Tensions build as five dominant nations struggle for supremacy in a world where the old and new collide.

Over 100 years, war has become a way of life for all, but each person has adapted by their own means. Some have clung to the old ways, honing their strength and skills to become fearsome warriors. Others have sought ancient texts to muster unknown powers whilst pushing their arcane knowledge to the limit. Others look to the future and construct fantastical steam machines capable of monstrous damage.

The Generals, Shamans, and Chief Technologists who have dedicated their lives to destruction grow impatient to display their recent expansion in military power, whilst the diplomats struggle to maintain a semblance of control.

However, in the late night tea-rooms and dens, dark whisperings begin to swirl. The travelling merchants mumble about an unease across the lands, the druids fret about strange behaviours in their forests, and the soothsayers feel a shroud approaching which blocks their vision past the solstice. Shadows deepen, the skies darken, and the omen approaches…



The vast plains of the Kiroh nation provide the perfect landscape for abundant harvests to support the burgeoning population. However, as trading wealth accumulates in the market towns, greed and avarice follow soon after. Over time, the market towns have swollen to sprawling cities where cunning and nous are as valuable as anything the markets sell, and only the most decisive survive here. Speed is of the essence as markets move fast, information faster and the hand that strikes first, thrives. Are you sharp enough to fight amongst the fastest?



The people of Midsurin reside in grand forests with ancient trees that have moulded the landscape for millennia. Amongst the towering canopies were certain smaller, but uniquely gnarled, trees that continued to flower even in the harshest of seasons and seemed to instil a sense of calm with their rich musky scent. As curiosity grew and shamanic knowledge improved, the Midsurins discovered that these trees have learnt not to stretch for the sun, but to reach deep down where great seams of crystal run through the earth.

Again the Midsurins interest was piqued and the whole nation entered a fervent drive to discover what these subterranean rivers of crystal bestowed upon their sacred trees. They tried digging and excavating, but none of their tools could crack the crystal. Ultimately only the trees’ roots were able to draw on the underground power, and through the trees sap, bark, and leaves, the Midsurins could begin to wield the strange powers that came from the earth.



A land of scored earth and fiery vents has resulted in the Yamans becoming the most resilient nation. Despite the unforgiving environment, great value is released in the lava flows as innumerable molten metals rise to the surface. This unending supply of valuable materials provided a lifeline for the Yamans because it gave bargaining power and opened up trade routes. The arid land could never support a significant population, but when metals were traded for food and produce with a bountiful country like Kiroh, the population grew. As confidence, pride and wealth exploded, the leaders formed a strategic alliance with Engan who had an insatiable thirst for rare metals with undecipherable designs. This meant that the fragile dependence they had on Kiroh would not be so easily shattered.



Engan was once ruled by a fearsome queen who conquered enough lands to rival Kiroh for might. However, she quickly lost interest in marching to far off lands with her army. Instead she busied herself with books, meeting eccentric people with singed hair and dirty aprons, and building orphanages.

When her son assumed the throne many years later, his impatience caused him to lead a hasty campaign aiming to best his mother’s successes. Unfortunately his armies were demolished and the Engan borders were pushed all the way back to the sealine. With no king, no army, the Engan people retreated to the seas, and sought refuge in their books and research. Their free thinking, highly trained minds developed fantastical inventions, some capable of incredible speed, others of terrifying destructive powers. Their skill in technology and at the sea is unparalleled and has solidified them as a force to be reckoned with once more.



The Shiryo clan was exiled to the bleak tundra and icy mountains nearly two hundred years ago. In a relentless onslaught from neighbouring clans, they were pushed out of their homes, punishment for their wanton brutality and violence. Depleted in numbers, they struggled to survive in the harsh winters that followed, but their determination drove them on, giving them a strength that few down in the valleys and townships could imagine.

Generation by generation they have been building strength amongst the cold, unforgiving wilds of the mountains. Undeterred by the obstinate cold, they have found ways to find life amongst the permafrost, building homes that grew into settlements and training grounds and camps to create the toughest, strongest warriors the land has ever seen. Men and women alike train for hours each morning, their skin glistening in the blue ice of the mountain. They can traverse the steepest cliffs, hunt in the most barren landscapes, drag their kill for hours with their hands wrapped in the fur of their prey.

And now they are ready. They burn with energy, waiting to charge down the slopes of the mountain, to finally take back what was stolen from them two centuries ago.



Little is known of the Samsar history, their far off lands were often embroiled in horrifying wars between tribes that wielded incomprehensible and often uncontrollable powers. The danger and volatility of the lands meant that most traders and travellers steered well clear.

Community Lore

The Jester of Yama
- Derkizzle


A low red mist clears outside the window of the train carriage that I call home. Very much stationary train, I should add, the wheels stuck fast into rock that has melted and hardened from the heat of the volcano. I throw out the wilted purple flower that I picked last week from the rich volcanic soil on the road into Yama, and then start getting dressed for work. A jester must always be in costume, never revealing themselves as too human, too real.

And me, more than most. I start with the thick bandaging that I wrap around my chest. One rotation, then another. My skin crinkles dark above the folds. And then the trousers cut low and loose around my crotch, the belt pulled in tight at my waist. I pull on the jacket, tucking it in tightly, setting the jagged edges of the collar neat against my shoulders. The red baubles of my hat knock against my face, bright balls that signal my profession. It was my twin brother who gave this costume to me, the day he finally found the courage to leave Yama, to go and join the coastal warriors of Engan. I stayed behind, pulled between my love for home and my cynical anger at the corruption of our leaders. I took over my brother’s role, his work, his life. I even took over his name. The warriors at the palace could not tell the difference. My voice a little higher, my body a little softer, but the differences are too small for those in power to bother to notice.

I set out on to the road, gripping my sword tighter than usual today. The road to the palace feels dangerous, uneasy, as though everyone is waiting for a sign. Perhaps it is the moon that sat heavy and red all night, or maybe it is the low rumbles of the mountain that has interrupted the sleep of the city for the last few days. Children play in the rusty dust of the road and women scream out the prices of the feeble produce that they attempt to sell. I ignore them all, even as the children run about my feet, begging me for a joke. I reach the palace, warriors milling in the quad. Energy fizzes with uncertainty, a new darkness that clogs the corners of the corridors, hooded men glancing anxiously at one another.

By the time I get to the hall, the councillors are ready to meet. I stand at the edge of the room, waiting. If I am lucky, they will forget I am even here. Nik the jester, harmless, good for a few cynical jibes and jests. Little do they know that I hear everything. I can sense their decisions, their bribes, their thoughtless words that led to lives lost, warriors sharpening their weapons. What would they really think of me if they knew how dangerous I could be?

Training Grounds
- FallenOnes



Why are 10% lost to the Samsar?

We call it the Darkness, for we do not truly know what it is. Even the strongest fear that it may one day take them...

Perhaps it was always there, unnoticed in our day-to-day life or perhaps there is a trigger. Eventually, we all hear the Darkness. It begins as quiet whispers in your ear during the night. At first you cast it aside as the wind but in time, the voice comes for you within the shelter of your own home.

"Come to me... come to meee", the voice whispers, calling out from the shadows. The voice offers the temptation of the arcane, of powers that supersede humanity. Some consider it a test of willpower to withstand the voice; to embark on the journey to cultivate their own strength. For most, the voice will fade with time, but others are not so lucky.

We see the darkness grow within them. It progresses to distant gazes and some whisper of something moving in the night. Something those without the Darkness cannot see. In most cases, the shamans can bring them back from the Darkness and the memories fade. Those who return from the brink tend to become powerful sourcerors. Did their latent arcane power protect them from the Darkness? Or did they steal a part of it when they returned?

Some cannot be saved. The Darkness takes them. Where? We do not know. They are last seen walking into the dead of night and never seen again.

The Training Grounds

These are the Training Grounds. A land where one rule, agreed upon by all nations, supersedes all others. The Proving Grounds brings pride to the winning warriors nation and shame upon the losing. But no lives are taken here. These are sacred grounds.

I have come today to prove my mettle and earn a rightful place in our nations upper echelon. My quest is simple, head into the proving grounds, defeat a warrior of a different nation, and return with their weapon as proof of their defeat. With this success I will prove to our commander that I am truly worthy of carrying my fathers name.

The landscape here is rugged but expansive. You must not let you guard down when traversing these hills. There are other things here that call the Proving Grounds home... The grip of my scimitar changes to a faint red hue as my heart rate increases. My blood hot under my skin. My breathing tenses as rocks cascade down the landscape. The wind? An enemy? My mind had wandered slightly too long as I quickly survey my surroundings. Too long here can cause a person to lose their wit. Over time my grip fades to the original black.

On the fourth day I stumbled across a small clearing. There was no grass, no shrubs, and yet a man slightly shorter than I stood in the center. Eyes closed. An easy target. If I can get the drop on him then this fight will be over before it begins. Based on the thick furs adorning their body, my first victory will be against a Shiryo.

The Kiroh had speed. The Midsurin had the source. The Engan were mischevious. But I was warned against the brutal Shiryo. Yet here I caught one meditating. Clearly their violence was exaggerated. I was sure my approach was quiet but their stance began to change. The battleaxe tracing methodical arcs in the air before coming to rest just above their head. His boot carving a small semicircle in front of him and inhaled a slow, deep breath. And then it hit me. A wave of bloodlust so heavy it was staggering. His eyes flashed open, like translucent sapphires they pierced my being.

I was caught off guard and instinctively moved to defense. I had no choice but to receive the full weight of their axe against my scimitar. It felt like a mountain bearing down on me. Sparks showered the stones around us as I was able to pull away, sliding back a short distance.

Shiryo FallenOnes"Is it not customary to exchange names before the fight?" I hoped he would not hear the surprise in my voice. I was using this brief interaction to regain my breath. His sly grin spoke volumes. He could see through my every move.

"I see no reason to exchange names if you can't stand your own little one." He walked towards me, each foot landing softly on the ground in front of him. There was something strange about his movements. They were almost peaceful, relaxing... the axe came sliced upwards through the air like sharp talons. It's as if this Shiryo can hide his bloodlust until the last possible second. A true master hunter and the complete opposite of me.

The air whistled as I inhaled sharply, filling my lungs and my body with energy. We, Yama, are sustained by willpower even when mocked as reckless and crazy! And crazy we are. My counter caught the Shiryo by surprise, like a badger turning against a bear. I would not win a fight of endurance, my only chance was to go on the offense. My scimitar hissed as it cut through the air, the blade growing hot as the number of blows we exchanged increased. Each strike pushing my body harder but rapidly draining my remaining stamina. There was no change in the Shiryo's breathing as he pressed onwards. The blows calm, cool, and collected. A smile had started to form on my opponents face and it was instantly recognizable - the love of battle. Mist had begun to creep into the clearing but I could've sworn it was from the intensity of our battle in the early morning. It made it harder for our attacks to connect and instead of the singing of blades, the whirl of mist began to fill our ears and mock our vision. We were both warriors though, trained to fight even when our vision is impaired. The Shiryo was the first to make a mistake, his eyes lingering elsewhere in the mist for a fraction too long.

I seized the moment. I dashed forward, throwing my scimitar at the Shiryo to close the distance. My recklessness through him off balance as he deflected the blade into the nearby bush. This would decide the fight. In a flash I was in front of him. I pulled on either side of my breastplate revealing two concealed daggers and I slashed downwards with my remaining stamina. The razorblades easily cut through the furs but I had to be careful the wound wasn't fatal. My momentum carried me a short distance past before spinning to a stop in the dirt. This attack was my trademark and would leave the enemy with a "V" carved into their chest.

The battle was decided. I would claim his weapon and any he carried. Three blades for the price of one. My father would be proud of the achievement. I relaxed and turned back to my opponent left standing in the mist blade still at the ready.

"A valiant battle my friend but it seems this one ended in my favor", his stature wiped the smile from my face. His smile was nowhere to be seen. His bloodlust was tangible and the force of it pushed the mist a short distance away from us. Keep your weapon out kid. This is no longer a skirmish. This will be a fight to the death." He was serious. His voice was cold. His eyes focused on the edge of the mist. From that point a darkness began to spread. It consumed the mist, hungry, insatiable, replacing it with an inky blackness. Laughter could be heard from the outside. Not that of enjoyment, but a twisted, maniacal laugh. I could sense movement just beyond my vision but I couldn't pinpoint its location. It was circling. Confident. A true Apex Predator.

"The name is Vrys." My stance lowering my center of gravity in preparation, like a sabre-tooth ready to pounce. His stance was that of an iron oak, tall and unmoving. "Vrys? What a simple name. I am Thavarin Munakavone. Don't die kid. It would be embarassing for me."

And then she entered the clearing...

... to be continued.

Haruto Kaiba
- JoseTheStrong


Story narrated by an old villager ‘old man Akito ’

Many songs sing of this monster, many stories tell about this hero. Haruto the glutton, monster, Chi no okui, Kushinbo are a few of the names that have been used through the ages. But I knew the man, the man that saved this village. I can’t speak on the stories of him killing 300 men with his sword or destroying Minka town. All I can tell you is about Haruto Kaiba the man I knew.

I met him way back when he was journeying through the country side. His small frame painted a wrong picture of his abilities and his sword was even less impressive. It looked old brittle and rusted. At first I laughed at the sight but as time passed I came to fear the weapon. Haruto never wanted to tell me where he got it from, even though I asked him every time I saw him. The double sided blade with its rusted look and the skull on the end of the hilt were symbols that he came to be know by. I know many called him Chi no okui (blood glutton), but only few knew that, that was the name of his trusty sword. “I always wondered who started calling Haruto that, he was one of the kindest men I knew. He often helped villager is his passing by.

During the time of turmoil back in the days ‘Sakura wars’. This very village were you stand today was saved by him. Many soldiers from the Hanoko clan came to our village demanding food men and women. Many tried to resist but was met with pure evil. Many men that tried to make a stand were cut down in form of their loved ones, even our elders were killed. I tried to protect as many as I could but these hands were not made to fight, “as my father told me”. I gathered as much people I could and hid them in the woods. The gods must have been with me that day. As I was captured by a Hanoko scum, I heard more screams from a distance. It was him he was walking through as if nothing was wrong. The soldiers approached him with pure evil intent. Haruto swung his blade with the speed of lightning. That is the first time I saw the evil of that sword.

As the first slash connected with the attacking soldier. That cursed sword seemed to change. The blood that was left from its victim on its rusted blade. This is when I saw it, the sword started changing. I swear I saw the blood being absorbed. Two soldiers rushed Haruto from behind he moved out the way, his speed that of a shadow. As he slashed them bot with one confident swing. As the slashes continued the rusted sword started transforming, the rust slowly started dissolving the more the blade came in contact with the red nectar that left the soldiers bodies. Haruto made sure to finish of the soldiers he showed no mercy. It was as if the sword demanded it. Some bodies sucked dried and discoloured scared the others. The rusted blade was now gone. I swear, the more that fell to the sword, the faster the blade and its wielder moved. The eerily skull on the hilt had turned red as if it filled with the blood from its victims. The faster he moved the more Hanoko soldiers fell. A dark mist started to form around Haruto. At every swing Chi no oku claimed more blood from its victims. Or should I say drink? I saw droplets make their way to the sword if they strayed too far away. Haruto dragged the his blade over the blood drenched floor and al is could see was the blood being sucked up from the floor. A true glutton, I could not believe my eyes. One of the remaining soldiers tried to run away. But Haruto would not give him that, he launched his trusted blade as an arrow at the fleeing soldier. The last I heard was an eerily scream as the sword pierced the soldiers skull. Haruto was the last man standing that day, as an evil smile took over his face. I would not have recognized him if it wasn’t for his clothing.

That was the first time I was afraid of my friend. There were at least 100 Hanoko soldiers in our village that day, none stood at the end. He was made a hero of our village that day.

“After telling this story I can understand why some call him a monster. But to me he was a friend and a hero.”


There was a knight called Rufus,
His squire thought him a dufus.
With his lazy eye,
He held his guard too high -
In battle he was useless.

There once was a wizard named Rune,
His wand was a special-type spoon,
One day he farted,
So hard he darted,
O'er the trees, and up to the MOON!

Of the Past
- Avanbach


The moon was full that night. It had begun to snow the day before but it already lay heavy upon the village and also on the thin branches of the surrounding forest trees.

It was a quiet night. The houses were shut and dark. The place appeared as if abandoned. One would think there should be at least some windows emitting the welcoming glow of fireplaces but there weren't any. None other than those of the tavern, which was at the only entrance to the village (or exit depending on whether one comes or goes). The mountain range prevents access from all other directions. One can only visit this settlement when taking the route north from Skyhill onward. Orient yourself to the west when exiting Skyhill. Ascend to the small but famous Surin with its mysterious trees that never bloom but branch. There turn north until you surpass the tree line. At the Rune 'Remembrance' take the leftmost route. The path from there only has junctions that lead to dead ends in the forest, it will eventually lead you here.

Normally no foreigner would make it that far into the mountains at this time of the year. The small community is about to go into three months of solitude. Some tell stories of how winter solves as many problems as it causes. One has to set their affairs in order. In a winter like this one is all the more dependent on others. Many years fierce conflicts between grim men were settled for good, during the harsh season.

This crystal cold night they began their ritual 'Of the Past'. The celebration 'Of the Present' will take place in thirty days exact and 'Of the Future' will begin another 30 days later.

A shadow approached the village on the long winding trail. In a few minutes it would pass the tavern. The figure was huge but that could be due to the coat and fur against the cold. It leaned on a cane with every second step. Were they hurt?

Every resident was in the tavern that evening. Although there was a solemn aura to the air in the tavern, there was a very sober demeanor among the villagers. No drunken laughter, no tales told to bright eyes, no drinks. Maybe this is not a tavern at all? In a small back room a man speaks to a woman very confidentially. They have neither a domestic nor a business conversation. "I don't know how this will ever end in good terms." "It can't be like this for much longer, I know it won't. - Have you seen him yet?" She shook her head very slightly.

The air in the taverns guestroom became unbearably, not outright nervous but even quieter still, thick. A Child, a girl who would soon turn 5 years old, could not bear to sit any longer. She turned quickly to stand upon the chair she had been sitting on, she reached for the handle of the window, saw the shadow on the up-winding road approaching, with confidence but slowly. She halted, then shrieked: "He is here!" They all gasped in unison. Some reached for a lucky charm or an item that made them feel safe, secure and empowered. (Not few reached where they are used to finding their swords and knifes.)

The man in the back room got to his feet, the women spun around, they both hasted for the guestroom. "Shit!"

The tavern door flung open. Fresh air immediately vented into every corner of the room. The figure stood in the doorway for a second, head bowed. He mumbled something. (A spell?) Then he looked up. He was a man of unknown age, not very young, not very old but his eyes had seen a lot. He appeared to be a stranger to this region. His eyebrows not as thick as those of the villagers, his mouth a little broader, his cheeks not as highlighted.

After a split second he turned to look directly at the child who had stood at the window. "Hello little Akira." She looked to her mother than back to the visitor. "Good evening." She was shy.
"Good evening." He nodded and looked at the community, greeting all.
Someone closed the door. Someone else put the rest of the firewood into the fireplace.

The visitor blew into a little whistle, he had worn around his neck and everyone in the room began a chant. Then they formed a circle around the center of the room and another slightly larger circle around the first and then another until the whole group was in formation. The visitor sat down at the centre and the first person sat down opposite him. The whistle lay between them next to a candle that had been lighted, it smelled faintly of honey, mushroom and something else

A good while passed and no one moved. Their murmurs rose and faded and rose again. The pair at the centre exchanged a few words that no one overheard, for it was not part of the ritual Of The Past to hear about the past of others. It will be all night and until the early morning, then everyone will have glimpsed a fraction of the visitor's past and everyone will have passed on a bit of their own past to him.

When Namio, who was the first to sit across from the shaman, got up to leave the center, the Sourcerer whistled briefly three times. In a compassionate voice, he said: "Namio spoke of his past - Namio, Tree Whisperer.", thereby breaking the trance of the community just enough to enable the next person to sit.

Namio blushed a little, but only his bride-to-be noticed it, as she had been particularly nervous at the beginning of this ritual. She glanced at Namio again and then fell back into the murmur.


Geometrical dream works. Light blue, a flickering white and a fractal diamond at its centre. A fractal diamond! He inhaled for the first time, aware of his own form again. This is now. He woke up. He had been dreaming. He had lived many lives this night. He went to bed after the ceremony when the sun was already lurking over the mountains. The Sourcerer reached for his neck, his whistle, and exhaled, he saw his breath. He inspected his surroundings, the workbench was barely visible, as many logs were stored here for the winter. These people, they are a treasure. If only they knew... He shook his head, that was not why he was here. Depending on his exhaustion he meant to leave today or tomorrow.

Akira's mother wanted him to stay with them but he declined. "Thank you. I can't stay in a house where a child lives, you understand that, don't you?" She bowed her head, picked up Akira, said GoodNight to every one and left the tavern. Akira waved to him over her mothers shoulder. He bowed.

Outside someone moved, his instincts told him to stay calm but his habit brought him to his feet immediately. It had stopped snowing. The man who had rushed into the room yesterday when he arrived was carrying a package to a neighboring house. Lost in thought the Sourcerer reached for his pouch, took out a little splinter and put it into his mouth. (What was that? Bark? It can't be, no way.)

The sun had already stared to set a few hours ago, the mountain was already blocking its direct light.

Rememberance, one day he will find out who gave this village that name. Someone knew a secret then, so he should be able to unearth that secret again. He was determined not to die without knowing it.

Namio's future bride Sakura left the same house the tavern owner had just entered. She came right at the Sourcerers quarters. When she saw his face behind the small window by the door, she paused for a moment, but did not turn around. She knocked and waited for him to open the door for her. "Master, may I ask your wisdom?" "If there is wisdom I obtained, may it be of use for you. Come in."

He took his coat, laid it on the floor so that she could sit on it, he also took the blanket that had been provided for him and offered it to her. He knew that this workshop was not warm enough to be able to think freely.

"I need to ask you about Namio." "You are concerned for his life?" "He has lost in battle an awful amount of times this fall. It can not be like this for much longer." "Do you know of his favorite spot in the forest?" "You mean, the - You mean, have I seen that - that thing?" He nodded. "No, I have not. It has not been there when he wanted to show it to me. It was not were he usually finds it." The Shaman shut his eyes: "I see." He said and paused. She grew a little nervous. What exactly did she want to ask him? He was still turned inward when she continued, "I need to ask you about this place. I need to know what you think of it. Does evil come from it?" He made a sudden movement, caught himself immediately and opened his eyes, he looked straight in to hers: "No, I don't believe it is an evil place, it could be but I doubt it. Namio has gained strength of a different kind through his encounter.

"You have not been born here in Rememberence, is that correct?" She nodded. "I came here for him, after we had met on a journey he took a few years back. He had to go far south to get a potion to give to his grandmother. He stayed at my uncle's house for a few weeks after contracting an illness that had left him stranded for a while. We got to know each other. I visited him here. And again the next year. Than I stayed." "Sakura, you are indeed of a foreign land. Get rid of all the roots in your possession, give them away." She was quick to ask, "What does that mean?" "The thing that Naimo visits in the forest has no roots." She still had a confused look on her face. "Literally. See if not owning a root helps."

She got up thanked him for his advice, although she did not know what to make of it. She trusted that it would either become clear to her or it would turn out to be not important. He thanked her and watched her leave again.



The darkened mist bellowed
A seascape made dim
The sun shadow avast
A ray piercing the clouds

The dark battlefield tore
Blood spilled in soaked waves
Crashing upon their graves

Thy Engan brothers bore
Their final fate left ashore.

- Roylo

A poem by old lady Ryuuki:
I once knew a boy.
his face filled with pain.
I once knew a boy.
he never had a family to claim.
I once knew this boy.
he professed his love.
I once knew this boy.
would sing to me like a morning dove.
I once hated this boy.
he broke my heart.
I once killed this boy.
he should have been scared from the start.
(evil laughter).

- JoseTheStrong


Riddle me these:

What is seen in the middle of March and April that can’t be seen at the beginning or end of either month?

I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body, but I come alive with wind. What am I?

You measure my life in hours and I serve you by expiring. I’m quick when I’m thin and slow when I’m fat. The wind is my enemy. What am I?

What word in the English language does the following: the first two letters signify a male, the first three letters signify a female, the first four letters signify a great, while the entire world signifies a great woman. What is the word?

- Nelo Sa