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Seven children are destined to save Pruul and shake the traditions of the territory to their very core. In response, factions have broken the peace of a previously unified territory and violence has erupted across the dessert. It is a battle between the past and the future, the young and the old, and blood won’t stop seeping into the sand.
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Author Topic: We Are The Future  (Read 451 times)

Description: Attn: All al-Izar Clan Members

Offline Lucky al-Izar

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We Are The Future
« on: Sep 02, 18, 12:02:12 AM »
Summer 193

Today was the day.
It had taken years to get to this moment. Lucky al-Izar closed his eyes and pressed his hand against the solid stone of his house, his hand shaking. Never before had the Warlord Prince invested so much time, so much effort, so much hope into anything. Not his Queens. Not his training. Not even his very life. And here, on the precipice of a new beginning, not only for him, but for all of Pruul, he had never been more terrified.
“Do you know what kind of name Lucky is? It’s a dog’s name, little boy. An animal that learns to heel. Can you do that? It’s the only way to survive for you. The only way.”
The Mineborn pushed himself away from the wall and took a deep breath, quieting the shaking of his hands. Who would have thought, twenty-one years ago, when he was born, that he would one day stand inside the Vaya Temple. That he would plant a sacred seed and declare to the world that he was part of Pruul, that he had bled for it. Cried for it. Lost people he loved to it. Inside the temple, with his family, his real family, no one could deny him his birthright but Mother Night herself.
“I will not accept Pruul to be ruled by those barely past their Offering who are neither Mothers nor ever been raised by one of the Clans. How can they…decide what is best for each Clan? They have spent their lives in a hole, at the Little Citadel, and in Onn. What do they know of the Desert?”
Before, where the Mineborn had been forced to wear white, Lucky al-Izar now wore black. They were children of the Darkness, of the hidden. Where some used that title to mock them, Lucky embraced it. What did people fear more than the darkness? Than that which they could not understand? Let them be afraid. Let them see that it was time for a new order, one that embraced the future. Lucky could do that. He could bare the weight of a new life, a new way, no matter how heavy it was upon his shoulders.
“Pruul has put too much of its expectations and desires on the shoulders of these young people. They have borne them well, but they should not have to. They have not been given the chance to lead full lives.”
The Warlord Prince strode out of his house and joined his siblings and those that would bare the al-Izar name with pride. Among them were thieves. Murderers. Whores. Children. The forgotten. The castaways. The broken. And the hidden Clan would take them all in. It would give them a place to call home when no one else would. It would care for them, teach them, feed them, and they would flourish—together.
"I would want a Mother and a Court with the capacity to forgive and offer mercy, one willing to listen when she is told no by her Triangle, to heal and care, just as I would wish those that serve Her to be. I would want a Council that can see even the smallest person of Pruul as one that matters. The Mineborn are not capable of this as a unit.”
The crowd outside the al-Izar residence parted for the Mineborn as they began the walk to the Vaya temple. Their voices united as they trailed after the children, their chant filling the street and floating up into the hot Pruulian air.
“From the hidden comes the light.”
Lucky entered the temple first, staring up at the inscription he had lived his life by.
In darkness, the Darkness reigns.
The words were carved at the large entrance of the Vaya Temple in Onn. The cool shadows rested under the arches of the circular room, the stained glass windows allowing colored light to dance on the intricately painted mosaic of the floor. It depicted a sandworm winding around the center, each tile no bigger than a common coin. Its large mouth ate its own tail. Tiny flecks of dust hung in the air, suspended, making the air sparkle in the late evening sun. It was hot in the sacred inner sanctum, cooling spells forbidden, the Sayya wishing for sweat to gather, like blood, in the small grooves of the tiles, an offering or a sacrifice. This Temple was the oldest in all of Pruul after all, large stone statues of the seven castes holding up the ceiling just as they had held up the territory for so very long. There were seven altars in front of each statue, the great figures looming over the small low-standing tables.
The Mineborn strode past the alters, past the breathtaking beauty of the place, and followed a Priestess deeper into the temple. She nodded her head once to the male as she gestured to two ornate doors, carved millennia ago, when Pruul first divided itself into it’s Clans. The Great Mother had given each warring faction a single seed and bid them plant it inside the temple. If it bloomed, they were worthy. Their people were worthy. If it didn’t…Mother Night had made her choice. Many factions had planted the seeds all those centuries ago, but only four had bloomed. Their trees still graced the open air courtyard to this day, the branches old with the weight of Pruul. A few of them brushed those of other Clan tree, some wrapped around the new shoots of older branches, connecting each Clan, reminding them that they all grew from the same earth.
Lucky opened the doors and stared at the four trees. He took another deep breath.
He had once told Gideon Cinerus that he feared peace did not exist for him. But here, in this moment, surrounded by his family, he wondered if he had perhaps found a small sliver of it.
“Today is the day that a new hope comes to Pruul.” Lucky had turned to the crowd of people that had followed him into the temple, that intended to give their blood for their new Clan. “Not from prophets blessed by Mother Night. Not from a Council formed by the will of Queens. No. From you. From us. It will be hard and we shall surely fail many times, but we know what failure feels like. Each of us has endured it in a way that the Bali, the Sabbah, the Tabur, and the Jinan simply cannot know. It is this darkness from which we shall rise. And I dare anyone to try and stand in our way.”
The crowd cheered and Lucky turned to plant the seed in the ground, covering it gently with the soil. He took out a khanjar and held it up in front of the crowd.
“This khanjar was given to me after my siblings and I performed a great water debt for Pruul. It was passed from the Sabbah into my hands and signifies that we belong to a great Clan. That we have walked through the desert and survived.” Lucky dropped the sword and it clanged to the floor. “I don’t know about you, but I only belong to one Clan. One people. So, here, in front of Mother Night and with you as my witnesses, I make this offering to the Darkness on behalf of the al-Izar, on behalf of the hidden.”
Lucky called in another khanjar, one he had forged with his own two hands, one that bore the dark navy blue and black colors of the al-Izar proudly on its hilt. He cut his hand and watched as the blood soaked into the mounded soil where he had just planted the seed.
“Any who wish to make an offering can do so now.”
The Warlord Prince extended the khanjar to his siblings and the weapon would travel down to anyone that wished to embrace the future of Pruul.

Offline Hadjara al-Izar

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Re: We Are The Future
« Reply #1 on: Sep 02, 18, 07:40:12 AM »
Hadjara walked quietly behind Lucky, aware of the throng of people that fell in step behind her, behind the rest of her family.  Well, most of her family. Her heart ached for the two who had joined another Clan who would no longer share in their name in truth.  Omid shared her blood, but he had made his choice and she made hers.  Fari was braced on her hip, her tall slender form a warm comforting presence at her side.  Fari was part of this step, part of this new path in her life.  She had not asked Babak if he would join the Clan when it was official. She knew he had no ties to the Tabur other than in name, but it was the Clan of his birth, the clan of his late wife and she did not wish him to think he would have to change that for her.

Fari was the first Mineborn child, though perhaps that wasn’t the right way to describe her.  She was the first born Izar, the name given by her mother’s blood.  Soon there would be many children of the Izar, but there was something in her heart that swelled that Fariha would be firstborn.  Her daughter played with the coils of her hair as they fell down her back.   She had braided a crown of her hair but left the rest loose and free.  It flowed in tandem with the dress she had chosen for this occasion.  Something to match Lucky’s, something that reflected the Clan colors that had been chosen for them.  Dark blue to Lucky’s black, with a trim of gold thread along the collar and veil-like sleeves. Every step caused the fabric to move around her, like a solid smoke or perhaps shadows.

Spoiler: Hadj's robes (click to show/hide)

Her breath caught as they stepped inside the Great Temple, her eyes drifting up the ornate decorations.  She had been in this place only once since they had come to Onn, to dedicate herself to her mentor officially as an apprentice Priestess.  It felt deep and powerful, and she could feel the echo of the Darkness through the air and it humbled her.  Even Fari, usually chatty and excitable when they went out in public was quiet and somber, her large bright golden brown eyes glancing around the room with soft awe.  Still, she had not gone beyond the great doors before, the doors that led to the Clan trees, the four sacred trees protected from the sands and the ravages of the desert, tended and loved and watered and nurtured.   If this worked, if they were found worthy, there would soon be a fifth tree to join them.

Hadj knew it would work, knew it in the depth of her bones.  Their tree would grow from the cruel and unforgiving desert just as they had.  They would be a Clan, recognized and respected.  Well, eventually.  Hadjara hoped but was no fool.  Even with the blooming of the tree, it would take years and trials of proof before the Izar would be respected.  At least none of the Clans were actively against them.  Well, she tried not to count those of the True Sabbah, they did not speak for the whole of their Clan.

Hadjara gently put Fari on the ground, holding her daughter’s hand as she leaned down to whisper, “We will watch Amu Lucky first, and it will be our turn alright darling?”  Fari looked up at her mother with those big soulful eyes that were so like her brother’s and then broke out in a half toothed grin, turning her head towards Lucky.   Hadjara smiled brightly at her daughter and then rose up to watch Lucky as the rest of the group cheered.  She knew what he was saying, she had listened to him go over what he wanted to say the night before when he had sought out her opinion.

He bent down to place the sacred seed into the dirt, covering it with all the tender gentleness that she had seen him tuck Fari into bed at night.   When he dropped the khanjar he had been gifted and called in the one that he had been building, she beamed with pride.  She hadn’t known he was forging his own weapon but it didn’t surprise her.  Lucky wanted to owe nothing to anyone, he wanted to blaze his own path, his own bright future so why not his own sword.

When he held up the khanjar to the group, Hadjara stepped forward with her daughter at her side and took the khanjar.  Turning, she released Fari’s hand to place her own palm beneath the honed blade.  It was surprisingly light, and Hadj marvelled at the craftsmanship her brother had put into it.  Looking up at the crowd she smiled warmly. 

“I give of my blood to nourish this tree, this land, this Clan.  I call the Darkness to bear witness to the trials that have brought us all here today, to the years clinging to the hope that one day, that some day we would find a true home, a true family.  Some of you emerged from that total dark with us, some of you have lived above ground in shadow but now we are one.  We are family.  We are Izar, and we will always remember that we created this life when all others told us we couldn’t.”   She ran the blade across her palm, squeezing her hand closed as the blood dripped down into the dirt.  “I, Hadjara al-Izar, Priestess of Mother Night and Aubdina, give of my water to nurture this tree and to nurture you all.”  She called in craft to close the wound and held out her hand to Fari.   Kneeling beside her child, she took Fari’s hand and held it out over the dirt pile.

"Come on Fari, remember how mamma showed you?" she said gently and her daughter looked up at her before her tiny hand curled into a fist with all but her index finger sticking out.  She looked around with wide eyes, not scared but uncertain and Hadj leaned in to kiss her forehead.  "I promise it will only sting for a moment ok?"

“Fariha al-Izar, the first of the Mineborn descendants, and first child born to the Clan, I dedicate you and your heirs to the al-Izar.  Your blood is their blood, your tears will be their tears and theirs yours.  By virtue of your birthright you will tell the story of this day for centuries to all those who come after us, of the day that the al-Izar found their home.”   Hadj gently took her daughter’s index finger touching the tip of her finger to the edge and drawing up a single red droplet.  Fari looked up at her with wide eyes, and her tiny little lip began to tremble, but Hadj let the drop fall into the soil before bringing her child’s finger to her lips and kissing her injury and sealing it with healing craft.  Handing the khanjar back to her brother, she pulled her daughter up into her arms and moved to his side to wait for the next speaker.

Offline Celim al-Izar

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Re: We Are The Future
« Reply #2 on: Sep 02, 18, 08:55:22 PM »
As he followed the crowd toward the Temple, Celim mused that it was strange to wear the colors of a clan that was not that of the Jinan. Instead of the symbols of the horse he and his small family wore black and dark blue, the colors of night and darkness.  It was unsettling to the child he’d been who had only ever wanted to be acknowledged as a full fledged adult warrior and defender of his family and clan. Then those dreams had come crashing down and he’d ended up on the streets of Onn instead, with no place to call home and no family.  Meeting Darya and the others had eased the hurt inside but deep down he had still longed for more.   

The man he was now felt a mix of sorrow and happiness that he was once again part of something larger.  Thanks to the male leading this march he had the chance of being part of a clan once more.  When Lucky had offered him a place in the clan he was creating Celim had hesitated for only a moment.  He wanted to belong to a clan, wanted a second chance and for any children he and Darya may one day have to have a place to call home.  Convincing the others hadn’t been as difficult as he had feared and now as he and his family walked toward the temple he felt a sense of relief.  If all went well, if the tree sprouted, then no matter what might happen to him in the future his family would be safe.  The Jinan might still call for his head if they discovered he lived and the Izar might hand him over but his sisters and brother and the love of his life would not have to try and make their way on the streets.

His eyes constantly scanned the crowd for any hint of danger or aggression toward his clan and was relieved to see none as they ascended the steps into the Temple.  He felt a sense of awe and no small amount of trepidation as they were guided by the Priestess to the inner sanctum.  Lucky’s words resonated in his soul and he knew he'd made the right choice as Lucky's blood spilled into the sand.  The scent of Hadjara’s blood and her daughters as her blood joined her brothers had him throttling down the instinct to snarl and stalk, but he wrestled the urge back into a corner of his mind even as he stepped forward.  Darya and the others following in his footsteps.

Celim was not one for words.  Action suited him better than speech making so he kept his words short and to the point as he knelt on one knee before the other Warlord Prince and his sister Priestess, “You have given all of us here a second chance at a life we thought lost.  We have a place to belong now and for that reason I swear my water to the Izar and I will gladly spill it in the defense of what you have created Prince.  Lady.”  He inclined his head to both of them as he spoke.

Accepting the offered Khanjar he slid the blade across his palm, his blood mixing with that already spilled before standing and turning to the side to offer the blade to Darya.  The scent of her blood was more infuriating for him than the scent of Hadjara’s and he knew she could sense his struggle to control himself because the moment she stepped away healing craft sealed the cut.  She stepped into his arms a touch of craft sealing the cut in his own hand as she leaned against him and his hands rested on her waist.  His green eyes were sharp as Yasmin and Zinat’s blood joined hers stepping aside before their brother added his own and returned the blade to Lucky. 

All five shifting to the side and out of the way of the next to step forward.

Offline Roshan al-Izar

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Re: We Are The Future
« Reply #3 on: Sep 02, 18, 09:08:27 PM »
She had to admit, she was impressed that Lucky had found a way to do this that didn't act like a sledgehammer straight to the face of the other Clans.  IF this rite took, IF the tree grew.. then they were a Clan by tradition and law.

Not that others would argue.  Not that they might not try to crush the young sapling that would be the Izar.  Her teeth flashed white against her skin as she thought of the poor fools that might test them.  She was sort of looking forward to it, though she probably wouldn't say so aloud to anyone.  Not even Lucky.

She liked making examples of idiots.  Of course, if someone tried anything, they might injure her family, and that would make her feel guilty.  So as much as she might want to do something to invaders, she hoped that Pruul's people were not so foolish.

She hoped, but also planned for the seemingly inevitable wave of 'stupid' that was sure to occur.

She watched as her Brother bled his water upon the seed.  She watched, and approved.  She watched with further pride as Hadjara, and Fari, and Celim then took their turns.  She watched as Celim's little family unit added to the seed with their own.  It felt right.  This wasn't just Mineborn blood.  This was Mineborn, and the lost.  The exiled.  The clanless.  This was the blood of those who wanted to belong, and who had found belonging in each other.

She stepped forward, ignoring some of the shifting of those that she had to move past.  Who wouldn't be a little agitated when a Black Widow moved past them?  Idiots, that was who wouldn't be. 

She tossed her hair over her shoulder, holding her hand out to Lucky for the blade.  When he passed it, she put her hand over his, keeping his fingers upon the hilt beneath her own.  "This is our family, Prince, and it always will be.  I am Roshan al-Izar, Black Widow to my family and to the Clan that will be.  My webs, my water, my life will be dedicated to the preservation of what we grow here this day."  She turned her left hand over, dragging Lucky's arm, and the khanjar he had made, so that they could slice into her flesh together.  Her teeth flashed white again in a smile and a snarl all at once, and she curled that hand into a fist.

That fist moved over the mound, and she opened her fingers to let the blood fall upon the sand.  Her eyes remained on Lucky's though.  She didn't just do this for him.  She meant what she'd said.  This was their family.  These were their people.

They were hers.  Abulurd al-Bali might think the Izar mere children with no standing int he world - and maybe he was right.  But this?  This would prove to everyone, and to themselves especially, that they were like the Pruulians of old.  They might not know everything, or even most things, but with faith and will they would make their own place in this desert.

They always would.

Offline Vashti al-Sahar

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Re: We Are The Future
« Reply #4 on: Sep 03, 18, 12:18:41 AM »

((If anyone is interested, the soundtrack to this post is “ Human” by Christina Perri))

Deep breaths, slow deep breaths. Wear the mask and they won’t know.

Vashti kept herself to the back of the procession, blending herself in the middle of all the scents but ever aware of her Bonded at her back.  She didn’t want to be in the front, didn’t want to be seen. She just wanted to go and watch like she had to and then go back to what she had been doing.

This whole things seemed so final. This was it. Lucky had told her she was joining his Clan, she had somewhere along the way decided that she would and it didn’t matter what he said but why had he been so pushy about making a court? She didn’t want a court!   It was different with Tariq and Ennead, they loved her, they were a part of her.  But ten other men wouldn’t have that sort of connection and what if they saw her as she was.  What if she messed up?  Ghanima didn’t have a court, not that Vashti had really seen and she didn’t hear Lucky chasing her around day after day telling her to “pick her males or he would do it for her.”  And after that day in the kitchen….

She shuddered despite the heat and kept pace with the crowd.  Already she could see the temple in the distance and swallowed hard.  If she declared herself, then that would be it.   She was the only Queen in the Izar, besides Lady Ghanima, that she was aware of, so she would have to BE a Queen.  Only she still didn’t know how to BE a Queen!  Sure she had been learning craft stuff and protocol but Queens were sent to learn from other Queens and she hadn’t really had the chance to go speak to any other Queens yet.  Ennead said she could go speak to the Bali Queen but Roshan had seemed so angry when she returned from speaking to their Voice so Vashti decided it might not be the best time.   Then the attack on the city, and everyone had been so tense and on edge.  It didn’t seem the time to reach out to any of the others.

Then Lucky announced that it was time to make the Clan and suddenly all the sand in her hourglass ran out.   What did she know about ruling?   She could barely understand how to deal with her two males, what would she do with twelve?

She had gone to Hadjara, who was a Priestess and always seemed to be so wise and sweet, and also Vashti enjoyed playing with the baby.  Hadj had listened to her complaints and concerns and told her in the simplest way, “I think it's a little like being a mother,”[/b] she said gently, smiling at her daughter. “Suddenly everything in your life is about someone else and you are excited and terrified all in the same breath.  You worry every little thing you do will be wrong.  A million different people are telling you a million different ways to do the right thing and your head feels like it will spin off your neck.   At the end of the day, you have to listen to what that voice inside you says.  Call it Mother Night or your own innate intuition.   You were BORN a Queen Vashti, something deep inside you knows what to do.  LIsten to it and trust it.” [/color]  She wrinkled her nose.  “And don’t let Lucky think he can push you around into this, or I’ll kick him for you.   You tell him that he can’t tell you how to be a Queen any more than you can tell him how to fly.  If he wants you to form an Izar Court, it has to be on YOUR terms and no one else's.”   She gave Vashti a knowing smile and a shake of the head.  “Warlord Princes are so bossy, I don’t envy you having to deal with three of them.”

Vashti paused a moment to stare at the ornate doors as they swung open and felt her back stiffen and straighten as she lifted her chin. Yes, her terms, her decisions.  Lucky didn’t like Queens, she had known that had something to do with the past but she didn’t know what.  All she knew that she wanted to be a good Queen for her males and she wanted to be a good Queen for the Izar, the family she had decided to join.   

Spoiler: Vashti's dress (click to show/hide)

She let her fingers trace the gold trim of her gown, nervous and apprehensive as Lucky stepped forward and planted the tree.  She had tried to read into the histories of Pruul to find out if what she was going to do was cheating but there was nothing there.  Apparently, Queen’s Gift or not, if the Clan would not blossom, neither would the tree.  That had been a little relief.   Her eyes followed the ceremony even if her mind walked other paths until…



Vashti’s eyes snapped open and she pushed her way through the group.  Blood that should not spill, blood that called to her, a forceful pull so intense she almost tripped over her own feet to answer its call.  Heat and rage flooded her, making the back of her neck tingle with the intensity as she finally reached the front of the crowd, only barely aware of the people around her.    A young man stood there with a woman and several littles but her eyes fixed on him and felt her heart skip a beat.


Her hand clenched into a fist as she stared at the ruby droplets that still rested on the khanjar, blood that made her mind scream at the injustice.  She had to force herself from flying forward to pull away the weapon and fling it far away.  Only the barest sense stopped her, the thin tether of her own mind against furious instincts.   She saw his eyes meet her own and watched as the ties settled and tighten.  Saw the moment he almost moved towards her and she held up her hand, her arm straight.   She didn’t care who watched, who saw.   

“No.  Now is not the time for such things.  This is a moment for the Clan, not for just two.  We will finish this later.”    Command, final in her voice in a way she hadn’t realized she could speak before.  It rose out of her belly and whipped out from her with a sharpness that might have almost seemed cold.   Then, she stepped up, noting the smile on Hadjara’s face, the happy wave of the child, the way Roshan looked at her and even the expression on Lucky’s face.   She could feel Tariq and Ennead in the crowd watching her and their presence made her feel stable and stronger.

Reaching out, she took the khanjar from Roshan and held it carefully, her eyes scanning across the sea of faces.  “I am Vashti.  I was a slave who served the Masters of Pruul, who may have held you in those dark places beneath the sand. I spilt the blood of the last man who held my life against my will.  Some of you know me from the before, when I was Vashti of the streets, who hungered and tired with some of you in the corners of the city where many wished to forget us.  Now I am before you as Vashti the Queen, al Izar of my own choosing.  I am a new Queen, and I have much to learn but before all of you,  my new family and my new people I make you this promise.  I will be a good Queen.   I will listen to what you ask and I will be fair and just to those who have only known unfairness and injustice.   I will fall, and I will fail sometimes but I will not be defeated.  I will learn and grow as we all learn and grow, as this tree will grow.  With my blood, with my water and with my life if it is needed.”  She slashed the blade across her hand quickly, and felt the pulse of wet heat slide down her fingers, dripping into the earth as she let her Green craft flow with every drop.   She saw Ennead and Tariq tense, anger and the need to stop her bleeding rising up in their faces.  She saw the new male jerk and snarl and she took them all in with her eyes. 

“Freely given, this is my right.”

She felt the way the ground beneath her inhaled and exhaled and something within her rose and fell with the same motion.  Her bare feet, and she didn’t remember shedding her sandals, felt the thrum of the power as the ground drank it up and felt deep inside her belly, the flicker of something important growing just a little brighter.   She closed her hand and let her craft seal the wound but did not clean the blood from her fingers as she stepped up to Lucky and extended the blade back to him.

“It is a good blade Prince,” she said with a fierce smile as she stepped away to stand beside Roshan.   She was too aware of all those eyes on her, felt the pull and thrum in her chest from the three men whose lives she held in her palm and felt something else from the crowd.  She didn’t know who yet, and in the coming days and weeks she suspected they would come to her slowly, but the men who would be in her court had watched her and decided to serve.   Not bonded, but they would serve.

Vashti couldn’t help but smile in triumph.