create a civilization and follow them through history as they go head to head with other civs until the strongest nation wins! It's a lot of fun, and the focus is on culture and development.

Auditions are set in the tribal phase, with each subsequent round you'll be in a new time period. (Think the Mistborn trilogy of trilogies idea!) The auditions are due April 20th so there's just about a month left to get auditions in. Check it out!

**Forewarning: I know we're all magic fans, but the science of the world is very strict. If you want "magical" powers, you're going to have to have a lot of science backing it up.**

I'll post the first few parts of my Audition with my Civ, the Jaiseti, below. My Attitudes and Beliefs page give some depth into their culture and worldview, but shouldn't be necessary to understand the story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Original DeviantArt Post

Comments and Critiques welcome!


Sovereign States Audition: Jaiset (Part 1)

Reene was dying. Kalir knew that much. Red Fever wasn't a quick killer, but it was almost always fatal.

As he watched, Reene coughed softly in her sleep. It was a pitiful sort of sound, as though she barely had enough energy to push air back out of her lungs. Her forehead was beaded with sweat from the fever and her skin was beginning to show the blotchy red patches that gave Red Fever its name.

His sister. That was his little sister, lying there dying, and there was nothing he could do about it.

There is one thing you could do… A small voice in the back of his head whispered. But no, he couldn't. That was blasphemous.

There was one good thing about this – if anything about something so terrible could be good – and that was that the healers' base was in one of the sunniest parts of the steep twisting canyons the Jaiseti called home. The large open space was one of the few places in the canyons that got direct sunlight for more than an hour each day.

Everyone knew that sunlight was the best thing for the sick. Sunlight was the best thing for anyone. Sunlight made you stronger, faster. It helped heal injuries and disease. Your body just worked better when you got light. Even from sitting beside his sister's pallet for a half hour, Kalir already felt more energized, more alive. It seemed a terrible sort of irony that he should feel so wonderful at the same time he felt so miserable. Perhaps Elumis was shining especially brightly, punishing him for his heretic thoughts.

A short distance away, his father stood, softly murmuring a prayer to Elumis, the sun. Kalir couldn't hear him, though he knew what his father would be saying. Asking Elumis to heal her, praying for him to shine brighter to give her more light, hoping that it wasn't his will to take Reene from them so quickly. She was barely in her fourteenth year, just a few years younger than Kalir himself.

There were tears in his father's eyes. As the Daiem of Jaiset, he was one of the most powerful man that Kalir knew, and he was crying. It was a bit unsettling. The Daiem had always been in control of every situation, taking crises and guiding his people through them, always making level-headed decisions for the good of the tribe. He looked so frustrated and confused, but there was no order or edict that would save his daughter.

Not that that would stop him from trying. Giving commands was simply what the Daiem did.

"Varine," He called. The last person nearby, a young healer looked up as the Daiem said her name.

"Yes, Daiem?" Varine asked. She and Kalir were around the same age, and had even been friends when they were younger. He hadn't spoken to her in a while; her healer's training and his work with his father kept them from seeing each other very often. Absently, Kalir wondered if she'd had to ask special favors to oversee Reene's care.

The Daiem looked pained, as though he already knew the answer to his question, but couldn't help asking it. "Is there any chance we will find this cure of yours in time?"

"There's always a chance, Daiem." Varine said, but her light blue eyes were sad. "Though, it would be remiss of me to leave out how small that chance is. Feversbane is the only cure we know of, and it's very rare. We've scoured the canyons, but it's very possible that there aren't any feversbane plants growing right now. Even if we did find some, they would have to have already bloomed in order to be potent."

She paused, as if she were afraid of what she would say next. "Elumis may still provide, but I believe you must prepare yourselves that he will not. I'm so sorry."

Kalir watched as the strength evaporated from his father's posture. His head bowed forward and his eyes closed, tears appearing again. It was the look of defeat; the Daiem had given up hope. There was no answer to their problem and no cure for Reene.

But there is… that treasonous little voice whispered again. Kalir had been fighting his dangerous idea for days, but it had only grown stronger as the week went on without a cure.

And he was tired of fighting it.

"Varine," he said quietly. "Does feversbane grow outside the canyons?"

Across the pallet, his father stiffened, but Kalir refused to look at him. He focused on Varine, who looked both shocked and terrified.

Her eyes flicked to the Daiem, as if afraid of what he might do if she answered, before returning to Kalir. "I-I suppose. I mean, it's possible that it does." Her hands were shaking and her voice was small. "If there was enough shade somewhere, it might."

"Kalir," his father said, his voice tight with barely held anger. "Please tell me that I did not hear what I thought I did."

Kalir was silent.

"I will not allow this." His father firmly. "You would forsake your homeland? You would leave the gifts of food, water and shelter – gifts Elumis has given us? We must be grateful for what we have, not covetous of what we lack!"

Kalir stood up, facing his father, fury plain on his face. "'What we lack' is going to kill her!" He yelled, pointing to the still-sleeping Reene. His father had a tendency to bring out the worst temper in him.

"Elumis gives us all we have – including our lives – and we know that one day he will take everything back. If he decides not to give us the cure, then we must accept his decision!"

"Maybe he already has given it to us! What if there are feversbane flowers growing just outside these canyons, ready to heal, and you're too stubborn to use them?"

A desperation entered the Daiem's voice behind his anger, as realized that his son was serious about this choice. "I will not let you risk your soul for this. I am already losing my daughter. Do not take my son from me as well."

"I'm sorry," Kalir said, voice hard. "But I won't let my sister die."

With that, he walked away toward the canyons' nearest exit. He was terrified of the outside, but as he'd spoken, he'd become more and more sure that he was making the right decision. He half expected his father to try and physically stop him, or send men after him, but he walked alone for nearly an hour.

He was only a few minutes away from the Redstone Arch, which marked the southernmost end of true Jaiset, when he finally heard footsteps behind him. He tensed, his hand going to the hunting knife at his belt, ready to fight if need be, but the voice that called out was one that he knew.


Kalir turned, and was surprised to see Varine running after him. She must have run the whole way to keep up with him, but she didn't seem out of breath. Working in the sun all day had strengthened her, he supposed.

"Kalir," she said as she finally caught up. "Are you sure about this? This isn't something to choose lightly, and you're emotionally compromised at the moment."

His expression was hard. "There's nothing you can say to make me turn back. My mind's made up. I'm not going to let her die, Varine."

She nodded. "I expected as much. In that case-" She looked up quickly, her eyes determined. "-I'm going with you."

"Forget it." He said, turning and beginning to walk away again. "You're not coming. There's no reason we should both be damned."

She hurried to catch up with him again. "Oh really? And what were you going to do on the outside? Where were you going to start?"

He paused for just a second, before continuing again, even more determined. "I'd figure it out."

"Do you have any supplies?" She was persistent. "Food? Water? Anything? You're not going to last long out there without all this." She hefted some sacks she was carrying, which Kalir noticed for the first time. Some were the over-the-shoulder waterskins that the healers used to carry water from patient to patient, while others were simple carrying sacks, bulging with the outlines of fruit and flatbread.

He stopped and gave her a flat look, realizing she had a point. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to just give those to me?"

"Of course not." She said, smiling as she gained the upper hand. "My supplies go where I go. Besides you'd need me anyway. Do you even know what feversbane looks like?"

"Sure!" He said defensively. "It's got… well, white flowers … and-"

"That's a 'no.'" She said, satisfied. "You have no idea. And you wouldn't know what to do with them even if you did find the right plant. Admit it, you need me."

"Fine," he said, rolling his eyes. "You can come, Varine. Though why you would want to is beyond me."

She blushed, and ducked her head to try to keep him from noticing. "I just knew you'd need help, that's all."

He lifted the two of water satchels over her head, and slipped them on. He took one of the sacks of food as well. He adjusted the straps of each until they rested comfortably on his shoulders. They set off walking again, neither speaking for a while. Finally, the Redstone Arch came into view, a great wind-carved monolith, noticeably darker than the surrounding rock.

Varine paused for a moment, looking up in wonder. "I've never actually seen it before. It's beautiful. Aren't there guards here to keep people from wandering out?"

"Yeah, there are," Kalir said absently, staring at the arch as well. He'd visited the arch before with his father, but it seemed bigger, more imposing now that he was thinking of crossing it. Maybe his father was right; maybe he should just turn back...

He shook his head quickly, clearing his doubts and regaining his resolve. He glanced at her, a wry smile on his face. "But I'm the Daiem's son. What are they going to do about it?"


Edited by FeatherWriter
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to original: http://featherwriter.deviantart.com/art/SovStates-Audition-Part-2-198637412


Sovereign States Audition: Jaiset (Part 2)

By the fourth day out of Jaiset, the curse reached its peak. Kalir and Varine had betrayed Elumis and he was slowly but thoroughly smiting them from above. They had turned their backs on all he had given them, and they were suffering his wrath for it.

It hadn't been like that at first. Oh, no, everything had been wonderful when they'd just left. There'd been so much light! The satchels full of supplies had seemed to weigh nothing, their feet never felt tired, and climbing over the rocky ground was effortless. When they'd stopped to make camp for the night, they'd both been famished, but that wasn't strange considering all they'd done that day. Varine had tried to ration the food, but they'd both eaten far more than their share.

But when they'd woken up the next morning, the curse had set in.

Their skin had turned bright red, and was extremely painful to the touch. At first Varine had thought that they had acquired some rash, but only the skin which had been open to sunlight was affected. It burned like standing too close to a fire and when their clothes rubbed against the cursed skin, it was like being raked over with live coals.

The hunger the next morning was worse as well. It felt like neither of them had eaten in days, despite their huge meal the night before. All thoughts of rations were forgotten as they tore through their supplies for breakfast. Varine did some quick calculations and came to a frightening conclusion; at the rate they were eating, their two weeks' rations would be strained to last even half that.

There was nothing to do but continue on, heading south. Kalir tried to hunt as they walked, to lessen the stress on their supplies, but there were few animals out and it hurt too terribly to move very quickly. Sure, he was stronger and faster than he'd been before coming out in the sunlight, but using that new strength was torture. Even the graces of Elumis' light were denied the cursed.

And so, when he woke up on the fourth day; food and water running low, cursed by his god, and not a hint of feversbane; Kalir had thought that things could not get any worse. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and was rewarded with a burst of pain for the unconscious gesture, but as he pulled his hands away, he saw there there were small white flakes of skin on his fingers.

He slowly turned toward Varine, who looked up from kicking dirt over the ashes of last night's fire. Her face was a mix of surprise and concern.

"Kalir," she asked slowly. "What happened to your face?" She stood slowly, walking over to him carefully. Hesitantly, she reached out to touch his cheek, but pulled back at the last second, though whether from fear of what she saw or not wanting to hurt him, he couldn't be sure.

"I have no idea." He said. "What does it look like? What's wrong?"

"It almost as if…" She trailed off, not finishing her thought.

"As if what, Varine? What's happened?"

She took a deep breath. "As if your skin is dying. It looks cracked and withered and I don't like the way it's flaking away." When she met his eyes, there was fear written across her face.

"The ungrateful fall from Elumis' grace, and his wrath descends upon them," Kalir quoted quietly. It was a common story in Jaiset, told to children to make them behave. "Those who venture beyond his boundaries face his curse, his light turning against them and their very skin pulling away; repulsed by the body of such a wicked soul." The tale ended different each time – sometimes the cursed turned into dust and joined the earth, sometimes they were became wandering wraiths with all humanity burned away, sometimes they turned into terrible beasts that stalked the night – but it was always a terrible consequence.

"I always thought it was just a story," Varine whispered, her voice trembling slightly. "We're truly cursed, aren't we?" She searched his eyes desperately; searching for an answer within them that would assuage her fears.

He had none for her. But how sincerely he wished he did.

"It doesn't change anything." He said finally. "We have to keep going."

As the words fell in the silence, she just stood there with her eyes squeezed shut, little wrinkles forming between her eyebrows. Kalir could almost feel the thoughts turning over in her head – the decision she was making was weighing on her heavily. For a moment, he was afraid she was going to break down, that it was all too much. But then she gave a quick, small nod and when her eyes met his there was a fiery determination in them.

"You're right." Her voice trembled a little, but there was strength behind the words. "We can't change what we've done. Nothing to do but move forward."

They finished breaking camp without saying much and continued their endless trek southward. Around midday, as they paused in a small spot of shade to eat, Kalir noticed that the skin on his arms had begun to break and pull away as well. The dead skin was uncomfortable and pulled as he moved, but scratching it off revealed skin even redder and more sensitive so he tried to just ignore the tickling itch. Varine's nose was showing cracks but he decided not to point it out. Two of their four water skins were empty now, and the other two were far from full. If they didn't find a water source soon, it wouldn't be the curse that killed them.

Elumis was blazing as they walked that afternoon. The earth shimmered and undulated beneath his gaze and Kalir and Varine were smoldering. It seemed like every few minutes one of them would reach for the water skins again, but to go without would mean death. Sweat stung their shattered skin as they plodded ever southward.

Kalir was about to give up hope when Varine pointed and cried out, "What's that?"

She picked up her pace, moving toward an area to their left. Kalir followed, not sure what she saw. As he got closer, he could see that there was a deep, wide hole, as though the ground had caved in. The edges curved upward, concealing the sinkhole, which was why he hadn't seen it until he'd gotten close. Varine stood on the lip for a moment, peering over, before turning back to him. There were tears in her eyes.

"Kalir," She said quietly. "I think we've found them."

He stepped up beside her, looking over. Down at the bottom of the sinkhole, a clear deep pool of water glistened. Around it, sheltered from the heat of the day, grew all kinds of small plants; a tiny splash of green in the otherwise unrelieved reds and browns.

And around the walls, springy little plants were tucked into the ledges and crevices of the rough rock. Atop those plants grew small white flowers. Beautiful little white flowers.

Kalir climbed over the edge, scrambling down. Varine wasn't far behind him. They both reached the bottom quickly; the wall had ample hand and foot holds. He felt slightly guilty, but as much as he cared about the feversbane, he could think of nothing but the water. He knelt beside the pool, cupping some in his hands and drinking deeply. It was fresh and cool, most likely fed from the same underground river as the reservoir back in Jaiset. After the tepid, stagnant water in their packs, it was heavenly.

Beside him, Varine held her hair back and dunked her head under. He followed her lead. For the first time in three days, his skin stopped burning. The water was so soothing, he wouldn't have pulled back out if not for needing to breathe.

Varine laughed at him gasping for air. When he'd caught his breath, he laughed too. She suddenly gave him a mischievous smirk and smacked her hand against the water, splashing him. They continued until they both were completely soaked. However, as soon as the water rolled off, the heat of their skin returned. It would take more than just water to lift the curse.

But then Varine discovered something that might do just that.

As Kalir refilled their water skins, Varine examined some of the plants around the pool, looking for something that might be edible. One in particular, a larger plant with thick fleshy leaves interested her. She crushed the leaves, causing a juice to seep out. She rubbed the juice back and forth over her fingers, looking perplexed.

Kalir looked up, watching her. "What is it?"

"It's cool." She said. Hesitantly she rubbed it over the reddest part of her arm. "It doesn't hurt. It just feels soothing."

She broke some more leaves off the plants, passing them to him. He squeezed them as she had, spreading it over his arms and face. She was right; it wasn't as refreshing as the water, but far more lasting. It leeched the heat out of his skin and eased the itchy feeling.

"That's amazing." He said.

"Yes," she said quietly, a small smile creeping across her face. "It is. Elumis provided for us."

Kalir smiled. "So he has." He looked over at the white-flowered plants growing on the walls. "Are those flowers them? Feversbane?"

She stood up, moving over to a low-growing cluster. "It certainly looks like feversbane. There's one way to find out." She pulled one of the petals off the flowers, holding it delicately as she walked back toward him. "If this is feversbane, the petal will turn crimson when crushed."

She met his eyes and took his hand, placing the delicate petal in his palm. "She's your sister. You should be the one to do it."

He nodded, but didn't look away from her eyes. "I'm scared, Varine."

"I know." She took his hand and closed his fingers around the petal. "Elumis is with us. You can do this."

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and with her hand still cupping his, he clenched his fist. He held tight until he felt his nails bite into his palm, but he didn't let up. And as he pressed harder and harder, he sent one desperate prayer to Elumis, praying that his sister could be saved despite his heresy.

Finally, Varine squeezed his hand and he unclenched his fist, his hand laying open in hers. He opened his eyes, but couldn't look down, instead focusing on her.

"We'll look together," she said, determined. "On the count of three. One, two…" she took a quick breath to steady herself, before finishing. "Three"

They looked. The petal lay crushed and broken in his palm, and its juice left a scarlet, bloodlike smear where it had touched and stained his fingers.

"We did it." Varine whispered, her voice growing louder as she spoke. "We found it, Kalir. Reene's going to live!"

She threw her arms around him, hugging him tight and pressing her sun-scarred cheek into his shoulder. After a moment, he surprised himself by hugging her back. She lifted her head, looking up at him, surprised as well.

So, unable to think of anything else to do, he kissed her.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to Original: http://featherwriter.deviantart.com/art/SovStates-Audition-Part-3-201757021


Sovereign States Audition: Jaiset (Part 3)

The return trip took far less time. The curse was beginning to fade and the juice from Varine's leaves kept the pain and itchiness manageable. She'd decided to name the plant "graceleaf" because it was their sign that Elumis' grace was still with them. Curiously, as the redness faded, their skin was darker than it had been before. They moved faster now that they knew the way, using Elumis' path in the sky to guide them northward once more. The hesitancy they'd felt while leaving their homeland was vanished, replaced by an urgency now that they were returning once more.

Varine carried the feversbane flowers. She'd dried five plants' worth of petals and kept them carefully folded within a cloth in her pouch. It was more than Reene needed, of course, but the need to collect remedies was ingrained in her and she'd dried as much as she felt she could carry safely. When they returned to the canyons, the petals would need to be powdered and steamed in water and then drank immediately, for the tea lost its potency after just a few hours.

As the contours and spires of the Jaiseti canyons appeared on the horizon, they walked even faster. The Redstone Arch loomed above them, tall and imposing. There as a man standing in its shadow, keeping watch and he quickly noticed Kalir and Varine approaching.

As they came closer, the guard yelled, "Stop! You cannot enter!" His hand went to the knife at his side. However, Kalir knew it was mostly show. Outsiders rarely came to the canyons and it was very possible that this man had never dealt with turning people away before. His job was mostly precautionary. Put on a tough face and the few wanderers who did come near Jaiset were easily turned away.

He wasn't prepared for someone determined to enter. Kalir ignored the guard, striding confidently toward the canyons. As he neared, the man realized his bravado was not working and grew apprehensive. When Kalir came within a few feet of him, he backed away; his fear of the curse outweighing his sense of duty.

Kalir and Varine re-entered Jaiset unimpaired.

For a while they walked without seeing anyone. The Jaiseti canyons were extensive and at the outer reaches, there were fewer people. As they walked deeper into canyons however, they began to see others. Workers in the sparse gardens stopped tending the plants to stare as the two outcasts walked past. Farther still, closer to the small, scattered houses of farmers and healers, mothers hid their children's faces from them.

At the very heart of Jaiset there was a deep cave from which the people drew water from the underground river. Inside, an immense inner chamber, called the Grand Hall, held the homes of most of the Jaiseti. A large opening in the Hall's ceiling allowed a shaft of light to trace a path through the community through the day, and where the light fell at what time was the easiest way to keep track of hours and seasons.

By the time Varine and Kalir entered the cavern, news of their arrival had spread. People came out of their houses or stopped what they were doing and watched; though always from a distance, pulling away for fear of being touched. The curse was something spoken of only in stories. No one had ever come back after leaving. It seemed as though the entire community was watching them, and there was an eerie silence as the two walked through the long corridor of people, stares, and judgments.

Kalir's father came to meet them himself.

The Daiem's face was a stony mask; utterly emotionless. "Why did you return? You are no longer welcome here. Leave at once."

"Great to see you too, Father." Kalir said bitterly. "How have you been?"

"Do not call me that. I have no son."

Kalir took a deep breath, trying to keep his temper in control. He'd known his father might be like this; he couldn't let it get to him. He had to convince his father to take the flowers. Reene was all that mattered at the moment. "I returned because Elumis has given us the cure."

He turned to Varine, whom he knew was terrified to return, but was putting on a brave face, and she pulled out her small folded square of fabric. Delicately, she lifted the corners away, revealing the fragile cargo within. She held it out to the Daiem, moving slowly, so as not to let them flutter away.

"Feversbane, Daiem." She didn't duck her head shyly like she'd done whenever she'd talked to the Daiem before, but instead met his eyes stare for stare. Perhaps she wasn't as scared as Kalir had thought. "They'll cure Reene. They're some of the most potent flowers I've seen."

The Daiem pulled back, as though the petals were tainted. "And how am I to know that these are not a poison meant for my daughter? They've come from Outside, and nothing from the Outside can be trusted." The last comment was directed at his son.

Kalir's fists clenched and he had to bite his tongue to keep from shouting. He'd risked his life – his soul! – for these flowers, and his father thought he was trying to poison her? But he couldn't lose his head. What his father thought didn't matter as long as Reene was cured. He could endure this for her.

One of the elder healers stepped forward before Kalir's tongue got the best of him. "I can verify it, Daiem. There are ways to tell if the plant is feversbane." He paused, before continuing. "Though, I have little doubt that the petals are genuine. Varine was one of the best herbalists we've ever trained."

Varine smiled slightly at the praise, though it was bittersweet. She'd caught the healer's past tense. These people no longer saw them as a part of this community. It was almost as if they had died.

Kalir wondered how he would test that the flowers were authentic. Because they were dried, there was no moisture to crush red this time. The healer, undaunted by the dehydrated state of the petals, stepped up and took one while being very careful not to touch Varine's skin. He called for a reed lamp to be brought. The thin stalk had a waxy coating that caused it to burn far slower than other plants.

A small flame on the end flickered as the healer broke off the tiniest bit of petal, careful not to waste a potentially precious resource, and dropped it into the flame. The reaction was immediate. For just a moment, the fire burned a deep red, almost fuchsia, and a puff of pinkish smoke rose as the flower was consumed.

The healer nodded slowly. "The burn is very distinctive. This is feversbane, sir."

Kalir took the packet that held the rest of the petals from Varine and held it out to his father. "Take it. Heal Reene."

The Daiem turned away. "I cannot. Those flowers are as cursed as you. I will not accept help from the outside."

"Then you're letting Reene die for your stubbornness." Kalir said, setting the small pouch between them. "I doubt you'll have the same convictions when she's slipping away. Elumis provided, Father. Don't waste his gift."

Touching Varine lightly on the shoulder, he turned and left his father standing there. The eyes of Jaiset followed them as they walked away. Everything was terribly silent, their footsteps echoing against the cavern walls thunderously. Just as they reached the tunnel back to the surface, the Daiem spoke.

"Kalir," he said quietly.

Kalir stopped and looked over his shoulder. His father knelt to the ground and picked the small pouch. As he held it, he rubbed it gently, his thumbs slowly tracing a circle in the cloth. His eyes never left the packet, even as he addressed his son.

"Do not think that this means I have accepted what you have done." The Daiem said. "I cannot allow the cursed within Jaiset. You may have water, then leave. By my reign as Daiem, the two of you are banished. If I ever see you or that healer within these canyons again, I will have you killed."

The Daiem waved forward two men carrying freshly filled waterskins. The men stayed back, tossing the bags forward without coming close. The fear of contact with the outside was too great. Kalir suspected that this was why his father had given them new skins as opposed to allowing them to fill their own.

"I wouldn't dream of returning." Kalir said, picking up the fallen bags. As he stood, he nodded his head respectfully before turning away once more. Quietly, as he walked out, he added, "Thank you, Father."

Kalir and Varine left in silence. The crowds watched the outcasts without a word and Kalir and Varine had nothing to say in front of them. He led the way out, and she followed just behind. Eventually they left the crowds behind, only their footsteps echoing against the canyon walls.

Once they were alone, Kalir paused to let Varine catch up. As she came up beside him, he saw for the first time that there were tears in her eyes.

Concerned, he put his arm around her shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"I'll be fine," she sniffed. "It's just, seeing everyone, being back here, I'm going to miss this. I wasn't really thinking when I left before. Just kind of going on instinct, you know? But now it's too late to go back, and that scares me."

Kalir stopped walking and pulled her into an embrace. "Do you want to go back?"

"No," she said, wiping her eyes. "You heard your father; we're banished. Besides, they wouldn't accept us even if your father decided to let us live." She pulled back a bit to look up at him. "I saw my family in there, Kalir. My older sister was crying, like she'd just seen me turn into a monster. My parents wouldn't even look at me. I don't think things could ever be the same."

Kalir pulled her close again as she began to cry, gently holding her head against his shoulder. "It's okay, Varine. We'll get through this. At least we're not alone." He felt her nod as he spoke, though she continued to tremble as she sobbed softly.

Footsteps sounded against the ground. Kalir turned, angling himself to see the newcomer without having to let go of Varine. A girl around his age, maybe a few years older, was coming towards them shouldering a large pack. Kalir thought he recognized her: Sara, Varine's sister.

"I cried because I was worried that you thought you'd turned into a monster, Varine. Not because I thought so." Sara said quietly. "And you're wrong. You're not. What the two of you did for the Daiem's daughter was noble. Probably one of the most selfless things I've seen in a long time. So I'm coming with you."

Varine looked up and blinked a few time in confusion. Then she pulled away from Kalir and ran to hug Sara tightly. Sara flinched slightly at the touch; she wasn't comfortable with the curse; but after a moment, she slowly put her arms around Varine and patted her on the back softly.

Varine stepped back, laughing and wiping her eyes. "Sara! What are you doing here? You're not serious about coming with us are you?"

Sara nodded. "Kalir, what you said back in the Grand Hall is right. The world is our gift from Elumis, and we're squandering it sitting in these canyons."

"But the curse-" Varine protested.

"You two survived," she said, shrugging. "Maybe it's not as bad as we thought."

"Sara, I can't let you do this." Varine put her hands on her sister's shoulders and gave her a very serious look. "Aren't you promised to someone? What about Aycee? Did something happen between you two?"

Sara laughed. "I'm sure he'll be here soon. He said he didn't want to leave, but the curse and the outside are all he's been able to talk about since you two left. It's become something of an obsession, I think. I was kind of hoping I'd be able to stall you long enough to let him make up his mind."

"Well, if you're sure about this," Kalir said, "I won't stop you. Are you certain you want to leave though?"

She nodded, her lips pulling up into a small smile. "I'm certain. You of all people should know about doing crazy things to protect a little sister." Varine blushed, but Kalir nodded. Yes, he understood.

"Sara! Wait!" A young man ran up to them, carrying packs of his own. Kalir could only assume that this was Aycee, Sara's betrothed. "Sara, please tell me you've rethought this crazy plan!"

Sara kissed him quickly as soon as he stopped. "Not a chance."

"Really," he said, panting. "You can't do this. We'll die!"

"They didn't," Sara pointed to Kalir and Varine. "We'll be fine. Besides, you're already packed. I know you're coming, you know you're coming, so just stop whining and come already."

Aycee sighed, shaking his head. "I swear, I let you get me into the worst situations, Sara."

She kissed him again. "But you love me for it. And really, it would be wrong of us to let these two wander off unsupervised. Who knows what this heretic might do to my little sister if I'm not there to keep him in line?"

"Hey!" Kalir protested, but Varine laid a hand on his arm.

"Ignore her," Varine said. "That's just how Sara is. She doesn't mean anything by it."

"Oh, I mean it." Sara said, smiling mischievously. "You can try me if you're not feeling all that attached to your toes."

Aycee covered his eyes and shook his head, looking embarrassed. "Dear Elumis, what have I gotten myself into?"

Sara swung one arm around him, grinning and sweeping the other in a large gesture to their surroundings. "An adventure, Aycee. A glorious adventure the likes of which these canyons have never seen. People will tell stories of us for generations to come."

"Oh yes," Aycee said sarcastically under his breath. "The story of the four crazy young heretics who left the canyons and got smote to crisp. We'll be famous!"

"Come on," Sara said, dragging him behind her as she started walking. "And stop being so gloomy!"

Kalir just stood there with Varine watching Sara pull poor Aycee with her toward the southern end of Jaiset, trying to take in their new group members. Then he laughed. After a moment, Varine laughed too.

"That was unexpected," he said, shaking his head.

"That's Sara." Varine said with a shrug. "Let's go, they'll get lost without us."

"In a moment." Kalir said. "We can catch up. I have a feeling your sister won't be giving us much alone time." He leaned over and kissed her.

"How rude of her," Varine mumbled as she moved to kiss him back.

He smiled. "Might as well make the most of what we have then."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, Feather... this is good. Like, scary good. i could see a fantasy world based around this people... but I'm not going to warp your creation.

I'm curious as to how the sun makes the Jaiseti stronger and faster. And is "Graceleaf" analogous to real world aloe?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks! That's really encouraging! I actually adapted them from a fantasy story I was working on, so it's good that they maintain that aura of fantasy!

Yes, graceleaf is an aloe-like plant. Similar properties and all that.

As for the sun enhancement, it's a bit of an info dump, but I can copy it from my message to the judges asking if it was okay:

When in sunlight, this race synthesizes a vitamin (Clastis) much in the same way that vitamin D is sythesized in the human body. And like vitamin D regulates the production and distribution of calcium through the body, clastis regulates a hormone called Intracium.

(This is going to get technical, but the science of this world seems pretty hard, so I'm going with it)

Intracium can speed or slow heart rate and metabolism. It's a little like adrenaline, but much less potent and without the fight-or-flight trigger. Intracium works more slowly and more subtly than adrenaline, and the Jaiseti need this hormone to survive. The increased heart rate gets oxegenated blood to the muscles more quickly, allowing for quicker cellular respiration via the Krebs cycle.

The beneficial effects of increased oxygen are numerous as seen at towards the bottom of this page: http://www.lamasbeauty.com/lifestyle/december00/body-oxygen.htm (I know, I'm citing sources, but I didn't want to type all of that out!)

The result is a race which, exposed to enough sunlight, is basically hyperoxygenated in a completely natural way. The Jaiseti do have a few simple adaptations along with this: increased lung capacity, stronger hearts, ect.

It is possible for the Jaiseti to become hyperoxegenated themselves or have heart attacks with too much intracium, but this rarely happens with natural sunlight. The most common way that one could overdose is through the use of too-powerful lenses focusing too much sunlight.

This strength is also a weakness. Until the modern ages, where other sources of the vitamin clastis can be found or intracium can be produced artificially, the Jaiseti are at the mercy of the cosmos. Seasons and weather have an extreme effect on lifestyles - especially warfare. They will do almost anything to keep the knowledge of this enhancement from their enemies, because it could be used so effectively against them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Silly question, since they seem to live in a desert, but if the sun makes them stronger, wouldn't they try to find a way to survive out there and make the most of their unique genetics?

And now all I can think of is the Bionic Man; "better, stronger, faster."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, it's a great question! The thing is, they're about to. I really want each of the rounds to focus on a turning point in their history. In each of the other rounds, they're going to come face to face with other nations and they're going to have to overcome all sorts of obstacles.

And their first obstacle is actually getting out into the world. Until now, they've been penned up, not reaching their full potential. They're this powerhouse that's been kept quiet. They're about to explode on the world, and they've got the set up to do some amazing things, but they're going to have to figure some things out quick and think on their feet.

This really is their set up. The beginning of what I hope will be an epic adventure. The Jaseti can dominate this world, but someone has to take the first step outside the walls.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Okay, double post, but I've got some updates (if anyone even cares). There were not enough participants, so the deadline has been pushed back to July.


Also, for those interested in my story. I am almost finished with Part 4, but unfortunately, it is no longer the last part. There will be 5 parts now! Hopefully I'll post that soon!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Wow that is awesome! Really well written and I can't wait for more. I went to the link for sovereign states that you put up and there doesn't seem to be much activity and it is now the end of August. So what happend? And are you going to post some more of the story or is that it?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow that is awesome! Really well written and I can't wait for more. I went to the link for sovereign states that you put up and there doesn't seem to be much activity and it is now the end of August. So what happend? And are you going to post some more of the story or is that it?


Its been delayed for a year.

and is going to be redesigned, so that it is more accessible.

Edited by Emeralis00
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...

Shameless plugging away! So there's a worldbuilding competition on DeviantArt coming up, called Sovereign States. You create a civilization and follow them through history as they go head to head with other civs until the strongest nation wins! It's a lot of fun, and the focus is on culture and development.

Auditions are set in the tribal phase, with each subsequent round you'll be in a new time period. (Think the Mistborn trilogy of trilogies idea!) The auditions are due April 20th so there's just about a month left to get auditions in. Check it out!

**Forewarning: I know we're all magic fans, but the science of the world is very strict. If you want "magical" powers, you're going to have to have a lot of science backing it up.**

I'll post the first few parts of my Audition with my Civ, the Jaiseti, below. My Attitudes and Beliefs page give some depth into their culture and worldview, but shouldn't be necessary to understand the story.

How do you sign up for this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Part 4

“Nona Sara, tell us about the day that you and the Tei left Jaiset! Please, please, please?”

Kalir paused as he heard a young girl’s voice pleading for another story. After nearly half a year, Sara and Aycee were back from one of their expeditions and he’d been searching for them to hear about their latest travels. Fortunately, it seemed Elumis had led him straight to them.

He walked around one of the tents which were common out here in Shariel and found himself on the outskirts of a small crackling fire. Youngsters sat in a ring around the flames, their eyes eager and curious for stories of far-off lands. Their elders stood around them, ostensibly watching the children, but were just as interested in listening to the tales.

And all eyes were on Sara, sitting on a flat stone almost directly across the fire from Kalir. Her eyes sparkled mischievously in the firelight as she reveled in the presence of an audience. Her hair was shorter than when he’d last seen her and strands of it were woven with glass beads around her face. Like most Jais who spent time in the sun, her hair was darkest at the roots and streaked through with dramatic sun-bleached highlights that grew lighter as they reached the tips. There was something in her eyes that reminded Kalir of her sister. He smiled at the thought of Varine.

Before Sara could respond to the request of the girl at her feet, she saw Kalir. He’d stayed at the back of the group and nearly everyone was turned away from him, so she was the only one to notice him. She smiled, but seemed slightly embarrassed that he was there.

She turned to the girl, trying to back out of the story. “You don’t really want to hear that one, do you? Teiem Kalir and Teia Varine left Jaiset nearly twelve years ago. Most of you weren’t even born yet! And surely you’ve heard it before.”

Twelve years. Kalir could hardly believe it had been that long since he’d left. He didn’t feel old enough, but counting the years, he realized he was nearly thirty now.

Sara’s audience was insistent. “Please, Nona! You and Nonem Aycee were there when it happened!” A small boy spoke up from the ring.

“Well,” she said, “Technically we weren’t there. Nonem Aycee and I didn’t leave until after the Tei had returned to Jaiset.”

“But you know it better than anyone!”

Young voices piped up all around the fire, demanding the story. Sara met Kalir’s eyes, looking trapped, and the embarrassment returned to her expression. Ah, he thought. She doesn’t want to tell it because I’m here. He shrugged and waved his hand, giving her permission. She gave a small sigh of relief and mouthed “thank you.”

“Okay, okay,” She said, dramatically holding up her hands in defeat. She was already performing. “You all have convinced me. I will tell you about the Exile of the Tei.” Her small listeners gave a small cheer, but hushed quickly, not wanting to miss the beginning.

Sara was a wonderful storyteller. Kalir simply listened to her voice rising and falling as she moved through the tale. She spun settings and emotions with just a few words, mentioning details vividly where she could remember them, making them up where she didn’t. Kalir was struck by how heroic and noble she made the story seem. He hadn’t felt adventurous when he and Varine had searched for the feversbane. He’d felt scared and desperate. He’d been worried that they were cursed, that they’d never find their way back, or that they’d simply die out in the desert and no one would care.

The curse Sara described in terrible detail. Most of her young listeners had been born outside the canyons and had lived in Elumis’ light all their life. They had been too young to remember their curses, and had to rely on the testimonies of their elders and storytellers like Sara to imagine it.

The older members of the audience looked uncomfortable at the graphic descriptions of the curse, some even rubbing their arms nervously. Many of them could remember all too well their first days outside Jaiset and the terrible burns which had plagued them until they had reached Shariel and its wonderful graceleaf.

The travelers were something Kalir and Varine had never anticipated. They’d returned to the valley where they’d found the feversbane with Sara and Aycee, following white marks that Varine had had foresight enough to scratch into the stones with chalk. Only a few weeks later, two brothers had showed up, tired and burned, after traveling the three-day journey.

They’d thought the brothers were a unique occurrence; a pair of thrill-seekers, but people had continued to come. After them, a husband and wife had found their way to the valley. A family of four arrived after that. Only half a year after the exile, there had been nearly twenty people living in the valley.

People left for all kinds of reasons. Some wanted to see the world and the wonders within it. Some were running from something – a difficult situation, a debt they couldn’t repay, a crime whose punishment they feared. Some ran away for love, some for hate. Some were curious. Some simply wished to truly live beneath Elumis.

When Kalir and Varine had returned to Jaiset, they’d shattered the myths of the outside world. They’d defied the most basic rule and they hadn’t been turned to ash or sand, they hadn’t become feral beasts, and they hadn’t died, even after an entire week outside. So others followed.

They’d begun to differentiate themselves from those still in the canyons. The valley was now called Shariel, loosely meaning “a respite” in Jaiseti. The people adopted titles, addressing women as “Shara” and men as “Shariem.”

When they had needed a leader, they looked to Kalir. He and Varine had been the first to leave, and many of the Shari had known him as the son of the Daiem back in Jaiset. He’d been trained to lead all his life and he’d stepped into the position without much trouble.

However, when he’d begun taking the lead, people had started calling him “Daiem.” He’d been uncomfortable with it, and often asked people to stop. His father was Daiem and would be as long as he lived, and when he died, Reene would succeed him as Daia. There couldn’t be two Daiems. It would seem like he was trying to incite a rebellion and establish his own independent tribe – something he had no intention of doing. He constantly insisted that the Shari were Jaiseti, even if they didn’t live within the canyons anymore.

So Varine had suggested that people use the title “Tei” instead. It was a simple title, just “leader,” without any of the royal connotations of “Dai.” He still wasn’t sure how she’d done it, but within days of her mentioning the change to him, people were addressing him as Teiem Kalir and her as Teia Varine.

Sometime during the first year, Sara and Aycee had set off for unknown lands. Some of the younger, more adventurous members of the community had gone with them, but most had stayed in Shariel. Kalir had assumed that they had left for good, but they returned a little over a year later, bearing exotic plants, foods, and trinkets and telling stories of other peoples across the desert. Sara had been amused by the newfound insistence on titles, but had gone along when the Shari had bestowed the titles of “Nona” and “Nonem” – “Wanderer” – upon her and the rest of the travelers. She, Aycee and the Non had stayed for a few weeks in Shariel, but set out again for new lands. Each time they returned, they had new goods and new tales to tell.

The most traveled path though, was the one to and from the Jaiseti canyons themselves. The Daiem had declared that all who left the canyons were exiled, but there were still those who would return. They didn’t set foot within the borders of Jaiset and the Jais never left, but the boundary was large, poorly defined, and difficult to patrol. A black market had sprung up and was thriving within this gray area. Exotic goods and tales were highly demanded within the canyons, and the Shari were willing to trade them for the loosely woven Jaiseti fabrics or other goods, and news or contact with loved ones were precious to those on the outside.

Leaving the canyons was easier nowadays. The Shari traders were clear about when they planned on leaving so they often returned to Shariel with a few newcomers. Varine insisted that any groups traveling on the trail to Jaiset carry enough graceleaf for four people. The leaves couldn’t stop the curse, but they did make the pain bearable.

Sara finished her tale dramatically, with the four of them staring into the sunset filled with hope for the future and ready to lead their people into a new era. Kalir shook his head slightly, amused at the exaggeration. The listeners burst into applause, and Sara stood and took a small bow. She caught his expression at the back and gave a barely noticeable shrug, as if to say “What’s the harm?” before smiling at her young fans.

Kalir caught her eyes again and motioned behind him; he needed to talk to her and couldn’t have her launching into another story. As he walked away, he heard her excusing herself and apologizing to the group. She caught up with him shortly after, throwing her arm around his shoulders in a friendly embrace as she walked beside him.

He ducked under her arm quickly; it was difficult to walk with her hanging off of him like that. “I wish you wouldn’t. I’m the Teiem, people will talk.”

“I’m your sister-in-law, it’s not like it means anything. I should be allowed to hug my brother. I swear, if you’ve made my sister as boring and uptight as you…” She rolled her eyes, but let him go. “Speaking of Varine, how is she?”

“She’s doing fine.” He laughed. “I swear, everyone acts like I’m in charge, but nothing would get done around here if not for her. It seems like she’s always organizing something or fixing problems. I’m sure I don’t even know half of the things she does for me and she’d never tell.”

“Are we going to her now? I’ve got something to tell both of you.”

“Yes. Our tent is at the valley mouth.” He looked sideways at her. “What is it?”

She shook her head. “It’d really be better if I told you both at the same time.”

“If you say so,” he said uncertainly. Uncharacteristically, she fell silent, so he followed suit and they walked without speaking the rest of the way.

As he’d said, Kalir’s tent was close to the entrance to the valley, in the small secluded area where he and Varine had first discovered the feversbane all those years ago. The tent was simple, woven from the light brown fibers of the caris plant, like most Shari tents. The location was private but accessible, and contained a small pool of water fed from the same spring as the river which ran through the rest of Shariel. Varine had turned the rest of the land around the pool into gardens, and all kinds of plants grew around the tent. Some were edible, but most were medicinal. Even as Teia, Varine was one of the most accomplished healers in Shariel.

“Varine?” Kalir called as he pushed back the tent flap. “Sara’s back.”

She turned as they entered, smiling as she set down the mortar and pestle she’d been using. Her wavy hair was the same dark, yet sun-streaked combination as the rest of the Shari, and she’d tied it back with a small strip of cloth. Kalir, as always, was struck by how beautiful she was. She was older now, yes, and there were lines around her mouth and eyes now, but her smile and the sparkle in her eyes were as lively as ever.

“Sara!” she exclaimed, running to hug her sister. “How was your journey?”

“Long, hot, and difficult,” Sara said. “But worthwhile. We found some new plants you might want to check out; including a leaf that this tribe to the north says will allow you to talk to the spirits. And you must see these stone carvings we traded for as well, covered in all kinds of symbols and so intricate you’d swear they were real. And in this small oasis village-”

“Sara,” Kalir interrupted. “Didn’t you have something you needed to tell us?”

“Oh, yes.” Sara said, her face growing darker. “On our way back, we stopped at Jaiset for a few days to trade. Almost every single person who came out to our camp told us the news.”

“What?” Varine asked. “What is it?”

Sara closed her eyes for a moment, then looked up and met Kalir’s eyes. “The Daiem is dead.”

Kalir felt like someone had just punched him in the gut. His breath left him in a rush and he sat down on his heels, placing his hands on the ground in front of him. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Varine raise a hand to her mouth with a small gasp. Sara’s eyes were filled with sympathy and sadness; she hated to be the bearer of bad news.

After a few moments, Kalir stood back up, taking a deep breath and running a hand through his hair. “So does that mean that Reene is Daia now?” He asked softly.

“Actually,” Sara said, “That’s what I really needed to talk to you about. The day your father died, Kalir, Reene announced that she was postponing her coronation.”

“That’s not really unusual, is it?” Varine said. “Perhaps she simply needs time to deal with the loss.”

“She put it off for two months.” Sara said insistently. “And on top of that, she isn’t holding the ceremony within the Grand Hall, either.”

“What?” Kalir asked. “Where then, if not there?”

“The Redstone Arch.” Sara said, enunciating each syllable. “Now, Aycee and I talked with some of our traders and we’ve discussed it between the two of us, but really we can only see one reason why she would do all of this.”

Varine still looked confused, but Kalir had figured it out.

“She wants the Shari there.” He said quietly.

Varine turned to him, looking shocked, but Sara just nodded; she’d come to the same conclusion. “It all fits together,” she said. “She’s picked the spot as close to Shariel as possible without leaving the canyons. She had to delay, because she didn’t know when the next group of traders would come in, and she had to allow enough time to us to get here and go back again. And the fact that we were told the news by so many different people means that she made sure we would hear.”

Varine put a finger to her mouth, thinking. “So what do we do?”

Kalir ran a hand through his hair. He’d thought he’d need time to think about it, but he realized his decision had already been made.

“We’re going.” He said. “We leave at first light tomorrow.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part 5

Kalir and the Shari arrived at the Redstone Arch a week before the coronation was to take place. It was a lively week, for the time before the coronation of a Daiem or Daia was always celebratory. During the day, life went on fairly regularly – chores were done, food was prepared, water collected – but each night was filled with festivities. There was always music playing and dancing taking place. Fires burned late and stories were told around them. And the faint red glow over the canyons testified to similar celebration within Jaiset as well.

But now that the day had finally arrived, something had changed in the mood of the Shari. There was a tension in the camp, an anxious anticipation, like the feeling of a breath held or a taut bowstring. Words were murmured and soft, actions were hesitant, and a strange quiet covered the group like a fog. Something important was going to change today, and everyone seemed to be waiting for it.

Gradually, a sound grew from the canyons. It was faint at first, barely distinguishable from the wind, but as the Shari stopped what they were doing to listen, it became clearer. Cheering. The royal procession was on its way, and it sounded like all of Jaiset was coming with it. As the noise echoed and grew, what little sound there was outside the canyons fell away to silence completely. Kalir felt a hand on his arm and looked over to see that Varine had come up to stand beside him.

Finally, after what seemed a lifetime to him, the procession rounded a cliff and came into view. The roar of the Jais hit him and the Shari beside him like a blast of wind. The mass of people teemed, flowing like the water of the rainy seasons through the twists and turns of the walls.

But despite the chaos of the crowds, Kalir’s eye was drawn right to the figure leading them. A woman he hadn’t seen in twelve long years.

His sister.

When he’d left, Reene had been just a girl and wracked with fever at that. Even before her sickness, she’d been quiet and shy, but kind and always smiling. So very different from the young woman who led the Jais out with poise and grace. The timidity had been replaced by confidence, but not arrogance. This was a woman who’d never sought out attention but rather resigned herself to it, accepting leadership out of necessity, not a thirst for power.

And she was beautiful. Her skin was pale, like the rest of the Jaiseti who lived within the canyons. Her hair, pulled up in a complex weave, was a light blonde instead of the sun-stained dark hair Kalir was used to seeing on the Shari. She wore a sleeveless dress tied around her slim waist with a small belt, with a skirt which was short and open in the front, yet long enough in the back to brush her heels as she walked.

Kalir tried to catch her eye as she walked closer, but she didn’t seem to see him in the crowd of Shari. It occurred to him that she probably didn’t recognize him. He was twelve years older now, and the last time she’d seen him, he’d been as pale colored as her. Elumis had changed him greatly in the years outside.

Beneath the Arch was a structure which hadn’t been there when Kalir had been exiled. It was something the Jais wouldn’t have needed before the Shari existed; a watch tower. A clay structure a few hands taller than a person, it had large hand and foot holds dug into its side and enough room for about two to three people to stand comfortably on top. The Arch loomed above, hundreds of feet higher, and cast a shadow over the proceedings. Its sprawling height seemed to laugh at the comparatively small construction beneath it.

Reene walked to the tower, calm and composed. Kalir was wondering if she’d climb the sides, when two of her guards lifted her to the top, where another two helped her up. When she turned back to the crowd within the canyons, she raised her arms high and lifted her face to Elumis’ light. The ceremony had been scheduled so that Arch’s shadow didn’t fall on the watchtower.

“As I stand beneath the light of Elumis,” Reene shouted, her voice ringing loudly and clearly over the masses, “I ask for strength, for the task before me is great. I ask for wisdom, for the choices before me are difficult. I ask for guidance, for the future is unclear. And finally, I ask Elumis’ blessing, with which I accept the role and responsibilities of Daia of Jaiset. May his light shine upon my actions and his people.”

As the last words carried, the people of Jaiset cheered and raised their arms in response. The Shari remained silent, still unsure and anxious about the newly-raised Daia. Then, Reene slowly lowered her arms and the cheering died, the Jais falling as silent as the Shari to hear what she would say.

“People of Jaiset,” Reene proclaimed. “For all of us, the changing of the Dai means many things. The passing of a Daiem is a mournful experience, yet the ascension of his heir is a time of celebration. We can feel fear and trepidation, anxious about an uncertain future, yet feel hope that such a future could be a better place.

“Even so, there is one thing that is constant, one thing that the changing of Dai always means: change. I am not my father. I can hope to live up to his accomplishments and try to avoid his mistakes, yet we will never be the same person. While some things will stay the same, some things will change, and I ask for your understanding in this.”

Reene paused, and turned just the slightest bit away from the canyons. “That being said,” she continued, “I will give my first proclamation as Daia. Twelve years ago, a young man left the canyons, breaking our most closely-kept rule. He was branded a heretic and banished, but others followed him.”

She swept her arm toward the Shari behind her, and Kalir tensed. “You can see before you today the consequences of his actions. Hundreds stand with him, their skin stained from Elumis’ constant light. As they grow, it becomes more and more difficult to keep our canyons pure. Their foreign goods infiltrate our walls, their stories of the outside ring in our ears. This cultural warfare is not sustainable, something must give.

“And yet,” she continued, her voice suddenly soft. “Have we not already lost? Those of us within Jaiset speak of shunning all who’ve left and all that they bring, but the fact remains that without the outside I would not be standing before you today. I would be dead, and that young heretic so many of you curse would be standing in my place, accepting the role of Daiem.

Reene leaned forward over the tower’s edge. “We have been told all our lives that these canyons are Elumis’ gift to our people, and that leaving them would be to forsake that gift. Yet, think of a garden. One need not stay with the plants all day for fear of losing them. In fact, going out and finding things like water and fresh soil will help the garden far more than simply standing within it. Constant attention alone does not show appreciation for Elumis’ gifts. Instead, we should care for them, and do what is most helpful, even if it means leaving for a while.

“Someone very close to me once said that the entire world is Elumis’ gift to us, and by penning ourselves in these canyons, we ignore that wonderful gift. After hearing the stories of other peoples, cultures, and goods, I must agree. It is our duty to take what is given to us and make it better, for all things belong to Elumis and to him all things will one day return. We cannot improve the world from these canyons. We must go out and appreciate his creation, and become stewards of his great works.

“Whether we are Jais or Shari, we are all Jaiseti. Therefore,” she said, her voice growing stronger. “I, Daia Reene of Jaiset, do hereby declare the canyons of Jaiset open to all! Let no one be held within them or kept without!” As she finished, she threw her arms out, taking in both the Jais and the Shari.

There was a stunned silence. No one spoke. The only sound was the shuffling of feet.

After a moment, Reene nodded as if she’d expected this and quietly said something to the tower guards. Carefully, they lowered her back down to the ground. The Jais around the tower’s base stepped back to give her room.

Head held high, she turned and walked away from the canyons. At the Arch’s edge, the official boundary of the canyons, she paused for just a moment, but then stepped over the invisible line. Whispers started among the Jais.

As Reene strode toward the Shari, Kalir slowly began walking forward to meet her. They met in the open ground between the two groups and stopped, facing each other. She had to look up to meet his eyes as he was nearly a head taller than her.

“I never got to thank you for saving my life,” she said softly. “You gave up so much for me.”

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” He said.

Suddenly, she reached forward and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly. He held her close; hardly able to believe that she was here with him after all this time.

“I’ve missed you so much,” she whispered.

“Me too.”

Somewhere behind him, one of the Shari shouted, “Elumis shine on the Daia!” It swept like wild fire through the crowds, even the Jais taking up the cry.

Out of the Jais, a man stepped forward from the canyons and passed under the arch. A woman from the Shari side pushed through the people around and ran forward to leap into his arms. People cheered. Slowly, more and more people left the canyons, rushing out to reunite with loved ones. Some of the Jais stayed back of course; there were still those who feared the outside and the tales of curses. However, many had seen the Shari and realized that there was no curse or death outside, and had only been trapped by the laws. Now that Reene had lifted the restrictions, there was nothing holding them back.

Kalir and Reene pulled away, watching reunions happen all around them. There were tears in Reene’s eyes, despite the smile on her face.

“You’ve done something amazing, Reene.” He said, looking around in wonder. “People will remember this day for generations.”

“We’ve done something amazing,” she corrected. “It wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t left. You changed us, Kalir. All I did was make it official.”

He nodded slowly. “Everything changes now, doesn’t it?”

“For the better, as Elumis provides.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's the end of the audition phase and the last we hear from Kalir and his friends. However, I did start writing what I planned to be the story for my first round. I really liked the idea that I had and even after the competition fell through, I started to work on it. Instead of waiting for my opponent's civilization, I made my own and began to write it out. It takes place a few hundred years after this one, so the characters are different, but if anyone would be interested in reading that one, I'd post it here as well. It's not complete - not by a long shot, but I've been thinking about starting to work on it again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...