Night -- Taselak
Unlike previous War Islands that quickly suffered cataclysm upon one realm's victory, Taselak ruled over the island for nearly a generation. Sandalakian and Ikalakian defeated nobility are forced into years of slavery. All is peaceful save for the bothersome claims of a wild Beppo. No one believes these myths, of course, ignoring such ludicrous claims. Until it came.
Rumours of the Beppo attacking from the seas and rivers were dismissed, as usual, for the mad rantings of raha smokers, but then survivors began entering Taselak. Of course, they must be bandits, after all, who ever heard of a Beppo? Out Taselak sent its slave-army of Sandals and Ikkies to put down these criminals. And so they came face to face with it. Its sheer size. Gosh did it burp and bellow and belch. Monstrosity beyond comprehension. Their feeble hearts gave out before they could comprehend the full meaning of its identity. Only a lone Taselakian scout escaped to report their fate, and she herself could only give the most rudimentary of descriptions for the...Beppo!
In the fight against the Beppo, civil society and government are not only devastated, but mens' minds also grow more deluded and paranoid. Patrols are sent out to scout for the Beppo that never return. Paranoid about anyone they haven't seen in longer than one day, the once unified Taselak fractures. Even worse, some forget *how* to communicate, yet remember partial communication concepts, resulting in bizarre attempts at communication ranging from painting peoples hands with paintbrushes held in their mouths to trying to force other people to whistle at them by forcibly manipulating their jaws. All this failure to communicate leaves three competing factions of Taselakians and no one certain where the Beppo is now, or if it was defeated. But with no sign of the Beppo for some time, they begin to explore the island once more to re-establish their dominance.
A New Beginning
Nobles of Taselak City survived through hunting for the Beppo, led by one strong Chieftain with a mighty will. A will so strong that what is good for the Chieftain is good for the Tribe. One day, Chieftain started insisting everyone dress up like cows to go hunting. Another day, their hunting parties began observing the Beppo's distaste for fruit, causing their Chieftain to order the scholars to research further. And indeed, fruit repelled the Beppo! Thus they began seeking out all kinds of fruit with which to fight the Beppo, settling upon bananas as particularly fruitful weapons. Before long, their hunting parties were trained upon offensive fruit maneuvers. Now trained and convinced of the value of battlefruit, Taselak's tribal hunter parties are now beginning to follow human tracks as they seek to butcher their foes - all while dressed as cows.
Nobles of Ikalak City survived by worshipping the Beppo, offering sacrifices meant to appease the Beppo, and living in fear that the Beppo is always watching them. In a never-ending stream of sacrifices to keep the Beppo away, Ikalak's nobility brought their most treasured friends to a gulch on the edge of the city, slaying them. And then for two minutes shouted praises to the Beppo while dancing upon their friend's corpse, each noble trying to outdo the one before them displaying their devotion. Family was only spared because there is no family assistance on the War Island. But when friends were extinguished, Beppo praised, and their corpses danced upon, acquaintances fell next. Another Two Minute Beppo Praise-Dance Ritual followed. With acquaintances gone, Ikalak's nobility were left eyeing each other warily. Eventually, someone suggests they sacrifice prisoners of war and Ikalak's Ministry of Life is soon marching to capture sacrifices for keeping Beppo away.
Nobles of Sandalak City survived by singing to the Beppo, discovered through providential happenstance. A young boy stumbled upon the Beppo inadvertently one day, while singing a folk song. The Beppo started to move away at first, but when the boy stopped singing to flee in terror, it began to chase him. Realizing that the song had been protecting him, he started singing again, and the Beppo left him alone. Upon telling this story to his family when he returned home, most of them thought it a fanciful tale, and wanted him beaten for lying to his elders. Only his merchant uncle believed him, and when he told the boy he wanted to make use of this, the boy was only too happy to get away from those who wanted to beat him. Within weeks, the boy had taught the song to a dozen people (at exorbitant fees for his uncle). Within months, the boy and his uncle were both entirely forgotten as the Corporate Choir was organized and became a major political force in the city. Before long, they established themselves as the new ruling body in Sandalak, with the Singing Soldiers as their strong right arm. Under the Corporate Choir's directive to liquidate their rivals, the Singing Soldiers are soon marching to serenade their enemies into submission.
Toren Stronghold is devastated and abandoned, save for a few creepy folk no one talks to - mainly because they run away when you try.
Day -- Taselak
Darkness lay upon the great mausoleum complex of Taselak, the crumbling edifices of that ancient necropolis the sole testament to the many waves of human occupation which had broken upon The Island during long aeons of madness. None knew the tale of its woes before the arrival of the rum-runners and their adversaries save one, sleeping upon her stone litter amidst the glories of a former age, that death-forsaken shieldmaiden whom rhymers once praised as the enemies of Taselak cowered...
I am no black sheep, exiled to ignominy. I am Scein of House Dubhaine and I serve here for the highest purpose, the victory of the Just and Righteous.
My mother carried the Justice of long lost Fontan to the Zuma wastes where I was conceived amidst the horror and the blight, a blade of living flesh forged that the wicked should tremble at the terror of my countenance.
Some call me a hero, they are wrong. I am a force of nature. A scourge unrelenting. A child born to battle in a distant land, reared on the blood of the undying. I fear no creature, no weapon, of earth nor heaven and my banner is black.
I am Marshal of the Black Army of Taselak.
The Black Army marched no more and the Taselak to which Scein had been exiled was fallen beyond recognition. And what of the Taselak which replaced it? The crumbling ruins she now called home? They had won a great victory. One which she and her Black Guard had helped secure. But it had been for nought! Men wise in affairs of this world became fools where the higher realms were concerned, unable to recognise the Beppo for its true nature, the embodiment of that Thing whose soul was intertwined with her own, whose flesh upon this stage was no more mortal flesh than hers.
As the years passed she watched the men and women alongside whom she'd fought slowly disintegrate, ever dismissive of her warnings. A misused word here, an imprecise recollection there, misunderstanding building upon misapprehension as their inner natures warped though their flesh continued in robust health. The civil order of Taselak slowly broke down as paranoia overtook sense and reason so that a time came when Scein stood truly alone, the curse which bound her to the Beppo's prison at the same time inuring her to its corrosive influence.
At first she did what she could to maintain some semblance of the old order but it became increasingly clear that little could be done to hold Taselak together. So rather than raise her sword against her friends she increasingly withdrew to that ancient crypt wherein she'd slumbered during the great inundation, weeks and months at a time spent meditating on le grande malaise as she sought some solution to her people's suffering.
It became painfully apparent that there was nothing to be done for the provinces. Beyond the walls of Taselak violence ruled supreme, all hands turned against each other in a furious bloodbath. The survivors - where there were survivors - spoke always of the Beppo, ascribing to it the crimes of their own bloodstained hands. And in a sense they spoke truth for it was the Beppo who filled them with hate and fury.
What yet remained of authority became increasingly desperate, marching whole armies to their deaths in the trackless wastes and imposing ever-more-draconian and ludicrous martial law. The Beppo was banned by magisterial writ and men denied its existence even as its works consumed them so that the power of words was lost to them. Power rested with those whose strength best leveraged their madness and the Beppo became increasingly brazen, appearing oft-times to Scein with promises of redemption if she would just surrender that which was his, the nebulous darkness in which her yet-formed foetus had been nurtured.
But Scein would not yield, instead conceiving a plan. As a hidden hand she plucked out a remnant of the nobility whose madness was yet less extreme than the spirit abroad amongst her countrymen, fostering in them such knowledge of the Beppo as necessary to bind their loyalty to the cause, dressed in the delusions which now passed for sane discourse amongst them. Men and women whose arms in a former life had secured The Island now turned once more to that task, an order of hunters, of inquisitor fools, of quixotic gentility to root out that ancient horror who preyed upon them.
Could such a venture succeed? Could the Beppo be finally banished and The Island restored? These questions Scein could not - dared not - answer. But she who would not yield was determined to find out.
Summer Day -- Cirannor
Alparlan walks towards Torain surounded with warriors and nobles of Taselak
"Lord Torain with your appointment as Hammer of Taselak, we present to you Balin's Hammer, retrieved after the monster Nuumbara killed you father in a death duel".
Torain lifts the heavy hammer and looks towards the Shield of Taselak tries to utter a word but nothing is coming from his mouth and he keeps staring at the hammer...
His head throbbed from another night of turmoil. Ammer sat from his bedside, head bowed; deeply sunk into his palms. When will this end!
The nightmares never cease. His memories before his first arrival on the island remain cloudy, obscured by a foggy barrier which always seemed somehow inpenetratable. He was convinced witchcraft had played its hellish role upon his mind. His life prior to his time on the island was stolen from him. Still, every night he is plagued by the nightmares chewing at his mind, consuming piece by piece.
A knock at the door.
"M'lord... breakfast" a nervous voice spoke reservedly.
"I WILL KILL YOU!" Ammer bellowed out uncontrollably. He rubbed his temples and realised his outburst, "no... please...sorry, yes come in"
The young servant boy gently opened the door and skittered in like a bug. Without eye contact, the servant placed the tray upon the bedside table and left in a hurry. Ammer thanked the boy calmy as he left.
Upon the tray was a letter. Ammer read it finding surprise of the news that he was the newly elected Judge. With newfound enthusiasm, he ate breakfast and prepared for the day ahead. He was in a joyous mood.
Torrain is a man of few words. He graciously accepted his father's hammer. It was emotional to say the least. He struggled to find the words but realize it's probably best not to say anything.
Only known as a good warrior but not known as a good leader, he hopes to change that. And now, he holds in his hands all the motivation he needs, his father's battle hammer.
Summer Evening -- Moeth
Ammer readied himself for sleep. These moments always filled his anxious gut; the stabbing anticipation of the horrors which haunt his dreams every night without skipping its intimidating routine. Still, it was routine; Ammer performed his usual ritual of downing a huge swig of rum before settling...no, tonight it was two swigs.
Slamming down the rum bottle, Ammer felt overwhelming guilt for his outburst. Just this morning he beat the servant boy routinely delivering breakfast at sunrise. The servant master rescued the bleeding boy before Ammer became really angry. Having served Ammer for over a year, the servant master learned in some ways how to handle him. Shaking off the thought, Ammer laid to rest and closed his eyes...