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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster]

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#51Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:32 am

Odin
They didn’t believe in a single deity, they believed creation was the deity. No being, not greater power, purely that life itself was divine. Everyone was divine because everyone lived. But, if Arko could say anything about this creature before him, in all its gigantic glory, it would be that some creatures were more divine than others. That was the nature of being. Every animal in existence had its place in the world but, if Arko had to be truthful, some had bigger destinies than others. And this being, this great ape, had a powerful destiny. Maybe it had already fulfilled it, there was no way to know just how old the being was. As Arko gazed from the top of his tree, he finally saw the face of the creature. Its dark face betrayed a storied past, the creature was possibly almost as old as the forest itself. It hadn’t seen the young Bula yet either, allowing Arko to get lost in every aspect of the creature that his eyes could see. If there was ever a time that he could think the world didn’t have any magic left in its possession, he had just been proven wrong. This world was magical.

#52Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:32 am

Odin
The creature’s head turned in that moment, its dark eyes peering directly through Arko and deep into his soul. He couldn’t understand quite what was happening, he didn’t know if this moment was going to change his life forever or end it then and there. In an instant, he wasn’t in the forest anymore. He wasn’t anywhere anymore. Something had pulled him into a distant realm, something not of this world. He hadn’t felt anything similar since touching the Black Key in Argyle’s Dungeon, having been subjected to an incredibly powerful draconic enchantment. But this wasn’t that. The enchantment back in Sieghart Mountains had been angry, hostile to any who came into contact with it. It was designed as a safeguard, but this did not have the same impression. At least, it didn’t give the same impression to Arko. He felt safe, wherever he was. Safe and secure. It felt akin to lying back in his hammock, Aisha lying beside him as they watched the stars in the night sky. There was no hostility, no anger. It was peaceful, tranquil, calm. He was in some form of magical extra dimension, he couldn’t understand any of it. And it made absolutely no sense.

#53Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:32 am

Odin
Perhaps then, as his mind began to wonder at exactly where he was, it was fitting that he heard a voice. Two voices actually. One he recognised and one he did not. The first, the recognisable voice belonged to himself. Not Arko, but Odin. Looking through the darkness, the figure of the Lich presented itself as sitting down on a stool of his pub, the Swineherd in Oak City. He looked relaxed, calm, but with that ever present maniacal grin etched across his face. However, his voice was a calming presence in an otherwise incomprehensible world. Arko heard a voice very similar to his own, and one he knew he could trust. While they were currently different people, he knew that Odin could never mean Arko any harm. He wouldn’t risk damaging the body that housed his soul. Perhaps, had things been different between Odin and his phylactery, then Arko would have cause to worry, but that was not to be this day. No matter his reasons behind it, Odin was definitely an ally. Maybe it was more accurate to say that he wasn’t an enemy. Arko didn’t mind. The Bula had shown a Lich kindness in the past and it had brought him into existence.

#54Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:33 am

Odin
He would do well to do the same , and so he afforded the skeletal figure a low bow, which was returned. Odin was showing more respect to Arko than he usually gave anyone else. Perhaps that was because he had no other choice, but the Bula elected to believe it was because he truly meant his words. He was here to provide assistance. After all, there was a voice that Arko could not recognise. It wasn’t Odin, who was already present in this dreamscape world; it certainly wasn’t Skalko, who’s connection to the Bula had been broken as part of his exile. He often wished he had the Equus with him at the moment. He didn’t know who to trust but, with the wisdom of many years, Skalko had always had Arko’s back. They were a team, they were connected and nothing could stop them when they worked together. But right now they weren’t together. The voice also wasn’t Aisha’s, another sound Arko would have given anything to hear. He just wanted her to smile, to hear her laugh once more, to go back to a time before he had ruined everything between them. He steeled himself as he called out to the voice, reinvigorated to end his exile and go home.

#55Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:33 am

Odin
Then he saw the origin of the voice. It wasn’t Aisha or Skalko as Arko had known. The voice wasn’t even Bula or Equus. It belonged to something far older and much more powerful. The booming sound replied to Arko’s call, and the great ape stood once more beside him, looming over the darkness of the dimension with its awesome power. Gazing up into the majesty of the creature, Arko knew his place. He was nothing here, a flea on the back of a being greater than he could ever comprehend. There had been a lot of that recently. Moments later, the gorilla shrank down. It still stood taller than Arko, making its authority well known to the young Bula, as if it even needed to do anything for that effect. Its eyes peered once more into the Bula’s soul, before shooting a look over at the Lich, seemingly comprehending in an instant the exact inner working of Arko’s soul, its connection to Odin and everything else. Its intellect was unmatched, just as was its power, and he understood everything just with a glance. Truly the rest of the world was dwarfed by this creation, and Arko would never see the world the same.

#56Odin 
Online

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:33 am

Odin
It spoke of knowing about his exile, of knowing why he sought out the creature and what he had to do next. Its words confused Arko, as he hadn’t tried to search for the beast, and instead had come across it from his rude awakening earlier that morning. The creature laughed, showing its wisdom beyond the years of any mortal as it continued, finding amusement in the acts of mortals as those of divinity often did. In that instant, it touched Arko, its massive hand reaching out to place a single fingertip on the forehead of the Bula. In that moment, he felt everything. Arko understood the forest and its needs, he saw what was coming and what he had to do. He even saw Odin’s involvement, and what would be required of him in the coming days. The knowledge was great, an incredible gift bestowed by one so powerful, and it caused Arko to cry. He could not stop the tears, knowing that he had to do what was asked of him but not yet sure if he had the power to do so. To give up his life in service to a greater cause, was it cruel to ask him so?

#57Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:33 am

Odin
He woke up once more, back on the tree where he had been sleeping before the sound echoed him awake. He looked around, realising it was all a dream, and chuckled to himself. He almost believed it had never happened, that his desire for some repentance forming the giant creature that gave him a task and allowed him to return, but then he looked down at his palm. Etched upon the right palm was the symbol of the sun, intricately detailed and unable to be a bruise, birthmark or any form of abnormality. Whatever it was, it was clearly a mark bestowed upon him by the great ape. It told him that everything he had witnessed, everything he had seen, it was all true. That meant Arko had to run, he had to get back to the village and complete the mission set out to him by the ape. No longer was he here to protect the village, nor was he here to gain allies or advantages for Hildegard. He had a greater purpose, one that transcended everything he was otherwise here to do. This was his destiny, something he had to do no matter what the Bula people thought of him.

#58Odin 
Online

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:37 pm

Odin
No matter what Aisha thought of him. And so Arko made his way back home. He returned to the village, ignoring the cacophony of gossip from his arrival once more. This time, he was not being introduced to them as a foreign object, something they had not understanding of and were curious about. They knew who he was, they knew he had been exiled, and returning to the village without having served his punishment was grounds for permanent exile or, depending on why he was coming back, execution. Arko was not worried about the consequences of his return. He knew that he could endure whatever was needed for his purpose to be achieved. The great ape had given him a task, and he had to complete it. The chief approached him, Aisha close beside, with an outraged look across his face. He roared about how Arko was an outsider through and through, breaking every tradition and rule they had set out since ancient times because it pleased him. He had taken their rituals and dragged them through the dirt, so why should the chief listen to anything he says? Why should he not just kill him right there on the spot.

#59Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:38 pm

Odin
Arko was only half listening to the man’s words. Despite the importance of his task, despite the terrible possibilities that could come to pass should he fail, he couldn’t focus on the chief’s words. His eyes were drawn to Aisha. Beautiful, perfect Aisha. Her face showed no emotion to the exile, having decided to follow her father after the betrayal she had felt. And it was true, Arko had betrayed her. He had betrayed Skalko, the chief and the entire village that had welcomed him and called him family. But, more importantly, he had betrayed himself. He had allowed outside influences to change him. He had allowed Odin to seep through and push Arko to one side, something which the Bula were completely against. The moment Odin had drank the liquid from the bark of the mystical tree, he should have died instantly, allowing Arko to be reborn anew. That had not happened, and that could not happen any longer. There was nothing more Arko wished than to just give up on his purposes, right then and there, and stay with Aisha. To beg her to keep him and forgive him, so that they could raise a family together, and love each other until the end of their days.

#60Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:38 pm

Odin
Their time spent away had clearly caused Arko’s ability to hide his facial expressions to all but disappear, as Aisha could instantly tell what he was thinking, what his face was betraying. But he didn’t care. He loved her more than anything else in the world, and he had never experienced life until he had met her. She was his everything, and all he wanted was for her to take him back. And, for a brief second, it almost seemed like she wanted the same. She didn’t look at his face, at his naked soul, with any disgust or anger or disappointment. She looked at her betrothed with the love that they had both shared long ago. It wasn’t until her father, who also saw the looks between the two, interrupted that Aisha was spared. After all, were Arko to fail, Aisha and the village would burn. No matter what he thought, no matter how much he loved her, he had to let her go for this. This was more important than one man’s desires, even if that one man was him. He couldn’t be selfish this time, no matter how much he wished it could be. A single tear trickled down his face.

#61Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:38 pm

Odin
Looking back up at the chief, Arko drew a deep breath. The look he gave the chief was not one that was usually given to the elderly Bula. This was a look of authority, a look that challenged everything the chief believed in. Raising his palm into the air for all to see, Arko proclaimed who had visited him, and what it had showed him. Reverence was perhaps the closest word to describe what happened next. All the Bula, and even the gathered Equus -including Skalko, the alpha and chief of the herd himself- bowed their heads low and prostrated themselves on the ground. It was only the chief of the Bula himself, and his daughter, that did not do so, both of them stricken with disbelief. While he had known it to be a marking of some importance, Arko had not expected such an incredible response from the tribe. The chief confirmed with him that it was, indeed, the great ape who had visited him, asking for a description, but it was strange. He wasn’t asking in the form of an interrogation, more so by way of awe. He wasn’t trying to confirm Arko’s story, he believed him so truly he just wanted to know more.

#62Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:38 pm

Odin
The chief and Aisha then beckoned for Arko to follow them, as they ventured deep into the forest, leaving the safety of the village. In all the time the young Bula had been here, he had never seen the chief leave the village, and so he was truly confused as to what was happening. They walked long and far but it wasn’t long before Arko recognised the path they were on, having walked this way once before with Aisha, the night before his trial. They approached the great tree once more, with Arko expecting them to climb it just as he had before. He had almost been tempted to mention that he had been here once before, but a look from Aisha told him that that was also taboo. Wherever they were, it was something anyone was allowed to see unless brought here by the chief. That just made Arko more interested in what was about to happen. The chief had left the village, bringing the young Bula somewhere that many others were not allowed to even view from afar, all because of the great ape’s interaction with him and the sun marking imprinted onto his hand. It was all very grand.

#63Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:39 pm

Odin
Instead of climbing the tree, as Arko had expected, instead they ventured deep inside the thick trunk. The chief revealed a passageway running deep beneath the forest. The roots of the tree had formed many routes one could take to get around the forest. The chief explained it was their greatest defence and, due to this, their greatest secret. It was all incredible but didn’t explain what they were doing here. It wasn’t until they ventured along a specifically embellished path that Arko was beginning to make sense of it. This tree was not only an intricate network of escape tunnels and methods of travel: it was also a temple. Along the roots of the tree’s roots were markings that looked incredibly recognisable. A young Bula arising from the body of an outsider, his trial and welcome into the tribe, his eventual exile. So far it had been exactly as Arko had experienced, without showing the race of the initial individual, there had been no way to know that Odin, that Arko could be this person. Then came the ape, as imposing in picture as it had been in actuality, standing in a veil where the Bula also stood. The dreamscape that Arko had experienced.

#64Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Yesterday at 10:15 am

Odin
The final two images were the ones which intrigued Arko the most. The first he recognised. It was a much larger version of the sun that had been etched onto his palm. Despite the marking being pressed onto his hand, the actual size of the mark was relatively small. Arko had been able to work out what the shape was and the fact that it was intricately carved onto his skin, but there was no way for him to properly analyse just what he was looking at. This version, blown up to a full sized version, allowed the Bula to see the mark in its entirety. Every curve, every point, every letter was visible and, if nothing else, it just showed how beautiful the actual marking was. Wait, Arko paused for a moment. Did he just say letter? Peering closer to the marking, he realised that he had been correct. Illegible on his hand, but he could match up the shapes to the larger version and, as it turned out, the sun on his palm had words associated with it. Looking at the chief, Arko’s confusion was definitely obvious on his face. The chief nodded that he wasn’t losing his mind.

#65Odin 
Online

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Yesterday at 10:15 am

Odin
The letters were there, as was the message they bestowed. The issue was, there was no easy way to actually work out what the message was. It was written in an ancient language, one that not even the chief could translate. An ancient and long dead form of Bula that had been used by their ancestors. It was in the songs they sang and the prayers they offered to the great forest and the magical tree in the centre of their village, but no one knew the true meaning behind the words, only what they had all been told by their parents, grandparents, and even older ancestors. It was truly a dead language, and yet Arko could read it perfectly. Wait, what? It was true. As the young Bula looked at the script, watching as it twisted around the sun’s rays to hide itself among the image, he realised that it wasn’t illegible. Not to him at least. As his eyes wandered across the words, slowly trying to make sense of what he was reading, he heard an audible gasp from Aisha and the chief, something akin to fear mixed with awe. Looking at what they had found, Arko realised they were looking at him.

#66Odin 
Online

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Yesterday at 10:15 am

Odin
His hand was on fire. Golden flames burned from his palm, erupting from the marking of the sun. Panicking in the moment, Arko started screaming in pain and agony that was surely about to follow. However, as he stood there ready to writhe in pain from some kind of booby trap that had been implanted onto the mark, he realised that there was no pain. The golden flames were certainly emitting heat, but it wasn’t the heat one would associate with fire. It wasn’t wild, it wasn’t destructive, and it wasn’t hostile. Much like the great ape himself, the fire was calming. The heat it gave off brought a comfort to Arko that he had not been expecting, reinvigorating him and making him feel even stronger than he could have ever felt through normal means. The fire was forming a shape and, with another gasp from the two native Bula, an apparition of the great ape formed from the flames. They both bowed low at the omen, feeling the comfort that Arko himself felt from the flames. The ape regarded Aisha and her father, nodding to them both and saying something in their minds, prompting them both to stand up once more.

#67Odin 
Online

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Yesterday at 10:16 am

Odin
The look of awe hadn’t left their eyes, as the ape looked at Arko. Despite the flames not showing any great detail, he could feel the look from its often dark, but now golden eyes. He heard the voice once more, that same voice as before. All powerful, with commanding authority, but with a softness to it. Like a father talking to his only son before preparing for battle. It was strict, and laden with power, but it was said with love. The words made sense to Arko, who was expecting something much more cryptic. The ape told him to do what he was already planning on doing, that was easy. Odin had spent enough time around fairy tales, even having been a part of some more recent ones, to have an idea of how to progress when Arko became the main character in one of them. The golden fire had confirmed the theory, especially after it had revealed itself to not be hostile. Arko was not a fool, he knew how the legends worked. Even if he didn’t understand Bula culture as well as many in the tribe, he knew that many myths and legends stemmed from the same events.

#68Odin 
Online

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Yesterday at 10:16 am

Odin
This would be no different, as a smirk formed across the young Bula’s face. His voice began flowing with a mellifluous sound starting to escape. Arko realised he wasn’t even speaking, as he read the words etched onto the stone, he was singing. The words themselves possessed a natural rhythm, and all Arko was doing was giving it a voice. His voice. The voice of the Bula themselves. As he spoke, the natural rise and fall of his voice brought the melody into place, the flames rising and falling along with him. It was truly beautiful, with Arko crying even though it was his own sound being formed. It was they way he sounded, it was something new that even he couldn’t understand. It was his voice, but there was also so much more going into it. As he finished, the flames pulsing once more around his palm as they danced to the sound of his voice, Arko looked to see Aisha and her father, who both cried tears of joy at what they had just witnessed. It was closest they had ever been to seeing the ape, a creature of legend that they felt empowered the ancient Bula people.

#69Odin 
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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] - Page 3 Empty Yesterday at 12:09 pm

Odin
But that was all that happened. The ground around them began to rumble, as a passageway opened up where the etching on the wall had once stood. A passage that even the chief had no idea had existed, something that was new to all Bula and possibly hadn’t been walked in centuries, perhaps even longer. Arko couldn’t take it yet though, there was more he had to understand before he branched off and went down a tangent. The golden flames had almost entirely subsided, now forming a mere light in his palm to give him sight in the darkness of the new passage, but they were enough for him to view the final etching. For the sun marking had only been the first of two that had confused Arko, the former being purely because it had allowed him to see aspects that he hadn’t previously been able to spot. That had allowed him to read the text, unleash the flames and open the passageway that now lay before him, Aisha and her father. But the second one was more malevolent, confusing and felt more like a bad omen than the previous calming presence had done. It showed a form of darkness.

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