Project IVoS

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Project IVoS?

What is this?

Project IVoS is an aggregator for columns, some short stories, and pretty much anything that's extracurricular to Shartak. In May 2008, Javier Sortani decided that the forums weren't enough drama for him, so he decided to contact a few people about writing columns for something that he called Project IVoS-the Independent Voice of Shartak. IVoS is a drama lightning rod. It's both madness and Sparta at the same time. It's a way for a lot of people to be remembered after they're gone. It's just starting off right now, but hopefully some day it'll be big and it'll be beautiful and it'll be unforgettable.

This is awesome! How can I get involved?

Glad you asked! It's very simple. There are two methods:

1. Editorial review: Send us a column as an example of the sort that you'd write. If it's worth posting-and almost anything that's reasonably coherent and well written is-we'll put it up in the one-shots section.

If you want to post anything after that, either send it to us along with a snappy title for your series of columns, or just edit it into the Wiki page yourself. Basically, one column gets you put with all of the other people who've only written one column; two columns gets you a snappy title. I don't think it's a hard decision.

If you know you'll write a second column, you can ask for a snappy title from the outset. Be aware, however, that that gives us the right to harass you until you give us the second column.

2. The direct approach: post it, in keeping with the format of the examples you have. You're smart people; we trust you to figure it out.

Please note, though, that we do have standards, and will, in most circumstances, enforce them.

Memoirs of a Commissar by Lukas Alexander

What is it about?

Memoirs of a Commissar is a series of diary entries following the life of the infamous Commissar Lukas Alexander of the 1st Colonial Militia.

Part One


I have taken to writing these memoirs; why? I am still not sure. Perhaps it is a comfort, perhaps it is to reaffirm my faith in our cause. I cannot say.

The days look bleak. For all around us all hold a knife, it seems that no matter where we turn our backs are exposed. However, I must remain strong for this is my duty to both myself and the men. Should my faith in the Greater Good falter then how could the men continue to fight? Recently we had a new recruit. An ex-mercenary of the savages. While I myself would not allow such filth to serve Captain S.L. Hunter has decided that even the traitor can absolve his sins by killing the enemies of the greater good. Although grateful for another experienced hand I hope that this militia does not turn into a penal legion. I have not seen him yet and he seems to work alone, although I have had reports from various sources showing his results. However; the idea of a penal legion where criminals serve to absolve their sins would be of much help in combating the crime wave in York. An idea for another time.

Ah York. It has been so long since I have seen home. For that is what it is to me. Durham is lost, lost its faith in the greater good. With the fall of the corrupt pistoleers and the traitor some call ‘Malice’ I envisioned a replacement with a strong town and leader, a home I could be proud of. These hopes were dashed by the charlatan Ron Burgundy. At first a flame in the shadow but he turned out to be a spineless wretch. Worthy of nothing but redemption at the end of the blade or rifle. Once friends, Sam has separated himself from Durham, fearing it lost. Ron Burgundy has made friends with the Creedy brainless puppets and their Raktam masters. This corrupt governor has jumped in bed with the enemy. I suggested to Sam that I give Burgundy a swift redemption but he bade me bide my time. 'All will receive the justice of the greater good in time' was his words. It heartens Me to see him still strong in faith as well as in arm.

Captain Samuel L Hunter. A friend and a selfless leader. He never asks those who follow him to do anything but what they perceive of their duty. They follow him willingly. I fear even this war has taken a toll on him, in the past few weeks he looks like he has aged a year or two. Although never have I seen him close to breaking down. Sometimes I must question his methods and reason but I know that the ends always justify the means. It sometimes feel like an empty solace but there are far worse feelings on this god forsaken island. Failure, absence of faith, fear.

Gun'Show the halfbreed native came to see me today. A developing soldier he is showing his worth. Although he is a half breed there is no taint of the savage on him. He spoke to me of fear, fear of failure and the taint that lies in his blood. The taint of the blood of the savage. I told him that 'Fear denies Faith', an important lesson I learnt when studying long ago. I also told him that Heresy grows from idleness, this seemed to strengthen his resolve and he headed out to hunt the enemies of the greater good. As I sit at this desk, his folder lays beside this diary. His father had lay with a native, he was born. Both his parents were executed and received the swift embrace of the greater good. To lay with a savage is to become tainted. Of course I don't need to look at the file to read the report by the executing commissar. The writing is my own.

The war in Creedy. It has gone on longer than I can remember. An endless meat grinder with both sides taking losses. As of recent with the attacks on Durham by lone headhunters there has been a dull in the fighting. Weeks ago Sam met with defense commanders to announce our withdrawal from the Durham defense. The reason? Burgundy of course. Oh how I would like to grant him salvation at the end of my sword. The Creedy traitors and their masters have proved more difficult than anticipated. Although not beyond our redemption. Some say the puppet president has announced victory. What ignorance from the heretic. The war will not stop. For the righteous cannot falter in their gifts of salvation to the heretic, the blasphemer and the coward. There are only two courses for those who stand in the path of the greater good: to join it and receive salvation and have their eyes opened or to be given swift redemption.

Now I go to walk the streets of Durham. To see what the corrupt and the unbeliever have done to the town. Durham was always a sump hole, always kept that way by its leaders; welcoming all types of heretic, traitor and savage. In time they will all be purged. None can hide from the Greater Good.

For the greater good.

Commissar Lukas Alexander. 1st Colonial Militia.

Part Two

I sit once more at my desk. A desk that has seen as much bloodshed as most people on this island. People have died on the whim of the papers that pass across this desk. Some may hold reverence for such an item, but I know it to be only a tool. A tool as we all are, a tool to do the will of the greater good. A tool that must never dull. We must not shrink in our faith or ability for it is on our merit and the nature of our death that we will be judged. For only in death does Duty truly end. Even then we blessed few may be called on again to battle our enemies.

I spoke to the citizens of Durham this morning. Speaking to both police and civilian. One man came to me, a poor man little more than a beggar. He spoke to me of how he feared he had nothing to give, scared of the fact that he might not help against the devils who took Durham heads daily. I remember a teaching that my tutor Commissar Hendran once spoke off, ‘Even a man who has nothing can still offer his life’. The man’s spirits were lifted and while still only half understanding he saw the meaning behind the words. For words are but tools, tools to serve. A weapon as well as a means of peace.

Sam spoke to me today before he left in the morning. He talked of bounty hunters and mercenaries. Scum, greedy and self obsessed, they disgust me. Although Sam was quick to point out that they are but tools, as we all are. While some may be the blinding sword sheathed in flame, others were the dagger in the shadow. Both tools, that when used could bring about the greater good. I can’t help thinking that this is a step too far. ‘It is better to die for the Greater good than to live for yourself’, were those not the words of the litany of faith? A book all of our proud men have ingrained in their hearts and minds.

Today I inspected the headquarters of the Durham Model army. A new force birthed just before the election of the corrupt Burgundy. The man who leads it is no soldier, but a politician. This man, his men call him Tomn, is a philosophical type. A former consul of Durham during the dark ages of Durham. This man has often questioned the methods of the Militia. Words such as ‘barbaric’, ‘cavalier’ and ‘brutal’ have been used to describe the actions of our proud men. Little does this fool know that Zeal is its own excuse. This heretic gathers others around himself, slowly building a ragtag army of followers. Like the pistoleers I fear that if left unchecked they may evolve into a problem. The only thing that heartens me is their inability; green and untested they have struggled against the enemies that come from the surrounding dark of the merciless jungle. Added to this is the scorn that Tomn holds for the traitor Burgundy. Let the heretics bicker and argue, weakening each other with their petty squabbles. With any luck they will kill each other and save us a job.

Ah the pistoleers. In my early days I fought such a menace. Under Governor Hale did I test my faith against the unbelievers and corrupted. Few were the servants of the greater good in those days and light were the days of Durham. Before Durham became a den of inequity . Few know of what happened to Governor Hale in those days; the days of the ‘Grey Ghost’. My strikes on the enemy were swift and my judgement final. The nickname still brings a smile to my lips as I write this. It seems so long ago now, perhaps another lifetime. Local nationalists and the heretic pistoleers fought over Durham in those days. But one day did Nathan Hale disappear from our sight, never to return to us. It was my reckoning that his faith had finally seen him ascend to join the greater good. The remaining nationalists despite unwavering faith were slowly picked off by the numerous enemy. Many lost their faith as they saw the true servants slowly overcome by the heretics. Little did anyone know that it was the plan of the greater good that we might today bring a candle to banish the shadow. The fallen shall be forever remembered as our finest. When my time comes to be judged to have such a glorious death would be welcome.

Word filters back to me of the ongoing war with Creedy. It seems this very morning Sam cut down the heathen warlord in the heart of Creedy itself. Not only that but he remained unscathed, his faith his armour against the infidel savage. We all know that a savage is no match for one who is so strong in faith and arm. This news has been a major boost to the men and now Creedy lays empty, our enemies scattered to the foul winds.

While heartened by Sam’s personal bravery and example I cannot think that this will be the end of it. Our supply lines grow strained and with the enemy within that is Burgundy and the heretic loudmouth Tomn we cannot become complacent.

I am weary now. I go to sleep. I’m getting older now and even the strongest of faith are still only mortals.

Commissar Lukas Alexander, 1st Colonial Militia.

Part Three

Thought of the Day: Heresy grows from idleness.

Today my mind is conflicted. So forgive me if I sound distracted and my thoughts appear out of order. These are trying times for us all. Even the most faithful struggle against the eternity that seems to engulf them. Word from Home arrived today, York, it seems so long ago now. How long has it been since I was home? I know the men feel it, but to dwell on it only brings doubt; to doubt is to be found weak and wanting. The only one who seems oblivious to such feelings is Dok; blessed is the mind too small to doubt.

Public opinion of the war is as brutal and divided as the war itself. Some support the cause of truth while others question our actions. They ask ‘How can you walk into Creedy and execute anyone you see fit?’ These unbelievers at home and in Derby question our right to destroy these people. Those who understand realize that we have no right to let them live. What is worst about these rebels? Their subservience to the swinekin or the fact that these scum seem so like us in many ways? The native; the swinekin as many call them, they have never known the light of the greater good. They are but simple beasts, living only for destruction and war. What makes these rebels worse, is that they have been shown the light of the Greater Good and turned from it. For them there can be no forgiveness; only death.

I spoke to Sam again today. The issue of Governor Burgundy and his traitors cannot be blindsided for any longer. Some protest that he has nothing to be sorry about. I say he has; for he who allows the savage and heretics to live, shares their crime in existence. So it has been decreed long before the light of the Greater Good came to this word. As it has been before, so shall it be again. I hear rumours that he aids them in their war against the faithful. Dark tidings bring word that an agreement ensures that Creedy rebels can walk in Durham without harm. Be wary of the savage, the heretics, but beware more so the enemy within.

I had the privilege to drill potential recruits today. It is no simple task to be a militiaman; one must prove themselves worthy and prove their souls pure. Impurity can lead only to a swift death. There is no room in the militia for the weak; heart, mind or body. I led them in a chant, this particular chant I find aids in drilling the right sense of objective into the potentials’ heads. I recommend it to any leader, should they read these words, as a teaching aid.

To be Unclean

That is the mark of the savage

To be Impure

That is the mark of the savage

To be Abhorred

That is the mark of the savage

To be Reviled

That is the mark of the savage

To be Hunted

That is the mark of the savage

To be Purged

That is the fate of the savages

To be Cleansed

For that is the fate of all savages.

Later is our tactical meeting. Myself, Sam and his lieutenant Arminius will be deciding the future course of actions for the coming weeks. A difficult decision looms over us like the shadow of despair. Do we continue fighting the meat grinder that is this war with Creedy. The swinekin’s numbers seem limitless and even such brave warriors as our faithful cannot stand against an enemy that is relentless. I fear our numbers are too few to put an end to this war, although it seems the Swinekin have run from the battle. Only the Creedy heretics fight on, desperate to prove their worth to their blasphemous masters. With the turncoat Burgundy taking away what manpower support we had for his own band of traitors and misfits we are left alone to fight this war. Word from York is that rebellion has broke out and while the local constabulary has managed to stopping a full scale civil war the probability seems all too real if reports are to be heard.

The men yearn to go home. Today I signed and sealed Trooper Harker’s pardon for past crimes and Sam granted his request to transfer to the York Defense Force. The Defense Force is a new outfit but is led by one of the most decorated York veterans, a man known only as Mr Bungle. It is rumoured that Bungle once served in the Order of Patriots; the inquisition of York, a kind of secret police. I vaguely remember reading a book written by one of its frontmen WB. Hazen, it seems so long ago now. Rumours also talk of Sam once being a Patriot but these are unfounded. However, I would not be surprised, it is said that some Patriots do not even know all the other members of their Order. Oh what I would give to have the Hero that is Hazen fighting alongside us here in Durham.

Commissar Lukas Alexander, 1st Colonial Militia.

Part Four

Thought of the Day: Excuses are the refuge of the weak.

The decision was made two days ago. The order given. Return to York. Durham is lost to the heretic and unbelievers. I fear it is beyond the light of the Greater Good. Perhaps one day Durham will turn its back on the darkness and seek out the light once more. I do not hold my breath. Durham has been a den of refuse for longer than I can remember. It seems Creedy; once a proud state, has been forever tainted by the savage. The difference between heresy and treachery is ignorance. The swinekin; they are ignorant savages, little more than the animals they kill to eat. But Creedy? It seems the taint of the savage is stronger than even we imagined.

I feel divided, like most of the men. We are overjoyed to be returning to York: our home. To be returning as heroes should to the bastion of light and strength. Where the Greater Good reigns supreme. At the same time our hearts are heavy, to leave Creedy to the swinekin and their ways is a heavy burden to bear. However, I have no remorse, for those that turn from the light deserve nothing but to be purged. My sadness is for those in Durham I know to be pure in heart and mind; the innocents. I have no pity for them, for if they will not fight the corruption then they deserve none. One day I shall return to my birthplace and I will kill the traitor Burgundy and his goons. They will all feel the bite of my sword before the end of days. However, their cleansing can wait, I am called to another Duty and like the loyal servant, I answer the call.

Negotiations with the Eastern Federation broke down yesterday. Sam spoke with their leader Sortani, an old acquaintance from the old days when York itself was under attack. Sam made the mistake of assuming Javier was still pure of heart, he is now tainted like all the Eastern Federation. This was a great surprise; while Sortani was always more liberal with his views he has never crossed the line into Heresy. Now he will die like all the EF. The other chiefs of the EF clamour for blood, but like the cowardly creatures they are they make more noise than anything else. It seems bloodshed and battle looms again, this time against former friends. One of their leaders, one they call ‘Zombie’, probably due to his repulsive appearance and lack of intelligence, had history with Sam and York. Indeed during the Mercenary invasions he openly sided with the enemy. It will be a pleasure to kill such a pathetic excuse for a man. The zeal of the men rode high as we all expected to join the legendary Saint Flagg and Confessor Lines in Derby to fight the corruption that had taken root there. Sam warned that York was our priority and the civil unrest caused by the Cult of Bill was to be exterminated first before actions abroad was taken. Eastern Federation are Kill on sight in York as of today. I have already signed the papers and Gun’show took the papers to be nailed to the weapons depot, trading post and hospital.

The taint of the savage reaches across the island. Seeking to destroy, to corrupt and to rot. It sits in Derby and its agents lurk within Derby, spreading their poison with their forked tongues. The only remedy is to cut out the tongue. I send up a prayer as I write these words; for the success of Saint Flagg and Confessor Lines. Proud agents of the Greater Good fighting the corruption, their armour their faith and their conviction and pure hearts their greatest weapons.

I go now. For I must meet with the local security forces and determine the extent of the corruption that plagues York.

Commissar Lukas Alexander, 1st Colonial Militia.

Part Five: A sharp Homecoming.

Thought of the day: No man died in the service of the cause that died in vain

I sit here, home at last. Home, a quaint idea considering the state of Durham nowadays. That inept son of a savage Burgundy rules with his fist rather than his few brains. Like a wounded animal backed in to a corner he is lashing out at any opposition he encounters. With the coming election he fears his end. Already he has spoken of my place among the criminals, laughable really. I will run for Governor, only then will the healing of Durham start. Only by cutting away the rot and cauterizing the wounds will regrowth be able to grace our town. However, before I go into details I feel it necessary to record the events that have proceeded this day. These memories are my legacy, that if my actions should wash away in the sea of time there will be some record of them.

I arrived a few days ago under the cover of night. There was little trouble getting here, the jungles have become a friend now the places of population are the free reign of all sorts of scoundrels and degenerates. I met up with Nate Hale, the famous Nathan Hale’s younger brother. Ah, Nathan Hales, I was but a youngster when Nathan Hale championed the Nationalist cause in Durham. Nathan was the founder of Durham Nationalism, a credit to all Durhamites. A patriot and in his time before his disappearance a hero to many, myself included. Back in those days the Pistoleers flexed their iron fist over Durham, claiming an apolitical stance and tolerance. This tolerance led to an influx of wretched savages and pirate filth. Needless to say this was the cause of the civil war that raged across town and into the Jungles. Way before the Republic of Creedy, the greater good curse their hides. It almost seems like a lifetime ago. Anyway, I digress, but you can allow an old man his nostalgia.

I soon learnt that Nate was not like his elder brother. He searched for a truce with Burgundy and lacked the true spirit of the movement. A free-rider on the Nationalist movement, many like me soon became disillusioned with his lack of proper motives. The nationalist cause was always about fighting for the cause, not giving an inch. Needless to say Nate and I fell out quickly, and the 1st Colonial Militia discontinued their aid to the nationalist militia in Durham. Now I am enemy to both the Burgundy regime with his corrupt police lapdogs and the so called ‘Durham nationalist militia’. I have gathered some patriots to my cause in the last few days. Together I have established the DVF (Durham Volunteer Force), secret members in many of the organizations based in Durham. I will not give details in case these memoirs are compromised. Suffice to say that there are members in everything from the Durham police to the Republic of Creedy citizens. Like the order of patriots who kept York safe we will do likewise. Perhaps in time these secret heroes will be allowed to show themselves in safety and get the praise they deserve. Until then we will soldier on and remain in the shadows, with a few select members emerging to fight the enemy on our own terms. Our banner will be the Red Hand of Nationalism upon the Durham Flag as befits the cause.

The DVF will strike down any that oppose the cause. We will see the savages and the pirate refuse removed from our once proud town. Burgundy and his corrupt goons will be removed like the cancer they have proven themselves to be. In time we will see the Red Hand all over Durham.

Until then I can but pray that the cause will succeed and give my blood to make it so.

Lukas Alexander. Durham Volunteer Force.

Pacifist on the Warpath by Javier Sortani

In Memoriam

I miss Kjendlie.

Now, say what you will. Inflexible? Always. Xenophobic? Yeah. Irrational? Usually. Mildly deranged? More often than not. But, as I’ve thought about this, he actually became one of the greatest forces for good on all of Shartak.

Let’s look at this. From a personal standpoint, he brought me, a lonely wandering pirate, into politics, and I owe him one for that. Heck, I wouldn’t be writing this column if not for him.

Of more general interest, he’s really half the reason the York Coalition was established. After all, if not for his insane hatred for Bauer and, well, general insanity, Nighter and Broderick would never have left the Colonial Police in disgust, and the CCTU might not have disbanded. There would have been no need for the York Coalition; everybody would’ve gotten along fine in the first place, but probably would’ve stayed a bit on the ineffective side, like we were in the Fourth Invasion. Instead, we have the York Coalition, which is probably the most successful and veteran groups of Shartakian soldiers. Let’s look at the list: the Coalition has (with allies) repelled a pirate invasion, taken Midway, and proportionately given pretty much as good as it got in the Dork Cup.

It’s a little-known fact that when the Coalition was founded, Kjendlie was supposed to be one of the four executive members. But, great guy that he is, he decided to stay out of it and leave the politics to the competent.

Also, Hospitallers recruiting has never been so good as during the death throes of Kjendlie’s reign. Norris, Broderick, and I all became Hospitallers members in the midst of Kjendlie’s burgeoning madness.

Back to the Coalition for a moment. My live-and-let-live style of politics hadn’t usually played well in York; advocating that the Malice or Endzone be given a green card, as it were, got me shot down immediately as a weak trusting pacifist or an anti-York activist. However, after the fall of Kjendlie’s Colonial Police, most of the Coalition was so sick of the era of McKjendlieism that things played out precisely how I wanted them to.

He also contributed to Shartak culture; for example, thanks to him, the word “Soral” is now synonymous in the Shartak edition of Merriam-Webster with “traitor.” Additionally, that fine establishment, the Waugh Arms, formed more than anything else to annoy him. Two more pieces of Shartak history, both attributable to Kjendlie.

Let’s not let the man’s glory obscure the bad parts of his era. He was a pathologically illogical madman who managed to make the Malice’s brand of obnoxious jokesterism look good by comparison. He alienated every one of his closest allies; he even managed to alienate Sammo. He supported Nathan Hale. (These days, does anyone not laugh when that name is mentioned? Anyone? I thought not.)

I believe that Kjendlie is in a better place now. He’s off in some perfect York, where the Mercenary’s Guild never was and the First Imperial Privateers are laughable. Well, more laughable. But in any case, I hope that, some day, he’ll come back to say hello and do something absurd.

Really. Could ya, buddy? Hospitaller recruiting hasn’t been so hot lately.

Play Nice, Kids

If I were writing this about any other two people, I wouldn’t be writing this at all. It would just be another little personal squabble in some remote corner of Shartak. Unfortunately, this has come in the middle of a tense situation, between noteworthy public figures, and its implications could be serious for the rest of the island.

Like many of you, I’m beginning to get the impression that Serious Sam and the Malice don’t like each other.

For those of you who don’t know who these two are, well, what rock, precisely, have you been hiding under? Sam is the founder and leader of the Colonial Militia, and the island’s most notorious hardliner. The Malice was a flagship member of the Mercenaries’ Guild, and if he wasn’t quite public enemy number one in York, he was up there. Are we beginning to see where an issue might arise?

Let’s fast forward a bit. The Mercenaries’ Guild collapses shortly before the Dork Cup. Malice joins the Pistoleers. The Pistoleers pledge their aid to York in the Dork Cup. Malice starts to trek over to York, with the stated purpose of helping the Coalition (at that time still including the Militia) defend York. He asks the Coalition first if we’ll repeal his kill on sight status. We do.

And then Lukas Alexander, Militia member, kills Malice. Shouting, eye-rolling, theatrics, and such ensue. Sam defends Lukas because the kill was for “personal reasons.” Long story short, the Militia withdraws from the Coalition.

Let’s fast forward again. The Durham situation. Malice revives the Pistoleers. Sam declares he’s going over to support the Pistoleers. Now, this is a bit of a surprise. Sam doesn’t like the Pistoleers. He put up a sign in his yard for Nathan Hale back in the day. But apparently he likes a hostile takeover by Raktam even less.

Sam, en route to Durham, gets killed by Malice.

And things get hostile again. Sam, proving himself the better man as usual, declares each and every Pistoleer kill on sight. Now, at present, it’s not an issue, because heck, there are no Pistoleers any more to kill on sight, but still, it's an absurd move. If Sam's right and Malice is a troublemaker, then the Pistoleers shouldn't be responsible; and if all the Pistoleers are troublemakers, why was he defending them in the first place?

With that in mind, I’d like to end this little history lesson with a shoutout to each of the players involved.

Sam: look, we all know that you were going to rip Malice a new one as soon as you saw him. Don’t act like it was completely unexpected. You’re just mad he got to you before you got to him. Besides, if Lukas’s killing Malice was okay because it was for “personal reasons,” why should Malice’s killing you be any different? It really looks like you were looking for an excuse here, and personally I’m just sad that Malice gave it to you.

Malice: what were you thinking? If Sam went for you first, you’d be the victim. By getting him before he got you, you’re playing right into his hands. Honestly. Did forethought even cross your mind? You never kill Sam if he doesn’t kill you first. You know that. He and his boys in the Militia will declare you, your allies, and your dear Auntie Em kill on sight. And your little dog too.

I wrote this article some time ago. But recently, some people decided to make it relevant for me again.

I speak, of course, of the killing of the Militia at Creedy.

Now, maybe they were there to take over. Maybe they were there to protect the place.

But now? They're the victims, and they're angry. They're back on the attack.

Please, people. Think before you machete.

Thanks for your attention, readers. Now go back to the senseless killing and impotent power politics. More material is never a bad thing.

Truly Pathetic

You wouldn't think it would be that hard to not zerg.

So, your little group is losing their personal war. York's on the rebound and is starting to defend itself again. Now, most people would either politely retire or keep grinding on impotently.

Or you can find a tome of the dark arts, read up, and start to summon followers. And you could name them so that it's blindingly obvious that they're somebody's servitors. In the process, you break all the rules held most fundamentally by all Shartakians, regardless of color or creed: zerging is forbidden.

York, say hello to the Pathetic Bills. I haven't heard a name so apt since Dickhead PKer.

No, we don't have proof as such that the Bills were summoned by the dark arts. But the similarity of the times during their attacks suggests a mastermind behind them. We know that at least one group has an axe to grind with York's defenders. And I, for one, refuse to believe that more than five people, all with names based on "Pathetic Bill," arrived on the island at almost the exact same time. I've seen bizarre coincidences, but this is even a bit much for me.

Now, I know York isn't perfect either; if they were, would the pbks have come to be? (PBK appears to be Pathetic Bill Killer, if you hadn't gotten it.) But at least the pbks appear to have been abandoned by their creator.

Ultimately, this whole thing is a bit sad. If you can't win a war without resorting to the dark arts, just give up. Even if you win in the end, what do you get out of it? A bit of self-satisfaction and the condemnation of everyone else on the island, and the self-satisfaction isn't guaranteed. Your allies and anyone who would have previously considered an alliance will repudiate you, unless they're just as immature or self-serving as you.

I understand the satisfaction of a good kill. Victory is a pleasure, even if a base one. But a pleasure at the cost of your humanity? Not worth it.

"Pathetic" Bill: a self-fulfilling prophecy.


It’s been quite the ride.

When I first got into politics, it was because, wounded, bleeding, wandering at random, I came into the heart of York. Fully expecting to die upon the next dawn, I found, instead, that I had been invited into the Colonial Police.

Curious, thrilled at human contact, I accepted.

You all know the story from there.

I’ve been a target since my very first days on the island. The accepting attitudes towards pirates that we see these days were in their infancy back then; those were the days of the Order of Patriots and the Pirate Hunters. I died for my birth several times in York; ultimately, I believe, Kjendlie had a talk with the Order of Patriots, and they laid off. I guess I owe the guy one.

But hey, I’m not going to rant about persecution. That just wouldn’t be me.

Okay, it might be me, but I’m going to do it in my retirement speech. Just let me say that I'm glad that things are better for pirates these days.

I’d like to think the island’s a better place for my having been. Certainly I’ve always made an effort; even as a newly-minted Colonial Policemen, I wasn’t shy about being heard. In fact, probably my quietest period was my most prominent one, as Tribune of the Hospitallers (replacing the late, great James Barnes). I had to watch what I said and bite back my most sarcastic instincts. It really wasn’t much fun. But that’s the price you pay for fame.

I’ve fought for two things above all: ration and pacifism. I don’t believe, oddly enough, that war, particularly war with collateral damage, is a good thing, nor do I believe that rampant irration is a good thing. Call me crazy. I haven’t always been successful, I haven’t always even been right, but I’ve tried.

I have the highest respect for a few people. I’d like to thank a few people in particular, not all of whom are here to see it, for somehow helping me in my days on the island.

Kjendlie, for bringing me into politics.

James Barnes, for inviting me into the Hospitallers and for always providing an example to look up to.

Serious Sam, for providing so much material.

The Eastern Federation and the York Coalition, for all the good times.

Broderick, for being probably my oldest comrade on the island.

Kilshrek, for his aid during my days as Tribune and for ensuring that the Hospitallers will wind up in good hands.

Neil Tathers, for being a peaceful advisor in Raktam and a good friend. I’m willing to bet that a lot of potential disasters were averted by your presence.

And of course, thank you to Simon, for discovering this island, without which none of this would have ever happened.

It hasn’t always been a pleasure, but at the least it’s always been interesting; and on balance, I wouldn’t give it up for all the southern coast. Farewell, Shartak. If once, before you declare war, you think of me and stay your hand, it was worth it.

Cooler Skulls by Neil Tathers

On the Subjects of Kingdoms

“The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.” – Sun Tzu

The Kingdom of Skulls has arrived, and with it, a whole new bag of problems gets dropped into my troubled homeland.

The Kingdom of skulls is being ruled by one Black Fang. I had the honor of fighting with Black Fang against the pirates. He was quick with a blade, and very eager to heal, but the most important thing I remember was his braveness for saving his fellow natives. He would risk his own life, jumping into battle exhausted, even if it meant his own doom. This is a great quality to have as a leader, to be known as strong, sacrificing and willing to help those around you no matter what the risks, but you also need something else as a leader, a strong support group.

And I have yet to see Black Fang establish these people.

His first act as a Grand Tyrant was to claim land under the rule of Wiksik. All well and good, but why would anyone listen to it, he was a fledgling king under a fledgling banner, with few followers, but it caused an uproar, almost leading to another war with the outsiders. But this was avoided; I had something to do with that, encouraging talks between Black Fang, my friend Javier of the Eastern Federation, and the French representative Baron Surcouf. Hopefully they agree to acceptable, and more importantly, peaceful terms.

But this is off topic of what I want to talk about. What I’m trying to express is the subjects of Kingdoms, not just one. There are several people of importance that make a Kingdom; the leader is only one piece of the puzzle.

Adviser's are just as important as the King himself.

The advisers you elect should represent different factions in the kingdom, not just your friends who you know will back your every decision. These advisers need to present different viewpoints, and not be afraid too present them. But they should encourage open rebellion either, even if they don’t agree with a topic, they should back whatever decision their respective leader comes too. I abhor violence, but even with talks, I will pick up my machete if my liege tells me so. But on the other side of the coin, the king knows my words are meant for peace and ultimately the best for Raktam. Queen Hummingbird learned what my peaceful talks were just as powerful as her armies, and I feel King Sofaking knows this too.

So what lies for the final judgment of this new Kingdom of Skulls? I think it’s who Black Fang chooses as his subordinates, and how he chooses to act based on their advice will be when I decide what my final opinion of him would be. But I hope that his future is a bright one, for Wiksik needs a cohesive force leading it.

~Neil Tathers

Weapons of the Soul

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” - Martin Luthor King Jr.

I was, is and will be a warrior at my deepest. When I was growing up my father taught me the ways of the blowpipe, the machetes, and finally, the massive heavy sword. He told me how to wield them, to let them be extensions of your will, and to kill with them. I hunted game at first by his side, the small monkey, the terror of the wild boar, the swift and efficient tiger. With these small kills, I grew in his esteem, and journeyed on my own to find more game to kill. Before I left for this journey, I gained enough of his respect to have our ancestral blowpipe Hawk's Talon, a blowpipe etched with blue runes. I saw this as a blessing.

When I returned to Raktam after years of traveling, I found my parents murdered in their home by the Butcher of Raktam, Armadox. The Queen summoned by, bestowing upon me two more of my family's ancestral weapons, two kukri blades etched with blue runes, the right one named Tiger's Claw, the left named Boar's Tusk. I knew of a heavy sword, and when I asked about it, the Queen told me she had no idea who stole it. Hunted down outsiders and Native murderers alike during this period of time, killing them with my family's weapons, but each death did not ease the pain, it made the pain worse.

This is when I realized that I am not truly a murderer, I am a warrior, two different things. I will hunt people who disturb the peace, and kill them without looking back, but I cannot murder someone who has done no wrong to me or my own. This is unacceptable. This is what has made me a diplomat, a peacemaker, a talker.

My soul.

The greatest weapon my father has ever given to me.

I hope that one day I do find Bear's Roar, but only to keep my family's heirlooms together. I hope to eventually bestow them upon my own children, if I ever have any, but I never plan to wield these weapons against people who don't deserve it. This is why I didn't go into battle against the Pwotter clan, they have done nothing wrong to me or my own, and why I propose peace. But if you do cross me, or my own, I will attack you with all the power I posses, for at heart am I still a warrior.

A warrior with a soul.

-Neil Tathers


“On the road again. - Willie Nelson

So here I am, back in the jungle, traveling and meeting new people, discovering new facets of our island, and leaving politics behind me. I had a sort of meltdown within the Court due to the injustice of the world, and have partaken in a new path of life, a path of my own making. I'm traveling, searching for the peoples of Shartak that I would consider kin. And I plan to discuss with them their views on life, on death, and on politics, and ultimately ask them if they would...well, that's a different story.

My first stop on my tour was the northern coast of the island. Getting there was easy, but what I found was amazing. A giant squid, a creature I have never gazed before, and it attacked me. Attacking back I realized I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but then two people showed up to help me, the robotic Tik Tok, and a kind outsider Sertorius. Together, the three of us defeated the squid, Tik Tok taking the final blow and the prize for himself. With that I continued on my way.

The next stop was a swamp on the northeastern edge, where I witnessed Black Fang training new recruits in the style of hunting. While they hunted, I took the time to search the swamps for clues on my father's lost weapon, Bear's Roar. I did find a weapon in that swamp, but it will take a while before I decide whether or not this weapon is the one I seek or not. I left the hunt while the hunting was still good, and traveled back to Raktam to stock up.

Raktam, my home town, has changed little. I stocked up, and left, after paying some tribute to my fallen Queen. I moved on, and traveled west.

Who knows what wondrous things I will find out here, in the backwoods of the island, where I have never traveled before. It will be fun, exciting, and relaxing.

Hopefully, next time I can talk more about the White Lotus I now wear.

-Neil Tathers.

Fool's Gold - The Thinker's Reward by the Fool


Murder and Murdering

Ah, Murder. Such a delicate word, despite the blood-soaked crude meaning it has. Murder is unjustified killing, so they say. What does unjustified mean? Unprovoked? Many a man has been punished beyond repair for killing while under provocation. Does it mean killing without the approval of the society one lives in? Perhaps this is the true meaning. One must always have the permission of ones people to kill his enemies, eh? Ha, what an irony of fate, and what a humor the skygods are possessed with to shape us in such a self-devouring way.

I admire the spirit of many murderers. To go ahead and destroy the trust which is placed in them by their family and friends, and their neighbors since the day their mothers did spring them from womb is a courageous thing indeed. However I do not admire the courage of our murderers in Raktam. Nor do I admire their imagination. Indeed, I would say they have very little imagination, or none at all, else they would be the sort of murder who ambushes his countrymen as they are weary with travel, and far from any faces. This is the true spirit of murder - to cause a dilemma, a problem to our spirits as they stare forlornly at the body which they have been liberated from. Do we plea for the familiar face of Nadjam to pull our life-force from the plane of our ancestors, and return to home, and make the perilous journey once again from the beginning, or do we put our trust in those strange loners, the wandering, displaced shaman from abandoned towns - those whose own spirits are at such unrest they must wander the island to find peace in their hearts - and, once trust is placed in them, to wake up in some strange patch of jungle, far from any road or town, and struggle through the brush to find your way again.

My cousin, a distant relative from Wiksik, is one of these sorts of killers. He is said to lurk out in the no-mans-land between the Kingdom of Skulls and the territory of what the Pasty-faces call Derby, and he kills all he finds. He and a friend or two of his demand a small sum of money in exchange for 30 days of safe passage. I think he is as poor as a dog, but the trail of blood he leaves behind, and the corpses of warriors, merchants, and peaceful explorers mark his path more definitely than his nilly-willy footprints.

He makes travel difficult for his brethren, it is true, but at least he does not laze about in his home town, and make a mere nuisance of himself, as these fools - yea, greater even than I! - in Raktam do. I die often, but the feel of the other-world, and the freedom of my spirit is liberating to my senses, and I make good fun of those who strike me down.

I cannot fathom what these travel-fearing murderers gain from their limited exploits. Are they afraid of the beasts of the jungle? Do they fear an environment in which their prey must be hunted for, not simply visited upon, as a caged deer may be? What is it which causes them to lurk their own villages?

Heavy Game Of The West Indies by Deadeye


At sunset the view North-West from the upper balcony of the Durham Trader's hut is breathtaking. First, a large expanse of bush and jungle. Then the seemingly endless dunes of Echo Beach. And then in the distance, the blue-white waters of the western lagoon. As the sun falls low on the horizon the lagoon turns the colour of blood and the jungle shadows take on a deeper, menacing aspect. When your rum has been cooled in buckets of ice brought all the way from Shartak Mountain, that view seems picture-postcard perfect.

A shadow woke me from my daydreaming. The man who blocked the sunlight was tall, six feet plus, an athletic-looking silhouette. His voice was rough, "Be ye Deadeye? Deadeye the hunter?". I offered him a cheroot and gestured to the wicker chair beside me. "Aye", I said as I lit our smokes. No longer backlit, I could see him clearly. Skin sunburned nut-brown, corded muscles, handsome face, gleaming white teeth, swash-topped leather boots, extravagant clothing, a cutlass at his side and a silken bandana on his head. "I'm the Pirate King" he said. "Aye?", I said.

I gestured to the bottle on the table. He took a long draught of the rum and smacked his lips. He spoke confidently. "My ship was sunk off the North coast of this thrice-damned island. She was attacked by a monster, a giant squid. It smashed her rudder and rigging and she drifted onto the reef. The tide and surf pounded her to driftwood. A lot of good men drowned trying to get ashore. Some of the poor bastards didn't make it that far. That hellspawned squid pulled them right out of the rowboat. It was... horrible..." His voice had sunk to a whisper. He took another long draught from the rum bottle. Then he looked at me. Haunted eyes in a haunted face. "They say yer a Kraken Hunter". It wasn't a question. I answered anyway, "Aye". He thumped a calloused fist on the little table and the rum bottle jumped. "I want to find the beast that destroyed my ship and killed my crew. I want revenge. Will you teach me to be a Kraken Hunter?"

I sighed, "Aye, I can teach you. It's no job for the faint-hearted." I unbuttoned my shirt and showed him the marks. "Sometimes the shaman doesn't put you back together quite right. The scars remain." I splayed my fingers, wide, but still not wide enough to span the circular scars. "The big tentacles, the whips, they have claws around the edges of every sucker. Once they hook in, they don't let go. If you can manage to pull away, you lose the flesh." He gave me a hard look. A you-can't-scare-me-off look. I buttoned up my shirt and took a swig of the rum. I looked out towards the western lagoon. "They breed out in the ocean depths and come in to the reef to hunt. Usually they stick to the deep water. They feed on the sharks. Ever wonder why there are no really big sharks around this island?" He frowned and made as if to speak. "The sharks usually find you before you find the squid. And once the blood is in the water it can get messy." I looked back at him. A moment of doubt passed across his face then vanished, chased away by thoughts of revenge.

I looked back to the distant surf. "You'll need a lot of supplies.... and patience." He nodded and waited for me to continue. "Go downstairs, buy the best backpack you can get. Haggle for all the medical supplies you can afford. Buy spares of everything, especially dagger and cutlass. And don't forget food and fresh water." He stood up to leave. Then he pointed to the sword I had propped against my chair, "Where can I get one of those?" I shook my head and smiled. "I'm told that it's a late medieval zweihander. An antique. I won it in a game of backgammon. The mug who lost it swore he took it from a long-dead corpse in the swamp near Battle Creek." He looked at me skeptically and shook his head.

I could hear a commotion in the street below. "The natives tell stories of their ancestors. Of a war that consumed the island. They say the dead warriors in the swamps will rise again when they are needed to defend their home." I stood up and leaned on the balcony railing. Looking down I saw two men. Between them they half-carried, half-dragged an injured man. The fellow was delirious, foaming at the mouth and screeching gibberish. His face was covered in blood and dozens of bright feathers protruded from his chest, back and legs. I watched the three disappear inside the medical hut. The screams died out quickly. I flicked my cheroot butt over the balcony railing and turned back to the Pirate King, "I don't think those dead warriors will be rising any time soon."

The Healer's Work by Tracer

The Horrors…

The days are filled with uncertainty; the sounds would drive you insane. You listen for the beat of what drives man. You are one of the only things protecting people from their demise. Not knowing who will stumble in; a creature picking off the wounded, a doomed corpse, or a wounded man. People discount our services and their screams plague the nights. We are those who decide the fates of hundreds; leave them to a slow painful death or an extension to their already limited lives. This choice is not always our choice; many a time I have found myself unable to help a poor soul but I am held back by the passage of time and the decay that results. We are the mechanics of life and if we do not do our job life shall decay and collapse. It is a horror we must face yet is for the good of the common man…

The Things I’ve Seen…

The healer’s life is not an easy thing. We deal with the mess others cause. I have seen men with dozens of bullets lodged in their stomachs… Men whose arms have been broken beyond recognition… We must also use the same things others use to kill to help others; a dagger to remove those bullets; a machete to amputate the infected arm. We deal with even some of the strangest things of all; a man that was able to take over 20 poison darts and still hold onto the thin line called life. Another who had numerous circular marks and nearly strangled to death by a strange sea creature. The sheer mess of it is never a good sight; buckets full of blood, hair and skin covered floors, and even the mangled corpses of those who weren’t as fortunate as the rest. It’s an affinity for a job that we all hate. We wish we could do something else yet we find our only purpose is to fix all of those we see…

Things I Can Not Seem to Understand…

I have been a healer for quite a while yet it does not make sense some of the things people do. They kill those who tend to their wounds and some even end up killing themselves. It doesn’t make sense they would cut their chances of a prolonged life, but then again death is a trivial thing on the island for most. Then others wish to get back at others for killing them direly. They will go to any length from making copies of themselves to following the person around for days just to make a kill. Why people make it more trouble than its worth is beyond me. Grudges can be made for almost no reason at all; groups blamed when it is only a single member, and even just for the fact of where a person comes from. It seems like man whether they be from sunken ships of old times, ancient pristine villages, to decrepit ruins, even from the bustling settlements of explorers and scientists always seem to suffer from one of many ailments which can not be cured from stupidity, blood lust, hate, greed, and even more indescribable things.

The Tombtales of Jace Daskull

Through my many searches of the tombs located in the Commonwealth's village of Chikram, I have slowly unraveled the history of Raktam, and very much the history of Shartak.

Though the ancient runes used on the tomb's walls are similar to the religious ones used in worship of the skygods, much of their meaning has been lost. For example, 'Twi', the Skygod of the stars, used to also mean 'Black Sky', meaning the night. However, the usage of it has descended into the current language of Shartak, and Twi now only means the god. This has given me trouble, as deciphering the histories- obitcuaries of the ancestors- is rendered next to impossible. Were it not for the help of the ancestor ghosts, I might never had recovered any kind of cipher. As it is... But I digress.

These are the tales told to me by the tombs.

The Fall of Raktam

A week ago, I was in Chikram, helping them, as Warlord of Raktam, against a group (Pack?) of violent tigers. In a lull, I discovered a magnificent tomb, filled with burned out incense and, upon the stile itself, a name I found very familiar.

'Blue Hummingbird, queen of Raktam.'

After recovering from the shock, I called the spirits to me, and asked them about this place.

This is what they told me.

Long ago, yet after the cannibals of Rakmogak had been banished and their ancient empire brought to ruin, and the island divided into warring, black-hearted tribes, a single woman united four tribes, each of whom inhabited one of the current Raktam's four provinces. The other tribes of the island scoffed at this. Indeed, what self-respecting male would allow himself to be led by a woman?

The first Blue Hummingbird certainly proved them wrong, dominating all of the current Raktam's territory and all of the western island. The east, at the time, was controlled by the Kingdom of Skulls, and they respected the boundry. While wars WERE fought, little change took place. The sounds of battle ceased for a time, and each Queen of the empire, whose name I do not know, suceeded the last, taking on the name Blue Hummingbird and keeping power. The land on which Chikram stands, apparentally, was, in fact, the palace of the ancient queens!

This empire, for a time, was free of the strife and rebellion our good King Sofaking must deal with. For a time, until the chief minister of the land, Iorek Liles, decided that being chief in the Skygod's ear was not enough.

He wanted to be king. And for someone with almost as much power as the Blue Hummingbird, he could do it.

A rebellion happened, starting at the Holy Mountain and spreading like wildfire through the empire. From where Durham stand, to the holy mountain, the people took up arms and revolted, siezed in a religious frenzy by Liles' words. He told them the Queen was a heretic, that she believed the Skygods fake and, worst of all, said she was a descended of the Rakmogaks. (At the time, I knew not who they were, and the Ghosts' words confused me.)

The Royal Army fought battle after battle, never advancing, only falling back. The people who remained loyal joined together and fought.

In the final battle, Blue Hummingbird herself stood at the gates of the palace, holding her holy machete and leading the war chants from the head. In the clash, much of the people were slain, their bodies burned on the very fires Iorek summoned from the skies. His powers as Minister had not left him, and he nearly defeated the queen.

In the final moments, though, the skygods looked down and saw the ruin, and their powers were withdrawn. Gone were the magics the ancient Priests used, only a fraction of the might remained.

But the deed was done. Blue Hummingbird burned, dying on the field. With her last breath, she tore her foe from loins to hair, and tore his heart out.

Liles' army ransacked the palace before they realized what they had done. Throwing themselves down, they sobbed for forgiveness, pleading with the skygods for redemption.

But the deed was done. The skygods withdrew even the mercy of death, leaving us as tortured spirits when our lives pass. The people went on to live their lives, trying to forget their sins. We pay for this for all time, perhaps.

However, Three people survived the ransacking of Chikram Palace. A guard, a nursemaid...

And a child.

The ghosts know not of what happened, except that the child from several millenia ago is the same as the Queen who returned to Raktam. How this is, none know, save the Skygods, and perhaps Blue Hummingbird herself.

I will try and ask her, if I can summon her spirit. We shall see.

We shall see.


The ghosts told me a second story, when I asked them about the Rakmogak. This was after the cannibals reappeared into our lives. Not having been born on Shartak, I had never heard any tales for the children.

Apparently, a common, but grim, story is of the Rakmogak. Woefully vague, it tells of an evil king who ate his nine servants and ran from their ghosts, each of whom asks if they were tasty. The evil king tries to hide his evil from the people, but the ghosts tell the hero. After a while, the cunning hero tricks the king to fall into a hole, never to be heard from again.

When I mentioned this to the ghosts, they laughed and told me parts of the real story. The rest I gleaned from the tomb walls.

There were Skygods for everything in the old days. The sun, the moon, the grass, the trees, the bears, the shargles... Everything. Ruling over them was the god of the Sky. They were content with their lots. But among them, there was one who would not be happy with her power.

Rakma was a cruel, depraved goddess, with nothing to rule. The youngest among them, she had nothing to control, no power at all, for the skygods do not work for evil. Yet somehow she managed to twist the rules of magic, gaining acess to the mortal realm. Looking down, Rakma saw ancient Shartak.

The island at that time was in turmoil, much like now. Tribes fought for control over the land, raping and pillaging their own people. The only large village that remains today was Wiksik, with its beginning Kingdom of Skulls. The kingdom was weak, and the main power on the island was a small village in the 'hook' of the Holy Mountain- Dynatos.

Here was a king, his name lost to the centuries. A good king, keeping his people safe from the maurading tribes around them. Never did this king use his soldiers for anything but defense.

His son was completely different. Named Mogak, he was a spoiled, mean-spirited young adult, obsessed with women and food. He cavorted with the worst types, many times crossing the border of the land to visit the tribes. The king knew nothing of this, of course. Mogak was too clever to allow anyone to know anything.

It was on one of his trips that Mogak stopped at a pool, bending to drink of its waters. As he looked at his reflection, a woman's face appeared over his shoulder. Whirling about, Mogak saw the most beautiful, seductive woman he'd ever seen, perfect in every aspect, like all of the Skygods. He was instantly smitten, and listened to everything she said.

This, of course, was Rakma. She told him many things on their first encounter, and loved him sweeter then anyone else. He returned seven times, each time learning more. Finally, at the seventh visit, she told Mogak that his father, the king, favored his sister to become queen more then him, despite being the eldest. Mogak was furious, and asked how he could secure his role.

Rakma's answer was simple. Kill the girl.

Mogak stabbed her in her sleep. Yet despite his best efforts, the king learned of his sons treachery from Mogak's own servant. Pursued by soldiers, Mogak fled, stopping only to kill his servant.

Once away, Mogak met Rakma, telling her how the plan had failed. The skygoddess quieted his fears, telling him of a new plan, one to conquer the whole island.

A year passed, and the kingdom remained at peace. Keeping all outsiders from their cities, they never learned of the events unfolding outside their lands. Mogak, controlled by Rakma, had gathered an army of scum, and destroyed all in his path. All, even the burgeoning Kingdom of Skulls, were forced into the new empire. Withing a month, Dynatos too fell, and Mogak took the capital for his own, with Rakma as his queen.

Meanwhile, in the heavens, the Skygods watched in horror. Unable to help without drastically altering the world, they held a commune, hoping to find an answer to stop Rakma.

The new kingdom, christened Rakmogak, showed their true colors. Every week, one hundred men, women and children were brought to Dynatos for Mogak and his warriors to devour. Cannibals all, they were unceasingly hungry. Any resistance was beaten to a pulp and eaten, many times alive. No one dared resist the might of the Rakmogak.

Nine weeks passed before the Skygods decided on a course of action. They did two things.

First, the devoured dead, all nine hundred of them, were returned as ghosts to the halls of Dynatos to exact revenge. Second, they sent down a hero, half god and half mortal, to the conquered tribes.

This hero's name was never found. He was called the Hummingbird, after his lightning fast attacks. More similarities to our good ruler, it seems. The Blue Hummingbird line had godblood in them, it seems.

Hummingbird united the ancient tribes, and rebelled in a way no one expected- In unity. Before, none of the seperate tribes would work together. Now they were a single blade, a single fist, a single hammer to strike the Rakmogak empire.

Yet despite a string of early victories, the people did not rise up as Hummingbird hoped. Mogak had seemed a powerful, good ruler. He had done nothing but ask for servants, it seemed to them, for Rakma hid the fates of the people well.

Mogak and his warriors, locked inside the palace, were driven half insane by the spirits. Mogak was terrified. If the people learned of what he had done, they would kill everything. So he had the palace locked up. No one came out, though the 'servants' still went in.

Then the spirits helped a single, young girl escape the castle. Once out, she spread the word of what Mogak had done, telling of the terrible cannibalism. Many believed her- It explained much.

Then she came to Hummingbird's camp, and told them of it. There, she fell in love with Hummingbird, and before the year was done, they had had a child.

Hummingbird led his now powerful army to Dynatos, sweeping away the pitiful guard on the city's walls, and found the palace empty. Searching its halls, they found only Mogak, cowering in his bedroom, his mind utterly destroyed by the spirits and not even worth killing. What happened to the warriors, no one could say, but the food stores were empty, and all of the women who had been sent to them were gone.

Hummingbird believed this to be the end. The empire split again into tribes, who now lived partially peacefully. Rakma was driven to the darkest reaches of the spirit world by the gods, her evil weakened.

Somehow, after the fall of the original Raktam empire, the Shamans who began to bring magic back to the world found out about what happened. Najdam would hardly tell me anything, but they knew that the Rakmogaks had ended up on an island shaped like a skull. They told no one, believing the threat to be truly gone.

If only.

Randall Flagg: Path of Destruction

Chapter One: The Dark Man

"Wherever the dark man walks, strife and chaos follows." Passage from Raktam Village records.

He was known as Sirus Fallosworth in York, where he was responsible for the drowning of 27 innocent people, posing as a priest he had engulfed the settlement in unburdened religious fear. He left mysteriously once the violence was driven to a peak, so he slipped into the shadows once fighting took place in the street between two different religious factions.

He was also known as simply Quell in Dalpok. He was an important political figure in the village, shortly after coming to power a disease spread through-out Dalpok, crippling the young, killing the old. The ones able to fight were convinced by him that the pirates were responsible. The Dalpok raiding party were slaughtered in an attempt to reach the shipwreck, it seemed as if somebody had alerted the pirates to the plan. The dark man had slipped away again....

The dark man was in Raktam only long enough to sow the seeds of rebellion; the rats.

The dark man spoke to a troubled soul at times, in the man's dreams. He was known as Keiichi, and he whispered to him, telling him to do things. Kill. Destroy. Maim. The dark man knew that the easiest people to control were the insane. Over time the man had become difficult to control, his actions becoming more erratic and desperate. The torsos he took from his victims quickly becoming an obsession; something the dark man's lies and whispers could not cause to falter. He struck out at everything, his words those of a madman. Keiichi didn't even recognize or care; he considered people objects, something to be harvested. Flagg had lost a powerful vessel.

The dark man had walked into Derby one solemn, dark night. The night air, often humid and hot, had suddenly grown cold, the air becoming crisp and winter-like. This only had briefly, and people who experienced it said it felt like the very cold was seeping into the souls. The dark man had walked into what seemed like the most populated hut, the medical hut, and tipped his hat and slipped off his gunslinger's coat. He looked over at a native shaman, who was banishing a spirit. He smiled. "Hello everyone, my name is Randall Flagg." He had some very grand ideas indeed....



The Project IVoS Team