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Fiction Respect Your Elders

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Xantalos, Sep 18, 2018.

  1. Xantalos
    Skink

    Xantalos New Member

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    Hello all! I've seen this forum from time to time, but the idea to actually sign up and post here never occurred to me for some reason until now. I've been a major fan of lizardmen for a long time, and I recently (well, ten months ago, but at the speed I update that counts as recent) started an interactive forum game centered around the lizardmen, who've ported into the 40k galaxy and are now doing their thing in that setting. This forum being what it is, I figured at least some of you might like that sort of thing.

    It is hosted on another forum, however. I'll provide a link here, and subsequent ones whenever I update. Hopefully that's good and kosher by the rules here; I'm fully happy to answer any questions or such here, it's just that dual-posting this thing across two forums seems like something that could easily get messy.

    Anyhow, enough prattle, here's the link: Respect Your Elders v2: Galactic Boogaloo
     
  2. Xantalos
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    Xantalos New Member

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    Hmm - actually, I should probably include a bit of actual material so there's something in this thread other than me blathering.

    As you'll see below, I've just put the whole of the thread into this one.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
  3. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forums!
     
  4. Xantalos
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    Xantalos New Member

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    My thanks! Though I will admit it took me a rather ridiculous amount of time to reply to this, it's because I've been writing the next update for this quest, which is now posted here:

    https://forums.sufficientvelocity.c...-lizardmen-quest.43913/page-147#post-11607388

    Feel free to take a look if you wish, though do be warned it's around 10,000 words long so you may be reading for a while.
     
  5. Xantalos
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    Xantalos New Member

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    In the unlikely event that anyone's watching this thread and actually followed the links therein, be excited! New update coming fairly soon.

    EDIT: Ah, what the heck, I'll just transpose all of the updates so far into this thread. Though voting and such will still be handled on the other forum, else it'd be too troublesome to figure out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
  6. Xantalos
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    Xantalos New Member

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    Prologue 1/2/3

    [​IMG]

    Long ago, the enigmatic Old Ones descended to the Warhammer world to shape it in accordance with their mysterious Great Plan. To aid them in the monumental task of painstakingly reshaping an entire world in ways both physical and mystical, they created a race of undying servants that were unflinchingly loyal to their will - the coldblooded beings known to most as the lizardmen. Heirs to the might of the Old Ones, the lizardmen moulded the world as the Plan decreed, exterminating unwanted species, moving continents, constructing a mystical web of obelisks and cities to channel the geomantic power of the earth, and shifting the orbit of the planet itself.

    All seemed to be well, until the powers of Chaos shattered the barriers of reality and engulfed the planet. The Old Ones vanished, and their children were left to face the wrath of the eternal gods of the Warp and their infinite daemons. They fought fiercely, and the lizardmen killed many times their number in warpspawn, for their power in those days was great indeed. But without the guidance of their creators they were helpless to stem the tide of daemons, and it was only through the courage and ingenuity of the elves on their continent of Ulthuan that the world was saved, for the time being. The lizardmen survived the catastrophe, but were forever diminished from the heights they had previously held. The world continued to grow and change outside of the confines of the Plan, and the lizardmen lurked in their last stronghold of Lustria, attempting to ascertain the proper course of action though they lacked any knowledge of the Plan's actual contents.

    Now the shortsightedness of the mortal races and the eternal evil that is Chaos have combined into a storm most foul. Fate's corrupted strands have released the End Times upon the world, and the lizardmen realize with grim certainty that the Plan has failed. They can do naught but stare into the teeth of oblivion as it races towards them, and perhaps leave a scar on its face before they perish.

    But an ignominious end is not what the Old Ones intended for their heirs. Ancient contingencies prepared in the case of the worst of eventualities have self-activated, and though the coming storm is thick and tempestuous, there are still gaps that light can shine through. The lizardmen have existed since before the Old Ones ever set foot on the world so many years ago, and they still have a lesson of importance to impart upon those younger than them...

    Respect Your Elders


    [hr][/hr]

    It is the End Times. Whatever the outcome of this conflict, the Plan the Old Ones decreed will have been shattered beyond repair - you will be their legacy, cast adrift in an unfamiliar world by the last gift of your makers. You stare the end of the world in the face. What form does it take?

    [X] ??? - It is impossible to tell. Everywhere there is war of a scale never seen, as all the inhabitants of the world battle for not only their lives, but their very fates. Human, elf, dwarf, ogre, greenskin, undead, skaven, halfling, ancient monster, and daemon, all battle against the forces that seek to destroy their destinies. Ulthuan battles against Naagaroth as the Witch-King seeks to finally realize his ambitions, the Old World fights a desperate battle against the Everchosen and all the might of Chaos, undead legions clash in the Southlands, the Ogre Kingdoms scrap with ancient beasts awakened by the storm, the dawi zharr fight a grinding battle against one of the largest hordes of orks the world has ever seen, the skaven are everywhere looking for opportunities to exploit, and in the east, Cathay deals with all of these problems and the issue of their populace being increasingly corrupted by the Changer of Ways. Even as the saurus fight off hordes of daemons and daemongors cascading from the southern Chaos Wastes and the Cult of Pleasure of the druuchi, now given fully over to Slaanesh, from the north, the skaven clan Pestilens boils up from underground in its grotesque multitudes, the undead of the Vampire Coast commit to a serious offensive against the nearby temple-city of Huatl, the Scar of Xahutec vomits forth legions of warpspawn as it did in times past, and dozens of ork warbands blunder into the jungles, their primitive instincts drawn to the many raging battles. In the midst of this chaos, the slaan peer into the mists of fate and find them a nigh-incomprehensible storm, as multiple competing destinies fight for the fate of the world and all in it. It is impossible to say who will come out on top, and perhaps in that unmitigated chaos there is opportunity...
    [Unknown casualties during evacuation. Unlocks additional options]

    [] Chaos - The eternal enemy has arisen once again, and this time the foes that stopped it in ages past are feeble compared to their past might, undone by time and their own mortality. Archaon the Everchosen has smashed the Old World to flinders and beseiged Ulthuan with the ultimate goal of destroying the Vortex, allowing the raw stuff of Chaos to subsume the world. The lizardmen stand as one of the last bastions of order in the world, and are being assaulted near-constantly by endless armies of daemons and the mortal servants of the Ruinous Powers from both the north and south. The geomantic web still holds, but it is only a matter of time before the Everchosen undoes the work of the Asur and lets the Warp swallow the world.
    [High casualties during evacuation, but the Chaos Gods are fickle and will likely ignore the world after they subsume it]

    [] Undeath - The end of the world spawned from the cradle of humanity. Revived from his deathless stasis by his undying minions, Nagash the First Necromancer concluded his millennia-old schemes by crushing the Old World and all the nations of the east with the power of his undead legions, every battle a useless gesture in defiance that only adds more bodies to his army. Now his forces spread out over the world like a cancer, ruthlessly exterminating any hint of life in their territory while the Undying King himself goes to sack Ulthuan and Naagaroth. The asur war with their dark cousins, the dwarf karaks still stubbornly stand defiant, and the daemons of chaos war with the undead the world over, but it is too late to stop Nagash. He will turn his attentions to Lustria soon, and there will be nothing the lizardmen can do to prevent his ultimate victory.
    [Moderate casualties during evacuation. Nagash will enslave the entirety of the world in undeath, and will present a threat in the future]

    [] Skaven - The youngest race, but in many ways the most dangerous, the skaven were held back only by their inherent inability to unify or cooperate on most any large-scale venture. But their Horned God saw the End Times coming and acted as he had only twice before, placing a dread Underlord in command of his verminious children. Uneasily unified under Thanquol the Great, the Under-Empire rose up and crushed the surface world beneath their endless numbers, stealing the technology of those they defeated it and improving upon it with their dark ingenuity. Now their armies crash into the New World from three directions - the east, where terrible geoshaping weapons unleashed by the skaven have torn a rent in the sea between Cathay and Naagaroth, allowing their legions to assault the dark elf homeland, the west, where their insane navy battles the asur in a series of tooth-and-nail battles while a force led by the Underlord himself marches across Ulthuan, bringing ruin with every step, and from below, for the skaven have bored many tunnels into Lustria in addition to those already present and even now attempt to overwhelm the lizardmen with sheer numbers and spite. The lizardmen fight on tooth and claw, as they always have, but they are only so many, and the Vermintide hungers.
    [Comparatively light casualties during evacuation. The skaven will hijack the mechanisms of the Old Ones for use in their own designs, and will pose a serious threat in the future]

    These prologue votes will have both a short and long-term impact on the direction the quest takes - don't hesitate to ask if you have a question.

    -------------------------------------------------

    [X] ??? - It is impossible to tell. Everywhere there is war of a scale never seen, as all the inhabitants of the world battle for not only their lives, but their very fates. Human, elf, dwarf, ogre, greenskin, undead, skaven, halfling, ancient monster, and daemon, all battle against the forces that seek to destroy their destinies. Ulthuan battles against Naagaroth as the Witch-King seeks to finally realize his ambitions, the Old World fights a desperate battle against the Everchosen and all the might of Chaos, undead legions clash in the Southlands, the Ogre Kingdoms scrap with ancient beasts awakened by the storm, the dawi zharr fight a grinding battle against one of the largest hordes of orks the world has ever seen, the skaven are everywhere looking for opportunities to exploit, and in the east, Cathay deals with all of these problems and the issue of their populace being increasingly corrupted by the Changer of Ways. Even as the saurus fight off hordes of daemons and daemongors cascading from the southern Chaos Wastes and the Cult of Pleasure of the druuchi, now given fully over to Slaanesh, from the north, the skaven clan Pestilens boils up from underground in its grotesque multitudes, the undead of the Vampire Coast commit to a serious offensive against the nearby temple-city of Huatl, the Scar of Xahutec vomits forth legions of warpspawn as it did in times past, and dozens of ork warbands blunder into the jungles, their primitive instincts drawn to the many raging battles. In the midst of this chaos, the slaan peer into the mists of fate and find them a nigh-incomprehensible storm, as multiple competing destinies fight for the fate of the world and all in it. It is impossible to tell who will come out on top, and perhaps in that unmitigated chaos there is opportunity...
    [Unknown casualties during evacuation, unlocks additional options]

    [​IMG]

    The Chaos Moon loomed large in the skies over Lustria, as it had for months now. Its evil radiance shone down into the jungles below, piercing through the dense canopy to illuminate the carnage below in primal green light, the corruptive magic given off by its presence seeping into all it touched, twisting and changing both flora and fauna at the most intimate level. Overnight beastmen troupes gestated, grown from the mutated forms of those few mammals that managed to survive within Lustria's jungles. As their musculature swelled and twisted horns sprouted from their foreheads, their souls were infused with a powerful, overriding hatred by the dark gods who owned them, and their baying forms, now a far cry from their original selves, stampeded into the night, hooting and hollering at the prospect of tearing down their ancient enemy. They were but one ingredient in the cauldron of strife that the continent had become in recent times.

    The slaan had sensed the danger first. Lord Mazdamundi's keen ethereal senses detected something just south of the chaos wastes, on a mountain that straddled the gap between the mortal and divine. A great surge of dhar conglomerated around the slopes of the mountain, and hordes of neverborn gathered in its spiritual vicinity, cavorting with glee in the manner of their kind. Knowing such omens to be potentially disastrous, the Lord of Sunlight called a great many of his lesser kin to his side and soared to the mountain with them in tow, the concentrated force of their spirits unmaking lesser daemons that dared cross their path. There they struck great blows against the unsuspecting hosts of daemons, and after a great struggle, scattered them to the far corners of the aethyr. With the daemons banished they could see the subject of the neverborn's curiosity - a lone human, walking unsteadily up the mountainside. Corrupted strands of fate swam thick around his form, coiling around his limbs and throat with a binding grip. Knowing immediately that if the warmblood were allowed to reach the peak of the mountain, calamity would befall the world, Mazdamundi communed with his underlings and channeled their combined power into vast rays of invisible force that seared toward the human's vulnerable form. They were immediately met with opposition; the attention of the Ruinous Powers was focused on this moment and they beset the slaan with further hosts of daemons born from their ire, and the lesser slaan were forced to break off their effort in order to defend their elder. Mazdamundi alone perservered, blasting instead at the coils of fate binding the mortal's limbs with all the power he had at his disposal, causing his corporeal form to twitch and grimace in concentration. He was aided by other powers, conglomerations of the thoughts of mortals that had taken on the forms their followers thought of them. Golden hammer, frost-tipped claws, hundred-handed swords, a host of gods from across the world railed against the Powers of Chaos. After what seemed an aeon, the chains of fate had been struck from the mortal's form, and the slaan viewed their moment in exhausted satisfaction. The manipulation of the dark gods had been thwarted, and the world had been saved.

    The mortal took a step forward, of his own free will, and Mazdamundi's heart was flooded with confusion and shock. His concentration wavered, and a great flood of primordial triumph flooded across the immaterium, throwing the exhasted slaan back to their bodies. Mazdamundi's ears were soon filled with the concerned chittering of his skink attendants, who fretted over his health even as the cries of the other slaan washed across his body and soul, asking for assistance as the Chaos Wastes bulged and swelled with dark power, and reporting the erratic presence of the Warpstone Moon growing disturbingly close to the planet. Mazdamundi could feel its foul aura crackling on his skin even then, and knew with a glum inevitability that the Ruinous Powers had won in that moment. The four gods had, for the moment, unity, and his own elders that had faced against the combined might of the gods in ages past were all dead. The End Times had come.

    Soon afterwards the dark powers made their move. Even as the Sublime Communion attempted to hold off the encroaching presence of the Chaos Moon, which dampened their concentration and ability to work magic effectively, the Scar of Xahutec tore itself open, vomiting forth legions of daemons affiliated with both the Changer of Ways and the Blood God. Resources were diverted from nearby temple-cities to stem the incursion even as the daemons began parasitizing off of the geomantic web, draining its power to maintain their presence. They were soon met by the full fury of the lizardmen, great hosts of saurus, skinks, and kroxigor headed by Tetto'eko, the venerated skink priest of Tlaxtlan, who brought with him a great contingent of one hundred other skink priests, to supply magical support against the neverborn while the slaan held back the emerald moon.

    Guttural roars were issued and echoed on both sides as battle was joined. The saurus fought under the protection of a great line of bastilodons bearing Engines of the Gods, which thrummed and glowed in eerie colors as they held back the tainted magic in the air. The khornate contingent of the daemonic host gladly charged such a target, and were met by the immortal fury of the saurus bolstered by the amber magic channeled by fifty skink priests. Midnight blades bit deep into scaled flesh only to be countered by obsinite axes and hulking jaws, which ripped and tore and ruined daemonic essence as they had been born to do. Here and there Bloodthirsters joined the fray as the lizardmen advanced upon the tainted temple-city, ripping through ordered battle lines with savage ease before becoming locked in combat with saurus oldbloods, gnarled beasts who had seen many such foes and lived to tell the tale. Tetto'eko and his brethren who wielded Azyr conducted a grand duel against the nine Lords of Change who stepped forth from the Scar, each individually more than a match for any skink priest but not against the combined efforts of fifty-one, who smote them with lightning and wind and stellar debris.

    As the battle at Xahutec ground onward, neither side tiring nor wavering in morale, other threats made themselves known to the Children of the Old Ones. Great hosts of dragon ogres awoke in crackling storm across the length of the Spine of Sotek, and plunged into the jungle swollen with electricity, the storm seeming to follow them, and only growing more intense the more they fought. From the north came a great fleet of degenerate elves, sworn wholly to the Prince of Pleasure and swollen with the power of the Warp. Carrying a great many dark sorceresses in their ranks, headed by a monstrously powerful specimen calling herself Morathi, the dark elves struck at Hexoatl and the surrounding areas in a great wave of perfumed raids, headed by tides of daemons summoned from their Black Arks. They sought to corrupt and loot for themselves the manifold treasures the lizardmen protected, and Kroq-gar was hard-pressed to catch most of their forces, let alone bring them to battle, even as the druuchi sorceresses tore open more and more warp rifts at auspicious sites. In the south, a gargantuan bridge of moaning flesh stretched grotesquely from the southern chaos wastes to Lustria's southernmost tip, allowing an endless horde of daemongors, beastmen that had bred with the children of their gods, onto the continent. Available force to stop their advance was limited, and they spread north like a tide of bile, daemons of all four gods amongst their ranks. They warred not only against the lizardmen, but against Lustria itself, the jungle raging against their existence with every step they took. Vines ensnared their limbs, countless venomous creatures and biting insects assaulted their tainted flesh, and the deadly predators of Lustria reacted to their presence as they would an incessant itch: they tore it out, shining fangs and snapping jaws becoming the end of many a careless gor.

    As their homes erupted in warfare, the slaan struggled mightily against the encroachment of the Chaos Moon, their concentration so intense that they were totally unaware of when their temples were forced to be evacuated, their servants carrying their heavy palanquins out by hand and guarding their mystic forms with their lives. But though the slaan threw their whole being into the fight, they were powerless to stop the Chaos Moon, for the curse the Ruinous Powers had placed upon their kind long ago had intensified, and nearly all of their number were trapped in a cloying slumber. Bolstered by the combined power of 99 Lords of Change summoned across the globe, the Chaos Moon loomed large over Lustria, surpressing the powers of the slaan and dampening the geomantic web with its corrosive aura. Despite all this, the lizardmen were holding. Wandering ork warbands washed ashore by the dozen, the undead inhabitants of the Vampire Coast beseiged Huatl, and the tides of the Enemy grew stronger by the day, but by the strength of scale and fang, the continent was being held.

    And then the skaven erupted from below cursed Quetza, and everything changed.

    The ratmen had been bitter foes of the lizardmen for many centuries, but their principal weakness had always been their inherent disunity. Each skaven thought of themselves as better than the others, and perpetually schemed to achieve power over the rest of their kin. They would betray each other at the first opportunity, and so though their loathsome numbers made them a threat, they could never achieve the horrors they were capable of if they cooperated. Not so now - the vermintide that rose from Quetza's underbelly was comprised of a mix of their horrid clans, hosting not only the plague-clad machinery the lizardmen had encountered before, but other vile things, different aspects of their wretched ingenuity: crackling machines filled with warp-lightning, legions of bloated monsters stiched and stapled together, cohorts of assassins that wove shadows around their fur to hide themselves, and above all, endless numbers of skaven footsoldiers, armed and armored uniformly and marching with discipline in their spines. This was no mere clan seizing an opportunity they had spied - this was the full might of the Skaven Under-Empire, a world power realized only by the intervention of the divine, the youngest race rising up to crush the oldest.

    Itza was beseiged, as was Xlanhuapec, its coiling mists availing nothing against the sheer numbers of the Vermintide. The armies of the two cities, retaining bitter memories of fighting skaven from their last incursion centuries ago, surged against the legions of ratmen, tearing into their frenzied masses with inborn instinct. Nakai the Wanderer made an appearance at Itza, holding a vital chokepoint alone against fifty thousand stormvermin and coming out with merely scratches, while Chakax, Xlanhuapec's Eternity Warden, foiled the assassination attempts of more than a hundred master Eshin Assassins, his keen eye and brutal halberd quickly becoming the end of even the best of the skaven. But in attacking the centerpoint of the lizardmen defences, the skaven had created a weakness that all their other enemies did not hesitate to exploit. Ork Waaagh!!!s formed in the jungle, crashing against numerous sacred sites. More and more daemons were summoned as the forces of chaos crashed against Lustria from both north and south, and the storm that accompanied the dragon ogres grew intense enough to rip trees out of the ground, the beasts growing so empowered by lightning that they were able to triumph against an entire herd of Thunder Lizards. Little by little, the toll was taken upon the lizardmen, and they were pushed out of their less defensible sites, forced to retreat back to the four temple-cities that still possessed their full defensive capabilities - Itza, Hexoatl, Xlanhuapec, and Tlaxtlan. The power of the geomantic web grew weak as the forces of disorder looted and pillaged architecture that had stood for over ten thousand years, and as the storm of chaos raged ever more intensely, the slaan awoke from their meditations, now useless.

    Mazdamundi and the other four remaining second generation slaan - Chaacalot of Xlanuapec, Zaqunda of Itza, Adohi-Tegha of Tlaxtlan and Huintenuchli whos city had been lost - surveyed Lustria with their astral forms and found no hope. Daemons cavorted over the continent as they had in the Great Catastrophe, the skaven horde grew larger by the day as more ratmen emerged from under Quetza, and the bulk of the daemongor horde was but a few days travel from the walls of Itza. The Great Plan had failed, Mazdamundi proclaimed, his heart heavy with despair. There was nothing left to do but take as many of the enemy with them as possible. His thoughts rippled throughout the Sublime Communion, and all agreed - offense was impossible, defence untenable. This was the end of their kind.

    In the quiet that pervaded the linking of minds, one voice spoke. It was almost impossible to hear over the tumultuous roars of the winds of magic, withered as it was from immense age and disuse. At first it was thought to be the stray thoughts of a sleeping fifth generation, but as it continued to speak it gained volume, quickly becoming echoed by the younger slaan who had not succumbed to the curse of Chaos. As the slaan listened, it spoke in a voice of bone and dust of ancient contingencies prepared long ago, of ways to channel the power of the geomantic web in complexities none of them had ever considered before. It spoke of salvation, and hope beyond the stars. It spoke of escape.

    As the forces of darkness encroached ever closer towards the last bastions of the lizardmen, the slaan bent what remained of their power towards this last hope, granted by a Relic Priest older than even Mazdamundi. They tapped deep into the earth, and the lines of power percieved by the Old Ones long ago thrummed in response, connecting the four cities together with paths of glowing light. The slaan put all their force, all their concentration, into this ritual, the air sparking around them as they channeled arcane power beyond the imaginings of lesser beings into the leylines that ran between their cities. As the accumulated power grew, the daemons of chaos attempted to corrupt and sabotage this working, but were incinerated the moment they laid even a pseudopod upon the lines of coruscating energy that sparked through the jungle. The ritual intensified, and the gods of chaos sent four great legions of daemons to assault the temple-cities, for although they did not know the purpose of the working, they wished it to fail. They were met by all the remaining might of the lizardmen, the forces of a continent-spanning empire condensed into four locations. The might of the daemons, the numbers of the skaven, the ferocity of the daemongors, the barbarity of the orks and the primeval weight of the dragon ogres were inviolate against the bastions of order the four cities had become, each throwing back multiple legions at once again and again and again.

    Sent forth by Tzeentch himself, Kairos Fateweaver cast his psychic hold onto Morrslieb and drew it dangerously close to the world, aided by his 99 attendant Lords of Change. The Chaos Moon hung so low in the sky it obscured half the horizon, searing the air with mutagenic power. Drunk on victory, Kairos cawed a horrible laugh, for he had seen with his foresight that this would ensure the slaan's plan would fail, and unlike any other time, the Architect of Fate was disinclined to send him a false vision of the future.

    Instead, defeat came from outside of Tzeentch's court. Be'lakor, the first daemon prince of Chaos Undivided, had long held bitterness towards his masters in his heart, and saw now an opportunity to both destroy the hated lizards and deny victory to his master's pets. Even as he emerged from the shadows behind Karios' manifested form and stabbed him in the back, his voice echoed in the ears of the skaven manning a terrible superweapon constructed by the Under-Empire's accumulated resources. Quickly becoming subsumed with rage at the percieved slights dealt to him by his fellows, the skaven activated the colossal warp cannon, wrenching it from its moorings and aiming it straight up into the sky. Cackling with insane glee, he slammed his fist down on the bright red activation button, and was promptly atomized as the cannon discharged a monstrous beam of searing energy that soared up into the upper atmosphere and impacted the warpstone moon. Initially there was no response from the celestial object, but soon its surface was rent by country-sized chasms as the energy injected into it by the Morskittar Gun grew to many times its initial dose, eventually exploding out of multiple hemispheres like a great green corona, cracking Morrslieb in two, leaving it to tumble down towards the planet.

    The skink priests that looked skywards and saw this phenomenon were alarmed, to say the least.

    The Chaos Moon has been cracked in half and is plummeting down onto the planet. If it is allowed to impact, it will not only wipe out all life on the planet, but also irreparably damage and destroy the works of the Old Ones. Something must be done. What do you choose?

    [] Ignore It - The Ritual of Evacuation is almost complete, and diverting slaan attention to stop the moon carries the risk of delaying its completion. To preserve the lives of the slaan, and what infastructure remains, the ritual must proceed, even if the rest of the planet dies.
    [Evacuation successful with no slaan casualties. Most of the planet's surface will be destroyed, and any hope of later recovering the plans of the Old Ones will be lost.]

    [] Mitigate It - The evacuation must proceed, but the world the Old Ones so carefully shaped cannot be simply abandoned. The slaan will attempt to break up the falling moonshards into smaller pieces, and divert the larger pieces away from collision with the planet's surface. Such an effort will delay the ritual and some of the younger slaan will no doubt perish from the effort, but it is worth it to preserve what remains of the works of the Old Ones.
    [Evacuation successful with moderate slaan casualties. The planet's surface will be damaged by the moonfall, but the works of the Old Ones will be preserved.]

    [] Destroy It - The Chaos Moon cannot be allowed to impact - even if mostly diverted it will still irreversibly corrupt the world with shards of dhar, and ensure that the taint in the earth will never be purged. Even if it places the evacuation in danger, even though many of the slaan will die from the strain, the moon must be destroyed.
    [Evacuation successful with high slaan casualties. Impact on the planet will be minimal, and perhaps the mortals still fighting against the forces of darkness will be able to eke out a victory.]

    Unlocked by Previous Choice:
    [] ??? - The same voice from before, echoing dimly from the darkest catacombs of Itza where hundreds of Relic Priests sit silently, speaks again in this hour of crisis. Its message is simple this time, comprised of only one word fraught with meaning. To put trust in it may be to doom the entirety of the lizardmen, but if fate falls in the correct pattern, it promises...
    [Deliverance?]

    -------------------------------------------------

    [X] ??? - The same voice from before, echoing dimly from the darkest catacombs of Itza where hundreds of Relic Priests sit silently, speaks again in this hour of crisis. Its message is simple this time, comprised of only one word fraught with meaning. To put trust in it may be to doom the entirety of the lizardmen, but if fate falls in the correct pattern, it promises...
    [Deliverance?]

    The Sublime Communion listened to the voice in their midst and knew it to hold the wisdom of their elders. Thus did they turn their eyes to the heavens where Morrslieb burned downwards like a shattered god and depart their bodies to view it as it really was - not merely a planet-sized accumulation of warpstone, but a raw mass of magic with the mystical weight to overturn destiny itself. It was a lynchpin of the Ruinous Powers' scheme to consume the fabric of reality - as the weave of fate brought heroes to the forefront of history in the end of days, the Chaos Moon would loom large in the sky, congealing and muddling the strands of narrative that would give the mortals a chance of victory, allowing for sheer force to overwhelm them and their peoples.

    Now it had been turned to a different, but no less evil, purpose, and the Slaan saw through their mystic vision what the outcome of the moon impacting the planet would be - a magically radioactive hellscape rent by scars and chasms hundreds of miles deep radiating from the point of impact, infested by twisted monsters birthed from the aura of the aethyric tumor the moon would become infusing what few surviving life forms with raw magic. Their forms would be terrible enough to kill on sight, and their soundless howls as they tore each other apart would be the only sounds uttered by material beings. They would mindlessly cavort thusly under gray-green skies backlit by crackling electric firestorms generated as the warpstone shards scattered over the planet by the moon's impact gradually deteriorated over thousands of years. Eventually these conflagrations would grow to such size and immensity that they would break what little remained of the world apart, and it would succumb to primal oblivion, dissolving into the Warp to become part of the endless sea of soul-stuff.

    But such was not the fate the Old Ones had decreed for the world when they first beheld it in its entirety, and now, in this one moment, their children had the chance to avert the cataclysmic designs of the idiot powers of the Warp.

    Their spirits soared up above their temple-cities, trusting in their underlings to hold bastions that had stood for longer than ten thousand years. They flocked to each other in sacred Itza, where their makers had first stepped foot upon the earth. Even the spirits of the Relic Priests emerged from their catacombs, drawn by the sheer intent in the air. There they ascended up above the clouds, rising over Lustria, over the world, up to the edges of the atmosphere, until the edges of their spirits recoiled at the approaching radiance of the Chaos Moon. But they knew their duty and had chosen their task, and so they began, the collective sum of their spirits shining like a beacon in the Aethyr that began to suffuse their physical location, becoming a star in the sky, pure white sillhouetted by Morrslieb's immensity.

    Each lizardman had been birthed with a specific purpose in mind - they were not like the other races, fraught with discord, forced to find external reason for cooperation. Unity was in their blood, and though many of them had not communicated in thousands of years, the slaan still instinctively understood their role in things.

    Mazdamundi stood with his brethren of the second and third generations, the majority of whom were long dead but whose spirits had still clung to their bones, and focused their immense power upon the toxicity of the Chaos Moon. Their minds examined it with cold logic and instinctive understanding, perceiving the way the chaotic sea of dark magic had been condensed into a self-sustaining form, a solidity that imposed itself on the dhar surrounding it, letting it persist in the material world as warpstone. Then they shattered it in exertions of power not seen since the world began, their sorcerous might unmaking the fragile bonds that held the planet-sized mass of warpstone together in physical form. As they did so, the slaan of the fourth and fifth generations took in their spiritual hands the colossal amounts of raw magic this process generated and moulded it with their collective power, turning the sea of dhar into eight streams of purified magic, one of each wind, and sent them up above their heads, where the silent ghosts of the first generation watched impassively.

    In the skies above the world, a pyramid of multicolored light formed, and the radiance of the falling moon began to dim as the shining magical construct grew brighter and brighter. Awed mortals looked to the sky in wonderment, and the daemons of the gods became perturbed as they looked upon the slaan. Wizards across the globe began to hear something, an incantation not yet spoken that was so powerful its effects rippled back through time itself.

    The slaan of the first generation had all died in the Great Catastrophe long ago, and those which had managed to cling to their bones had been diminished by the effort. They no longer had the sheer incarnate power of their younger siblings, but their insight was not diminished by a paltry ten millennia of preserving their spirits. With the lightest of touches they manipulated the great rivers of magic their youngest kin directed to them, spinning them into unfathomably complex designs that even the greatest wizards of the asur would be confounded by. Subtle constellations of power rose up around them, in webs that slowly orbited ever larger around their mystic vicinity, each piece in perfect harmony with the next. At their center sat one last spirit, who had not done anything save for remember since the days when daemons threatened to swallow the world. It did not move, but the air around it crackled with a slowly rising power, the expression of an ancient will as old as the earth.

    The Warp howled in denial, and four legions of daemons hurled themselves into the heavens from the planet below, abandoning battlefronts where the mortal defenders had all but lost in favor of stopping the machinations of the Sublime Communion. The Exalted daemons of each god clawed their way towards the slaan - unbound An'ggrath of Khorne, sombre Ku'gath of Nurgle, dread Aetaos'rau'keres of Tzeentch, and villainous N'kari of Slaanesh, each followed by a host of greater daemons numbering in their patron god's sacred number multiplied by itself. Such was their power that they muddied the Warp itself in corruption as they passed, leaving a trail of spiritual mutation behind them that manifested in reality as a great claw of shadow reaching up to smother the shining pyramid.

    But the powers of Chaos did not hold sole rulership over the warp. In the path of the daemonhosts did the gods of mortals interpose themselves, dieties of men, elves and dwarves standing side by side in order to save the world. Sigmar and Grungni, Asuryan and Shiva of Ind, the dead gods of Nekehara, Myrmidia and Shallaya, Ulric and Taal, the fair Lady of the Lake alongside poised Lileath, even the Cytharai, bloody-handed Khaine foremost amongst them, joined the fight. In the skies above the world, the shadowy claw was stopped in a manner that differed depending on the viewer. To the asur it was burned by the Phoenix's flames, to the dawi it was smote by a great axe or a hammer, to the masses of Cathay there appeared a great dragon that ripped and tore at the shadow until it bled rivers of darkness. It was a timeless battle that lasted but an instant, and in their rage the daemons of Chaos became so invested in the destruction of the gods that they lost sight of their initial goal, even as more and more of the Chaos Moon was dispelled and the aethyr itself began to pull inwards towards the center of the slaan's designs. Sages across the world began to be able to make out the word pulsing in their heads, their eyes shining with kaleidoscopes of light as they comprehended the barest fraction of what it meant.

    At the center of the Communion was a Slaan who had not spoken in eight thousand years. His name had been forgotten by all but himself, replaced by a title that meant Venerated One. He had not touched the winds of magic since his death, though the echoes of his last spell still carried enough weight to wash over entire battlefields. It was of no import - the touch of the aethyr was within his very soul, and he could no more forget it than he could forget who he was.

    Lord Kroak opened his eyes and a great wave of power cascaded over the world. The hosts of Chaos looked upwards and quailed in fear at what they saw - the amassed energy of all the dhar contained within Morrslieb, converted and channeled into a design that spelled certain and eternal death for their kind. It was a great sphere of coruscating magic, flawlessly engineered down to the finest detail by minds born for understanding the intricacies of the sea of souls. Its components turned and looped in multiple dimensions, forming a hyperdimensional orb of perfect alignment with the venerable first slaan at its exact centerpoint. Aware as he had not been for over eight thousand years, Lord Kroak looked down at the world, beset by the forces of Old Night in their last, greatest attempt to overthrow civilization and plunge the universe into eternal entropy.

    And for the first time since he had saved Itza, Kroak spoke.

    DELIVERANCE

    [​IMG]

    His spell was inescapable. The daemons of the gods screamed in raw terror as a merciless wave of magic tore them apart to their base components, the spiritual cancer that made up their greater selves incinerated so thoroughly that they were permanently destroyed even as it left the gods of the mortals unscathed. The raw power they could bring to bear was inconsequential, for the wrath of the Old Ones left no room for error.

    The Deliverance did not descend to the world so much as it simply became in that location, its higher-dimensional nature letting it make the intervening distance nonexistent. It targeted only those creatures that had been tainted by the powers of the Warp, destroying them on a fundamental level and leaving those untouched by Chaos alive. In some cases, it destroyed only an afflicting mutation - cancerous growths and mutated limbs evaporated in searing flashes of light, leaving their owners writhing in pain but otherwise whole.

    Any daemons on the planet were destroyed, from the throngs of Slaaneshi dancers in Naagaroth to the hordes of Khorne riding on the Cathayan Steppe to the conclaves of Verminlords and other verminious daemons of the Horned Rat summoned forth by the skaven Grey Seers. No matter their power, no matter the manner in which they hid, they all died, from the mighty bloodthirsters clashing against dragons at the Great Bastion to the Lord of Change hiding inside the heart of an infant. All were unmade by the Deliverance's merciless power. Even Nagash, unaffiliated with the powers of Chaos, was stripped of his stolen magical might and much of his essence, his Black Pyramid atomizing itself in a silent explosion. He landed heavily on the ground as naught more than a smoking skeleton the size of a child, still faintly alive but in too much pain to do anything but faintly wheeze.

    As their daemons evaporated into nothingness, the Chaos Gods made one last desperate attempt to stop the Deliverance, throwing all the power they could into the warp rifts at the world's poles. They ballooned in size and raced both south and north, growing stronger and stronger the more reality they ate. But they were still as nothing next to the Deliverance, and their corrupt influence was burned back, exposing ground that had been suffused in unreality for ten thousand years, now wholly untainted.

    With one last quaking surge, the warp rifts slammed shut as the Deliverance's merciless radiance penetrated into the Realm of Chaos itself and scorched the infinite forms of the Gods, dealing each of them an infinitesimally small, but permanent wound. The Ruinous Powers shrieked in pain they had never even conceived could exist, and their influence retreated from the world like a child singed by a flame.

    At the center of Ulthuan, a very weary elf breathed a sigh of relief and let go of the incantation he had been maintaining for so long. The Vortex was no longer needed.

    As the Deliverance folded fully over the world, cleansed from the ancient enemy now and forever, the slaans' ritual was completed. The impossible radiance of the Deliverance grew to its peak, and the four temple-cities vanished along with a large area surrounding each of them, leaving miles-wide craters in the ground that marked where they once had stood. Then the Deliverance began to fade, the last of its functions activating. It shrunk down into a shining series of luminescent domes enclosing the rest of the lizardmen temple-cities, to ensure their safety for when the Children of the Old Ones returned.

    The fate of the world was still in flux - the Vermintide still hungered though its leadership had been shattered, the dragon ogres had lost much of their ability to be empowered by and in turn empower lightning with the banishment of Chaos but still retained their numbers and immense physical might, and the greenskin populace of the world hungered for a Waaagh! to sate their monstrous appetite for battle. But the eternal enemy, who had insidiously schemed for timeless aeons to bring the mortal universe into their endless gullets, there would be no coming back. As the mortal empires of the world wearily turned to face their foes, they did so with a faint hope in their hearts.

    The End Times didn't necessarily have to mean the end of the world.
     
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  7. Xantalos
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    The four functional temple-cities of the lizardmen materialized in a flash of iridescent light, displacing tons of earth as the ancient cities appeared along with the surrounding half-mile of Lustria surrounding each of them. The saurus at the gates of each city laboriously confirmed that no hint of the enemy had followed them, combing over every square inch of their territory before resuming their normal duties and patrols with grim satisfaction. Kroxigor dropped their weapons, as the need for them had gone, and began repairing damage the cities had sustained to their walls and infastructure. Skinks chittered as they conducted the movements of their kin and began to accomplish the million and one tasks needed to ascertain the status of their assets - teams were sent out to tally warbeast numbers, to check on the spawning pools, ensure all lizardmen were properly equipped, and most importantly to ascertain the health of their slaan masters.

    Ensconced in their pyramidal chambers, the slaan were utterly exhausted from the effort of participating in the Deliverance and going through the transition between dimensions. Many of them fell back into the cloying slumber that had been gripping them for thousands of years, the subtle curse of Tzeentch holding strong even in this new place. But regardless of the bodily and spiritual exhaustion of the slaan, the Sublime Communion they all shared thrummed with the thoughts of those still awake - it pulsed with triumph, wonderment, and satisfaction, but most of all, confusion.

    Something was different, and the slaan could feel it in their bones. The Ritual of Evacuation had been constructed to bring the lizardmen to a place mystically similar to their Lustrian home, but unaffected by the warp rifts and daemonic infestations that had plagued the world. It seemed to have done so - the more exciteable of the fifth generation were already reporting that their surroundings seemed to be thick jungle that went on for miles - but the aethyr itself felt different - bigger, somehow, but undeniably similar. The metaphysical weight of the Chaos Gods could be felt, but seemingly off in the distance in a way that they had not been previously, and one of them was seemingly missing. The sea of souls was calm, but from a great distance they could percieve ominous rumblings.

    After taking several days to recover, the slaan convened in person to decide the proper course of action for their kin to take. The debate raged for many months, the air around the collected slaan crackling with the power of their thoughts. Some argued that their only goal could be to find the world the Old Ones had decreed they steward and ensure that the Great Plan was brought to completion. Others argued that their situation was such that ascertaining where and perhaps when they were was more important than their long-term strategy. A few outliers proposed that perhaps the Great Plan had failed and there was no recovering it, and the only course of action was simply to survive as the younger races did, experiencing the universe without minding an overarching goal. Lastly, a fair number of the slaan proposed that perhaps this new world was where their creators the Old Ones had fled, and they could thusly be sought out and a new Plan could be passed down to their servants.

    While each position had its supporters and detractors, it was not any one that won the debate. Eventually Lord Mazdamundi and the remaining four living second generation slaan collated the opinions of their brethren and anncounced their decision, accompanied by Ten-zlati, the ancient skink that was mystically attuned to Lord Kroak himself.

    There was much to be determined until it could be decided for certain whether searching for the world of the Old Ones was worthwhile, they proclaimed. But the spirit of Lord Kroak, who had retained enough energy from casting the Deliverance to occasionally muster the ability to converse, had confirmed their speculation - this was the universe the Old Ones had come from, and thus the search for them was a viable option. However, the first of all slaan had also sensed that an immense amount of time had passed since he had last been in this cosmos when he was first born, and if their creators were still existent, finding them would be an arduous and lengthy task, but a vital one that could potentially revitalise the lizardmen's entire existence. Therefore, one of the senior slaan would remain behind to guide the growth of the other breeds and the Geomantic Web, with the other five utilizing teleportation rituals akin to the Ritual of Evacuation to begin the search for their lost masters.

    Who stayed to shepard the lizardmen in this strange new world?

    [] Mazdamundi - The lord of Hexoatl, and the oldest of the second generation of slaan. Mazdamundi is the most active of his kin, and is incredibly skilled at manipulating the geomantic web to use in geomancy, and boasts a well-rounded mastery of every aspect of magic, as could be expected from the personal student of Lord Kroak. He commands the loyalty of the ancient saurus Kroq-Gar, and will take the oldblood with him if he does not remain.

    [] Adohi-Tegha - The lord of Tlaxtlan, Adohi-Tegha is one of the best slaan at reading and interpreting the web of fate, and possesses a potent affinity at wielding magic related to manipulating the physical world - telekinesis, weather control, conjuring bolts of energy and teleportation are but examples of areas he holds a speciality in. In his service is the powerful skink priest Tetto'eko, who will accompany his master wherever his path takes him.

    [] Chaacalot - Lord of Xlanhuapec, Chaacalot was the slaan responsible for summoning the city's mists, a task he kept up for thousands of years. Aiding him in this task is the fact that he is very skilled at magic relating to the mind - telepathy, mind control, and other forms of mental manipulation are his gift, which he frequently used to ensure that errant trespassers never found his city by erasing the ability to notice it from their minds. The mysterious Chameleon Skink Oxyotl resides primarily in Xlanhuapec, and immensely aids efforts to conceal the city.

    [] Zaqunda - Steward of Itza, Zaqunda is one of the primary reasons Itza's walls were never breached in all the years since the Great Catastrophe. Spending much of his time amongst the Relic Priests has attuned his essence to theirs, and he is more easily able to elicit their aid, and perhaps even consider a way to restore their bodies. He was chosen to be the first city's steward for a reason - he is unparalleled in defensive magic of all kinds, capable of shielding against physical and psychic attacks on a large and small scale. The great albino saurus Gor-Rok is sworn to him, and will obey any command he gives.

    [] Huintenuchli - Once lord of Chaqua, Huintenuchli was left without purpose when the skaven destroyed the city. On the rare occasions when he rose from his slumber, his thoughts were occupied by musings of technology and mechanical research, which is his passion. His magical speciality lends itself well to this line of thought, for he is talented in the construction of magitek devices, enhancing armor and weapons to be more effective, and destroying the devices of his enemies - breaking walls, crushing soldiers in their armor, and causing machines to behave however he wishes. On one occasion he was beset in his sleep by a Norscan Chaos Lord, and was saved by the intervention of the mythical kroxigor Nakai, who he has formed an affinity with in the time since.

    [] Kroak - The spirit of the firstborn slaan was rejuvenated by the Deliverance - not enough to personally act on the scale of the other senior slaan, but his true strength lies in his knowledge. He retains a wealth of knowledge of the lost might the lizardmen possessed once, and will be able to restore this knowledge now that he is capable of communication once more. He is still bound to his corpse, however, and thus he relies much on his Oracle Ten-zlati, who wields potent powers through his mystical connection to the ancient slaan, as well as acting as Kroak's eyes and ears when need be. If a way to revive dead slaan is ever found, it is no doubt Kroak will be the first brought back, for his resurgent might would be a great boon to the lizardmen indeed.
     
  8. Xantalos
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    For four months did the eldest Slann plumb the depths of the Warp with their minds, seeking favorable currents to carry them across the stars to where they needed to go. Their communion was absolute, as even their juniors joined in order to grant their elders the best chance possible of arriving safely at their destinations.

    Though the mage-priests had returned to their individual temples, the spirit world quaked in the presence of their collected astral forms, convening at a point equidistant from each of the four remaining temple-cities. The geomantic web on this planet was yet weak, for it was barely formed and could not provide much energy. Regardless, sheets of etheric power were pulled from the leylines by the mage-priests, and supplemented by the innate magic of the slann, were fed into five circles of ritual force that burned themselves into reality.

    The work was taxing, for the magical energy required to transport even an inanimate object across interstellar distances was immense, to say nothing of the added strain it took to construct protections from the daemons infesting the fabric of the Immaterium. The communion, however, thrummed with enjoyment - the experience of working together with the collected sum of their brethren was a delight many slann had not experienced in a long time, and would not again for some years at the least.

    Though it appeared to have taken some time to catch up with them, the cloying fog of the mind was descending once again upon the toadlike leaders of the lizardmen. Now that they were aware of it, the Communion was set steadfastly on its elimination, but removing an enchantment of that scale would be a task fit to challenge even the slann, and none among them knew for certain how long it would take until they were freed.

    At last, the work came to an end as the last necessary scrap of magical energy coursed into the ritual circles and they pulsed in completion. It was time for all but one of the elder slann to depart this world, in search of answers, an understanding of the cosmos they found themselves in, and most importantly, the true fate of their ancient creators.

    --------------------------------------------------​

    In the midst of the seemingly impenetrable jungle that enveloped the world the lizardmen found themselves on, there was an inexplicable clearing five hundred meters across, at the exact centerpoint of the square the temple-cities were arranged in. Within that perfect circle, the ground was flat, bereft of any and all vegetation, as though a pocket of jungle had simply been excised from reality by some unseen force. All around the clearing the jungle loomed. Hungry megatrees shifted subtly as a million pairs of shining eyes scampered around the clearing's edge, staring at its unfamiliar contents. But not one of them dared to go within, their instincts warning them back from the immense repository of spiritual power thrumming within the clearing.

    With an earsplitting crack of displaced air, eleven figures appeared within the circle, arranged in pairs at points prearranged months ago, save for one lone slann who appeared in the exact center. Lord Mazdamundi regarded his peers from atop a plain stone disc floating above the ground, his ancient eyes gazing at them with something approaching sorrow. With a rumbling deep in his chest and a ponderous wave of his hand, the ancient lord provided the magical trigger necessary to start their ritual.

    Coruscating loops of light burst into being across the clearing, covering it with a tapestry of arcane sigils and channeled might that shone in colors incomprehensible to those unskilled in the manipulation of psychic energies. Spaced evenly around the clearing were five circles clear of runes and sigils. As the rising levels of magical energy in the clearing began to express themselves, the air growing taut and a feeling of pressure exerting itself as the fabric of reality thinned, each of the slann in the ritual circles turned their ancient power towards the activation of their own part in the ritual.

    Solemn was Adohi-Tegha's face as he pooled his strength, aided as ever by Tetto'eko. Much of his time in preparation had been spent searching the depths of the warp for the correct configuration of fate that would be necessary to achieve his goals in the coming millennia. He had found the sea of souls calmer than he had experienced it in many ages, but with a coming darkness on the horizon that he could not discern the nature of. Many threats he had forseen in the currents of the immaterium, but he knew from long experience that it was those things he didn't expect that would be the most dangerous. His circle lit up in a brilliant shade of blue, and he inclined his head towards Mazdamundi, intoning a benediction of good fortune to his elder.

    Smoke and fog billowed around Chaacalot as he marshaled his power. He appeared to be alone, but he could sense the presence of Oxyotl nearby, though characteristically muted enough that he doubted any other being present could locate the chameleon skink. He had spent the months leading up to the ritual allowing his perceptions to widen to extents he wasn't sure he had ever reached before. The warp was undeniably metaphysically larger than it had been in Lustria, and his mind's reach had increased alongside it. He had sensed the presence of life in distant star systems, shining seas of cognition carried across the interstellar distance. His domain had always been within the mind, and though he could not discern anything about these sentients save for their existence, his heart soared at the prospect of being able to unlock the pattern of their being. His circle came alive in writhing grey mist, and a last probing thought darted to Mazdamundi's mind, wishing him concealment from his enemies.

    Zaqunda had his eyes closed in contemplation, the solid form of Gor-Rok planted immovably behind his master. He had spent the past months in communion with the oldest Relic Priests, grasping what fragments of wisdom their withered spirits could grant him. They had been quiet, moreso than usual, enough that anyone but him would not have even realized any essence remained in their bones at all. But he had grown attuned to the essence of the dead over his many centuries of communion with them, and they had shared shreds of prophecy with him that he would follow to the stars. He could feel the worlds beyond this one humming with the spirits of a billion billion dead beings, and he would uncover their secrets with the aid of time. His circle lit up iridescently white, the light glistening off his pale skin as he offered a sentiment of protection to Mazdamundi.

    Huintenuchli, in contrast to almost every other being present, was visibly excited as he attuned his energies to those of the ritual while sitting in Nakai's shadow. In the months leading up to the present he had analyzed the weft and weave of the warp, perceiving concepts and possibilities in this reality that had simply not been possible before. Marvelous visions of technology more advanced than he had ever dared to dream of had revealed themselves to him, and he nearly vibrated with the anticipation of travelling to where he knew the greatest examples of them would be and comprehending their intricate whole. His circle blazed yellow and gold, and he wished Mazdamundi the ingenuity he would need to solve the problems ahead.

    Lord Kroak's skeleton was as silent as the ages, empty eyes staring into eternity. Seated in his lap, Ten-zlati channeled his formidable power into the ritual, his eyes shining a plethora of colors. None knew what thoughts the ancient spirit of Kroak had in the time leading up to his departure, nor what he intended to do. Yet the force of his will could be felt as a palpable force in the air around him, set irrevocably on a course that may as well have been preordained at the beginning of time. As his circle was illuminated with a color that cannot be described by mortal words, a whispering thought deposited itself in Mazdamundi's head: Goodbye, my pupil. Lead well our people, and trust in the Old Ones. We will meet again.

    As the energies of the ritual reached their peak, the air shimmered and then clouded, becoming filled with the astral presences of every remaining slann. The Sublime Communion was whole one last time, and across that union of minds boomed one unspoken yet unmistakable sentiment.

    Farewell, elder brothers.

    And with a thunderclap that echoed across five hundred miles of jungle, reality snapped and the slann, save for Mazdamundi, were gone. For a time the eldest of the second generation remained where he was, his stone seat slowly turning to offer a view of the half-spheres of earth each slann's ritual circle had dug out of the ground in their departure. He spoke not, but sat and contemplated the incredible distances his kin had flung themselves off into the unknown, idly imagining what dangers they might face, what wonders they may find, what challenges they would overcome out in the stars.

    On the third day, he heaved a great sigh and set his mind to the task at hand. The prosperity of the remaining children of the Old Ones had been left to his guidance, and he owed it to every one of them not to fail. Invigorated by this influx of purpose, he teleported away in a burst of light, leaving only the clearing behind, bearing marks of ritual power.

    --------------------------------------------------​

    The Mind Fog resurges! Many of the mage-priests have succumbed to its clutches - all save those listed here are insensate for the turn.

    Wakeful Slann:
    - 2 third generation
    - 2 fourth generation
    - 137 fifth generation

    As the Geomantic Web is level 1, you have 4 actions total, one action for each of your temple-cities. Please vote by plan, and indicate which city is performing which action. For further information on the action system, consult the Mechanics threadmark on the front page.

    You have five hero units available: Mazdamundi, Kroq-Gar, Chakax, Teninhuan, and Tiq'tak'to. You may assign them to boost a city's action, or take an action independently. Some actions are only performable by certain hero units.


    Actions​

    Scout Surroundings - You have landed on this new world with little knowledge of it save for that it is untainted by Chaos for now. The surroundings of the temple-cities must be swept clean with sword and fang, to ensure that no threats lurk unseen so close to your homes. Effects: Specified city's surrounding area will be scouted. Time: 1 Turn. Unscouted: Itza, Hexoatl, Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan.

    Repair Infastructure - The temple-cities were damaged by the countless threats they faced in the leadup to the Deliverance. The walls bear clawmarks of daemonkind, the corrosive impacts of skaven artillery, the characteristically fine powder of dragon ogre rampages, and other marks of battle. This will not impact efficiency, but if a city is attacked while still damaged, it will be harder-pressed to defend. Effects: Repairs a city's damage by one stage, i.e. Moderate -> Light. Actions unlocked if repairs are completed. Time: 1 Turn. Damaged: Itza, Hexoatl, Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan.

    Dinosaur Accomodations - The scaled warbeasts your people use were crammed into the temple-cities before your people evacuated, and are currently in somewhat cramped conditions. Their skink and saurus handlers are quite skilled and will keep them from causing a ruckus, but it is likely the dinosaurs will be unwilling to participate in breeding activities until proper accomodations are built for them. Set the Kroxigor to it. Effects: Constructs living space for all dinosaurs save for Carnosaurs, Dread Saurians, and Coatl in specified city, allowing them to breed. Time: 1 Turn.

    Assign Slann Ruler - With the departure of the elder slaan, many of the temple-cities have been left without a ruling mage-lord. While the slaan in charge of a city typically does not deal with day-to-day matters, having a figure to consult on important issues will aid the skink chieftains in matters of efficiency. Effects: Appoint a slaan to rule over the specified city, granting a minor boost to action power of that city and greatly increasing defense capability if attacked. Unlocks other actions. AN - While the Mind Fog is active the bonus may sporadically vanish as the ruling slaan falls victim to it. I will accept character proposals with this action, with the caveat that while the voted character will be noted they will not become a hero unit (yet).

    Perform Geomantic Ritual - The Geomantic Web is newly established still, but it still houses enough energy to smite stone and reshape the earth. You alone have the capability to wield that power; what you do with it is up to you. Mazdamundi required for this action. The objective of it is subject to write-in - see the front page for examples of use. Additional slaan assignment will boost the speed (and at this magnitude, power) of the resultant ritual, varying depending on the number of mage-priests assigned.

    Awaken Additional Slann - Your bretheren sleep, trapped in a cloying fugue of the senses and memory. For any other, it would be impossible to change that fact. But you are Mazdamundi, Lord of the Solar City and heir to incomprehensible arcane might. For a time, you will defy whatever malign entity is behind the curse and rip some of your kin free. Effect: Roll an additional dice in a chosen generation of slaan to attempt to free more from the clutches of the Mind Fog for the turn. Mazdamundi is required for this action.

    Establish Pathways - Your temple-cities were transported to this new world in a square formation roughly 500 miles to a side. In between them is a vast expanse of alien jungle, impenetrable as Lustria ever was. Paths will need to be carved through the foliage, so that each temple-city will not stand alone. Effect: Clear paths through the jungle between one city and another, improving interconnectivity and allowing the Transfer Population action to be taken. Time: 2 Turns.

    Transfer Populace, Slann Express - In the case of emergencies, the slann could bend their formidable powers towards transporting large numbers of lizardmen from city to city, likely arriving far sooner than possible with other means. Effect: Depending on amount and generation of slann assigned, transport lizardmen and/or dinosaurs between cities. Does not count towards action total if taken. Slaan must be assigned for this action to be taken. Time: Variable, but so long as overwhelming numbers aren't being transported, effectively always completes at the start of a turn.

    Found New City - The secrets of the spawning pools have not yielded themselves as of yet, but there is no time to waste. The Web must be expanded, no matter the risk of overextension. New temple-cities must be founded, and it is the unceasing labor of the lizardmen that will make it so for the first time since the Old Ones walked Mallus. Effect: The specified city founds a new temple-city, locking in its action while it sends workers and materials out to the site of a new city. Spawning pool tech not unlocked, new cities will not increase population. Assigning slann will speed this project considerably. Time: 4 Turns. AN: Location and such will be chosen automatically, but the city that takes the action will basically determine what direction the colonization heads in.

    Research​

    Dispel Mind Fog - Enough is enough. It is time to rip the veil of sluggishness off of your brother slann. The full might of the Sublime Communion will be needed for the lizardmen to prosper in this new world, and until they are freed you are held back. Effect: Break the curse, freeing the slann from the mind fog. Unknown difficulty.

    Examine Mind Fog - Know thy enemy. For all it has enveloped the slann for thousands of years, you still know almost nothing about the Mind Fog, what it is, or how it functions. Without a clear picture of how it effects the minds of the slann, peeling it back from their brains will be a far more difficult task than it otherwise would be. Effect: Learn more about the mind fog.

    Examine Planet - This is an unknown world you have come to, and the slann are no longer occupied with holding back the depredations of Chaos. Some of the younger generations wish to soar above the planet in their astral forms, to inspect every facet of it in order to satisfy their curiosity. Effect: Learn about the planet. Focus can be directed with a write-in; can overlap with scouting city surroundings, but the scope of this action is significantly bigger.

    Search Relic Vaults - The hidden vaults of the temple-cities contain artifacts of great and terrible power. No living being truly knows the extent of the things found within, but the ancient technology of the Old Ones would surely be of great use if they could be deciphered. Effect: Searches the relic vaults for useful items. Write-ins are allowed if you wish to search for something specific.

    Consult Relic Priests - The spirits of long-dead slann still cling to their bones in ancient mausoleums held deep in the innermost sanctums of their cities. Lingering near the veil of life and death as they are, their withered spirits are capable of dispensing great wisdom, but they sometimes prove unresponsive for their own reasons. Effect: ???

    Examine Tablet of Sotek - A matter that perplexed you before the End Times was the emergence of the serpent god Sotek. It is clearly part of the design of the Old Ones, as it is ordained on a sacred Tablet, but the prophecy contained within is a mystery to all save the skink Teninhuan, who will not allow himself to be parted from the 'holy' artifact. Examination of it may yield insight into the nature of the serpent god. Effect: Examine the Tablet of Sotek, and attempt to decipher its contents. Teninhuan is required for this action to be taken.

    Teach Geomantic Rituals - Once the art of geomancy was held by all of your bretheren, but those days are long past. Now you are the only repository of the ancient knowledge required to harness the devastating power of the geomantic web. It is time to do what you have not done for millennia, and spread your teachings. Effect: Spread the knowledge of geomantic rituals to other slaan, eliminating the need for Mazdamundi to conduct every one. Mazdamundi required, obviously. Until the Mind Fog is lifted this action will be unreasonably difficult as the curse wipes the knowledge from the minds of your pupils.

    Examine Spawning Pools - It is truly the greatest of ironies that you possess sufficient cognitive power to dwarf any mortal mind and crush Lords of Change in contests of will, yet you know almost nothing of your origins. The spawning pools in your cities regularly disgorge members of the other three breeds of lizardmen, yet the way they function is still unknown to you, let alone how to construct new ones. This will have to change. Effect: Figure out how to build new spawning pools.

    Examine Tablets of the Old Ones - Until you find a way back to Mallus, the ancient Plan of your creators will have to be ... put on hold. But that does not mean that the wisdom they left behind on their golden tablets is now useless - examination of them with a free mind and new perspective may yield new insights that were impossible previously. Effects: ???

    -------------------------------------------

    The jungle that grew in the new home of the lizardmen was like that of Lustria's in many ways, yet also curiously alien. The sea of foliage surrounding the temple-cities was at first glance indistinguishable from their old home - a hot, humid assortment of greenery. Widespread leaves, snaking vines, and slender, crawling roots covered every surface, each plant competing with a million neighbors. But there were undeniable differences - when the sounds of the jungle's inhabitants issued out from its emerald depths they were of pitches and tones never heard on Mallus, alien sounds coming from alien throats. The eerie whining of shimmering insect wings was omnipresent in some places, yet faded to nonexistence in unpredictable patterns and places, and though many a skink felt a whirring proboscis attempt to pierce their scales, the culprits were never seen.

    Stranger yet, the jungle moved.

    At first it had been put down to unfamiliarity with the terrain, but under the exacting gaze of saurus commanders the answer became clear - the flora of this place had some capability of movement, and shifted without noise during the night cycle according to unknowable cues. This made all attempts at scouting the miles surrounding Hexoatl and Xlanhuapec more onerous than they needed to be, and after both Kroq-Gar's saurus warriors and Tiktaq'to's terradon riders had suffered injuries and casualties from - among other things - treacherously hollow tree fascimiles that paralyzed, enveloped, and digested anything foolish enough to put weight on them, Mazdamundi's lieutenants petitioned their master for slann support, if only to more easily categorize and examine the myriad dangerous flora and fauna they were encountering. Having a surplus of slann who wished to explore their new world in any case, Mazdamundi reached out telepathically to the conclave of fifth generations soaring above the continent in spirit form and asked selected five among their number who would best fit the task at hand.

    ----------​

    Emotion, as a rule, was not something any lizardman experienced an excessive amount of. Their cold-blooded nature ensured even the skinks were less prone to mood variation than warmblood species.

    That said, Mahultep of the Fifth Generation was gratified.

    Since his creation, his purpose had always lain in learning of the essence and anatomy of different organisms, examining the biological mechanisms that made up their being, marveling at the intricacies that were present even at the smallest levels. Yet, Mallus had not needed study in millennia. What new species born there had been cataloged and studied millennia before his creation, or indeed even the generation of slann before his own.

    It was a quandary which occasionally bothered Mahultep, though one he did not spend much time pondering. There had always been more important matters to consider while on Mallus.

    However, this world had afforded him an entire new biosphere full of creatures to examine. Though his body was situated back in his temple in Hexoatl, his spirit was suffused with such enthusiasm that it manifested itself visually around the skink he looked through the eyes of, generating the image of a miniature slann moving through the foliage.

    The scouting efforts had gone much more smoothly with the slann able to assist. Divination was able to guide their kin away from being trapped by the vegetation or running into overly dangerous creatures, and their power let them obliterate any threats the scouting teams couldn't avoid.

    More than once squads of saurus or terradon riders had been ambushed by bus-sized amphibious scaled monsters or feathered lizard-beasts with serrated beaks that weaved through the jungle canopy at extreme speeds, only for the beast menacing them to spontaneously detonate in a shower of gore and warp energy. Thus protected while still familiarizing themselves with the wildlife of this new world, the scouting proceeded at a good pace, both Tiktaq'to and Kroq-Gar expressing satisfaction in their own quiet manners.

    With their mission well in hand, the slann had been able to spare some effort towards cataloging some of the creatures they were encountering. Mahultep alone had managed to quite thoroughly examine the makeup of several of the more notable creatures he had encountered, foremost among them the colossal crocodilian beast that made a habit of ambushing unwary lizardmen. Some thirty feet long and whip-thin for its size, the scales on its top half were dappled blue and green to conceal it as it lurked in the water - often the only thing to give it away were the series of flexible spines that stuck up from its back, which were sensitive to vibrations in the air. When it spotted an opportunity, it would dash out of the water on eight long-toed legs, sinuous tail writhing and occasionally being used to grasp its prey, and use its curious four-fold jaw structure to rip its meal to shreds. Its snout was long and thin like the rest of it, but was capable of opening far wider than it seemed by unfolding inner flaps of tissue lined with hooked spines. This outer jaw concealed an inner set of teeth connected to a separately operating set of brutally strong muscles that would serve to grip and tear whatever the beast had in its maw, supplemented by the 'death roll' behavior they displayed, close to what kroxigors sometimes did. When it had feasted it would retreat back to the water, now visibly bulging from the amount of food it had ingested. It was a wondrous creature and Mahultep eagerly looked forward to the day where he could examine one in person.

    He was interrupted from his musings as his skink bumped into something. Snapping back into focus, Mahultep looked through the skink's eyes to see a peculiar thing he hadn't observed yet - it was what almost resembled a primitive cage formed out of a strange black resin-like substance. It was far taller than the skink, stretching eight feet into the air. It almost resembled a strange crystallized rib cage, and was that - it was, Mahultep realized. There was a bizarre orb of meat inside the cage, somehow slick with blood despite clearly having been there a while. His eyes widened in his chambers back in Hexoatl - this was a trap - a somewhat obvious one, admittedly, but still definite evidence of intelligence in the creatures of this planet. The possibilities of such a discovery sang within his mind, but he didn't connect with the rest of the communion yet. He wanted to discover more about whatever species had made this trap, and what better way to do that than to spring it?

    Obeying his mental commands, the skink slipped through the 'bars' of the cage, observing the opening on one side that would let the intended creature it had been made for in. What specimen could they be intending to capture, he wondered. The bait and size imply it is predatory but the size is sufficient that a variety of species could plausibly be appropriate.

    The entrance to the cage snapped shut, bars that had been hidden in the undergrowth snapping up seemingly on their own to block the primary exit. Mahultep took more direct control of his skink's motor functions, casting his gaze about. He noticed almost offhandedly that the ever present background noises of the jungle had gone silent, even the whining of the insects fading away.

    They emerged from the surroundings with sinuous motions that were almost eerily in sync. Mahultep counted twelve of them, creatures of seven different types all with their attention unwaveringly fixed on him. The only similarity between them was their movement - each step was taken at the exact same time as the rest of the creatures, in the exact same winding manner.

    Interesting, Mahultep mused as the creatures closed in. Some of them did not possess eyes, but he could feel their intent on him, focusing on the skink with a surety of purpose usually only found in individual minds. He could sense some form of silent communication going on between the creatures as they approached closer, an unspoken debate of sorts that expressed itself in the strange stillness of the creatures.

    Seeing no threat to letting them do whatever it was they intended, Mahultep stayed put and was rewarded when one of the creatures, a slender ovoid mammal with long, almost spider-like legs opened its mouth and a proboscis of some sort extended from the back of its throat. His musings on what possible purpose such an organ could serve were answered when the tube flexed and shot multiple small black wriggling pellets into his skink's flesh.

    Mahultep took hold of his subordinate's nervous system and attempted to pilot him away, but found the skink's movements oddly sluggish, a sensation that only increased as the seconds went by. Some tactile sensation was capable of being transmitted across their link, and Mahultep shuddered as he felt the pellet-like things - organisms, he now realized - crawl through muscle and sinew while exuding a paralytic agent in their wake.

    Detaching his mind from the sensations, he watched in morbid curiosity as the skink's body twitched and spasmed over the course of the next minute. He found himself bothered, if not surprised, when the skink eventually began to move seemingly on its own, standing up with the same odd fluidity of movement as the others.

    It stepped towards the center of the cage and began to devour the orb of meat, something he noticed was already reforming, a small bud sprouting in place of the old.

    Clearly some form of symbiotic parasite was behind this, Mahultep concluded - it had adapted to harvest the creatures of the jungle in some fashion. Though he had no evidence as of yet, he suspected that as its control over the skink grew, it may be able to access its innate skills, and perhaps even memories. It was difficult to say how deep its penetration of the nervous system was, and though the prospect of studying this strange form of life was enticing to him, he knew all too well that the risk of such creatures potentially learning of the temple-cities and attacking them was too great to let this instance live. He crushed the puppeted skink to paste with telekinetic force, and then the other creatures as well after a moment's consideration.

    He would have to consult with his brothers. Perhaps one of them had encountered these things as well.

    ----------​

    The conclave of fifth generation slann grumbled as they collated their findings. They had enjoyed the opportunity to view the far-off vistas of their new world, as the intertwining of purpose and passion was a rare thing, especially to those so thoroughly under the mind fog's influence. This interruption to their perusal of the land was an irritant.

    Yet, some of the things they had discovered in their search had the potential to cause the lizardmen as a whole trouble in the future, and thus needed to be discussed. As their spirits floated comfortably above Hexoatl, coasting gently upon the rising hot air emanating from the Solar City, their consensus eventually became clear - Elder Mazdamundi would have to be informed of what they had discovered.

    Much of their time at first had simply been spent soaring above the seemingly endless expanse of jungle, marveling at the sheer density and variety of alien life they could sense within the canopy. But they had been on a mission to discover as much about the world as they could, and so they spread their spiritual wanderings about, and in doing so came to a strange collective realization - the continent was artificially shaped.

    There was no other possible explanation - the slann were expert geologists by nature, but even an untrained eye could see that the shape they had discovered was unnatural. The continent the lizardmen had landed on was a ring around the middle of the planet some four thousand kilometers thick, bordered by oceans to its north and south that had exactingly straight coastlines despite the prolific jungle. Something was clearly maintaining the shape of the continent, though the purpose of doing so remained unclear. Theirs was not the only landmass on the planet - there were continents to both the north and south, present across more than a thousand kilometers of ocean. Some among the group had wished to explore those as well, but given the discoveries being made about the immediate surroundings of the temple-cities, it was decided that focusing their efforts on one continent for the moment would be wiser.

    Much of what they discovered about their home continent was not out of the ordinary - there were a seemingly endless variety of hostile alien fauna and flora all competing with one another for survival in the evolutionary cauldron that was the jungle. The biodiversity of their continent was immense, and every survival strategy that one could conceive of was present within. This was a place brimming with merciless life that would not hesitate to swallow the lizardmen whole. But this was of no concern; even the youngest of slann could remember the days before the Catastrophe, when endless armies of saurus marched to exterminate errant life forms. The creatures of the jungle were vicious by nature but they were not intelligent, and the lizardmen's purity of focus would allow them to overcome the challenges the biosphere posed.

    What concerned the slann was something else entirely.

    Mahultep had not been the only one to encounter the strange synchronized creatures; other slann had run into them in the course of their scouting. Each individual encounter was slightly different, but when the slann compared them against each other it painted a disconcerting picture - it was surmised that the behavior was not indicative of a warp-borne entity or affliction, but the hallmark of a body-hijacking parasite that controlled the bodies of other organisms in a manner similar to eusocial insect colonies. These creatures, dubbed Ayacmanik, were in their native form a small black grub with no intelligence to speak of. When given the opportunity, they burrowed into a creature's flesh and merged with their nervous systems, gaining their intelligence in the process. The host creature's physiology underwent internal changes over time to accommodate the parasite more, which seemed to vary depending on what species they belonged to. The thing that made them truly dangerous, however, was that they seemed to have a psychically linked intelligence. They did not operate independently, but rather in great colony organisms that treated each individual creature more as extensions of the whole rather than subordinate members. The nature of how this worked was still a mystery, but it allowed them to operate with an eerie coherency - the creatures were often seen setting traps, farming other breeds of jungle fauna both for food and in order to induct new members, and building primitive buildings, fortifications, and weapons out of the resin-like black ooze they were able to secrete. There were colonies of varying size all over the continent, ranging from as few as a few dozen bodies to at the least tens of thousands - it was difficult to determine, for the larger colonies tended to be largely underground, residing in both natural and artificially-formed tunnel networks that housed underground rivers and lakes.

    What truly concerned the slann was that the colonies seemed to be able to communicate with each other - each successive encounter the creatures had with the lizardmen exhibited more elaborate tactics to trap and infest the saurus or skinks they encountered, irrespective of the distance between encounters. Depending on how aggressive and coordinated the Ayacmanik became, they could pose a threat to the temple-cities their colonies were near, to say nothing of potential expansion in the future.

    They took their concerns directly to Mazdamundi, the eldest among them travelling personally to the elder slann's temple in order to give voice to their findings, which he did, his speech painting a psychoactive picture before the lord of Hexoatl, for a slann's voice is spoken in the winds of magic. Mazdamundi remained quiet during his junior's explanation, only interjecting to ask the specifics of where the nearest colonies to the temple-cities were. Upon confirming their location, he nodded in satisfaction and thanked the fifth generation and his kin for their efforts. The Ayacmanik would be a matter to consider in the longer term, but for the moment they did not pose enough of a threat to divert his current plans and effort to channel the geomantic web.

    Though perhaps a little...

    ----------​

    The sun was out, shining with brilliant potency down upon the jungle canopy. In Hexoatl, the stones were designed in such a way to catch the sunlight, both reflecting it and absorbing its warmth. The city shined like a warm beacon, invigorating all those within.

    Seated atop his temple, Mazdamundi basked in the rays of warmth and the flow of power he could feel running through the geomantic web. Languidly opening his eyes, he knew it was time. Mild satisfaction grew within him; he had not gotten the opportunity to do something like this for quite a long time.

    A single word passed his lips, laden with mystic power. It boomed out across Hexoatl, reverberating into its foundations. Mazdamundi looked out across the jungle expanse as the stored power residing there was released, channeled into the first true Geomantic Ritual to take place upon this world.

    Where there was once silence, it was replaced with all-encompassing noise. Twin walls of invisible force rippled out from Hexoatl, crushing everything in their path with inviolable strength. They raced out across the miles, carving perfectly straight pathways five hundred meters across into the jungle like a god's finger drawing a line upon the world. Anything within the path of the ritual was crushed to paste and dispersed as dust upon the gale-force that followed the twin lines of psychic force.

    The ritual traveled from Hexoatl to Itza and Xlanhuapec - were it of a lesser caliber it may have only made such a path between two temple-cities, but Mazdamundi's ministrations had granted it strength, and it rippled out even from there, crushing avenues of travel into existence between every city, forming a square pattern with an X through it that none but the slann and the sun could see.

    Along the way, the ritual exhibited a number of erratic pulses of force as it passed by the locations of Ayacmanik nests that were not quite in the path it carved, flattening them under walls of organic shrapnel.

    Surroundings of Hexoatl and Xlanhuapec scouted and patrols set up! Scout Surroundings option modified to Set Up Patrols due to slann success at examining the continent. Casualties: 124 Saurus, 341 Skinks in Hexoatl. 261 Skinks, 114 Terradons, 76 Saurus in Xlanhuapec.

    Pathways successfully established between all temple-cities due to the use of a geomantic ritual.

    Central continent thoroughly examined by the slann! Relevant facts:
    - The continent is artificially shaped, in the form of a ring running around the equator of the planet. There are two more continents, one to the north and one to the south. These can be examined with further uses of Examine Planet.
    - The jungle stretches across the entire continent, and is filled with an astounding variety of dangerous flora and fauna. It is likely that many of them will have potential as warbeasts.
    - The Ayacmanik, a species of eusocial bodyjacker grubs that pilot host bodies in a psychic hivemind-like manner, have been identified. They are prevalent across the entirety of the continent, and have been observed laying traps, building, and farming other species for use as host bodies. It is possible, though not confirmed, that the species itself is linked in a primitive overmind - even if not so, colonies are clearly capable of communicating information to each other without physical contact. The extent of their ability to communicate is unknown. It is likely that they will oppose lizardmen expansion efforts, or at least attempt to harvest them for host bodies.


    ----------​

    A lizardman was never truly idle, and nowhere was this exemplified more than in Itza and Tlaxtlan. Skinks and kroxigor worked on the walls ceaselessly, the labor continuing without pause as shifts were rotated on and off. Chipped and cracked stone in the city walls was extracted and replaced with new blocks, the detritus from a thousand assaults were cleared out, and fortifications that had been damaged were shored up.

    It was a labor of duty, but also memory, for every one of the lizardmen had fought in the battles to preserve the temple-cities while the End Times raged. The great furrows a daemon's claws had carved in the flagstones of Itza were filled in and paved over by the same kroxigor that had broken the warp beast over its knee, the brute lizardman ensuring every last detail was done with far more precision than it had ever shown in battle. The stegadons and bastiladons that had trampled greenskins and skaven under their charges now turned their strength towards hauling stone and clearing wreckage. The lizardmen were supremely gifted in the making of war, but their purpose and gift as servants of the Old Ones had always been that of building, taking the random order of the world and making something deliberate out of it.

    To be a part of the reconstruction upon a new world felt right.

    Itza fully repaired! Tlaxtlan repaired to Light-Moderate.

    ----------​

    The whine of hidden insects - it was still unknown how they achieved that effect - was periodically punctuated by hissing snaps as they ran into the floating palanquins of the slann and were promptly incinerated. Five of the fifth generation had ventured out here, to the outskirts of Hexoatl, in person - the construction of proper accommodation for the city's warbeasts was proceeding apace without their help, and so their attention had turned to a more important matter.

    The Coatl had always been the rarest of Lustrian warbeasts, even moreso than the Dread Saurians, the closest thing Lustria had had to an apex predator. Moreover, they were capricious to a degree surpassing any other - they were not ridden nor compelled by riders, and often none but the elder generations of mage-priests could even accurately discern their locations. The feathered serpents flew where they wished, and aided the lizardmen in battle seemingly on their own whims. All of this was tolerated, for the Coatl was an instinctive wielder of powerful magics, able to alter the very terrain around them according to their will. In the wake of a coatl's passing the course of rivers was altered, trails moved to twist and turn endlessly, the makeup of the jungle itself changed by the coatl's presence. In battle this was an immensely potent ability, capable of swallowing entire groups of enemies at once. In the distant past, the greatest of the temple-cities had used whole flocks of coatl to patrol their surroundings, changing the makeup of their immediate territory on a daily basis. Accomplishing something on that scale was impossible until more coatl were obtained through their mysterious reproduction practices, but even one of the beasts was a potent asset to any temple-city.

    The one issue was that, capricious as they were, a coatl would not use its abilities in service of a temple-city if not provided with appropriate accommodations. Thus the slann had deigned to travel into the biting jungle in person, for it was only their powers that would be able to construct such an edifice without diverting the workforce of their junior kin. Their combined telekinesis lifted great blocks of stone through the air, drew up a hidden spring of water from underground, supernaturally enhanced the growth of Lustrian jungle flowers they planted in the resultant garden. Afterwards they rested on the outskirts of the clearing they had created, waiting.

    It descended on feathered wings, but it flew as if the air itself cradled it. Winding sinuously through the air, the coatl's draconic head weaved back and forth as it observed the slanns' labor. Light shimmered around its scales as the beast seemed to contemplate it. This place was beautiful, but it would not last. The ruthless alien plants of this planet would crush and devour the inoffensive flowers, and guzzle from the spring until it was gone.

    The coatl moved and air rippled behind it as earth shifted below. The slann could feel the geomantic power of the world warping around the clearing, bending to the coatl's will.

    There was no physical change to the clearing, but as the coatl completed its circuit, the surrounding jungle seemed to recede slightly, acceding to the feathered serpent's wishes. Gliding to the center of the clearing, the coatl turned to gaze upon the slann before looking skyward and soaring out of sight in a majestic sweep of its wings.

    Dinosaur accommodations constructed for Hexoatl. Slann assignment additionally caused housing to be built for the city's sole Coatl, enabling it to properly use its passive geomantic manipulation abilities in defense of the city.

    ----------​

    Acuazhup of the Third Generation contemplated all that he and his brothers had learned. "Light," he croaked, finding his innermost chambers suddenly oppressive, and as his skink attendants hastened to move his throne out into the sun, watched closely as ever by his Eternity Warden, he observed their movements through half-lidded eyes. They seemed to move through a haze, their movements sluggish and indistinct. Indeed the entire world seemed to have a half-formed quality to it, almost as if it were a dream. His head was clouded, and thoughts came only with difficulty. His mind continued to function under the strange influence, albeit with difficulty - he ran theorems of varying difficulty through his mind, pushed and prodded at the blanket of indistinct sleepiness that hung over his thoughts, allowed himself to contemplate rest and observed how the feeling seemed to intensify, multiplying the thoughts inside his head like a virus. How nice it would be to lay his burdens aside so that his efforts would not suffer. His mind was so weary, and the prospect of rest so soothing...

    Sunlight struck Acuazhup's face and he drew strength from the warmth cascading across his skin. For a moment he allowed himself to simply bask. Then he straightened in his throne and spoke, the name echoing out across the immaterium: "Xul'kring."

    He waited naught but three seconds before his spirit was gently coaxed out of his body, shedding the unnatural weariness. It was still there in the back of his mind, a faint tugging into sloth that never truly went away, but in the astral presence of so many of his kin it shied away for the moment.

    Spawn-kin, Xul'kring greeted. He was the other third generation slann who had not succumbed entirely to the mind fog, and thus was the one who was entrusted with extracting Acuazhup's spirit from the situation he had put himself in if something went wrong. What observations?

    As postulated, Acuazhup replied, opening his mind and memory to the inspection of the rest of the communion. It sensed isolation and activated with calculated subtlety. Its engineering is sophisticated. The other slann inspecting his memory made noises of agreement, and as a curious fifth generation posed a question to him, Acuazhup felt a curious feeling in the back of his mind, distinct from the mind fog. Perhaps there was a solution after all.

    As the eldest slann besides himself who had - for now - resisted the mind fog, Mazdamundi had set Acuazhup and Xul'kring upon the task of understanding the curse, for the fact was that almost nothing was known about it save for its effect of inducing a numbing torpor upon the majority of the mage-priests. Knowledge was power, the lord of Hexoatl had proclaimed, and so knowledge of their affliction must be sought to adequately combat it. With Mazdamundi's blessing, the two slann had recruited a swathe of their juniors with inquisitive minds and sharp wits and gotten to work.

    Over the next ten years they conducted a vast number of experiments and exercises to probe and poke at the mind fog in order to uncover its behaviors and properties, improving and refining their methodology as they went along. They quickly discovered that despite their ability to resist its effects for a time, the fog never truly left - it was more than just a spiritual affliction, but something that also resided within the brain of every slann, a coiling mix of a spiritual parasite and a cranial defect. It interwove itself with the brain structure of the slann on such a deep level that it responded merely to intense thought, inducing distracting headaches and wooziness that every slann had long since forgotten were not part of existence. It was also aggravated by the casting of magic, and swelled in power the more the slann wove the winds of magic or meditated upon matters of cosmic importance. Worse, it induced a deeper slumber the greater the struggle exerted against it.

    Perhaps the most important thing they had discovered, however, was that the fog was autonomous to some extent - large numbers of slann awake at the same time could bolster each other's minds and resist its effects better, and so the fog surged up when it sensed that a slann was alone or cut off from the support of their brethren. It sought to divide and conquer them, making the thought they engaged in together tiresome and striking when they sought contemplation in solitude.

    It was thus that although he eventually felt the cloying tide of thoughtlessness rise up to swallow him with enough strength that he could not resist, Acuazhup fell into torpor content. He had seen the pattern of their enemy, and it was one that actively wanted the slann to remain sessile. Whichever creature of the warp had crafted it was wary of the power of the Sublime Communion, and for good reason. Though this chain had bound them for millennia, it was now one step closer to being broken.

    Several properties of the mind fog have been discerned:
    - It consists of both spiritual and physical elements, residing in the soul and brain of every slann.
    - Its effects are strengthened by magical exertion, meditation, and any complex thought. This is why it disproportionately affects elder slann.
    - There is a guiding intelligence behind it, or at the least a set of parameters 'programmed' into it. It will attempt to affect isolated slann to a greater extent than those in groups, while pushing slann towards isolation.

    Research option updated to reflect progress.


    ----------​

    When the Old Ones had crafted the spawning pools that the first of the lizardmen had emerged from, they did so to exacting specification. Every part of their construction served a purpose, everything harmonizing together to serve the greater purpose of crafting the cold-blooded children of the ancients.

    However, Mykor'xop of the fifth generation contemplated, the creators hadn't told their children how this was accomplished. The workings of the spawning pools had only really been known to a useful extent by the Old Ones themselves and the eldest of the first generation, leaving no working knowledge behind. And building that understanding back up from observational principles was ... difficult, to say the least.

    Not to say that he and his colleagues had not made any progress in figuring out how the pools worked, of course. They had rigorously observed spawnings of all sorts - ordinary, blessed, and everything in between, with a plethora of slann observing the proceedings both mystically and physically. They had examined the geometry and design of the pools, cross-referencing them with their placement in the temple-cities. They had even taken samples of the birthing liquid within and analyzed them from every angle. And each of those, one after another, yielded little, with the hint of greater knowledge just out of reach.

    The pools were situated in such a way as to tap into the Web - no surprise, anything of importance in a temple-city was. They had observed great confluxes of magical energy occurring in the pools at the times of spawning, and upon examination had determined the majority of it to be qhyash, purified and directed warp energy designed in such a way that eluded their minds for the moment. The sacred birthing liquid had turned out to be ordinary water, a fact which brought up more questions than it answered. How then did it produce lizardmen without any outside interference? Why did its level never dip if it were used as a substrate, as some theories went? All questions that Mykor'xop had sought answers for the better part of a decade, and found none in sight. But this was not the end - with eyes red from years of ceaseless focus he'd determined he would not be able to solve this problem before he would be called to share what insights he had been able to gather.

    He would need to ask to once again be assigned to search for these answers. It wouldn't do to leave a project of such importance unfinished.

    Spawning Pool research yields inconclusive results - there is definitely a sort of automated energy confluence involved in the creation of new lizardmen, but more research will be required to know more. Research action updated to reflect progress.

    ----------​

    It was not often that slann were surprised. Having lived for as long as even their youngest members had, combined with their great intellect and ability to look at the Warp with unshielded eyes, often combined to mean that any obstacle they encountered in the course of carrying out their tasks had been anticipated to some degree. The manifestation of a greater daemon would not faze a slann even were he mid-cast.

    Yet, the group of slann assigned to the Tablet of Sotek had never seen anything quite like Teninhuan before. Sotek's herald had complied with Mazdamundi's order to allow the mage-priests to observe the serpent god's sacred tablet when it was carried to him by skink messenger, but his agreement had come with some conditions.

    "They may not read," Teninhuan hissed.

    The head skink attendants of Hunza-Pok of the fifth generation heard the words of their master in their minds and conferred for several minutes before answering. "Scholar-Of-A-Million-Stars was present upon Lustria when the Old Makers placed that tablet in Chaqua. Who are you to say he may not gaze upon it if he so wishes?"

    Teninhuan growled. "Sotek gives me much power but not enough to stop the Sublime Communion from looking upon His tablet should they desire to. But they may not read, even if they should peer closely. It is not for their eyes."

    Hunza-Pok's attendants went into a flurry of debate at those words, quick-tongued voices muttering back and forth. They would intermittently peer at Teninhuan while the others continued talking, before eventually diving back into the debate while another took their place. This continued for nearly an hour before at last their slann master stirred slightly and they instantly quieted themselves.

    Hunza-Pok stared blearily at Teninhuan with eyes older than the god who protected the skink. "Show me the tablet, scaled prophet," he intoned, causing the scales of all in the room to shiver as the magic in his voice resonated with their nature. It was not a request, nor a command. The words the slann spoke were instead simple certainty.

    The prophet of Sotek held forth the surprisingly small tablet of beaten gold, engraved with intricate carvings depicting all manner of serpents and other events. He said nothing, but kept his eyes fixed upon the slann as Hunza-Pok telekinetically pulled the tablet up to his gaze.

    The slann and tablet remained there for an entire day and a half, neither moving an inch.

    At last, the mage-priest inclined his head and sent the tablet back to Teninhuan.

    "You speak true, prophet. It is warded from my gaze, and I am unable to read the glyphs," he intoned. "But you can. We will call upon you again, and you will tell Sotek's story to us."

    Teninhuan snorted briefly. "I live to spread Sotek's word, lord slann," he said. "I will come."

    Nearly a year of ethereal discussion later, the slann called Sotek's prophet to a vacant temple where all seven mage-priests working on this project were able to travel personally. There they bade Teninhuan to tell them first what the Tablet of Sotek said, and then an account of the events leading up to Sotek's emergence as a god.

    For a warlord skink, Teninhuan was quite eloquent when it came to preaching of his deity, and the telling of such a tale took well over a week for each iteration. The gathered slann nearly ran the skink prophet's voice out as they pored over each and every aspect of Sotek's prophecy, and began to pry it open with the collective power of their intellect.

    It was evident even to an onlooker when compared in such a fashion - the events described in the Prophecy of Sotek and the unfolding of Teninhuan's campaign against the skaven shared eerie similarities, the tablet seeming to predict even random chance upon the battlefield, eventually culminating with the prophesied birth of the serpent god after the sacrifice of countless skaven hearts. There was a reason for such a similarity beyond the foretelling powers of the Old Ones who had crafted it - there was a reason such degree of prophecy had been focused into the tablet, and after exhaustive examination it began to become evident.

    The Prophecy of Sotek was not only a mere prophecy - it was a guide. It described the starting conditions for when the process of Sotek's birth was to be carried out, the necessary components, and a detailed guide to what actions would need to be taken to shape and catalyze Sotek's development as a warp entity. The Old Ones had looked into the future and seen the need for a weapon, and crafted a guide for their children.

    Sotek's tablet was a guide on how to build a god.

    By the time Mazdamundi called for an accounting of their progress, the slann were nearly finished deciphering which pieces of prophecy were strictly relevant to the process of shaping a warp entity and which were merely pieces of insight the Old Ones had put into the tablet to ensure Teninhuan would win a particular battle or some-such. With just a little more work, they would be ready to begin retooling the knowledge they had gathered into a generalized guide not shrouded in mysticism or prophecy.

    They would be ready to figure out how to build gods.

    Project very nearly completed! Taking it again will guarantee its completion, and any additional progress that would otherwise be wasted will spill over into the successor research project, Deific Template.

    The Tablet of Sotek is a guide the Old Ones constructed to allow Teninhuan to facilitate the birth of Sotek by following a set of magically implanted instructions. It contains predictions of events that happened in the skaven-lizardmen war, that when followed chronologically just so happen to function as instructions for what to to in order to design a purpose-built god as a weapon against the skaven. If a template guide could be extracted out of the cryptic language of the Tablet, the lizardmen could theoretically construct gods as they wished.


    ----------​

    Itza population growth: 25,000 Saurus, 50,000 Skinks, 5,000 Kroxigor
    Hexoatl population growth: 15,000 Saurus, 30,000 Skinks, 3,000 Kroxigor
    Xlanhuapec population growth: 10,000 Saurus, 20,000 Skinks, 2,000 Kroxigor
    Tlaxtlan population growth: 10,000 Saurus, 20,000 Skinks, 2,000 Kroxigor
    Dinosaur population growth for Hexoatl starts next turn.
     
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  9. Xantalos
    Skink

    Xantalos New Member

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    As time went on the lizardmen grew more and more used to their new home. The shifting jungle and the multifarious species of the jungle became an expected part of life. Strange alien fungi attempted to cling to temple-city walls and were removed with as much fastidiousness as any creeping vine had been back in Lustria. And as the lizardmen grew used to their home, they began to adapt it to their use.

    Swathes of jungle were burned back to make room for farms and gardens. Stone was quarried out of the ground and hauled back to the forging districts, where it was converted into obsinite. Great slabs of it were treated magically to prevent rapidly-growing plants from boring through it and laid down on the paths between cities, forming long unbroken highways, a stark expression of civilization against the untamed wilds. The sap of a certain species of plant was found to repel the irritating semi-invisible insects, and promptly cultivated in vast quantities. Packs of Cold Ones grew more and more adept at hunting their new prey, and on occasion the cataclysmic trumpeting of Thunder Lizards was heard echoing out across the miles as they did battle with some newly-discovered foe.

    Mazdamundi gazed upon all this from his perch in Hexoatl and found it good. One way or another, they would take this world and make it theirs. The Geomantic Web would spread between a vast network of new cities, the long decline of the lizardmen reversed at last. They were but a fragment of what they had once been, but under his guidance they would re-surge and reclaim the might that was their birthright.

    But dreams of the future could wait. There was always something more to be done in the present.

    --------------------​

    The curse weighs heavily upon the slann! Aside from the following, all slann are insensate for the turn.

    3 Third Generation Slann
    12 Fourth Generation Slann
    29 Fifth Generation Slann

    As the Geomantic Web is level 1, you have 4 actions total, one action for each of your temple-cities. Please vote by plan, and indicate which city is performing which action. For further information on the action system, consult the Mechanics threadmark on the front page.

    You have five hero units available: Mazdamundi, Kroq-Gar, Chakax, Teninhuan, and Tiq'tak'to. You may assign them to boost a city's action, or take an action independently. Some actions may only be taken by certain hero units.


    ---Actions---​

    Purge the Parasite - The Ayacmanik are a potentially dangerous foe, capable of harnessing the megafauna of the planet and using them against your kind. Their presence cannot be tolerated near the temple-cities, and the saurus live to purge those who would threaten their sacred ground. Muster your armies and march! Effect: Patrol the area of the designated city and destroy any Ayacmanik nests found. Must specify number of units participating in this action. Time: 1 Turn.

    Sniff Them Out - More dangerous than their ability to harness any beast of the jungle is the Ayacmanik's propensity to blend in with their uninfected counterparts if needed. It will be difficult to ensure that they do not set up operations near the temple-cities with you unawares, but lizardmen eyes are sharp. Your scouts will be sent out to find them, wherever they hide. Effect: Attempt to preemptively find existent and developing Ayacmanik colonies in the area of the specified city. Synergistic with Purge the Parasite. Time: 1 Turn.

    Set Up Patrols - You have attained a working knowledge of the surroundings of your temple-cities, but the work is not done yet. Command your saurus legions and skink foragers to go out and make the jungle their own, so that any enemy that dares to come near will be intercepted. Effect: Sets up patrol routes around a temple-city, ensuring knowledge of the surroundings stays up to date and hostile entities are detected before they can approach the walls. Time: 1 Turn. Needed: Itza, Tlaxtlan.

    Repair Infrastructure - The temple-cities were damaged by the countless threats they faced in the lead-up to the Deliverance. The walls bear claw marks of daemonkind, the corrosive impacts of skaven artillery, the characteristically fine powder of dragon ogre rampages, and other marks of battle. This will not impact efficiency, but if a city is attacked while still damaged, it will be harder-pressed to defend. Effects: Repairs a city's damage by one stage, i.e. Moderate -> Light. Actions unlocked if repairs are completed. Time: 1 Turn. Damaged: Hexoatl, Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan.

    Align Leylines - The Deliverance was an exactingly accurate ritual, and transported the temple-cities to this planet so that they would have immediate access to the geomantic energies running within. But it could not account for everything, and the Web is weaker than it should be, energy bleeding out into the earth where it should be fed back into the mystic architecture. The temple-cities will need to be re-aligned to the leylines to harness the Web's full energy. Effect: Realigns specified city to the planet to more effectively harness the geomantic energy. Requires all damage to be repaired before it can be done. Time: 1 Turn. Available: Itza

    Dinosaur Accommodations - The scaled warbeasts your people use were crammed into the temple-cities before your people evacuated, and are currently in somewhat cramped conditions. Their skink and saurus handlers are quite skilled and will keep them from causing a ruckus, but it is likely the dinosaurs will be unwilling to participate in breeding activities until proper accommodations are built for them. Set the Kroxigor to it. Effects: Constructs living space for all dinosaurs save for Carnosaurs, Dread Saurians, and Coatl in specified city, allowing them to breed. Time: 1 Turn. Needed: Itza, Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan

    Dinosaur Accommodations, Exotic Edition - There are some breeds of dinosaur that have capabilities beyond the norm. Carnosaurs, perhaps the ultimate in conventional cavalry. Coatl, who warp the land with strange magics. And the fearsome Dread Saurians, the ultimate predator even in this alien death-world. To go with their supreme utility to the lizardmen, each of them have somewhat exotic habitation requirements that need to be satisfied before they will act as they did in Lustria. Effects: Constructs living space for Coatl, Carnosaurs, and Dread Saurians in specified city, allowing them to breed and exercise their capabilities in defense of the city. Requires standard dino pens to have been built. Available: Hexoatl

    Assign Slann Ruler - With the departure of the elder slaan, many of the temple-cities have been left without a ruling mage-lord. While the slaan in charge of a city typically does not deal with day-to-day matters, having a figure to consult on important issues will aid the skink chieftains in matters of efficiency. Effects: Appoint a slaan to rule over the specified city, granting a minor boost to action power of that city and greatly increasing defense capability if attacked. Unlocks other actions. AN - While the Mind Fog is active the bonus may sporadically vanish as the ruling slaan falls victim to it. I will accept character proposals with this action, with the caveat that while the voted character will be noted they will not become a hero unit (yet).

    Perform Geomantic Ritual - The Geomantic Web is newly established still, but it still houses enough energy to smite stone and reshape the earth. You alone have the capability to wield that power; what you do with it is up to you. Mazdamundi required for this action. The objective of it is subject to write-in - see the front page for examples of use. Additional slaan assignment will boost the speed (and at this magnitude, power) of the resultant ritual, varying depending on the number of mage-priests assigned.

    Awaken Additional Slann - Your brethren sleep, trapped in a cloying fugue of the senses and memory. For any other, it would be impossible to change that fact. But you are Mazdamundi, Lord of the Solar City and heir to incomprehensible arcane might. For a time, you will defy whatever malign entity is behind the curse and rip some of your kin free. Effect: Roll an additional dice in a chosen generation of slaan to attempt to free more from the clutches of the Mind Fog for the turn. If this option wins, a vote will be held to determine where to assign the awakened slann. Mazdamundi is required for this action.

    Transfer Populace - The lizardmen will go where their masters command. If a city is underpopulated, excess population from other cities may be diverted until the spawning pools make up the lack. Effect: Transfer specified amount of lizardmen and/or dinosaurs from one city to another. Does not count towards action total except if transferring very large numbers.

    Transfer Populace, Slann Express - In the case of emergencies, the slann could bend their formidable powers towards transporting large numbers of lizardmen from city to city, likely arriving far sooner than possible with other means. Effect: Depending on amount and generation of slann assigned, transport lizardmen and/or dinosaurs between cities. Does not count towards action total if taken. Slaan must be assigned for this action to be taken. Time: Variable, but so long as overwhelming numbers aren't being transported, effectively always completes at the start of a turn.

    Found New City - The secrets of the spawning pools have not yielded themselves as of yet, but there is no time to waste. The Web must be expanded, no matter the risk of over-extension. New temple-cities must be founded, and it is the unceasing labor of the lizardmen that will make it so for the first time since the Old Ones walked Mallus. Effect: The specified city founds a new temple-city, locking in its action while it sends workers and materials out to the site of a new city. Spawning pool tech not unlocked, new cities will not increase their own population. Time: 4 Turns. Each subsequent city action devoted reduces time by .5 turns.

    ---Research---​

    Dispel Mind Fog - Enough is enough. It is time to rip the veil of sluggishness off of your brother slann. The full might of the Sublime Communion will be needed for the lizardmen to prosper in this new world, and until they are freed you are held back. Effect: Break the curse, freeing the slann from the mind fog. Degrees of success possible. Difficulty: Unknown, but estimated to be Impossible or higher. This may be reduced by increasing the strength of the geomantic web and further uses of Examine Mind Fog.

    Examine Mind Fog - Know thy enemy. For all it has enveloped the slann for thousands of years, you still know almost nothing about the Mind Fog, what it is, or how it functions. Without a clear picture of how it effects the minds of the slann, peeling it back from their brains will be a far more difficult task than it otherwise would be. Effect: Learn more about the mind fog. Each successive use of this research reduces the difficulty of Dispel Mind Fog by a variable amount, as well as giving information about its nature.

    Examine Planet - This is an unknown world you have come to, and the slann are no longer occupied with holding back the depredations of Chaos. Some of the younger generations wish to soar above the planet in their astral forms, to inspect every facet of it in order to satisfy their curiosity. You have cataloged the central continent, but there are still the other two to survey. Effect: Learn about the planet. May focus on Northern, Southern, or Central continents. Examining more than one continent at once boosts the difficulty by one step each. Exceeding the minimum requirements will reveal more detailed information. Central continent has been scouted, but further examination may reveal more details. Difficulty: Easy

    Search Relic Vaults - The hidden vaults of the temple-cities contain artifacts of great and terrible power. No living being truly knows the extent of the things found within, but the ancient technology of the Old Ones would surely be of great use if they could be deciphered. Effect: Searches the relic vaults for useful items. Write-ins are allowed if you wish to search for something specific.

    Consult Relic Priests - The spirits of long-dead slann still cling to their bones in ancient mausoleums held deep in the innermost sanctums of their cities. Lingering near the veil of life and death as they are, their withered spirits are capable of dispensing great wisdom, but they sometimes prove unresponsive for their own reasons. Effect: ??? Difficulty: Variable.

    Examine Tablet of Sotek - A matter that perplexed you before the End Times was the emergence of the serpent god Sotek. It is clearly part of the design of the Old Ones, as it is ordained on a sacred Tablet, but the prophecy contained within is a mystery to all save the skink Teninhuan, who will not allow himself to be parted from the 'holy' artifact. Examination of it may yield insight into the nature of the serpent god. Effect: Examine the Tablet of Sotek, and attempt to decipher its contents. Taking this guarantees its completion - any research progress spillover will be directed into Deific Template. Teninhuan is required for this action to be taken.

    Deific Template - The power to build gods would be an immensely potent ability, but the chain of prophecy the Old Ones wove to create Sotek was complex indeed. It will take time to distill the core elements of the process and figure out what is needed to shape a gestating warp entity according to a coherent design. It promises to be a lengthy process, but the potential rewards are immense. Effect: Design a standardized god creation process. Difficulty: Hard Tablet of Sotek Completion Needed

    Teach Geomantic Rituals - Once the art of geomancy was held by all of your brethren, but those days are long past. Now you are the only repository of the ancient knowledge required to harness the devastating power of the geomantic web. It is time to do what you have not done for millennia, and spread your teachings. Effect: Spread the knowledge of geomantic rituals to other slaan, eliminating the need for Mazdamundi to conduct every one. Mazdamundi required, obviously. Until the Mind Fog is lifted this action will be unreasonably difficult as the curse wipes the knowledge from the minds of your pupils.

    Examine Spawning Pools - It is truly the greatest of ironies that you possess sufficient cognitive power to dwarf any mortal mind and crush Lords of Change in contests of will, yet you know almost nothing of your origins. The spawning pools in your cities regularly disgorge members of the other three breeds of lizardmen, yet the way they function is still unknown to you, let alone how to construct new ones. This will have to change. Effect: Figure out how to build new spawning pools. Difficulty: Absurd. Approximately 1/15 progress made according to estimates

    Examine Tablets of the Old Ones - Until you find a way back to Mallus, the ancient Plan of your creators will have to be ... put on hold. But that does not mean that the wisdom they left behind on their golden tablets is now useless - examination of them with a free mind and new perspective may yield new insights that were impossible previously. Effect: ??? Difficulty: Unknown, but likely high.

    Bug Inspection - The Ayacmanik's capabilities have been exhaustively pored over by your saurus oldbloods, but little is known of them as a species. How do they communicate? What is the nature of their coordination? How extensive is the infiltration of their host? These and many more questions must be answered if they are to be effectively fought. Effect: Learn more about the Ayacmanik, increasing military effectiveness against them and potentially discovering any secrets they may have. Difficulty: Easy to discover most information, Hard for discerning guarded information.

    -----------------------------------------------

    Set Up Patrols: Kroq-Gar and Chakax at Itza and Tlaxtlan. 2 Fourth Generation Slann.
    Sniff Them Out: Tiq'tak'to at Tlaxtlan. 2 Fourth Generation Slann.


    Kroq-Gar and Chakax were two very different individuals. They had been born for different purposes - Chakax for protection of the slann under his charge, Kroq-Gar for destruction of the lizardmen's enemies as a whole. Chakax fought alone, by his master's side as the ultimate Eternity Warden, while Kroq-Gar was most at home amidst a charge of fellow carnosaur riders, crushing his foes beneath scaled bulk. As arguably the two oldest saurus in existence, they had had millennia to develop along very different paths into two specialized paragons of martial philosophy. Kroq-Gar held speed and ferocity at his core, and reflected it in his style of fighting and command - he aimed for the head of both opponents and armies, destroying their centers in explosive alpha strikes. Chakax embodied awareness and economy of motion, keeping aware enough of his charge's surroundings that he could end any threat posed to them with exactly as much force as was needed, and no more.

    It was inevitable that upon being tasked with setting up protective patrols for Itza and Tlaxtlan, the two of them would approach the job very differently. But regardless of their many differences, Kroq-Gar and Chakax were still saurus. Defending the works of the lizardmen was what they were made for.

    In Itza, the fourth generation slann Tlohtuzcex conferred with Chakax in person, and was initially unable to make much progress until he observed the depth of detail to which the Eternity Warden devoted to protecting him, not only personally but in the way he coordinated all his other skink and saurus attendants with unerring precision so long as the matter related to Tlohtuzcex himself. Inspired, he asked Chakax to act as if the city itself was his assigned charge, and its inhabitants resources to use in its protection.

    What resulted was perhaps foreseeable - after all, Chakax took his protective duties very seriously. Itza was swathed in an impermeable cloak of interlocking military assignments under his guidance, his exhaustive list of routes covering nearly every inch of ground within ten miles of the city walls.

    In his six thousand years Chakax had familiarized himself with most aspects of the lizardmen military to better protect his masters, and he employed all of this knowledge to ensure Itza would detect and destroy any threats that drew near to it. Terradons and Cold Ones were his primary instruments of scouting, searching out potentially troublesome mega-fauna nearing the city, but closer to the Itza's walls it was impossible to go a minute without running across a patrol of some sort, or worse, Chakax himself, who for ten years walked alone in the areas where his patrols were thinnest, leaving nothing more than wet chunks of anything that was foolish enough to attack him.

    Though still younger by many millennia than the fourth generation mage-priest overseeing his operation, Kroq-Gar was arguably of higher rank in some aspects than Lord Hextlohca, as Mazdamundi's right hand. Thus he took the lead in concocting the patrol routes in Tlaxtlan, using the slann as divinatory guidance. He directed skink and saurus cohorts on short-range circuits around the city's immediate surroundings to act as a warning system, and personally sorted out the assignment of warbeast handling, ensuring the cohorts were accompanied by a variety of dinosaurs as they patrolled. Oftentimes this proved to be doubly useful, as the hungry dinosaurs would devour vegetation that would otherwise encroach upon the temple-city.

    Kroq-Gar personally led all the carnosaurs in the city and, coordinating with his aerial counterpart Tiktaq'to, struck out deeper into the jungle to remove the small network of Ayacmanik colonies Tiktaq'to and his own assisting mage-lords had discovered relatively nearby Tlaxtlan. It was not an enemy presence severe enough that Kroq-Gar's presence was absolutely needed, but the slann assisting Tiktaq'to were interested in examining live specimens, and it had been some time since Grymloq had gotten properly exercised.

    -----​

    The creatures of this new planet were many and varied. There were crocodilian river monsters, insectoid tree snakes, pack-running lizardpanthers, predatory birds of enormous size and great armored beetle-like mammals with retractable spikes growing every which way from out of their shells. The one quality they shared was their vicious drive to survive in their competitive environment. Their home allowed for no weakness, and bred feral strength with the promise of death.

    For all their ferocity, however, none of them had ever met anything like a war-trained carnosaur.

    The jungle recoiled as Grymloq let out a bone-shaking roar, charging headlong at an ursine creature nearly his size with eight long, musclebound legs topped with venomous claws.

    In five strides Grymloq closed the distance between them, crashing into the beast with all his weight and sending it sprawling to the ground. Not pausing, Grymloq reached down with clawed hands and hauled the creature up to his maw, pulping its head with a single bite.

    From his back, Kroq-Gar thrust the Spear of Tlanxla through the head of a scaled bat-like creature as it dove towards his head, the spear sending out a pulse of psychic fear upon contact that made the creature's kin recoil in instinctual dread.

    Taking a moment to survey the battlefield, Kroq-Gar hrrr'd in satisfaction. The lizardmen under his command were performing their tasks well - the complex of these creatures was nearly eliminated, and without many casualties.

    The Ayacmanik nest they had assaulted was a relatively small one of a few hundred host creatures, chosen for its relatively grounded status - the parasites sometimes wove their structural resin through the jungle canopy, creating colonies that existed entirely off the ground - and accessible location. Tiktaq'to's scouting efforts had revealed the colony of parasites to consist mostly of 'farmer' organisms - some species of amphibian creatures with round bodies, no eyes, and many long, slender legs that they used to tend to a local population of plant-eating grubs that grew to the size of a skink under the care of the Ayacmanik.

    They seemed to serve both as food for their host bodies and a useful source of nutrient-rich excrement, which the parasites combined with soil and minute quantities of their resin to create nests for those Ayacmanik without hosts. Aside from a smattering of guard organisms, the colony was undefended - evidently a new settlement by the creatures. A perfect target.

    Tiktaq'to had begun the attack, descending upon the nest with fifty of his veteran terradon riders, swooping into the fray with speed and agility that outmatched any of the Ayacmanik. They killed many in their first pass, only to scatter in all directions, baiting those parasites that could fly to take to the skies in pursuit. Ordinarily the Ayacmanik enjoyed a comfortable dominance of the sky with their unnatural coordination and diverse capabilities, but Tiktaq'to possessed the Mask of Heavens and was as at home in the skies as worms were in the ground. Terradons and Ayacmanik spiraled and soared around and past each other in dizzying patterns, Tiktaq'to's blade cutting wings and piercing bodies as he guided his kin against the hivemind with his thoughts. Zwup shrieked, giving voice to the thrill both felt at the speed and complexity of the maneuvers required to best the parasites.

    The ground-bound Ayacmanik, in the meantime, had clustered around the grub population. Evidently having decided to flee to another colony, they began herding the grubs towards the edge of the clearing they were located in.

    The Ayacmanik had nearly reached the tree line when one of Tiktaq'to's subordinates flew overhead and gave the agreed-upon signal.

    Whatever the parasites had been expecting, it was not a carnosaur charge bursting out of the jungle, the hot breath of the colossal beasts preceding them like a wind as they roared loud enough to shake the earth. Unable to withstand the sheer force of several hundred tons of scaled flesh moving with intent to kill, they were scattered or crushed underfoot.

    The grubs they had farmed fled every which way, and the remaining guardian creatures were defeated in short order - claws and fangs were deflected by stone-hard scales, and the primal ferocity they showed in combat was brutally overpowered by the lizards, who had been trained for battle against foes far more formidable than these. In what seemed like a short time, the few Ayacmanik that lived had been driven off and the lizardmen were left with what they had come for.

    Kroq-Gar raised his glowing gauntlet to the sky and let loose a bolt of shining energy, piercing above the canopy. It was but minutes before two slann appeared from the jungle, seated atop their floating palanquins. Their serene eyes surveyed the battlefield, littered with the shredded bodies of the dead, and turned to Kroq-Gar, posing a silent query. Leaving his skink counterpart to keep watch, Kroq-Gar led the slann down into the shallow underground chamber the Ayacmanik had built to house their bodiless kin. Piles of shining soil-like goo littered the cavern floor, built to nourish and sustain the small grubs that were the natural form of the Ayacmanik. Seeing the contemplative expressions on the faces of the slann, Kroq-Gar made his way out, leaving the mage-priests and their temple guard to fortify the chamber.

    War was his business, and the Ayacmanik would surely attempt to re-secure the colony in the meantime. Whatever the slann intended to do to the apparently mindless grubs... that was something for their minds.

    Patrols set up around Itza and Tlaxtlan. Ayacmanik presence around Tlaxtlan is currently Minor.
    42 Cold Ones
    16 Bastiladons
    12 Stegadons
    2 Salamanders
    1 Razordon
    50 Terradons
    7 Ripperdactyls
    37 Skinks
    5 Saurus
    8 Kroxigor
    68 Terradons
    29 Ripperdactyls
    158 Cold Ones
    44 Horned Ones
    4 Carnosaurs
    20 Bastiladons
    21 Stegadons
    6 Salamanders
    4 Razordons
    304 Skinks
    211 Saurus
    39 Kroxigor

    Repair: Hexoatl, Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan. All City Actions. 15 Fifth Generation Slann

    The cities of the lizardmen had often languished in ruin of varying stages on Mallus. There had always been too many threats to spare the effort to clear the rubble of countless battles from the streets, to raise towers and buildings that had crumbled and fallen to ruin. Any labor force large enough to repair the accumulated damage of millennia would have better served defending what cities remained, or attempting to rebuild the all-but-razed ruins of another.

    There had always been something else to do before it could be done.

    Yet, this was a new world, with nothing standing in the way of the repair effort now. It was an endeavor long overdue.

    Fifteen slann gathered in Itza and called all the skink chieftains and more intelligent kroxigor from all temple-cities to Itza's central plaza. Such a task would require coordination, and it had always fallen to the skinks to ensure the directives of the slann were carried out satisfactorily.

    The gathering itself was a monumental event, millions of skinks and hundreds of thousands of kroxigor all congregating together in a single place. For all the size of their group, they were still small next to the immensity of the First City, the entire crowd fitting comfortably in one plaza. It was a testament to how lofty their people's heights had been, and how far they had yet to go to meet them.

    From atop the stone plinths that had been erected in the plaza for this occasion, the fifteen skink priests representing their slann masters explained the intended scope and aim of the project they were to embark on in exhaustive terms, something that took three days to describe fully. Then they began to divide up the workforce, selecting chieftains to lead contingents of workers and direct the repair effort on a more personal basis. It was here that they found somewhat of a boon, as the gathering and sorting of so many lizardmen in one place allowed for the discovery of a group of them that had been thought lost, and had gone overlooked until now - the lizardmen from the city of Zlatlan, and in particular a skink named Awanabil'tat.

    The old architect had ensured the incorporation of Zlatlan's population into the remaining temple-cities had gone smoothly, and though he had contributed to Itza's repairs in the ten years he had spent upon the new world, the majority of his time had been spent examining the intricacies of Itza's ancient geomantic infrastructure, which was far more advanced than any he had ever witnessed in Zlatlan. He could have been content with furthering his knowledge of its mechanics for centuries yet, but this project presented an opportunity to not only ensure the displeasing clutter of rubble and ruin was cleared from the temple-cities, but to perhaps gain the opportunity to enact some of his more ambitious ideas that he had not had the time or resources to properly implement in the Southlands.

    He swiftly took overall charge of the project, dividing and delegating the gathered workforce of the lizardmen into manageable chunks and dispatching segments to temple-cities based on their capabilities and the needs of the repair work. Xlanhuapec and Tlaxtlan, which he had decided to focus his efforts on first, were not overly damaged as far as lizardmen assessments of damage went - buildings and walls crumbled halfway down, many side streets and avenues were blocked by rubble, and nearly every structure bore the marks of some form of enemy action - skaven acid, daemon ichor, and beastmen skeletons were strewn about their expanses. It was overall not that much of a hindrance to the lizardmen's daily tasks, but it was still something that would have to be rectified for the geomantic web to be properly aligned, something Awanabil'tat had quickly perceived during his first years in Itza.

    The prospect of assisting in such a feat was of great interest to the skink architect, and it enhanced his determination to complete the repairs as quickly and properly as possible.

    Under his leadership, the repairs went quickly. One of the primary issues with constructing anything in a lizardmen city was that everything had to fit into the overall design of the city's energy flow. Building in places that would seem otherwise sensible would incur only lost progress in a temple-city, for disregarding the geomantic web would lead to some areas of the city unable to draw on its mystic energies for protection or as a power source. The imbalances would furthermore compound upon each other as construction continued, leading to the flow of geomantic energy sputtering, fizzling, and eventually fading entirely as the city lost the correct configuration to channel the Web.

    This was why skink priests, and through them the slann, were so heavily involved in the expansion of infrastructure, for if something was to be built in a temple-city, it must be built correctly.

    Awanabil'tat's ability to sense the geometry of arcane energies woven throughout the lizardmen's cities was thus an invaluable asset, allowing him to direct the flow of workers in Tlaxtlan and Xlanhuapec with vastly increased efficiency while the slann traveled to Hexoatl, where the damage was more severe and their telekinetic abilities would serve better.

    Walls of black stone were re-erected. Crumbling buildings that had lain in squalor for thousands of years were reconstructed exactly as they had first been conceived, rubble and marks of battle being cleared and cleansed. The temple-cities rang with noise day and night, the chattering of skinks, rumbling grunts of kroxigor, and varying intonations of bastiladons and stegadons echoing throughout their increasingly clear streets.

    Everywhere Awanabil'tat went, the flow of the Web was restored, his golden staff tapping at stones here and there as he observed the ways in which the structure of each of these cities was different than Zlatlan had been. There, lizardman had come out of the spawning pools with purpose in their lives, and their cities were no different - each one was built to favor different activities, both mundanely and mystically. Tlaxtlan was the City of the Moon, and many of its temples were built to be natural observatories, enchanted to warp the air around them to act as lenses, allowing remarkably clear vision of the night sky even with the unaided eye. Xlanhuapec, on the other hand, had concealment built into its bones. It was naturally difficult to spot even with Chaacalot's mist no longer cloaking it, and though chameleon skink spawning seemed to have stopped for the moment, the city still housed the largest population of the stealthy warriors of all the temple-cities. Each city was different, and the repair efforts had to accommodate that in order to preserve optimal functioning condition.

    Awanabil'tat, fortunately, was up to the task.

    He spent four years restoring the cities of the moon and mists to pristine condition, engrossing himself in his work until the task was done. Under his hands they were polished and smoothed out, becoming once again akin to the ancient bastions of order they had been founded as. And once they had been restored to his satisfaction, he turned his attention to Hexoatl.

    The City of the Sun had sustained more severe assaults during the Evacuation than Tlaxtlan or Xlanhuapec had, and it showed. Entire districts still lay in ruin, half-toppled buildings and stone blackened by lightning littering the walkways. The walls were breached in some places, great jagged holes where dragon ogres and other monstrosities had forced their way through. All traces of Chaotic corruption had been burnt out by the Deliverance, but in some places the stone still shimmered with magical residue, traces of the many duels fought between dark elf and skink priest. Streets were blocked by gargantuan boulders or trees the width of entire buildings, thrown around by colossal forces and in some cases embedded into solid rock.

    This was why the slann had come here - even a single slann could easily lift a ten-ton boulder with his mind, and the powers of the mage-priests increased multiplicatively when they worked together. Utilizing their telekinesis, they painstakingly extracted the debris too large for even teams of kroxigor to move and placed them outside of the city, ready to be used in the future.

    Awanabil'tat arrived in Hexoatl at the head of two massive streams of construction teams, flowing into the city like rivers of scale and noise. Teams of kroxigor raised towers, skinks hauled rubble to the obsinite pits to be transmuted into the black stone, while Awanabil'tat and the slann supervised the overall direction of the reconstruction to ensure that Lord Mazdamundi's city was not altered negatively.

    The complexity of the geomantic infrastructure here was as complex as any he had ever encountered in Zlatlan, and he devoted a personal sort of attention to mapping out the geomantic structure of the city. As the construction process went on, he slowly gathered pieces of stone from every part of the city, and incorporated them into a miniature model of the city, set with tiny prisms arranged in such a way that the beams of light they reflected between each other mirrored the flow of energy in the city itself. He completed the model when the city itself was fully restored to pristine condition, and presented it to Mazdamundi when the ancient slann emerged from his long study to behold his restored city.

    Looking across the restored expanse of Hexoatl, and noting the insight into the geomantic workings of the city in the model, Mazdamundi rumbled in satisfaction and pronounced Awanabil'tat as a skink of import.

    "Your talent will be of use in the future," he croaked as he looked down at the miniature city with both mundane and mystical eyes, watching the way the sunlight and its corresponding mystic energy flowed through its arrays like water through an aqueduct system.

    Results: All cities restored to Pristine.

    New hero unit obtained - Awanabil'tat, Skink Architect! See front page for character sheet.


    Dinosaur Accommodations, Exotic Edition, Hexoatl: 4 Fifth Generation Slann

    The home of a Dread Saurian was not like that of other creatures. The superpredators held a special place in lizardmen society, one that could almost be mistaken for that of a demigod in other species. Beyond their immense physical prowess and viciousness, a Dread Saurian possessed such an intense, overbearing soul that with the correct rituals and artifacts, the essence of an Old One could manifest from their very flesh. A mere expression was enough power to ensure Dread Saurians dominated whatever battlefield they stood upon.

    Even if this potency of spirit were not harnessed, it allowed the Saurian to survive injuries that would kill any other creature, strike and bite with more force than their bodies should allow them to, and heal virtually any injury, even severed limbs if given sufficient time and nutrition. But properly channeled, the Dread Saurian could become a potent combatant in ways beyond the natural. When they bore the mien of an Old One, a Dread Saurian went from a beast capable of battling an emperor dragon and coming out the victor to a force capable of single-handedly taking on a significant portion of an enemy army on its own.

    To allow for this level of magical enhancement, each Dread Saurian had traditionally been given its own lavish temple, carved out of solid rock to house the gargantuan lizards and the sacred armor that controlled their power. There were no mountains nearby Hexoatl to use as a location, but that did not matter overmuch - the will of four slann would make it so.

    The four mage-priests ventured into the jungle, Temple Guard marching lockstep around them and teams of kroxigor, bastiladons, and stegadons porting gargantuan quantities of stone with them into the lush expanse, as well as twelve sets of metal armor carried in great stone coffins that hummed to the touch. The slann traveled until they could readily percieve the presence of a saurian, its spirit shining like a star to their eyes. They found a place that was suitable for their design, an otherwise innocuous patch of jungle, and summoned a localized firestorm.

    From the heavens descended a whirling column of flame a hundred meters wide. The moment it touched the ground it bloomed outward, sending titanic waves of fire over the land. The waves crashed against an invisible barrier before swirling back towards the center. From there the flames rushed back out, this time piercing the ground and immolating the roots that now ended in ash. Above the ground explosions of molten earth erupted from where the flames hit the root bundles of once great trees.

    The lizardmen remained shielded at its epicenter, watching the surrounding plant life burn to ash with unflinching gazes, until the ground was cleansed and they let the flames fade to nothing. A quick gesture flattened the area, eliminating the hellish craters, cooling the molten edges, and packing it all down into a denser foundation.

    Upon that black, flame-baptized ground they built a temple, laying great blocks of stone atop each other in patterns that had been taught to them more than six thousand years before. They labored in silence day and night until the structure was complete.

    It stood as large as any temple within the city, a hollow ziggurat with antechambers to hold offerings of food, and a ritual plinth at the very top to allow for a slann to channel the essence of the Saurian into the desired form.

    From there, they only needed to call out to the beast, speaking into its mind in primeval terms its brutal mind understood: Home. Food. Strength.

    The Dread Saurian came, dragging behind it the remains of what looked to be a carnivorous creature masquerading as a tree. It stood tall, glaring imperiously down at the comparatively diminutive slann in its path. The creature's gaze moved on from the toadlike mages as it turned to gaze at the temple. It remembered having something like this in the Before Land, a mountain cave where the little lizards had brought it food and placed metal sheets upon its flesh that had made its mind and scales surge with energy. It was a good memory.

    The tree-creature's corpse was dropped without a second thought, and the beast made its way into the temple. The slann glanced at each other and nodded. As it was suspected, the creature remembered the power it had wielded under the auspices of the lizardmen and craved the experience. It would not have to be subdued to have the armor fitted to it.

    Indeed, there was not even a single death as kroxigor hefted the sections of plate into place and skink attendants scurried here and there, affixing the Saurian's armor once again to its flesh. The beast stood remarkably still, even tolerating the examination of skink handlers to ascertain its good health.

    When the last piece was fitted into place, Mactax of the fifth generation forced his power into the glyphs upon the armor, channeling arcane energy into them until their internal mechanisms activated, affixing themselves skin-tight to the Saurian and drawing out its innate strength. The beast let out a thunderous roar as a rush of power it had not felt in years came back into its muscles, flaring into being around its body as an aura of sun-hot flame.

    It seemed appropriate that the first Dread Saurian to resume its duties of protecting Hexoatl should possess the Conflagration of Chotec.

    Habitats for the Dread Saurians, Carnosaurs, and Troglodons of Hexoatl have been constructed.

    Bug Inspection: 2 Fourth Generation Slann

    Fortifications were set up with immense swiftness around the captured Ayacmanik colony. The kroxigors that Kroq-Gar had brought with him worked quickly, constructing walls and watchtowers out of felled trees and packed earth until stone could be brought in from Tlaxtlan. Saurus kept a tight guard around the perimeter of the burgeoning encampment, supplemented by the legions of Cold Ones and Carnosaurs Kroq-Gar lead in excursions around the colony's surroundings. They found no sign of the Ayacmanik attempting to return to the site, and in response more forces were called from Tlaxtlan. Cohorts of skinks leading additional teams of kroxigor, shipments of obsinite hauled by bastiladons, terradons to scout the skies, and salamanders to keep the encroaching jungle burned back all made their way to the colony, which was quickly beginning to resemble a heavily fortified outpost, with stone walls and legions of scaled warriors guarding it intently.

    There continued to be no sign of an impending Ayacmanik attack, which the lizardmen took as a sure sign that the creatures were taking the time to mass an enormous force, and summoned yet more defending forces.

    As the other breeds went about their business of securing the colony, the two slann, who had been chosen for their affinity for examining the structure of the mind and soul - indeed, they had been among Lord Chaacalot's proteges in Xlanhuapec for a time - began their work of examining the hostless Ayacmanik for clues as to the nature of their mysterious coordination.

    They dissected several at first, plucking individual grubs from their pools and peeling them apart with their minds, examining every layer of the creatures in great detail. This provided nothing out of the ordinary - the creatures were to all appearances ordinary insectoid leeches of some sort, evolved to feed off of the life fluid of other species. They were very well-adapted for that purpose, with shells that were very hard to pierce, fiercely powerful mandibles that allowed them to grip onto their host, and the ability to condense the nutrients they derived from alien blood down into tiny nodules to be digested over time, allowing them to consume much more blood than their size would otherwise indicate. But there was nothing resembling a brain large enough to facilitate puppeteering of a host body, or any hint of sapience in their behavior.

    The slann examined the pools of grubs for any hint of psychic activity, and found none. They peered into the warp and examined the metaphysical area for hints of daemonic activity and were rewarded with silence. They laboriously tested the vulnerability of the creatures to every spell they could think of that could imitate the effects of the coordination displayed by their colonies, and found that not only did the Ayacmanik have no psychic resistance that they could perceive, their souls were actually very dim, as far as non-sapient creatures went. To the eyes of the slann, the pools they were gathered in shone with a dim light, hundreds of softly glowing souls moving and writhing.

    It was not brilliance on the part of the slann or a sudden display of extraordinary capabilities on the part of the Ayacmanik that ended up unraveling their enigma, but simple time. The utility of the host bodies the grubs utilized was immense, but was counterbalanced by the fact that they could not breed while inhabiting a body. They were gathered in the pools to increase their numbers, in preparation for the arrival of more host animals from their parent colony, and in the absence of any other stimuli, they continued self-replicating, an act which was eventually witnessed by the slann.

    When most creatures were born, by whichever method their species used, a new soul coalesced from the currents of the warp into the body of the newborn. It was a process the slann had witnessed innumerable times, and so at first Ayacmanik reproduction did not warrant a second look. But over time and repeated observances of it, they realized something - the new grubs, which were born via a process where the parent incubated a child, sometimes derived without any outside DNA, inside its own digestive tract, feeding it off of its accumulated blood stores until it became motile and it swam out of the mouth of its parent, did not obtain a new soul at any point during the process. Instead, they inherited a fragment of the parent's soul, which gradually grew to an identical state as that of its progenitor.

    This realization actualized many unconscious realizations in the minds of the slann - the Ayacmanik were not truly separate creatures, despite having individual minds in their native grub state. The entire species possessed only a single soul, replicated and stretched out over who knew how many bodies. This was why the creatures were so coordinated, yet with no obvious psychic communion taking place between them - the thoughts of each creature remained its own, and likely contributed to the whole, but the feelings, impulses, and will of the oversoul dictated the actions of the Ayacmanik on a strangely fluid level. It was unlikely that the creature-species understood on a cognitive level what it was doing - without sapient hosts, its soul only had the capacity for animal thought on the strategic level it operated on, a fact somewhat concealed by the apparent cleverness its accumulated set of minds was able to display on a localized scale.

    This was why the creatures had been seeking lizardmen hosts with such persistence, the slaan realized - and also why they had not mounted an attack on the captured colony, if the lack of abnormal tension in the demeanor of their Temple Guard was any indication. The Ayacmanik had tasted the barest hint of a truly thinking mind when they had partially infested those few victims years ago, and had been driven by the need to obtain that capacity ever since. Their lack of effort to retrieve their non-hosted kin, who were bereft of the capacity to think with anything more than their own tiny pseudo-minds, was not indicative of a lack of care, but rather a primitive anticipation. Perhaps this had happened in the past, some species of megafauna driving the Ayacmanik out of a colony and consuming their young, only to be infested in turn.

    The Ayacmanik are a species that has only one soul shared among all its bodies. This fact, combined with their ability to hijack the nervous systems of any creature they can enter the bodies of, allows them to effectively adopt the cognitive capacity of any creature they infest, with this becoming a property of their oversoul - in effect, the most intelligent creature the Ayacmanik infest determines the intelligence of the entire species, as the soul becomes capable of using that degree of intelligence. Individual creatures have their own minds, so long as they possess a host body, but it's the oversoul that determines their actual actions.

    Additional options unlocked.


    Examine Mind Fog: Mazdamundi, 3 Third Generation Slann, 6 Fourth Generation Slann, 6 Fifth Generation Slann

    Ever since he had become aware of the mind fog's cloying weight on his consciousness, Mazdamundi had longed to be free of it. Though some small remnant of the Deliverance still resonated in his flesh, shielding him from the disproportionate effect it would otherwise have on him, it was still a persistent irritant in the corners of his mind, weighing down the speed of his thoughts ever so slightly. Enough that he could perceive it and recall that in the past he had been able to think faster, to cast magic without accounting for the hidden node of dust and slumber in his brain that would otherwise throw off his spells.

    It was time for him to behold the face of this enemy, so that he could begin taking measures to destroy it.

    He gathered to his side every cognizant slann not otherwise occupied and brought them to the temple of Ax'impuul, a third generation slann living in Hexoatl who had not stirred from his daze since the arrival.

    "This curse afflicts body, mind, and spirit equally," he proclaimed to his attentive juniors. "Its assault on our thoughts is something that may be curtailed by operating in communion, as we now know, and weariness is something we have lived with long enough that we have forgotten what it is to be alert. The primary avenue curtailing investigation into the curse is the spirit, for the greater our struggle the more it saps our strength. No more," he boomed, indicating Ax'impuul's comatose form with his mace.

    "The fog channels its effects through the body, but it resides within the spirit. Ax'impuul shall be the gate through which we pass into the essence of the curse. I will shield us from its effects, and we will look upon it with unvarnished eyes."

    Arranging themselves in a circle around their sleeping brother, the slann shed their bodies like loose clothes, and Mazdamundi extended a glittering web of spellcraft out of his fingers and over their spectral forms. It would not last forever, and pass much of the strain they would otherwise feel onto him, but his will was inviolate - he could bear it.

    To their spirit eyes, Ax'impuul was shrouded in a dense cloud of fog that slowly churned and flowed and tasted of a color that did not exist. One by one, linked together by Mazdamundi's chain, the slann slipped into the fog and did not emerge from the other side.

    Within the fog they beheld an inner world of grey murk, a fermenting sea of heavy colorless soul-stuff stretching into infinity. The atmosphere was bleak and heavy, even with Mazdamundi's protection, and many of the slann felt their eyelids grow heavy.

    There was not much light within the fog - there was no shadow, but the only distinct points that could be seen within the gloom were a speckling of faint white lights, each off in the distance and far away from the others. Each slann looked to a different one and began to drift towards it, but Mazdamundi willed them back together, the force of his thoughts manifesting as golden streamers, shining in a way that was out of place in this realm.

    "Do not let it divide us," he urged them.

    They looked through the fog with renewed purpose, their eyes shining like searchlights as they pulled more of their willpower into their forms. Their sight pierced through the bubbling murk, scattering bits of it to dissolve as mist, as they saw that one of the lights that had appeared to be very far away was instead incredibly close.

    Drawn towards it inexorably, the slann saw what had seemed like a pinpoint of light grow and expand, filling out space and changing shape until it became the figure of Ax'impuul, rendered in softly glowing white light, soundly asleep.

    Drifting through the fog, which was slowly beginning to churn and bubble, the slann took ahold of Ax'impuul's soul - for that was what it was, something that had previously been indistinct and hard to perceive, shrouded as it was by the curse - and pulled with all their might, attempting to dislodge it. They found they could not, however, even their most stringent effort achieving nothing more than a mouse attempting to lift a boulder. Ax'impuul was stuck fast, the now-simmering fog sticking to his soul like tar.

    "Wait," cautioned Mazdamundi, casting his gaze about. The texture of the soupy grey realm, once relatively calm, was growing agitated, as if blown by a great wind, and seemed to be getting worse as the slann exerted more effort. "Quiet your magics," he said. "We do not yet know what kind of -"

    The fog buckled, and an immense weight fell upon the slann as a colossal amount of attention was suddenly directed their way. It felt sluggish and mostly unaware of its surroundings, but was massive beyond conception. The slann cried out in shock and pain as a mental weight larger than many of them had ever felt crashed into them, shattering their focus and scattering their astral forms far from each other on invisible winds. Whatever they had attracted the attention of, it was vast, and strong, insanely so.

    The only one to maintain his composure was Mazdamundi, who kept his astral eyes open, keeping track of as many of his younger kin as he could, even as they were scattered in all directions. Thus it was that he was the only one who saw it - a mere pseudopod of attention, the equivalent of a slumbering eye lazily flicking open for a moment. It was an intelligence, vast and deep and terrible.

    He cloaked himself in the most potent concealing magics he could muster, shrinking his spirit down to a tiny pinpoint. Whatever kind of being it was that resided within the fog, he was determined to avoid its attention. Thusly cloaked, he raced to the side of as many of his kin as he could, re-centering their minds on him and helping them cloak themselves in turn. He managed to retrieve less than half of them before he saw their spirits drifting into slumber, shocked into stupor by the fog being. Their souls drifted to a stop and the fog embraced them like a soft tide of mud.

    Mazdamundi and those he had managed to get to were forced to retreat for fear of attracting the attention of the thing in the murk again. Three fifth generation slann, two fourth generation, and a single third generation followed him back to their bodies, and opened their eyes to behold those who had not made it locked firmly in stupor.

    They returned their sleeping bretheren to their temples, and Mazdamundi led them in contemplation of what they had experienced for many years. When at last they emerged to behold the splendor of Hexoatl fully restored, their minds were set in grim resolve, for they had beheld the face of their enemy and at last knew the nature of their curse.

    The mind fog is a vast slumbering spiritual entity bound to the slann via their souls and bodies, that exerts its effects through three primary means:

    - Disorientation and muddling of the brain through inducement of intense dizziness, migraines, and other physical symptoms.
    - Clouding of the thoughts, slowing and degrading the ability of the slann to maintain coherent mental structure, and generally impairing the ability of their minds to function.
    - Smothering their souls under its vastly greater metaphysical weight, which induces the above two categories of symptoms.

    It is difficult to say whether the entity is aware of its actions or not, but it is tremendously strong, with greater spiritual weight than even Greater Daemons of Chaos. It does not display any typical identifiers of belonging to one Ruinous Power or another, but given the circumstances of the mind fog's emergence it is unlikely that it is the work of any other power but the Chaos Gods.


    Examine Tablet of Sotek: 4 Fifth Generation Slann, Teninhuan

    "Listen unto me then, ancient mage-lords, and hear the story of Sotek the Deliverer.

    The Old Ones, beneficent and far-seeing, knew that they could not leave their children bereft of guidance in the world they were to steward, alone against the depredations of Disorder. In the days before the First Calamity, they labored with all their fervor, each devoting effort to avert a different disaster in the future.

    Chotec gifted the salamanders their fire, and set our souls to endlessly flare so that time will never claim our flesh.

    Tzunki took water from a pool in Lustria and blessed it with his wisdom, calling our life forevermore from its depths.

    Quetzl, Tlazcotl, and Xhotl gave us their gift of immunity to the touch of the Warp, so that we would never be strayed from our purpose.

    Tepok and Potec crafted the magics of the slann lords and granted them the power that was drawn out of the earth.

    But Itzl, he of beasts, had forseen a grave threat. Pestilence, plague, corruption and corrosion caused by cowardly, corrupt vermin. So he enlisted Tlanxla, who knew war the most intimately of all the Creators, and together they crafted the seed of a god. Bestial and venemous they made it, sleek of scale and sharp of fang, and they hid it in a crevice of the spirit world until the day when their children would feed it with blood and hearts enough to emerge in full splendor and glory.

    To ensure that their children would know to call upon Sotek when the time came, the Old Ones carved the story of his ascension upon a sacred tablet, and placed it in Chaqua for when the time was right. The tablet foretold events of the first war between our kind and the skaven, showed the course of the conflict and how we were to feed Sotek with rat flesh until he could manifest."

    Teninhuan stood in front of the council of slann and told them of the entire course of the war - every stratagem devised, every sacrifice performed with his own hands, of seeing devotion and belief spread among the ailing skink populace, helpless against the virulent warp plagues of the skaven until Sotek's venom cleansed their bodies and sharpened their souls. He spoke of it again and again, going into infinitesimal detail until the Sublime Communion finally knew what it was that had made the Great Serpent.

    The slann left the blessed skink to meditate on what they had learned, emerging from their temples only once they had pondered the matter sufficiently, and worked out every detail.

    Qur-zhiosti was the slann honored with delivering their revelations to Mazdamundi at the end of the decade.

    "We have learned that a deity is a story that crafts itself through the actions of its followers and those it claims as its own. Belief in the story sustains it, but it is action that advances and completes its course. Sotek's story is written in blood and hearts and the lives of the twisted things that scurry in the cracks of creation. The Old Ones foresaw the need for such a story and left us its bones.

    Now we are prepared to construct frameworks of our own."


    Results: Tablet of Sotek fully analyzed. Construction of the Deific Template has begun.

    Itza population growth: 25,000 Saurus, 50,000 Skinks, 5,000 Kroxigor
    Hexoatl population growth: 15,000 Saurus, 30,000 Skinks, 3,000 Kroxigor
    Xlanhuapec population growth: 10,000 Saurus, 20,000 Skinks, 2,000 Kroxigor
    Tlaxtlan population growth: 10,000 Saurus, 20,000 Skinks, 2,000 Kroxigor
    Hexoatl dinosaur pop growth: 761 Bastiladons, 783 Stegadons, 6,043 Terradons, 1,287 Ripperdactyls, 204 Salamanders, 260 Razordons, 11,859 Cold Ones, 939 Horned Ones. Troglodons have been retconned in as part of the Exotic Edition dinosaurs, who will begin population growth next turn.
     
  10. Xantalos
    Skink

    Xantalos New Member

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    Turn 3/Results

    Chakax stood still. His duty of protecting Itza was concluded for the moment, and he had been reassigned to a singular slann until his masters decided he was needed elsewhere. This was optimal - protecting a single entity was far easier than ensuring the absolute security of an entire city. Less variables to account for.

    He had not moved for the past fifty-six days, because he had not needed to. He stood directly in front of the slann Hyp'nonzi's innermost sanctum, gaze fixed unerringly on the stout stone doorway that led into the rest of the mage-priest's chambers. He was aware of absolutely everything within that space, and though there was not much light, not even the slightest flicker of movement would escape him. Dust settled in a thick film over his open eyes, but he did not flinch, nor give any indication that he felt it.

    The slightest disturbance, so insignificant anyone but a Temple Guard would have missed it, drew his attention. He did not move, so as to not alert the intruder that he had noticed their presence. He remained absolutely still, not even his heart beating for several minutes as his statuesque gaze tracked the intruder ever closer to the slann's sanctum. When it was close enough, he struck with such speed that he had attacked thrice before the vacuum of air he had left behind him collapsed inwards, his immense mace causing the air to crack as it casually broke the sound barrier.

    The broken pieces of an alien fly fell twitching to the floor as Chakax resumed his post.

    Nothing could be allowed to intrude upon the slann.

    --------------------​

    The curse shrouds the Communion! These are the only lucid slann this turn:

    3 Third Generation Slann
    6 Fourth Generation Slann
    49 Fifth Generation Slann

    As the Geomantic Web is level 1, you have 4 actions total, one action for each of your temple-cities. Please vote by plan, and indicate which city is performing which action. For further information on the action system, consult the Mechanics threadmark on the front page.

    You have six hero units available: Mazdamundi, Kroq-Gar, Chakax, Teninhuan, Awanabil'tat, and Tiqtak'to. You may assign them to boost a city's action, or take an action independently. Some actions may only be taken by certain hero units.


    ---Actions---​

    Purge the Parasite - The Ayacmanik are a potentially dangerous foe, capable of harnessing the megafauna of the planet and using them against your kind. Their presence cannot be tolerated near the temple-cities, and the saurus live to purge those who would threaten their sacred ground. Muster your armies and march! Effect: Patrol the area of the designated city and destroy any Ayacmanik nests found. Must specify number of units participating in this action. Time: 1 Turn.

    Sniff Them Out - More dangerous than their ability to harness any beast of the jungle is the Ayacmanik's propensity to blend in with their uninfected counterparts if needed. It will be difficult to ensure that they do not set up operations near the temple-cities with you unawares, but lizardmen eyes are sharp. Your scouts will be sent out to find them, wherever they hide. Effect: Attempt to preemptively find existent and developing Ayacmanik colonies in the area of the specified city. Synergistic with Purge the Parasite. Time: 1 Turn. Not Performed: Itza, Hexoatl, Xlanhuapec

    Align Leylines - The Deliverance was an exactingly accurate ritual, and transported the temple-cities to this planet so that they would have immediate access to the geomantic energies running within. But it could not account for everything, and the Web is weaker than it should be, energy bleeding out into the earth where it should be fed back into the mystic architecture. The temple-cities will need to be re-aligned to the leylines to harness the Web's full energy. Effect: Realigns specified city to the planet to more effectively harness the geomantic energy. Upgrades geomantic web to Magnitude 2 if completed for all cities. Time: 1 Turn. Available: Itza, Hexoatl, Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan

    Dinosaur Accommodations - The scaled warbeasts your people use were crammed into the temple-cities before your people evacuated, and are currently in somewhat cramped conditions. Their skink and saurus handlers are quite skilled and will keep them from causing a ruckus, but it is likely the dinosaurs will be unwilling to participate in breeding activities until proper accommodations are built for them. Set the Kroxigor to it. Effects: Constructs living space for all dinosaurs save for Carnosaurs, Dread Saurians, and Coatl in specified city, allowing them to breed. Time: 1 Turn. Needed: Itza, Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan.

    Dinosaur Accommodations, Exotic Edition - There are some breeds of dinosaur that have capabilities beyond the norm. Carnosaurs, perhaps the ultimate in conventional cavalry. Coatl, who warp the land with strange magics. And the fearsome Dread Saurians, the ultimate predator even in this alien death-world. To go with their supreme utility to the lizardmen, each of them have somewhat exotic habitation requirements that need to be satisfied before they will act as they did in Lustria. Effects: Constructs living space for Coatl, Carnosaurs, and Dread Saurians in specified city, allowing them to breed and exercise their capabilities in defense of the city. Requires standard dino pens to have been built. Available: None

    Assign Slann Ruler - With the departure of the elder slaan, many of the temple-cities have been left without a ruling mage-lord. While the slaan in charge of a city typically does not deal with day-to-day matters, having a figure to consult on important issues will aid the skink chieftains in matters of efficiency. Effects: Appoint a slaan to rule over the specified city, granting a minor boost to action power of that city and greatly increasing defense capability if attacked. Unlocks other actions. AN - While the Mind Fog is active the bonus may sporadically vanish as the ruling slaan falls victim to it. I will accept character proposals with this action, with the caveat that while the voted character will be noted they will not become a hero unit (yet).

    Perform Geomantic Ritual - The Geomantic Web is newly established still, but it still houses enough energy to smite stone and reshape the earth. You alone have the capability to wield that power; what you do with it is up to you. Mazdamundi required for this action. The objective of it is subject to write-in - see the front page for examples of use. Additional slaan assignment will boost the speed (and at this magnitude, power) of the resultant ritual, varying depending on the number of mage-priests assigned.

    Awaken Additional Slann - Your brethren sleep, trapped in a cloying fugue of the senses and memory. For any other, it would be impossible to change that fact. But you are Mazdamundi, Lord of the Solar City and heir to incomprehensible arcane might. For a time, you will defy whatever malign entity is behind the curse and rip some of your kin free. Effect: Roll an additional dice in a chosen generation of slaan to attempt to free more from the clutches of the Mind Fog for the turn. If this option wins, a vote will be held to determine where to assign the awakened slann. Mazdamundi is required for this action.

    Transfer Populace - The lizardmen will go where their masters command. If a city is underpopulated, excess population from other cities may be diverted until the spawning pools make up the lack. Effect: Transfer specified amount of lizardmen and/or dinosaurs from one city to another. Does not count towards action total except if transferring very large numbers.

    Found New City - The secrets of the spawning pools have not yielded themselves as of yet, but there is no time to waste. The Web must be expanded, no matter the risk of over-extension. New temple-cities must be founded, and it is the unceasing labor of the lizardmen that will make it so for the first time since the Old Ones walked Mallus. Effect: The specified city founds a new temple-city, locking in its action while it sends workers and materials out to the site of a new city. Spawning pool tech not unlocked, new cities will not increase their own population. New cities will be treated as if they have already been scouted and patrolled. Time: 4 Turns. Each subsequent city action devoted reduces time by 1 turn.

    Improve City - In order to harness greater levels of geomantic power within a city, the entirety of the metropolis must be upgraded. Some of your cities have fallen far from where they once were - bring them back to their former splendor. Effect: Upgrade a city to the next level of geomantic infrastructure. Time: Equivalent to the level being upgraded to - level 1 -> 2 will take 2 turns, etc. Each subsequent action devoted reduces time by 1 turn. Unlocked after all cities are aligned.

    Set Up Fortifications - Patrols have been set up, and the debris of ages past has been cleared from the streets of the temple cities. But there is still more that could be done - fortifications outside of the cities themselves, defensive emplacements in the surrounding jungle, traps and forts to make life hell for intruders. Effect: Sets up mundane (by lizardmen standards) fortifications in the area surrounding the selected temple-city. Time: 1 Turn.

    Exploit the Jungle - This planet is home to a very wide variety of deadly and thus useful creatures. Some of these species may hold potential as warbeasts, if they are captured and trained. Effect: Domesticate a new species of alien beast. Can either search for anything useful, give directions on what capabilities to look for, or suggest species to take (subject to GM vetting). Time: 1-2 Turns, depending on species. Can only be done in Hexoatl.

    ---Research---​

    Dispel Mind Fog - Enough is enough. It is time to rip the veil of sluggishness off of your brother slann. The full might of the Sublime Communion will be needed for the lizardmen to prosper in this new world, and until they are freed you are held back. With what has been learned about the nature of the curse, fully removing has been determined to currently be infeasible. Effect: Break the curse, freeing the slann from the mind fog. Degrees of success possible. Difficulty: Greater than Impossible for fully removing the curse. This may be reduced by increasing the strength of the geomantic web and repeated attempts at this action.

    Examine Mind Fog - Know thy enemy. For all it has enveloped the slann for thousands of years, you still know almost nothing about the Mind Fog, what it is, or how it functions. Without a clear picture of how it effects the minds of the slann, peeling it back from their brains will be a far more difficult task than it otherwise would be. Effect: Learn more about the mind fog. Each successive use of this research reduces the difficulty of Dispel Mind Fog by a variable amount, as well as giving information about its nature. Estimates indicate that 1 more investment of effort comparable to the last two should reveal all usable pieces of information.

    Mind Fog: Alternate Solutions - The revelations into the nature of the mind fog have generated some discourse within the slann - perhaps there are other avenues of getting rid of it other than directly attacking an entity of unknown but considerable strength. The prospect of empowering Sotek to do battle with the creature has been raised, as well as other, more estoeric avenues of action. All that they need is to be investigated. Effect: Investigate the viability of an alternate way of dealing with the mind fog and begin figuring out how to implement it. Directed via write-in, consult with GM prior to inclusion in a plan. Difficulty: Variable.

    Examine Planet - This is an unknown world you have come to, and the slann are no longer occupied with holding back the depredations of Chaos. Some of the younger generations wish to soar above the planet in their astral forms, to inspect every facet of it in order to satisfy their curiosity. You have cataloged the central continent, but there are still the other two to survey. Effect: Learn about the planet. May focus on Northern, Southern, or Central continents. Examining more than one continent at once boosts the difficulty by one step each. Exceeding the minimum requirements will reveal more detailed information. Central continent has been scouted, but further examination may reveal more details. Difficulty: Easy

    Search Relic Vaults - The hidden vaults of the temple-cities contain artifacts of great and terrible power. No living being truly knows the extent of the things found within, but the ancient technology of the Old Ones would surely be of great use if they could be deciphered. Effect: Searches the relic vaults for useful items, all of which are generally examples of tech that has not yet been unlocked. Write-ins are allowed if you wish to search for something specific.

    Consult Relic Priests - The spirits of long-dead slann still cling to their bones in ancient mausoleums held deep in the innermost sanctums of their cities. Lingering near the veil of life and death as they are, their withered spirits are capable of dispensing great wisdom, but they sometimes prove unresponsive for their own reasons. Effect: The Relic Priests may provide advice on a random topic, greatly increasing progress to unlocking or improving it.

    Deific Template - The power to build gods would be an immensely potent ability, but the chain of prophecy the Old Ones wove to create Sotek was complex indeed. It will take time to distill the core elements of the process and figure out what is needed to shape a gestating warp entity according to a coherent design. It promises to be a lengthy process, but the potential rewards are immense. Effect: Design a standardized god creation process. Difficulty: Hard.

    Teach Geomantic Rituals - Once the art of geomancy was held by all of your brethren, but those days are long past. Now you are the only repository of the ancient knowledge required to harness the devastating power of the geomantic web. It is time to do what you have not done for millennia, and spread your teachings. Effect: Spread the knowledge of geomantic rituals to other slaan, eliminating the need for Mazdamundi to conduct every one. Mazdamundi required, obviously. Until the Mind Fog is lifted this action will be unreasonably difficult as the curse wipes the knowledge from the minds of your pupils.

    Examine Spawning Pools - It is truly the greatest of ironies that you possess sufficient cognitive power to dwarf any mortal mind and crush Lords of Change in contests of will, yet you know almost nothing of your origins. The spawning pools in your cities regularly disgorge members of the other three breeds of lizardmen, yet the way they function is still unknown to you, let alone how to construct new ones. This will have to change. Effect: Figure out how to build new spawning pools. Difficulty: Absurd. Approximately 1/15 progress made according to estimates

    Examine Tablets of the Old Ones - Until you find a way back to Mallus, the ancient Plan of your creators will have to be ... put on hold. But that does not mean that the wisdom they left behind on their golden tablets is now useless - the development of your people was ordained upon them. With study, you may be able to reclaim some of the glory you have lost. Effect: Unlock various sections of your tech tree. What you look for should be discussed with the GM. Some examples: Forging Districts, Sacred Sites, Level 4 Infrastructure. Difficulty: Varies on the topic, inquire with GM.

    Know Thy Enemy - The Ayacmanik's capabilities have been exhaustively pored over by your saurus oldbloods, but little is known of them as a species. How do they communicate? What is the nature of their coordination? How extensive is the infiltration of their host? These and many more questions must be answered if they are to be effectively fought. While research has revealed most notable facts about them, the slann believe there is more to uncover about the creatures. Effect: Learn more about the Ayacmanik, increasing military effectiveness against them and discovering any remaining secrets they have. Difficulty: Hard.

    Ascertain Their Usefulness - Some have suggested that the Ayacmanik may be able to be dealt with in some way that does not involve extermination - perhaps there is a way to raise their collective to sapience without sacrificing lizardmen hosts, or subdue the species to use their coordinative capabilities. This may bear investigating. Effect: Investigate the viability of communication with the Ayacmanik. The direction taken may be directed with a write-in, subject to GM vetting. Difficulty: Hard.

    --------------------------------------

    Dinosaur Accommodations: Itza
    Dinosaur Accommodations, Exotic Edition: Itza: 5 Fifth Generation Slann


    Carnosaurs were beings of immense power and utility to the lizardmen for many reasons, most of them obvious. Their great size and speed, their stone-tough scales, and their razor-sharp fangs all rendered them unparalleled super-heavy cavalry. But what truly set them aside was not any of their physical capabilities, but their fiendish intelligence.

    Carnosaurs lived a long time, possessed crude opposable thumbs, and in most cases were trained by their saurus handlers specifically for their role in war. When a carnosaur and its rider engaged in battle, it was not merely as a beast and its rider, but as two warriors who knew and trusted each other wholly.

    Therein came the difficulty with housing them, for a carnosaur could not simply be given space to live in like other dinosaurs. It required interaction to stimulate its intellect, socialization with others of its kind, frequent exposure to its rider to properly build a bond. This made the task of constructing habitation for them somewhat more complicated, however the lizardmen had accrued significant experience with it.

    A swathe of land was designated just south of Itza, and its resident predators cleared out via liberal application of carnosaurs. Following close on their heels was a veritable host of kroxigor builders, saurus experts, and skink managers that swiftly set up outposts dotted throughout the area, squat bunkers for the saurus handlers to live in during the scant hours they would not spend with their carnosaurs. Once that was done, they began their real work, constructing complex training fields for both carnosaur and rider. Their designs were many and varied, featuring race courses riddled with traps requiring coordination between rider and mount to avoid, stone arenas of varying sizes where individual or teams of carnosaurs and their riders could spar against each other, their claws and fangs fitted with guards, and a variety of others, focusing on preparing carnosaur teams for the carnage they would inevitably thrown into. The slann aided as well, weaving a space-warping enchantment over part of the habitat that when entered led to a strange layered sub-realm where simple spiritual constructs attacked the interlopers. It was not a full substitute for true daemonic combat, but it taught the principles of combat against aetheric entities that later experience would build off of.

    The carnosaurs moved into their home quickly, their handlers spending nearly all their time with the beasts as they shepherded them through a complex schedule of training, communal hunting, and learning exercises to properly maintain such valuable beasts of war.

    Habitats for all the dinosaurs of Itza have been constructed. Population growth will begin next turn.

    Sniff Them Out: Itza with Kroq-Gar, Hexoatl with Teninhuan and Chakax, Xlanhuapec with Tiqtak'to, 6 Fifth Generation Slann

    Searching for hidden Ayacmanik, as most small colonies were while they were still building up sufficient numbers to stand on their own, was a difficult endeavor at the best of times - the creatures were, after all, superficially indistinguishable from any other member of their host species, and still possessed their instincts and memories to fall back upon.

    Often if a threat the colony was not prepared to face passed by, the various Ayacmanik would camouflage themselves as ordinary animals, milling about aimlessly in what would appear to be an abandoned colony. Sometimes they would even have their predator forms hunt and kill a prey form or two to keep up the facade until the threat had passed.

    Nevertheless, locating nests of the creatures was becoming easier for the lizardmen the longer they inhabited the planet. As more and more of the native flora and fauna were cataloged by the skinks and their typical behavior patterns noted, subtle discrepancies between the base animal and an Ayacmanik became more and more apparent, differences that no sub-sapient creature could have ever noticed. The appearance of the tracks of certain skittish prey animals on trails they normally would never be seen on, a strange abundance of certain non-hostile plant species that needed to be cultivated to prevent their consumption by the jungle, the grouping of predator animals that normally would not tolerate seeing another of their species within ten miles. Things the Ayacmanik could obscure, but not conceal completely from prying eyes.

    Thus did the lizardmen send their eyes and ears into the jungle, to ascertain the full degree of the creatures' spread. The entirety of the remaining chameleon skink breed vanished into the foliage for weeks at a time, gathering information with their peerless camouflage and killing anything that discovered them with daggers and darts tipped with venom from their own mouths. They returned to their masters without disturbing so much as a leaf and relayed what they had seen, and were sent out again, often at the head of teams of their ordinary brethren.

    Kroq-Gar took a tight grasp of the forces available to him at Itza and covered the area around the city swiftly and efficiently, supplementing skink scouting forces with Cold One and Horned One riders to let them move about the jungle more swiftly. Carnosaur riders under his command, aided by the newly-constructed habitat letting him more efficiently rotate out injured or weary beasts, spearheaded long dives into the deepest parts of the foliage, where the greenery was packed so densely as to make solid walls in some places and the very ground, interwoven by flexible root networks, attempted to trip and snare the unwary. For whatever reason, they found little sign of the Ayacmanik around Itza.

    In Hexotal, Teninhuan and Chakax took dual rein of the scouting efforts, synchronizing their activities with each other in the way only long-time servants could - for while Chakax served and protected the slann and the cities they resided in, Teninhuan served Sotek and protected his interests. Though they walked very different paths in life, the skink and saurus could discern that similarity in their respective purposes.

    Chakax headed the majority of the forces, sweeping outward from Hexoatl's walls in the same methodical, scrutinizing manner he had conducted previously at the First City. Unnecessary plant life was cut down with saurus axes and burned with salamander fire. Kroxigor were brought in to clear major obstructions, and skinks filled in the gaps, coordinating back and forth to keep everything running smoothly.

    Teninhuan, on the other hand, took many of his cultists deep into the jungle, scouting out ahead of Chakax's slow approach with the swiftness and ferocity their god had given them. Great swarms of snakes of all colors followed them as they made their way through the alien jungle, and led them to suspicious sites with supernatural accuracy. The Ayacmanik were plentiful around Hexoatl, not overly so but enough that it was not difficult to stumble across a colony if one was not careful.

    Lastly was Xlanhuapec, where Tiktaq'to was given command under six of the 5th generation of slann, the mage-priests following an ethereal hunch of sorts that they would be most needed in the City of the Moon. And well it was that they had heeded those omens, for the Ayacmanik were soon found around Xlanhuapec, and not for the exceptional discernment of their search.

    Tiktaq'to headed one great flight of Terradons and Ripperdactyls, and split the remaining airborne forces under his command into six segments, each headed by a trusted subordinate and the astral form of one of the slann. They scouted the skies around Xlanhuapec with the swiftness only those on the wing could muster, and soon found that they would not have to move to the ground to examine potential congregation spots for the creatures - the Ayacmanik were everywhere. Many small colonies were dotted thickly around the city limits, but as the jungle grew deeper, the colonies grew bigger and the Ayacmanik activity around them more concentrated. Many of the larger colonies had reached the point where they had established underground tunnels hiding the majority of their activity from the surface, but drawing from prior experience and the prevalence of the creatures, Tiktaq'to was soon able to draw a somewhat accurate figure of the Ayacmanik concentration around Xlanhuapec.

    Ayacmanik presence sniffed out! Concentration around each of the cities is as follows:
    - Itza: Tiny
    - Hexoatl: Moderate
    - Xlanhuapec: Large


    41 Saurus
    109 Skinks
    30 Kroxigor
    1 Stegadon
    148 Terradons
    72 Ripperdactyls
    47 Salamanders
    34 Razordons
    182 Cold Ones
    14 Horned Ones
    2 Troglodons
    124 Saurus
    306 Skinks
    44 Kroxigor
    19 Bastiladons
    30 Stegadons
    165 Terradons
    93 Ripperdactyls
    53 Salamanders
    52 Razordons
    289 Cold Ones
    77 Horned Ones
    14 Carnosaurs
    8 Troglodons
    83 Saurus
    642 Skinks
    21 Kroxigor
    48 Bastiladons
    53 Stegadons
    642 Terradons
    231 Ripperdactyls
    27 Salamanders
    29 Razordons
    106 Cold Ones

    Align Cities: Hexoatl, Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtla, Awanabil'tat at Itza

    Precision. Efficiency. Consistency. Stability.

    All hallmarks of lizardmen magic and engineering. The principles crucial to the proper functioning of the geomantic web. It was unlike any other spell or enchantment in existence, for it was not a forcible alteration of the natural order like most spells, or a forcible sundering of the barrier between the material world and the warp akin to daemon summoning, or even an artificially induced reversal of the inherently imbalanced homeostasis between physics and cognition-driven principles as the Vortex of Ulthuan had achieved, preventing the conceptually infinite depths of the warp from flooding into and overtaking the limited reality of Mallus. Instead it was a category of spellwork that worked seamlessly with both the material and spiritual realms, blending properties of both to impose onto each other. The Materium's ironclad principle of cause and effect was used to channel the Immaterium's tendency for metaphysical feedback loops into a more reliable and controllable format, and the Immaterium's infinitude of potential and energy was in turn infused into the closed-circuit loop that was the Materium's physical laws, allowing for repeated and sustained feats of creation and innovation blending both the Warp and the physical realm that would be abjectly impossible otherwise due to the outrageous amounts of energy required to enact such effects for even a short amount of time, much less permanently.

    In other words, it exploited both physical and spiritual laws to harness energy from both realms and enhance them in a complex manner to create an endless source of power, which was then automatically dispensed via the geomantic architecture into enhancing and re-enforcing the very architecture it had sprung from in the first place. The warp nearby was calmed, its unpredictable surges of power siphoned off into stable power sources for lizardmen mages to call upon. Inbuilt wards against the daemonic and corrupt stuff of Chaos shone brightly in the innate architecture of the Web, growing stronger as it channeled more energy and making it more and more difficult for daemons, cultists, and even otherwise ordinary hostile mages to do anything in the Web's sphere of influence.

    But to accomplish any of this the Web required precise placement in mystically receptive locations with the correct structures imbued with the correct magics. The slightest misalignment would lead to energy leaking out of the system and dissipating back into the Warp, leading to a significant reduction in overall output.

    As it stood, that was the state the Web was in - like honey poured into a set of gears, the relatively minor initial 'gaps' in the system would eventually lead to the whole system running more slowly.

    In short, this was the situation that the lizardmen under Awanabil'tat were tasked with dealing with. The Deliverance had accounted for everything possible at the time, but interdimensionally teleporting several cities full of geomantic architecture and the souls within them in such a way that they could immediately tap into the mystical energies of their destination was a task impossible for all but the slann in the first place, and given the exceptional circumstances it was perhaps understandable that their spell had not accurately brought them to within the nth degree. The slann had ensured their safe arrival in their new home, and it now fell to their skink underlings to take care of the details.

    As was his right and responsibility as the eldest and most skilled skink architect in the empire, Awanabil'tat took Itza's realignment as his task, while several of his most skilled subordinates and priests of Azyr handled the other temple-cities. They pored over every structure, every avenue, every brick in the cities with an immovably meticulous eye for detail, drawing up maps and charts from their findings that were accurate down to the millimeter and comparing them to past records of the cities to ensure that everything was as it should be. At the same time, the skink priests used their sense of the flow of the ethereal to map out the current extent and branching paths of geomantic power through the cities, and overlaid these findings atop the mundane maps of the cities that had been drawn up. Awanabil'tat and his closest acolytes spent almost a year studying these maps, examining every facet of them to find the holes in the web of magic that bound their cities together.

    After much study and deliberation, the flaws in the placement of the cities had been found. They were, to a one, ultimately minuscule things that had caused the misalignment - Tlaxtlan and Xlanhuapec had been damaged during the transition to the extent that their architecture had not been powerful enough to fully snag the leylines that flowed through them, resulting in an underflow of power even though their placement was correct. This was simple to correct, though it did take some time - while all the priests of Azyr in those cities pooled their power in imitation of their slann masters and did their best to guide the wayward leylines into proper alignment, the work forces of both cities went outside the walls and began to dig the earth up. They dug trenches miles long, laying slabs of stone shaped to fit behind them. The design was coordinated with the aid of Terradon riders, the jungle around the designated area burned back with Salamander fire and later fought back with the aid of Stegadons when a group of particularly motile plants that resembled gigantic blue balls of twine extending out from a central core attempted to move into the newly-empty space.

    The work proceeded thusly for many years, both cities devoting significant effort into protecting the construction teams as they plunged deeper and deeper into the jungles making their paths, and combating ever-stranger creatures. Translucent membranes that draped themselves from trees and glistened with what resembled dew, but was actually an incredibly sticky and potent neurotoxin, which would paralyze any creature that wandered into the web-creature and allow it to wrap them up in itself and digest them, hyper-territorial balls of flesh and teeth that concealed themselves on the jungle floor and swarmed any creature that disturbed the area with the vibrations of their movement, and a hundred other species were pushed out of their habitats so the lizardmen's designs could be completed.

    At last they were complete - while the full scope of the designs could only be seen from the air, the immense runes the lizardmen had carved into the earth and assembled with stone were by any means impressive constructions, ten grand symbols inscribed circling each city, one for each of the ten Old Ones who were remembered. The Eye of Tepok, Fang of Itzl, Spear of Tlanxtla, Flame of Chotec and more were laid out in spectacular fashion around Tlaxtlan and Xlanhuapec. There had not been reason to create inscriptions like these for thousands of years, but their function had not been forgotten. The cabals of skink priests found their efforts to rein the wayward leylines in significantly aided by the presence of the miles-long Sigils of the Old Ones, their ancient structure rendering the flow of the planet's energy more malleable to the skinks' collective grasp through principles as ancient as the beings the sigils represented.

    Over the course of five years, the errant leylines were slowly brought back into proper alignment, mystical rivers redirected by the painstaking effort of those who could perceive them.

    As their cities were gradually able to harness more and more of the energy being channeled through their stones and into their walls and temples, the work became easier and easier, the networks of temples and spires drawing in the rivers of energy with greater and greater force, until at last the leylines snapped back into place and the stones lit up for a brief moment as energy surged through them. Lizardmen heads snapped to attention as the transition completed, eyes widening and scales shivering. It quickly faded, but the feeling of geomantic energy rushing through their limbs was not something easily forgotten.

    Hexoatl, meanwhile, had retained enough obsinite obelisks and glowing crystals at the peaks of ziggurats to properly snare the leyline that flowed through it. The fighting in the City of the Sun during the Evacuation had been among the fiercest assaults on the lizardmen's strongholds, however, with many skaven armies attempting to tunnel beneath the city's walls and up into its streets. Many and varied had been the assaults carried out in such a manner, but even those who succeeded, drilling up through the flagstones with rumbling drills and glowing technomagical devices, did not live very long to regret it.

    ----------​

    The skies above Hexoatl glowed a dull green from Morrslieb's radiance coursing down between the cracks of a wall of dark clouds. There was no sign of the sun, and the primary illumination upon the city was the glow of warpstone ammunition from the army assaulting its walls. The skaven legion surrounded Hexoatl with ten times the number of lizardmen in the Solar City, and it was still not enough. Fell artillery blazed day and night, more bullets were loosed in a day than there were people in the Empire, and monstrous beasts bred in tunnels deep under the earth threw themselves at the black walls by the hundreds, then thousands, but still the lizardmen held, holding off ceaseless assault after assault. But unlike before, this was merely a distraction. The commander of the ratmen had seen that trying to overwhelm the lizardmen with sheer numbers was not a viable strategy; instead he would send a small legion of his best soldiers armed with high-yield warpstone explosives underneath the city while the lizardmen defenders were occupied. They would emerge within the city and blast a hole in the walls, allowing the rest of his army within to claim victory for the Under-Empire!

    The thousands of skaven elite were ferried into the city within the metal bellies of massive beasts with rotating drills for heads. With the shriek of metal and crumbling of stone, they erupted from the ground all over Hexoatl and immediately began to lay waste to everything around them as skaven poured out of portholes in their sides and the scrabbling of slave legions running up the tunnels the beasts had left behind them echoed out into the night. They were met immediately by the lizardmen, packed more densely in defense of Hexoatl than they had been for a long, long time. The commandos were cut down with savage ease by hordes of elite saurus, and a cohort of skink priests tore thirteen comets out of the heavens and down onto the heads of the drillfiends. In twelve of the emergence sites, the saurus held the hordes of slave skaven following on the heels of the assault back while teams of kroxigor hauled blocks of stone to plug the holes. The slaves fled, those with any bravery among them slaughtered by saurus or crushed by boulders.

    Those in the thirteenth site faced a more unfortunate fate.

    It was dark in the tunnel even for their darkvision, and the transition to the comparative brightness of Hexoatl's scarred skies had many of the slaves cringing. But on they came, a wall of rat flesh that possessed a momentum of its own that would crush any who dared to stop. Those unlucky enough to be in the front ranks were flattened against a wall of saurus shields, set as immovably as the mountains. Those behind them scrabbled at the scales of the saurus in a blind panic, seeking an escape from the fright they had found themselves in. They were granted it with impalement upon jagged halberds and decapitation. So it was that only the third wave of slaves that saw their true doom, towering over the heads of the saurus that held their boundless numbers back.

    He was taller than most kroxigor, broader in the chest and arm. His scales were a deep blue, so dark they were almost black, and he bore twin red fang-shaped marks across the top of his head and down over his yellow eyes. He carried twin swords as long as a saurus was tall, and his eyes flashed with brutal fervor as he ran towards the skaven mass.

    "Hearts," roared Ah'my'tai as he charged forth. "Hearts for Sotek!"

    The saurus parted to let the blessed kroxigor through, and the skaven shrank back as he crashed into them, shearing bodies and pulping flesh with the sheer force of his blows, any return strikes bouncing uselessly off his stone-hard scales. They fled back into the tunnel, but he pursued them even there, his blades flashing and teeth rending as he marched down into the earth, leaving a trail of blood and bodies behind him.


    ----------​

    Regardless of the thoroughness of their extermination the skaven had left traces of their taint underground. Warpstone-infused equipment, the remains of mutated monsters, their own innately-tainted bodies, all were brought along with Hexoatl. Their presence posed no future danger, but the warped magic in their remains was subtly diverting the flow of the leyline underneath Hexoatl. Thus tunnels were bored beneath the city and the remains of the skaven were extracted, piled up in the central plaza of the city, and burned until only white ash remained. Once the last of the skaven corpses was permanently gone, the natural flow of the leyline reasserted itself, momentarily brightening the natural glow of the Solar City before it faded once more.

    Itza, meanwhile, had a comparatively simple issue that Awanabil'tat had fully discerned after two years of study. But while the problem itself was a simple one, any viable solution to it was by nature most complex. Itza, by virtue of being the focal point of and source of most of the power for the Ritual of Evacuation, had missed the mark of the leyline it now stood over by a full five centimeters - in terms of correcting the course of a mystical flow of energy running through a planet, it may as well have been a mile. Even for geomantic architecture as powerful and complex as that of the First City, pulling in the wayward leyline was not an option. Awanabil'tat and a council of skink priests and architects, some kroxigor among them, debated and discussed alternate solutions for the better part of a year before the plan that was perhaps both the simplest and most complex was agreed on.

    If they could not move the leyline to Itza, they would move Itza to the leyline.

    Thus began the process of taking apart the entirety of the First City and rebuilding it five centimeters to the right - an effort-intensive process to be sure, but one likely only doable by builders as exact as the lizardmen. Their immortal lifespans and specialized purposes from individual to individual ensured that many of the lizardmen who had constructed a fair portion of the buildings in Itza - save for the older sections - were still alive and remembered how to rebuild them in exactly the same condition.

    So Itza's workforce was mustered, veritable legions of kroxigor, skinks, and even saurus marching out to the great walls of Itza which had not been breached in the entirety of its existence, and in sections tearing it down. Saurus presence around the work sites was so thick the soldiers were practically standing shoulder to shoulder as they guarded the temporary breaches. For their part, the kroxigor worked incredibly swiftly, stacking stone blocks on top of each other in the precise alignment needed for their enchantments to function, completing entire sections of wall in mere days. Skinks scuttled between them, ensuring everything was functioning properly, assigning crews on rotation so the work never ceased for even an instant, and keeping the flow of workers to and from the areas of construction neat and smooth. They all operated like parts of a machine, knowing by instinct how to work best with each other to get their task done.

    Block after block, building after building, the lizardmen moved inward from Itza's great wall once they had successfully shifted it, taking apart each building and meticulously reconstructing it that short distance to the side. Every variable had to be accounted for in order to preserve Itza's geomantic flow, something Awanabil'tat and his assistants were very intent on doing. Fortunately, even with delicate structures such as the array of obsinite pylons raised throughout the city, there were ways of shifting their positions without disrupting the Web. Awanabil'tat coordinated the simultaneous movement of every single pylon, ensuring that they were moved exactly in sync with each other so that their alignment was not disrupted in the relocation process.

    Indeed, the most difficulty was found not in the complex task of administrating the reconstruction of entire districts, but in relocating the unfathomably ancient relic vaults, pyramids, and spawning pools in the center of Itza - the structures that had justifiably held the claim as being the oldest standing structures upon the entirety of Mallus. Some of them had been built by the hands of the Old Ones themselves - even journeying to structures such as these was not something done lightly, there was absolutely no consideration of deconstructing them, even temporarily.

    Fortunately, even here the wisdom of the eldest lizardmen prevailed. Awanabil'tat and a gathering of some of the eldest skink priests ventured into one structure after another, and using Awanabil'tat's sense for the flow of magical energies, discerned the hidden nodes of magical control within the structures that ordinarily only a slann would grasp. The priests took hold of these, and over the course of many strenuous efforts taking place over the course of years, induced the innate magical makeup of the elder structures themselves to move the requisite distance. Even that small task was by far the most complex thing Awanabil'tat had ever accomplished - so many magical and mundane variables had to be accounted for over the course of each exertion that he arguably exerted his mind more than the mages did.

    It took the entirety of the decade to complete the reconstruction, but at last it was completed. The last stone was laid in place as the final block of obsinite to complete a pyramid belonging to a slann of the fourth generation. With that stone, the last piece of resistance the leyline had exerted against Itza's architecture crumbled, and everything snapped into place.

    The immaterium around the temple cities shuddered as the bottleneck of geomantic energy was abruptly corrected, the Web at long last spooling up to optimal performance. The lizardmen roared on instinct as it bolstered their souls and bodies, a surge of energy entering them that would never leave within the Web's influence. The pace of work intensified across the empire, each lizardman capable of going longer without having to stop for sustenance, working harder without growing weary. The well of power all lizardmen magic users drew upon grew deeper, allowing more liberal use of magic without having to take into account the unpredictability of the raw Warp. The wards built into every facet of the temple-cities shone brighter in the sea of souls, providing both a blazing deterrent for any spiritual predators or entities not keyed to the Web from approaching, but also tamping down on the efforts of any enemies to breach the veil and summon daemons or call upon hostile magic within a temple-city. Within their star chambers, the consciousnesses of many slann rose a fraction higher from their cloying slumber as the Web buoyed their spirits. Black obelisks and dormant spheres of stone were cut through with searing arcs of light, illuminating glyphs and sigils that had lain dormant previously.

    Perhaps most importantly, in the center of every city, the complexes of spawning pools began to shine and glow more luminously as they absorbed the increased flow of geomantic energy. The rate at which new lizardmen were birthed would soon be doubled.

    All cities aligned! Geomantic Web has increased to Magnitude 2! Each generation of slann has gained a 5% reduction to the rate of falling victim to the Mind Fog. See front page for totality of changes. Benefits including spawning increases will manifest next turn onward.

    Examine Spawning Pools: Mazdamundi, 3 Third Generation Slann, 6 Fourth Generation Slann, 38 Fifth Generation Slann

    The spawning pools glowed a luminous turquoise, brightening their cavern with a soft, steady light. The air hung thickly with moisture and moved in slow currents like the movement of rivers deep underground. The pools themselves were completely still, their surface so flat that it had a glossy, porcelain-like sheen to it. The whole area was tumescent with a sense of ineffable energies building, a concentration of power that was like an immense pressure upon the brain.

    Time passed. The energies built and built, until at last the surface of the pools disturbed themselves, roiling and churning spontaneously as their glow reached a peak. Then it was over, as dark shapes crowded the glowing pool and the waters abruptly stilled themselves. Skinks began to step out of the myriad pools, the surface of the water remaining undisturbed by their exit even as hundreds of skinks began to file out of the pools, shaking themselves off as they looked around the cavern. Soon the cavern was filled with an immense crowd of skinks, milling about and filling the air with their chatter as they talked to each other, themselves, and the air.

    Abruptly their attention was drawn by the authoritative barking of a skink chieftain standing at the top of the stairs leading out of the cavern. Wearing a feathered headdress and standing taller than any other skink in the cavern, the chieftain spoke with a tone of authority that instantly captured the attention of the newly-spawned skinks. They obediently followed its directions and coursed out of the cavern, ready to be assigned to their tasks.

    Observing all this in astral form, the collective of slann broke into groups, each focusing on and discussing a different facet of events. Mazdamundi floated as the sole lone mage-lord, gazing inscrutably at the calm depths of the spawning pools, thoughts drifting through his mind like bubbles of gas rising up from the deep ocean.

    After reviewing the findings of their initial examination of the pools, Mazdamundi had decreed gaining understanding of their workings as a topic of utmost importance to the Sublime Communion - without new spawning pools, they would never be able to safely expand the Geomantic Web to the heights it had once held. His announcement drew the majority of his conscious kin, and together they had spent much time examining the pools, primarily those in Hexoatl due to the necessary restructuring of Itza. Their skilled eyes looked over every angle, facet, and crevice of the pools, and combined with the previous investigation's data, came to some useful conclusions.

    The spawning pools themselves had been constructed to tap into the geomantic web, their shape and placement engineered to benefit from a large portion of the power running through the cities. The water in them did not possess any particularly special properties beyond being free of detritus and impurities, very possibly to serve as a better medium for channeling magic. For built into the pools themselves was a large assortment of mystic glyphs and runes, covering the entirety of the walls and floor of the pools. Each caste's pool had a slightly different enchantment inscribed, but they all seemed to serve the same purpose.

    Geomantic power was built up inside the self-contained system of each pool, and when it reached a predetermined peak, the glyphs activated and cast a spell of great complexity, forming an automated spellcasting system. The more power that the geomantic web could provide the spawning pools, the faster the pool's spell would cast, ensuring increased spawning speed.

    What was initially unclear to the slann, however, was what exactly the purpose of the spell encrypted within the sigils was.

    Through repeated observation, Mazdamundi pieced together the necessary harmonization of differing magical strands to successfully cast the enchantment, but when he, or indeed any of the slann with him, did so, there was seemingly no result. Reasoning that instead of being cast independently, the pools may be a necessary component of the spell, they gathered water from a stream outside of the city, hesitant to disturb the spawning pools themselves, and cast the spell on it as a group. The result was a churning pool of bloody froth and malformed flesh that subsided after several minutes, leaving the barely-recognizable forms of half-shaped saurus floating in the impromptu pool. The slann , after thoroughly examining the results, determined that impurities in the water was what had caused the malformation, which both explained the uncommon purity of the water in the spawning pools and implied some intriguing things about the purpose of the spell, something that necessitated more study of the spawning process in order to decipher it.

    So the slann did study for the course of several more years, examining every spawning in as much detail as was possible, even going so far on occasion as to observe them personally, causing a multitude of instances where the newly spawned lizardmen were delayed in exiting the spawning cavern due to displaying excessive amounts of caution in maneuvering around the slann and their hair-trigger temple guard.

    Until at last, their incessant observation paid off, as Mazdamundi was able to take their collective memories and use them as a basis for a magical simulation of a spawning, a hologram formed purely from his thoughts. He gathered his students to his side within his expansive personal quarters in Hexoatl and cast the illusion around him, the surroundings dissolving into that of a spawning pool.

    "Watch," he intoned, and waved a hand, speeding up the passing of time within the illusion until the spawning pool was on the precipice of spawning. Mazdamundi slowed the playback to a crawl here, and directed the slann's attention to the surface of the pool itself. When the glyphs began to glow, the surface of the water began to undulate in strange patterns that were obviously magically significant to the eyes of the slann, only noticeable at this level of detail. The illusion proceeded onwards, and the water itself began to glow, but clearly out of sync with the casting time for the spell contained within the glyphs. That was the missing link.

    The glyphs were not casting the spell that caused the lizardmen to spawn - the spell they cast caused the water of the pools to form itself into the appropriate configuration to cast the actual, far more complex, enchantment that induced a spawning.

    With this realization attained, the slann were able to conduct their investigation with a much clearer eye of what they were searching for. Through further examination of the glyphs and extensive inspection of the complex 3-dimensional forms the water arranged itself into, they discovered that the pools did not actually cast the same spell for each spawning - instead, the glyphs possessed a variety of enchantments that would give rise to differing varieties of lizardmen. There was one 'base' spell for skinks, saurus, and kroxigors, and a number of minutely dissimilar variants that spawned skink priests, specialized saurus, and blessed spawnings of all sorts. In turn, the actual spawning spell the water cast was subtly different each time due to the random arrangement of water molecules in the pools, ensuring that each lizardmen spawning and even each individual lizardman was subtly different from the next, allowing for the diversity in personality and proclivities among individuals.

    Spurred by these discoveries, they even examined the long-dormant slann spawning pools, and found themselves stymied, as the glyphs present there were orders of magnitude more complex and intricate than those of the other breeds. Discovering a way to produce more of their kin would have to wait until another day.

    Mazdamundi ended the decade content - they had not fully deciphered the precise placement of all the glyph-spells, something that would be needed to properly construct new spawning pools, but the concept and workings behind them were now understood. With that in their grasp, it was only a matter of time before lizardmen were birthed in new temple-cities once more.

    Spawning pool research approximately 70% complete.

    Spawning pools are essentially magical 3-D printers, engraved with magical glyphs tuned into the geomantic web and set to cast whenever sufficient energy has accumulated, hence why greater Web magnitudes cause additional spawning. They do not cause the spawnings themselves, however - instead they cause the water of the pools to form a far more complex configuration with semi-randomized components that creates the lizardmen spawnings. There is one category of spell for each lizardman caste, with subtle differences in the glyph-spells responsible for the specialized breeds like skink priests or blessed spawnings. The spawning enchantment for slann has been found to be orders of magnitude more complex than the others, and is suspected to need other conditions fulfilled before it will work properly.

    -----

    Itza population growth: 25,000 Saurus, 50,000 Skinks, 5,000 Kroxigor
    Hexoatl population growth: 15,000 Saurus, 30,000 Skinks, 3,000 Kroxigor
    Xlanhuapec population growth: 10,000 Saurus, 20,000 Skinks, 2,000 Kroxigor
    Tlaxtlan population growth: 10,000 Saurus, 20,000 Skinks, 2,000 Kroxigor
    Hexoatl dinosaur population growth: 672 Bastiladons, 751 Stegadons, 7,499 Terradons, 2,014 Ripperdactyls, 193 Salamanders, 213 Razordons, 11,471 Cold Ones, 848 Horned Ones, 26 Carnosaurs, 12 Troglodons.
     
  11. Xantalos
    Skink

    Xantalos New Member

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    Turn 4/Results

    The sky was overcast over the temple-cities, a blanket of grey clouds stretching for miles. In places they darkened to great patches of near-black, wind currents piling clouds on top of each other into great conglomerations swollen with moisture. Static friction buzzed within them, saturating the air with the anticipatory tension that comes before a storm. The wind picked up, whistling through the streets of Xlanhuapec, and the skink sentries atop the outer wall and in the surrounding jungle noted an unusual frequency of Ayacmanik movement, heading east, away from the city. The oversoul of the creatures appeared to be directing a substantial portion of its host bodies in the area away, though the reason for such an act remained unclear.

    Ayacmanik concentration around Xlanhuapec has reduced from Large to Small-Moderate!

    --------------------​

    The time has come for the lizardmen's home to gain a name! Choose from these options, majority vote wins. This vote is seperate from the usual plan votes.

    [] Tlaloc
    - The name of an Aztec god of rain, appropriate to the faction theme.

    [X] Mochantia
    - Literally means 'place we live at', which is both hilarious and fitting.

    [] Tochan
    - Means 'our house', for the same justification as above.

    [] Ilhuicatl
    - Means 'at/in heaven', appropriate considering it being a planet and all.

    [] Ixalan
    - Magic: The Gathering reference, also cool to say.

    [] Sanctum
    - There were a fair amount of suggestions like Citadel or Haven, which basically amounted to 'a protected place'. This follows that general theme.

    --------------------​

    The curse shrouds the Communion! These are the only lucid slann this turn:

    1 Third Generation Slann
    22 Fourth Generation Slann
    115 Fifth Generation Slann

    As the Geomantic Web is level 2, you have 8 actions total, two actions for each of your temple-cities. Please vote by plan, and indicate which city is performing which action. For further information on the action system, consult the Mechanics threadmark on the front page.

    You have six hero units available: Mazdamundi, Kroq-Gar, Chakax, Teninhuan, Awanabil'tat, and Tiqtak'to. You may assign them to boost a city's action, or take an action independently. Some actions may only be taken by certain hero units.


    ---Actions---​

    Purge the Parasite - The Ayacmanik are a potentially dangerous foe, capable of harnessing the megafauna of the planet and using them against your kind. Their presence cannot be tolerated near the temple-cities, and the saurus live to purge those who would threaten their sacred ground. Muster your armies and march! Effect: Patrol the area of the designated city and destroy any Ayacmanik nests found. Must specify number of units participating in this action. Time: 1 Turn.

    Dinosaur Accommodations - The scaled warbeasts your people use were crammed into the temple-cities before your people evacuated, and are currently in somewhat cramped conditions. Their skink and saurus handlers are quite skilled and will keep them from causing a ruckus, but it is likely the dinosaurs will be unwilling to participate in breeding activities until proper accommodations are built for them. Set the Kroxigor to it. Effects: Constructs living space for all dinosaurs save for Carnosaurs, Dread Saurians, and Coatl in specified city, allowing them to breed. Time: 1 Turn. Needed: Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan.

    Dinosaur Accommodations, Exotic Edition - There are some breeds of dinosaur that have capabilities beyond the norm. Carnosaurs, perhaps the ultimate in conventional cavalry. Coatl, who warp the land with strange magics. And the fearsome Dread Saurians, the ultimate predator even in this alien death-world. To go with their supreme utility to the lizardmen, each of them have somewhat exotic habitation requirements that need to be satisfied before they will act as they did in Lustria. Effects: Constructs living space for Coatl, Carnosaurs, and Dread Saurians in specified city, allowing them to breed and exercise their capabilities in defense of the city. Requires standard dino pens to have been built. Available: None

    Assign Slann Ruler - With the departure of the elder slaan, many of the temple-cities have been left without a ruling mage-lord. While the slaan in charge of a city typically does not deal with day-to-day matters, having a figure to consult on important issues will aid the skink chieftains in matters of efficiency. Effects: Appoint a slaan to rule over the specified city, granting a minor boost to action power of that city and greatly increasing defense capability if attacked. Unlocks other actions. AN - While the Mind Fog is active the bonus may sporadically vanish as the ruling slaan falls victim to it. I will accept character proposals with this action, with the caveat that while the voted character will be noted they will not become a hero unit (yet).

    Perform Geomantic Ritual - The Geomantic Web is newly established still, but it still houses enough energy to smite stone and reshape the earth. You alone have the capability to wield that power; what you do with it is up to you. Mazdamundi required for this action. The objective of it is subject to write-in - see the front page for examples of use. Additional slaan assignment will boost the speed (and at this magnitude, power) of the resultant ritual, varying depending on the number of mage-priests assigned.

    Awaken Additional Slann - Your brethren sleep, trapped in a cloying fugue of the senses and memory. For any other, it would be impossible to change that fact. But you are Mazdamundi, Lord of the Solar City and heir to incomprehensible arcane might. For a time, you will defy whatever malign entity is behind the curse and rip some of your kin free. Effect: Roll an additional dice in a chosen generation of slaan to attempt to free more from the clutches of the Mind Fog for the turn. If this option wins, a vote will be held to determine where to assign the awakened slann. Mazdamundi is required for this action.

    Transfer Populace - The lizardmen will go where their masters command. If a city is underpopulated, excess population from other cities may be diverted until the spawning pools make up the lack. Effect: Transfer specified amount of lizardmen and/or dinosaurs from one city to another. Does not count towards action total except if transferring very large numbers.

    Found New City - The secrets of the spawning pools have not yielded themselves as of yet, but there is no time to waste. The Web must be expanded, no matter the risk of over-extension. New temple-cities must be founded, and it is the unceasing labor of the lizardmen that will make it so for the first time since the Old Ones walked Mallus. Effect: The specified city founds a new temple-city, locking in its action while it sends workers and materials out to the site of a new city. Spawning pool tech not unlocked, new cities will not increase their own population. New cities will be treated as if they have already been scouted and patrolled. Time: 4 Turns. Each subsequent city action devoted reduces time by 1 turn.

    Improve City - In order to harness greater levels of geomantic power within a city, the entirety of the metropolis must be upgraded. Some of your cities have fallen far from where they once were - bring them back to their former splendor. Effect: Upgrade a city to the next level of geomantic infrastructure. Time: Equivalent to the level being upgraded to - level 1 -> 2 will take 2 turns, etc. Each subsequent action devoted reduces time by 1 turn. Maximum upgrade level is 3.

    Set Up Fortifications - Patrols have been set up, and the debris of ages past has been cleared from the streets of the temple cities. But there is still more that could be done - fortifications outside of the cities themselves, defensive emplacements in the surrounding jungle, traps and forts to make life hell for intruders. Effect: Sets up mundane (by lizardmen standards) fortifications in the area surrounding the selected temple-city. Time: 1 Turn.

    Exploit the Jungle - This planet is home to a very wide variety of deadly and thus useful creatures. Some of these species may hold potential as warbeasts, if they are captured and trained. Effect: Domesticate a new species of alien beast. Can either search for anything useful, give directions on what capabilities to look for, or suggest species to take (subject to GM vetting). Time: 1-2 Turns, depending on species. Can only be done in Hexoatl and Itza - further cities unlocked by setting up dinosaur pens.

    ---Research---​

    Dispel Mind Fog - Enough is enough. It is time to rip the veil of sluggishness off of your brother slann. The full might of the Sublime Communion will be needed for the lizardmen to prosper in this new world, and until they are freed you are held back. With what has been learned about the nature of the curse, fully removing has been determined to currently be infeasible. Effect: Break the curse, freeing the slann from the mind fog. Degrees of success possible. Difficulty: Greater than Impossible for fully removing the curse. This may be reduced by increasing the strength of the geomantic web and repeated attempts at this action.

    Examine Mind Fog - Know thy enemy. For all it has enveloped the slann for thousands of years, you still know almost nothing about the Mind Fog, what it is, or how it functions. Without a clear picture of how it effects the minds of the slann, peeling it back from their brains will be a far more difficult task than it otherwise would be. Effect: Learn more about the mind fog. Each successive use of this research reduces the difficulty of Dispel Mind Fog by a variable amount, as well as giving information about its nature. Estimates indicate that 1 more investment of effort comparable to the last two should reveal all usable pieces of information.

    Mind Fog: Alternate Solutions - The revelations into the nature of the mind fog have generated some discourse within the slann - perhaps there are other avenues of getting rid of it other than directly attacking an entity of unknown but considerable strength. The prospect of empowering Sotek to do battle with the creature has been raised, as well as other, more estoeric avenues of action. All that they need is to be investigated. Effect: Investigate the viability of an alternate way of dealing with the mind fog and begin figuring out how to implement it. Directed via write-in, consult with GM prior to inclusion in a plan. Difficulty: Variable.

    Examine Planet - This is an unknown world you have come to, and the slann are no longer occupied with holding back the depredations of Chaos. Some of the younger generations wish to soar above the planet in their astral forms, to inspect every facet of it in order to satisfy their curiosity. You have cataloged the central continent, but there are still the other two to survey. Effect: Learn about the planet. May focus on Northern, Southern, or Central continents. Examining more than one continent at once boosts the difficulty by one step each. Exceeding the minimum requirements will reveal more detailed information. Central continent has been scouted, but further examination may reveal more details. Difficulty: Easy

    Search Relic Vaults - The hidden vaults of the temple-cities contain artifacts of great and terrible power. No living being truly knows the extent of the things found within, but the ancient technology of the Old Ones would surely be of great use if they could be deciphered. Effect: Searches the relic vaults for useful items, all of which are generally examples of tech that has not yet been unlocked. Choose between Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons, Defensive Equipment, Magical Trinkets, Magical Equipment, Magical Artifacts, Mechanical Devices. Write-ins accepted for specific examples.

    Consult Relic Priests - The spirits of long-dead slann still cling to their bones in ancient mausoleums held deep in the innermost sanctums of their cities. Lingering near the veil of life and death as they are, their withered spirits are capable of dispensing great wisdom, but they sometimes prove unresponsive for their own reasons. Effect: The Relic Priests may provide advice on a random topic, greatly increasing progress to unlocking or improving it.

    Deific Template - The power to build gods would be an immensely potent ability, but the chain of prophecy the Old Ones wove to create Sotek was complex indeed. It will take time to distill the core elements of the process and figure out what is needed to shape a gestating warp entity according to a coherent design. It promises to be a lengthy process, but the potential rewards are immense. Effect: Design a standardized god creation process. Difficulty: Hard.

    Teach Geomantic Rituals - Once the art of geomancy was held by all of your brethren, but those days are long past. Now you are the only repository of the ancient knowledge required to harness the devastating power of the geomantic web. It is time to do what you have not done for millennia, and spread your teachings. Effect: Spread the knowledge of geomantic rituals to other slaan, eliminating the need for Mazdamundi to conduct every one. Mazdamundi required, obviously. Until the Mind Fog is lifted this action will be unreasonably difficult as the curse wipes the knowledge from the minds of your pupils.

    Examine Spawning Pools - It is truly the greatest of ironies that you possess sufficient cognitive power to dwarf any mortal mind and crush Lords of Change in contests of will, yet you know almost nothing of your origins. The spawning pools in your cities regularly disgorge members of the other three breeds of lizardmen, yet the way they function is still unknown to you, let alone how to construct new ones. This will have to change. Effect: Figure out how to build new spawning pools. Difficulty: Absurd. Approximately 7/10 progression.

    Examine Tablets of the Old Ones - Until you find a way back to Mallus, the ancient Plan of your creators will have to be ... put on hold. But that does not mean that the wisdom they left behind on their golden tablets is now useless - the development of your people was ordained upon them. With study, you may be able to reclaim some of the glory you have lost. Effect: Unlock various sections of your tech tree. See sub-sections for examples, though alternate options may be inquired about with the GM.

    - Forging Districts: Sections of temple-cities entirely dedicated to industry, churning out arms, armor and technomagical devices for the legions of the lizardmen. Difficulty: Hard

    - Sacred Sites: Magical defense systems set up as automated sites that exert effects either passively or when the territory they protect is attacked. Elaborate to set up, but the effects they exert can be quite potent. Difficulty: Very Hard

    - Level 4 Infastructure: The next level of geomantic architecture and city complexity, with all that implies. More defenses, more temples, more spawning pools, more geomantic pathways allowing for greater utilization. Difficulty: Very Hard

    - The Great Plan: The unfathomably ancient designs of the Old Ones. No longer viable to complete until Mallus is found again, but perhaps inspiration for other things might be drawn from its examination. Difficulty: ???

    Know Thy Enemy - The Ayacmanik's capabilities have been exhaustively pored over by your saurus oldbloods, but little is known of them as a species. How do they communicate? What is the nature of their coordination? How extensive is the infiltration of their host? These and many more questions must be answered if they are to be effectively fought. While research has revealed most notable facts about them, the slann believe there is more to uncover about the creatures. Effect: Learn more about the Ayacmanik, increasing military effectiveness against them and discovering any remaining secrets they have. Difficulty: Hard.

    Ascertain Their Usefulness - Some have suggested that the Ayacmanik may be able to be dealt with in some way that does not involve extermination - perhaps there is a way to raise their collective to sapience without sacrificing lizardmen hosts, or subdue the species to use their coordinative capabilities. This may bear investigating. Effect: Investigate the viability of communication with the Ayacmanik. The direction taken may be directed with a write-in, subject to GM vetting. Difficulty: Hard.

    Investigate the Quango - The egg of the mysterious creature known as the Quango is an enigma. It possesses a powerful aura and hails from the time when the Old Ones walked the earth still, so it must be immensely potent. But nothing is known about it, save for its name and age. Predictive visions of what could happen if it is induced to hatch have ranged from an ancient, withered corpse, dead of old age long before it was born, or fleeting glimpses of immense power and majesty. It would do well to determine what it is and how to avoid killing it in the process of getting it out of the egg. Effect: Figure out how to hatch the Quango without killing it. Difficulty: Very Hard

    -------------------------------

    Dinosaur Accommodations for Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan: 1 Hexoatl Action and 1 Xlanhuapec Action
    Dinosaur Accommodations, Exotic Edition, for Xlanhuapec, Tlaxtlan: 1 Xlanhuapec Action and 1 Tlaxtlan Action


    Troglodons were mysterious beasts at the best of times, beholden only to their Skink Oracle masters they bonded themselves to. They had no predictable activity cycle, their non-visual senses not distinguishing between day or night. They would vanish into the jungle for days at a time, only returning once they had slain and consumed some specific creature, and in all likelihood several dozen other unfortunate animals that had crossed their path.

    To bond with a troglodon was a harrowing experience even for the skink oracles, who were born as blessed by Sotek as the troglodons themselves, with a forked tail to announce his favor. They were the only Lizardmen that the Troglodons would even consider bonding with. Even among them, it was not an easy process. The beasts would not tolerate any conventional attempt to simply chain and tame them, instead requiring a connection between minds to be forged with the prospective oracle. This was only made more difficult by the fact that the creature would attempt to devour the perpetrator of any such attempt, rendering each instance of troglodon bonding a trial of creativity and ability on the part of the oracle attempting the feat.

    With their subterranean habitats having been at last excavated in Xlanhuapec, the skink oracle Tzik-tzok moved to be allowed to make the attempt with one of the creatures. After examining him with scrutiny rivaling that of a slann, the collective of already-bonded oracles in the city granted his request, and Tzik-tzok retreated into seclusion for several months, preparing himself.

    He ventured alone out of the city, stripped of all his ordinary regalia. His stomach was covered with the paste of a certain species of insects that the creatures craved - a hazard, but one necessary for his plan to succeed. He descended into the cave system the troglodons lived in, the air within so hot and humid that it billowed out as steam into the surrounding jungle.

    Moisture pooled on his scales, and the currents of air wafted against him like waves in the ocean. The caverns appeared empty, but Tzik-tzok was not fooled, for he had practiced extensively with the art of his magic, and with it saw the hidden pockets of empty space that were the troglodons, lurking in the depths of the steam. The creatures had no eyes, but he could feel their attention on him, the steam acting as a medium for their keen senses. They would strike soon, drawn by the tantalizing scent of the paste on his belly.

    Tzik-tzok waited as the pale hunters slowly drew nearer to him, waiting until one of them was within five feet of him before making his move. Drawing upon his inborn power of Azyr, shaping it in a pattern he had practiced until it was instinct and binding it to a stone he held in his hand, he cast it skittering across the cavern floor, activating his spell as he did so. A crackling facsimile of him sprang up above the stone, a wire-frame skink made of electricity.

    To the troglodons, it was as if a second skink, one positively bursting with energy, had suddenly appeared in their home. Temperamental though they were, their daemon-fighting instincts were as sharp as any lizardman's, and they pounced upon the intruder, poison shining upon their fangs. As they crashed into one another, clawing the floor, air, and sending the stone the skink-spell was bound to clattering all over the cavern, Tzik-tzok made his move.

    He leapt upon the back of the troglodon closest to him, and hung on with all his might as the creature began to thrash and buck in an attempt to get him off. But the insect paste on his stomach was sticky, and helped him cling to the troglodon as he plunged his mind deep into the creature's psyche.

    The troglodon's mind was a simple thing, streamlined to the extreme. Hunt. Kill. Sleep. Hunt once more. This was the cycle that revolved inside its skull, and Tzik-tzok at first could not see how he could find any commonality with such a simple creature. But then he remembered the words of the skink oracles who had succeeded in this very task, and contemplated his own existence.

    The troglodon hunted, chose a target and pursued it. Did he not do the same in his service to the slann, regardless of whether he hunted knowledge or flesh? When the troglodon was not hunting, it was recovering from the hunt or preparing for the next one. His life had been much the same - he knew what he was, and did not spend time wallowing in uncertainty. His struggle was in aiding his master, not finding his purpose. He contemplated thusly, and found that on a certain level he and the troglodon were not so different after all. From there it was easy to link their minds and spirits together.

    Thus they were bonded, and Tzik-tzok soon emerged from the dank caverns on the spined back of his mount, now loyal unto death. Each ready to fulfill their purposes that, despite being on the surface quite different, were in the ultimate summation of things actually quite similar.

    Dinosaur Pens established in Xlanhuapec and Tlaxtlan - pop growth will commence next turn.

    Set Up Fortifications for Tlaxtlan, Xlanhuapec, Hexoatl, Itza: 1 Tlaxtlan Action and 1 Hexoatl Action, Kroq-Gar, Teninhuan.

    The Mochantian jungle hummed with life, a vibrant array of species all struggling for survival against them. It was common for territorial creatures to claim an area and attempt to keep it wholly their own, driving out any competing organisms. Such was the variety and abundance of life in the jungle, however, that such arrangements rarely lasted for long. An Amoxnen pack could claim a patch of jungle as their hunting ground for a week or so if it were large enough, but would inevitably be forced to move by the intrusion of some creature it would be too costly to battle. It was thus for most any creature on the continent - save for the Ayacmanik, few creatures ever truly made one area their home, and even the grubs changed the locations of their nests relatively often. How could they make themselves immovable when the very trees shifted from day to day?

    The colossal edifices that were the lizardmen cities were the only exception to this rule, and now that their footing had been found in truth, the scaled servants were ready to truly leave a footprint on Mochantia.

    Great obsinite blocks were hauled out into the jungle and stacked into squat forts upon fire-cleared ground. The brute strength and blunt claws of the kroxigors dug deep pits and lined them with cruel spikes. Taut tension-operated traps were set up across the jungle floor, set to snare the unwary intruder with hidden ropes or impale them upon wooden stakes that had been frayed so as to splinter in the flesh of the victim.

    Standard practice was to set saurus sentries all over the surrounding territory of a city. The saurus would stay so still for so long that foliage would eventually grow over them, disguising them so as to ambush any potential intruders. However, with the risk of Ayacmanik infection, it was evident that this was not an avenue that could be pursued. Instead, saurus-sized stone boxes were set up with entrances that could only be opened from within and vision slits small enough that the parasites could not gain entry. Saurus sentries were entombed within these upright coffins and set periodically around the cities, allowing for the warriors to serve as a detection system without getting infected.

    Chameleon skinks set up burrows deep in the jungle, resting posts where they could resupply on their endless reconnaissance missions. The traps they set were fiendish in the extreme, making heavy use of their unique poisons - the jungle floor was seeded with toxin-tipped spikes, arrays of tripwires were set up in such a way so as to trigger crossbows to fire into a victim's flesh no matter where they were standing, and their arrays of snares were so cleverly concealed that oftentimes what appeared to be an easily-plucked bait from a poorly-constructed trap was in fact the trap itself.

    Teninhuan transported many Arks of Sotek out into the jungle and set them to unleash their limitless supply of serpents should intruders grow near through the use of stones he had enchanted with a pressure-sensitive enchantment that linked them to the arks. It was not long before several of Sotek's favored breeds had a considerable presence in the jungles surrounding the cities, something that was also of aid to his more regular proselytization and ceremonies.

    Kroq-Gar coordinated the construction of stone paths through strategically advantageous areas, and riddled the areas around these paths with squat forts meant to hold perhaps ten saurus at a time. Much like the individual saurus boxes, he allowed the jungle foliage to grow over the stone structures, naturally concealing them from the outside.

    But perhaps the most impactful thing he did as a defense measure was take a tally of every Dread Saurian the lizardmen possessed, what areas they frequented, and what blessings of the Old Ones they bore. It was well known that the mien of an Old One influenced the taste preferences of a dread saurian in somewhat predictable ways - those bearing the Configuration of Chotec craved hot, potent flavors and scents, the ones marked by Tlanxla preferred prey that could put up a fight, and so on. Having accumulated this data, Kroq-Gar proceeded to gather appropriate amounts of 'treats' he knew from experience that Dread Saurians of various configurations would travel miles for, and strategically deployed them to places where it would be advantageous for the creatures to be. Many a Mochantian predator soon met their end between sword-sized fangs, often when they least expected it.

    Mundane fortifications set up across all territory.

    Improve City, Tlaxtlan: Awanabil'tat and 2 Itza Actions

    Save for ancient, untouched Itza, all of the temple-cities were diminished from their former splendor. The fires of Hexoatl had once blazed hotter, Xlanhuapec's mists had grown thinner over the millennia, and the telescopes of Tlaxtlan had seen further. Time had not been kind to the sprawling, magnificent cities of the Lizardmen.

    No more - now was the time for them to reclaim their past.

    Under the guidance of the ancient architect Awanabil'tat, the rebirth of Tlaxtlan as it had been in olden days began. Legions of elder builders traveled with him from the deep archives of Itza, where incomprehensible diagrams and charts detailing the geomantic layout of the temple-cities were kept. They set about their business with an industrious fervor, recruiting swathes of their juniors to assist them in the work.

    Tlaxtlan expanded, the jungle around it torn down for miles and covered with foundation stones. New buildings sprung up in days, seeming to grow like branches off a tree, arranged in fractal patterns only visible from the sky. Dwelling-places, observation posts, obsinite pillars, and more were all faithfully built by the scaled hands of the kroxigor.

    Many of the buildings erected were done so seemingly with no purpose - the base shell of their forms was known to the skink architects, but what would be done with them was not. Entire districts were thus filled in this way, rows upon rows of empty buildings constructed with just as much attention to detail as the rest were. This was, after all, a common occurrence in the other temple-cities, where structures like these had stood empty for many millennia.

    While the outskirts of Tlaxtlan were raised through stone and toil, its center also grew higher. At the peaks of many of its temples were great telescopes, devices fitted both with crystalline lenses and enchanted with space-warping magics to magnify images seen through them, so as to gain further insight into the astral realm they observed. As the temples of the slann were rebuilt higher than before, so too were their lenses brought higher and made more potent. The studies of the astronomy skinks, who had been diligently mapping every inch of their new night sky ever since their arrival, were aided greatly by this enhancement.

    The city's spawning caverns were expanded, the knowledge gleaned by the Sublime Communion allowing new pools to be constructed for the first time in eons. Entire cohorts of skink priests spent weeks at a time engraving the spawning runes upon the beds of the pools before water that had been rigorously purified over a thousand times was poured into them, and soon the city's population growth was increased to suit its new size.

    As the city's size increased, its defenses were also ramped up to scale. Black walls were raised around the outskirts, enchanted with fearsome spells that repelled intruders, bolstered the lizardmen defenders that fought upon it, and healed the stone itself from damage. Gargantuan siege engines were constructed upon its rim, barbed bolts the size of small trees prepared for those unfortunate enough to be worthy of them. Slabs of stone that could block off streets by hooking into the buildings on either side were constructed and stored in saurus bunkers to control the direction of urban fighting if an enemy broke through the gates. Magical lodestones that could draw lightning towards them and discharge them towards nearby foes were set up across the city, along with the ability of summoning a citywide thunderstorm if they were all controlled at once from the city's central pyramid.

    Tlaxtlan was the city of the moon, and now after an unfathomably long period spent waning, it had begun to wax towards its full glory once more.

    Tlaxtlan upgraded to Level 3.

    Purge the Parasite, Tlaxtlan: Chakax and Tiqtak'to

    To accomodate the expansion of the Lunar City, it was decided that the population of Ayacmanik parasites that made their residence nearby would have to be removed. The expansion of Tlaxtlan's infrastructure would introduce temporary vulnerabilities that the parasites could very well exploit if they were allowed to. No matter how small the chance of a small Ayacmanik body sneaking into the city during the expansion and infecting a skink worker was, it could not be taken.

    To that end, the skink Master of Skies was given the direction to take the eternity warden Chakax and any other otherwise-unoccupied warriors he could find, and purge the creatures from every nest, tree, and hiding-hole within scrying distance of Tlaxtlan. Tiktaq'to, treating this task as the mission that it was, promptly roped in the city's entire complement of terradon and ripperdactyl riders, along with his own elite corps from Hexoatl. Combined with a healthy amount of junior temple guard brought in by Chakax, a backbone of saurus warriors, and stegadons to match the few large host bodies the Ayacmanik possessed, it was a force more than sufficient to crush the parasites under their scaled heel.

    It was a campaign conducted primarily from the air, as Tiktaq'to rode Zwup high into the sky so he could observe the entirety of his forces from above and coordinate them with the Mask of Heavens. He left the minutiae of ground combat to a Saurus Oldblood that Chakax had subordinated himself to, and together the commanders made of their forces an impenetrable net that swept up the Ayacmanik as it trailed through the jungle.

    Flocks of Terradons would swoop down from the canopy onto identified Ayacmanik nests, scattering their non-combatant bodies and bringing those hosts with combat capabilities out to fight. The Terradons would split up their formations, enticing the Ayacmanik to follow them and split up, whereupon they would be swarmed by angry Ripperdactyls and torn apart quite viscerally. The fleeing prey parasites did not fare any better - the nests were inevitably encircled by a ring of merciless saurus, who cut down the running Ayacmanik and any other moving fauna that happened to be in the way with ruthless efficiency as they slowly tightened their circle, leaving a patch of jungle where naught but non-motile plants lived.

    Chakax, when not busying himself with guarding the Oldblood commander of the ground forces, spent his time rendering the occasional host the Ayacmanik had that over-matched the Saurus into bloody chunks. Whenever a gargantuan river spider or a house-sized tree-dwelling scaled octopus creature had a band of saurus in danger of capture, the Eternity Warden was there, star-stone mace pulverizing their flesh and shattering their bones.

    Tiktaq'to, though he spent most of his time coordinating the overall campaign, was not exempt from some combat of his own. As the lizardmen purged their way through the jungle, some of the Ayacmanik began to flee via the sky, and it was the job of the Master of Skies and his personally-trained elite to ensure that none of them could escape. While his aerial guard cut down the majority of the runners, Tiktaq'to targeted those that could potentially be a threat to the ground forces at a later date. Corrosive gasbags that roped themselves from treetop to treetop like monstrous flying jellyfish, flocks of voracious insectile creatures resembling scorpions with wings that spat poison, and on one memorable occasion, a creature that bore faint resemblance to the dragons of Mallus in size and ferocity. He and Zwup fought the creature for a day and a half, utilizing their fierce agility to maneuver around its snapping jaws and buffeting wings, and delivering precise cuts and bites until at last the creature died, bleeding from a hundred wounds.

    By the end of the year the majority of the Ayacmanik had been slaughtered or driven out of the surrounding ten miles around Tlaxtlan. The rest of the decade was spent mopping up the survivors who had hidden themselves away and securing the area against a potential re-incursion.

    Ayacmanik presence around Tlaxtlan eliminated.

    417 Saurus
    679 Skinks
    106 Kroxigor
    25 Bastiladons
    31 Stegadons
    227 Terradons
    131 Ripperdactyls
    52 Salamanders
    64 Razordons
    525 Cold Ones
    104 Horned Ones
    6 Troglodons
    13 Carnosaurs

    Examine Spawning Pools: 1 Third Generation Slann, 11 Fourth Generation Slann, 38 Fifth Generation Slann

    The primary obstacle stopping the construction of new spawning pools was that of understanding. The lizardmen could very well simply slavishly copy the spawning runes into new pools now that they understood their base mechanics, but to deliberately cast aside the knowledge of why the spells were constructed as they were, what made the lizardmen what they were, purely for the sake of efficiency, reeked of the same blind desperation that had doomed the Plan to its initial failure on Mallus.

    Perhaps, if the planet had showed the same level of unending hostility that Mallus did, they would have simply copied the glyphs. If they had the reassurance of the Plan the efficiency may have been worth it. However, in this strange new era, no longer could the lizardmen afford to blindly execute the designs of their masters without knowing why - in order to fulfill their purpose in this vast universe, they had to take the means of their creation into their own hands.

    So did the process of painstakingly examining every last detail of the three varieties of spawning rune arrangements begin. Groups of slann would choose a section of the runes to experiment with, and each slann would in turn focus on a single segment of the symbols, deciphering its part in the overall spell. Then they would begin to see what would happen if that segment was altered, utilizing a collectively cast version of the thought-hologram Mazdamundi had demonstrated to them before, running it over and over again as they altered minute sections of the spawning spell and observed the simulated results.

    Much of their alterations resulted in very minor differences in the simulated lizardmen - slightly altered lengths of certain bones, different positioning of scales or internal organs, variances in the pigment of their eyes. With each one, however, their knowledge of the underlying structure of the lizardmen grew, and they were able to introduce more extreme alterations. They added additional limbs, altered the number of spinal vertebrae, changed the underlying arrangement of muscles and connective tissue. Often these alterations resulted in substandard specimens that would have been euthanized had they been genuinely spawned, but even from failure they learned.

    So did they progress, painstakingly learning everything there was to know about saurus, skink, and kroxigor bodies and mental structure, how they were constructed and how they were broken apart, until at last enough underlying knowledge had been gathered and shared amongst the Sublime Communion that every slann could not only independently cast a spawning spell provided they had access to sufficiently pure substrate, but could make changes, slowly but surely. The spawning spell for skinks, when changed and tweaked in the right manner, would become the spell to create saurus, which in turn could be changed into the spell for kroxigor. Once they understood the building blocks of their kin, it was possible to understand why they were structured the way they were, and how potentially, with great effort and care, new permutations of the existing breeds could be introduced in the future.

    They were even able to correct a minor issue - it had long been a subject of perplexity why the spawning of Chameleon Skinks had halted with Oxyotl's departure. With their new knowledge, however, it was easy for the slann to piece the enigma together. After the Great Catastrophe, the breed of skinks had effectively been rendered extinct, and so the spawning pools had automatically discontinued that particular spawning without any existent samples to confirm it was still desired by the lizardmen. With no living slann having the understanding to correct this, the chameleon skinks stayed gone until eight thousand years later, when Oxyotl returned. With his presence, the spawning network began production of his breed once more, but once he went with his master beyond the reach of the Web, production of it once again faltered. It was a simple matter to re-instate production of the sub-breed with the Communion's newfound knowledge of the spawning spells.

    Mykor'xop, the fifth generation slann who had begun to research these intricacies more than thirty solar revolutions ago, ended the decade content, observing the first spawning of Chameleon Skinks since Oxyotl's departure. As he gazed upon the color-changing creatures emerging from the glowing waters, their scales instinctively shifting to match the color of the spawning caverns, the itch that had pervaded his mind and driven him to forsake rest until the project was complete faded.

    Spawning Pools successfully researched! New pools may now be freely created. New projects unlocked. Chameleon Skink spawning has re-commenced.

    Keystone project completed - the departed elder slann are now able to spawn forces of their own.


    Examine Mind Fog: Mazdamundi, 11 Fourth Generation Slann, 33 Fifth Generation Slann

    Mazdamundi had spent much time contemplating his encounter with the slumbering fog entity two decades ago. He spent many months replaying his memories in exacting detail, noting down every capability and property the creature had displayed and comparing them to his knowledge of every sort of warp entity the Sublime Communion had encountered during its existence. While he found nothing to directly relate it to, for the only actions that he had seen it take were to sleep and remove those things disrupting said sleep, his suspicions still lingered. Something about its psychic signature screamed that it was the product of a daemonic scheme, meant to snare the slann in an eternal fugue.

    The key, he was convinced, was in the fog itself. It was what the animate form of the creature had manifested out of, and it was what had enveloped his kin after they had been rendered insensate. The stars of the imprisoned slann, white against the oppressive grey background, shone in his mind's eye as he contemplated the matter.

    After four years of unceasing meditation on the subject, he rejoined the Communion and addressed the crowd of junior slann that flocked to attend on his words, many of which had been part of the foray into the fog two decades before. He relayed to them the varying trains of thought he had produced during his seclusion, and bade them contemplate their potential conclusions. Holding his thoughts in their astral hands like delicate gems, the junior slann broke off into groups and began to think.

    It was a year before they concluded their discussions and returned to Mazdamundi with the fruit of their own minds. There were several important points decided upon in the ensuing discussion:

    Firstly, it was clear that the link between the mind fog phenomenon, the slann, and the fog entity was an interdependent one - the mind fog itself was an extension of the creature's essence, or perhaps the other way around. It was clear from the example of Ax'impuul's spiritual form that the fog fed on the power of the slann in some way, or was tied to them and sought to make their consciousnesses docile so as to siphon more of their strength into itself, as it had done with its slight awakening. This observation, combined with the knowledge of how exactly it afflicted the slann trapped in its depths, led to the subsequent postulation that while the fog grew stronger the more slann were in its thrall, the opposite could very well be the case - if enough slann were broken free of its grip, it would weaken and become easier to dispel entirely.

    Secondly, they reaffirmed Mazdamundi's suspicions of it having daemonic properties. While the entity itself had only been encountered once, observations of the subtle manipulation the mind fog itself enacted was enough to draw up patterns of its behavior, which fell into the telltale loop of "concept->action to spread said concept->get stronger from more of said concept->more actions to spread concept". In this case, the concept the fog appeared to embody was that of slumber, the daze that it swamped the slann in. Since it was tied to the slann as a power source and likely considered them part of its being, it naturally would spread sleep to them, something shown in everything it did. As the fog, it sought to strain the minds of the slann, and bring them into slumber. As an incarnate entity, it had forcibly rendered nine slann unconscious simultaneously, bringing them into its fold. It had no other observed pattern of behavior, no other motives. Such unnatural single-mindedness was the hallmark of a daemon.

    Finally, they backed up one of Mazdamundi's more esoteric ponderings. He alone had been in a position to see how the fog initially grasped hold of the souls of his underlings, and from that sight had been borne a hypothesis that it may be possible to use that initial moment of connection to delve deep into the core essence of the fog. What could be learned there was unpredictable - it could be the key spiritual elements it had been constructed from, or the secret of how it had been tied together, or perhaps the nucleus of the entity where the fog oozed out from in the first place. Whatever it turned out to be, it would surely be of great aid in defeating it and finally freeing the slann from its smothering grip. The younger slann realized this, and had come up with a method by which a willing slann could let the fog partially overtake it, and extend the connection into a bridge for others to cross over into the deeper reaches of the fog.

    Mazdamundi thanked his kin for their assistance, and drew up a plan by which they would utilize this knowledge to succeed in what they had attempted before, and travel into the internal realm of the fog daemon in order to probe its deepest secrets. Several of the fourth generation slann present offered to serve as the bridge necessary to shepherd the slann into the fog's depths, but Mazdamundi rebuffed them - he was the only one with enough mental fortitude to successfully bear all of his kin into the core of the mist, and with their collective power preserved his juniors would be able to pull him out of his partial entombment afterwards.

    They traveled into the region of the Immaterium where the fog held sway once more, using a slumbering slann as their bridge. The fog itself was calm, having seemingly fallen back into its default state of slumber since its brief awakening. The younger slann arranged themselves around Mazdamundi, well aware of the danger of exerting too much magical might here. The lord of Hexoatl readied himself, for the ordeal he was about to put himself through would be extremely unpleasant. Then, making sure to center a shield of his thoughts around the core of his being, he let his outer mental barriers down and the fog seeped into his mind and soul.

    It was an exercise in self-neutering, in feeling his capacity of thought diminish while he still possessed enough mental acuity to fully grasp what was happening. It was the horror of deterioration, of diminishing with time and the realization that you were lesser than you had been before. It was ... it was ... it was hard to think. What was happening? Why would his thoughts not flow? He strained his mind, trying to express what his subconscious was screaming, but he had lost the ability to articulate his knowledge to himself. Did he really know those things, then? He remembered thinking of ... things that pained his mind. This was bad, somehow. The pain was not supposed to be there but thinking was the pain. Considering it was so tiring. It was ... was ... he needed rest. Needed to stop this strain. He was straining his mind, holding something back, something at his core. What was it? Why was he exerting so much effort? What was it? It would be easier if he let go.

    And then the strength of the younger slann reached the core of Mazdamundi's being he had kept warded from the insidious clutches of the fog, and he burst back into the fullness of himself in a great explosion of iridescent light. Shaking off the numbness that had pervaded his essence with instinctive revulsion, he quickly darted over the spiritual channel his students had created from his connection to the fog before it collapsed. In his wake the fog rumbled, motes of attention drawn by Mazdamundi's exertion here and away from its core areas.

    The fog itself was thick here, far more so than it had initially been. The slann clustered close together, melding their minds into a miniature communion to avoid the worst of the pressure it was exerting on them. All they could perceive was an endless expanse of colorless pressure, broken only by one point of differentiation - a speck of color that flickered and changed, dancing from what seemed like an infinite distance. Aware that they likely did not have much time before the fog reacted to their intrusion into the deepest parts of its being, the slann pushed towards the dancing speck of color with some difficulty, forcing the fog apart with sheer force of will in order to advance.

    They pushed inwards, digging into the fog towards the spark of changing color, which slowly grew larger as they progressed towards it. They drifted towards it for a subjective eternity, and for an eternity did it grow larger in their perception. What had started as a barely visible spark of light grew to the size of a pebble, then to a plum, a skink, then a kroxigor. They drew closer and it grew yet more, a house-sized amalgamation of light that gave off great buffeting waves of spiritual heat as it changed from hue to hue, crimson to emerald to azure to lilac, and other colors that could not be named by mortal minds. It began to push the slann back with its presence when it became the size of a city, and they began to perceive many comparatively small strands of twine extending out from the maelstrom of energy, extending out into the greater depths of the fog to what they innately knew were the slann who had been entrapped in slumber.

    They reached out to the soul strand closest to them and grasped onto it with their collective willpower, and the flickering colors of the core flame were replaced by a vision of Mochantian jungle - one seen from the perspective of a slann's eyes, they realized, as the vision suddenly zoomed upwards, the slann in question sending their astral form above the canopy. Letting go of the soul strand, Mazdamundi and his students flitted around the shimmering mass of energy, counting the various strands extending from it, and came to realize there were exactly 484 of them, one for each living slann. It was clear that this was a metaphysical representation of the power and vitality the mind fog was leeching from the Sublime Communion with its existence. But they had not come here for knowledge they already possessed - if this was the core of the fog, they sought what was at its absolute center.

    They poked and prodded at the spectral strings, testing their strength and estimating the necessary force for what they intended. Then Mazdamundi and every slann there save for one fifth generation, named Yulogoth, grasped hold of as many of the soul strands as they could and pulled, directing all their efforts to one direction. They strained mightily, and under their strength the core of light cracked, great breaches forming in it that emitted strange un-light in impossible patterns. Yulogoth saw that his brethren could not hold this feat for long, and promptly made himself small enough to dart through one of the cracks, vanishing within the sphere.

    Once there was a spire 30 million miles high built of skulls and flayed nerves, with handholds made of solar eclipses and support beams crafted from nihilistic sorrow. An unimaginably massive dragon coiled itself around the spire, and devoured all who attempted to climb to the top through the power of its words, which were themselves carnivorous.

    At the top of the spire was a crystal smaller than the head of a pin, which contained an infinite palace of the gods. In the 179th antechamber, which held captive the populations of thirteen worlds and had been constructed for this very moment, four of the infinite gods of the Warp held council. They were among the greatest powers of their respective courts, sublime titans of power that cracked the universe with their footsteps, and they were gathered for a grave purpose. Yulogoth watched with caution, for though this had already happened, the Warp cared little for causality.

    Zaraknyel, Eidolon of Ecstacy, frowned in the six hundred sixty-seventh fashion, for his aborted pleasure was immense. "The spawn of the Old Creators are so drab," she wheedled. "Their unquestioned unity offends Slaanesh." Such was the sorrow expressed in its words that six billion daemons trailing on their heels drowned themselves in bitter tears.

    Scabeiathrax, Lord of the Blighted Pit, grunted and glorted in discontent. "Their very construction rejects Pater Nurgle's truth," he wheezed. "If they will not decay, they will never see the wisdom and joy of great despair. The Plaguefather weeps for them," he sighed, letting out a great cloud of toxins that subjected millions of mortal souls scurrying at his feet to seven kalpas of plague.

    Skarbrand, the Right Hand of Khorne, flared his wings and snorted in annoyance. His banishment from the Blood God's realm had taken place eons ago, but the Warp was a timeless place, and this gathering was thus both before and after Skarbrand's betrayal of his god, caused by his burgeoning hunger not for slaughter, but domination. "The toad things disgust me," he hissed, fire flickering between his jaws. "They are born cowardly and weak, relying on magery to prove their worth. But there is no need to know why we hate them. They are simply our enemy." His gaze turned to the room's final occupant. "Give us the reason for this gathering."

    Amon'Chakai, arguably the strongest Lord of Change in all of eternity, gazed back steadily. He stood up from his throne of crystallized destiny and immediately towered a hundred miles above the other daemons, for Tzeentch was in the ascendant place of the powers of the Warp. "A solution," he croaked, and with a wave of his claw summoned an image that conveyed concepts only comprehensible by beings of the Warp.

    It was an intricate constellation of thousands of shining lights, connected to each other by an oscillating web of power. A shimmering tide of flesh and flame and darkness pounded against its bulwark again and again, but the constellation's power was self-supporting, and it struck out against the mass of warp-stuff with great eruptions of searing force, driving it back.

    "They require no rest and will give no opportunity for corruption," came Amon'Chakai's voice. "Vulnerability will be manually introduced." And the vision changed; a dull fog swept over the constellation, and the vast majority of the stars dimmed and faded to dull pebbles. The other daemon lords leaned in, examining the intricate structure of the proposed construct.

    "A daemon," Zaraknyel cooed. "A scintillating prospect, Changer. The strength required for this to work could well make such an entity into a Power in and of itself were it centered around any other concept. The prospect of such heresy is intoxicating!"

    "I agree," Scabeiathrax burbled after much churning of his thoughts. "Though it will not go as far in spreading Nurgle's love as I would otherwise insist on, defiling the slann both physically and spiritually is a song of praise to the Plaguefather regardless. This child shall be loved by Grandfather, though it will not be wholly his."

    "This is a cowardly way of combating the Communion. Khorne will be enraged that a proper reckoning against their magery is denied him," Skarbrand growled. His teeth ground, sending sparks flying out of his mouth. He stared with a molten gaze at the daemonic image. "But it will work, and a blow must be struck against the scaled ones." He turned once more to Amon'Chakai. "I know your ilk. You would not have gone this far if you had not obtained sanction directly from your Power's foresight. How long will this gambit last?"

    Amon'Chakai did not look back at the Bloodthirster, instead lifting his head to lock eyes with Yulogoth, his gaze piercing time to strike a chill into the slann's heart. "It will endure until the end of their era," the Lord of Change promised, and everything vanished.


    Yulogoth awoke a year later, the effort of the rest of the slann managing to wrench him out of the grip of the mind fog, which had clamped down tightly upon him, allowing the rest of them to escape. After a further year spent in seclusion, rigorously examining the entirety of his being in order to ensure there was no possible trace of daemonic trickery within his person, Yulogoth shared the insights he had gained with the rest of the Communion, and was met with a combination of trepidation and relief. The revelation that their affliction had been personally designed by the closest the Chaos Gods could come to paying personal attention was alarming, but at the same time it confirmed the fog's nature as a daemon, and one that was incapable of fighting back by its very nature at that.

    And the slann were nothing if not skilled at destroying daemons.

    The following three years were spent discussing the exact strength of the fog daemon and what tactics would be best suited to neutralize it. Yulogoth was able to provide enough information on the fog's core concepts that Mazdamundi was able to definitively pin it down as a daemon of Fugue, swollen to monstrous degrees by the schemes of the Ruinous Powers. With this information, the slann brainstorm buzzed with activity, the prospect of finally being free of the mind fog spurring them to great activity.

    The Mind Fog has been confirmed to be a Megadaemon of Fugue - a classification only it occupies, as an entity far stronger than any greater daemon of chaos but unaffiliated with any Ruinous power. It is formed from the stolen power and subconscious thoughts of the slann afflicted by it, and acts only to impose its core concept of confusion and slumber upon the slann - either passively through the mind fog phenomenon, or actively if it encounters any active slann in the Immaterium. It is confirmed to have been formed by the efforts of four greater daemons of chaos in an attempt to cripple the slann in a way that would not later backfire upon them.

    Dispellation attempts may now be focused on a single generation of slann, which will reduce the fog's coverage of that generation depending on the strength of the effect. It is likely that the fog will regenerate over time unless consistent effort is applied towards it, or if its attention is otherwise diverted in the Warp itself by some means such as attacking it directly.


    Know Thy Enemy: 20 Fifth Generation Slann

    Lizardmen were born with purpose. Even when freshly spawned, with no life experience to draw upon to determine their place in the world, a saurus would always be a warrior, a kroxigor a builder, and a skink the administrator and go-between of the other two. This was how they had always been, but it was known that other species were different in a significant way.

    To other sapients, while there were certainly basic inclinations that remained mostly consistent across a species, to a large extent what determined identity was what they had experienced. The things they had done and seen, recorded in their memories, were the primary mechanism by which they developed over the course of their lives. It was this line of thought that led a conclave of fifth generation slann to temporarily relocate to the captured Ayacmanik nest that had been secured two decades ago, which had by now been built up into a heavily fortified compound bristling with saurus and Temple Guard, in order to examine the memories of the parasites.

    Mahultep, one of the slann who had been among the first to encounter the Ayacmanik, and who had spent a considerable portion of his free time analyzing the data gathered about them thus far, was one of the lead voices in this venture. His logic was based on the fact that regardless of how many of its individual bodies were killed, the Ayacmanik species itself, which could effectively be considered one gargantuan creature, had endured for however long it had existed thanks to its oversoul. It should then be theoretically possible to plumb the depths of its collective memory and attempt to see back to the parasite's origins, and perhaps gain some understanding of why the species behaved as it did.

    Of course, such a task was easier said than done - much of their initial work was centered around dissecting the minds of individual Ayacmanik as they had done to their bodies in the past, picking apart every fragment of animal thought in order to comprehend the way in which the Ayacmanik's diffuse oversoul processed and recorded memories. Even with twenty slann working in concert, such a task took time, and it was five years before they attained a working understanding of how individual organism's minds related to the oversoul, and how by careful concentration one Ayacmanik could be used as an access point for the memory banks of the whole species. Their next step was to begin to sift through the unfathomably large archive of experiences the Ayacmanik species possessed, using their hard-earned knowledge of the parasite's mental processes to work backwards chronologically. They jumped subjective centuries at a time, seeing the coherence of the remembered experiences slowly degrade as they accessed earlier and earlier memories. They dove back through remembered hunts, the construction of nests, herding lesser creatures, and an endless amount of death of the host that was having the memory, whether by peaceful or violent causes.

    At last, after nearly a year of sifting through uncounted memories, Mahultep found himself at the end - or, rather, the beginning - of the memory banks of the Ayacmanik oversoul. The structure of the memories here were indistinct and blurred in the extreme, as though viewed through thick, nigh-opaque glass. There was no longer anything distinct about the memories found here, only very general impressions, vague interpretations of what may have been happening that more resembled half-forgotten fever dreams than coherent recollections. It was here that Mahultep found the oldest memory he had thus far seen in the Ayacmanik mindscape, molded by the currents of its collective minds like a stone smoothed out by river water. This was what he had been looking for, he was certain of it. He called the other slann to his side, metaphorically speaking, and as they gathered around he let the memory unfold and envelop them all in the experiences of what could very possibly be the first of the Ayacmanik.

    Existence was emerging from a thick blanket of unfathomable inaction. It was awakening, it was thought, it was perception.

    It was, and knew only that it had once not been.

    It was learning of
    place and things and time. It was growing in awareness, knowing that it must eat and drink and breed, and as it knew more and more it gradually found that there were other things that were ... living, and they were watching it.

    There were two, and they were luminous. One was ... was [Originator] and [Ecosystem] and [Biodiversity]. Things it did not, could not know. But [Progenitor] was ... it was comfort. It was not-threat. Not like the other. The other was ... fear. It was [Hunt] and [Competition] and [Predation]. It was [Killer], and could not be looked upon.

    The others desired differently. [Challenge] desired a strong ... prey. A powerful thing to consume with difficulty. [Fertile] wanted ... a [balance]. An ending of some things and a beginning of others. It did not know what these were. But the others were [accepted] of each other, and it was the making of their coming together.

    There was time, much of it. It grew larger, into more eyes and feet and mouths, and did not see [Pursuit] or [Fertile] again. It saw other things, many things that were life, and learned how to walk and hunt and be them.

    Then there was fire, and light, and shaking like an ending of everything. Then, more quickly than any other life could be alive from the fire, the new ones came. They were many and they were hungry and they were everywhere. They were...

    They were -


    Mahultep and his companions disengaged from the memory almost simultaneously, the Ayacmanik they had been using as a channel falling to pieces now that they were not sustaining it with their powers. Calling their Temple Guard to their side, they disjoined their astral forms from their bodies and raced over to Itza, connecting with the rest of the Communion as quickly as possible. The implications of the origin memory were something to be pondered over, but what they had found had to be shared immediately.

    Results summarized in next section.

    Examine Planet, North/South Continents, Central Continent-Ayacmanik Only: 20 Fifth Generation Slann.

    The remaining slann not occupied with other projects had chosen to follow the streams of Ayacmanik heading east from Xlanhuapec, to see what purpose the oversoul could have for such a sudden migration. The groups of parasite hosts had grown bigger and bigger, more and more of the creatures converging as they went further east, until they were veritable rivers of creatures from across the continent, gargantuan predators marching side-by-side with great swarms of vicious prey animals. The slann followed these processions east, noting that they were slowly angling more and more north the further they went, until at last they arrived at a battleground roughly two thousand miles from the temple-cities. The jungle here was burning, blasted apart by crude industry and weapons that gave off thick, choking smoke. The Ayacmanik poured from the shifting greenery in a wave of angry, screeching bodies, charging across muddy, trampled, soot-stained ground to do battle with an army of Orks.

    They were a sea of green more than ten million strong, hooting and hollering in their excitement for battle. They were broadly the same as any other greenskin army the lizardmen had fought on Mallus, a colossal, disorganized band of barbaric beasts waving slabs of metal bashed together so as to vaguely resemble axes and hammers, throwing themselves into the chaotic melee without abandon. But even in this seeming universal constant there were differences; there were no crude bows shooting wooden arrows as ranged weapons. Instead some of the orks held strange devices that invoked a bizarre sense of familiarity in the minds of the slann - metallic tubes that boomed and bucked and spat out iron slugs at supersonic speeds with pulls of a trigger. The orks using them had no concept of how to actually hit a target, instead aiming vaguely at the Ayacmanik and shooting as fast as their devices would allow.

    They were lead by a behemoth of an ork, standing just under three meters tall. The warboss was fully embroiled in the miles-wide battle with the Ayacmanik, leading his followers by example as he used a hammer with whirring spiked chains all over it to pulp the torso of an Amoxnen alpha, grabbing another by the neck with one hand and squeezing so hard that bloody pulp came flying out of the creature's eyes as it died. Laughing uproariously at how their bites had failed to even pierce his skin, he waved his fellows on, the tide of green invigorated by their leader's display of might.

    Worse yet, there were more orks arriving. As the slann watched, a steady stream of crude rafts and ramshackle boats drifted to the northern shore, packed to the brim with howling boyz ready to swell the horde's numbers. It was difficult to tell how long this particular assault had been going on for, but the slann could already tell that it was not going well for the Ayacmanik - despite their far superior coordination over the orks, they were unable to overcome the density of the greenskin numbers, and were slowly being driven back.

    The slann raced north, over the waters to the northernmost continent. They had to see where the orks were coming from, to determine just how big of an issue this was going to be. Miles of ocean vanished under the speed of their astral forms, until they arrived at the northernmost continent's shores and found that while their worst projections were not borne out, the situation was certainly not optimal. The northern continent was a cold, dry expanse, largely coated with permafrost and not much, if any plant life. It was also congested with orks, clustered together in great camps and crude forge assemblies that constantly gave off sparks and smoke as they constructed weapons of war. A great many nobz were here, supervising the construction of fleets of boats to bring them to the war against the Ayacmanik, walloping their subordinates over the head when they felt they were not working hard enough.

    There were many millions of orks gathered around the sally points by the coast, and as the slann ventured further north, the greenskin presence slowly dwindled - it seemed they were both repelled by the increasingly cold weather and drawn by their shared psychic field to the fight their warboss was prosecuting. Still the slann continued north, for though the continent was mostly a flat, frozen wasteland by this point, with only the occasional feral greenskin enclave here or there, there was the silhouette of something in the distance - a great mountain, crumpled and collapsed upon itself.

    It had been a gargantuan edifice long ago, well over ten thousand meters in height by the estimate of the slann. It was difficult to tell over the ages of degradation, but it had clearly once been artificially sculpted, for it was unnaturally symmetrical and made out of a stone that was far stronger than any naturally-occurring substance. But the mountain had been broken by a colossal impact, a great hole torn in its side by something that seemed to have fallen apart on impact into a pile of rubble. Flitting around the kilometers-wide mound of debris, the slann found that it was not all rock - there were sheets of metal tens of meters wide buried in the debris, scattered in a pattern that suggested something else was buried under the tens of meters of rock.

    The slann looked into the mountain, and found that it was hollow, with chambers having seemingly been formed into the stone with no marks of tool or shaping. They drifted through them, and found nothing - if there had once been inhabitants of this place, they were long gone, and their possessions with them. This place was nothing more than a tomb centuries old, with only their holes bored in the mountain to suggest they had ever been there. With speculations storming through their minds, the slann ghosted out of that empty place and flew south, racing past the orks once more and over hundreds of miles of sea as they headed towards the southernmost continent.

    They found a sight that, while not as alarming as the orks was, still caused them to proceed with some caution. Like its northernmost counterpart, the south continent was flat, a plain save for the shadow of a mountain in the distance. Unlike it, or indeed anything else on the planet, the entire continent was covered in a thin layer of shimmering crystal.

    There had been great windstorms on the northern continent, with no geological features to block the wind, but here there was no wind at all, despite the presence of windswept waves just meters from shore. The crystal plains swept on seemingly indefinitely, an unbroken expanse of refracted color. There was a humming sensation emitted from it that the slann recognized as being indicative of the substance being psychically reactive, but none of them attempted to manipulate it in case they triggered some security system. Instead, they flew towards the leagues-high mountain in the distance, seeking answers there.

    It was a far different sight than the one in the north - it stood unblemished, covered in the same crystal as the rest of the continent and stretching thirty thousand meters into the sky, growing too thin near its peak to stand under conventional physics. As the slann approached, they began to sense a distinct tingling in their auras, and could soon tangibly feel the power stored within the mountain. Where the crystal covering the rest of the continent was mostly inert, here it was charged with energy, clearly powering something inside the mountain itself.

    The slann blinked back to their bodies after examining the exterior of the mountain as thoroughly as they could, and spent the remainder of the decade both ruminating on what could be inside the spire and keeping tabs on the horde of orks, to ensure that they were not presenting an immediate threat to the temple cities.

    Examination of Ayacmanik memories has revealed that they were very likely created by two mysterious entities, each of which desired a different utility out of them. Additionally, an unknown but long amount of time ago there was a catastrophe reminiscent of the fallout from asteroid impacts, after which feral orks appeared on the planet. The Ayacmanik have fought back incursions of the orks several times, but each invasion has taken them centuries to purge fully from the jungles.

    The northern continent is a flat, frozen wasteland, plagued with frequent months-long blizzards and an infestation of orks. They have united under a warboss and launched an invasion of the middle continent , held back only by the lack of sufficient aquatic transportation to bring their whole army over. There are 10 million orks currently on the middle continent roughly 2000 miles east of Xlanhuapec, with a further 290 million constructing ramshackle boats and rafts to get to the fight. The orks possess crude firearms, shamanistic psykers, and some breeds of infantry-scale squigs. They also have a technology caste, the majority of which appears to be working on a project of some sort in the wastelands.

    The orks are currently pushing the Ayacmanik back, though the oversoul's numbers are steadily swelling with reinforcements.


    Consult Relic Priests: 4 Fifth Generation Slann

    At the close of the decade, when Mazdamundi and his students had emerged from their investigation of the mind fog and heard all the revelations, positive and negative, the years had brought, the decision was made to consult the Relic Priests of old.

    Hovering on the boundary between life and death, having experienced full bodily demise and detachment of the soul, but with sheer will and the assistance of the Web, the recovered corpses of deceased slann rested in the catacombs of each temple city. They could not interact with the material world as their living kin would, for nearly all their energy was spent ensuring their souls stayed affixed to their ancient bones, but their condition had an advantage of sorts. Their position between the afterlife and the corporeal world granted them a strange insight into events, both past and future, and it was known among the slann that the advice they offered could oft be of great aid, even if it did not seem like such when it was given.

    Four young slann ventured into Itza's catacombs, the rasp of their temple guard's movements echoing for hundreds of meters inside the cavernous space. The entire complex was suffused with a sense of undeniable age that penetrated down to the bones of whoever walked within it. The walls were lined with alcoves decorated with icons and murals, and within each alcove was the mummified skeleton of a slann, sitting like they had for tens of thousands of years, eyes staring into infinity. The silence of the tombs was absolute, and pressed down upon the skin of the slann as they proceeded onward.

    Finally they reached their destination - a set of stone plinths, set high off the floor. They levitated their palanquins atop the plinths, and set them down with a click that was almost immediately smothered by the aura of stillness in the air.

    "Fallen elders," began Ontlax, the first of the young slann. "The living Communion is troubled, and we request your contemplation." He opened his mind, allowing the darkness of the tombs to permeate his thoughts and examine all he knew.

    "Greenskins, the primitive bane of civilizations, have a presence upon Mochantia," continued Zezqol, the second of the slann. He opened his mind, and let the images of war and carnage he had seen spill out into the deep.

    "The enigma of the southern continent is a pressing matter," murmured Ankaqol, the third of their group. Thoughts of the strange spire and the layer of crystal covering the continent were projected into the air, drifting around like motes of dust.

    "We seek your insight, preserved kindred," concluded Olxoztlek, the last of the quartet. "What is the judgement of the Tomb Collective?" He opened his mind to the tombs, and listened.

    They sat there for days, and their thoughts were examined by the wispy presences of the Relic Priests. Often their mental probes were so subtle they could hardly be felt at all, only the lightest of perturbations revealing their presence. At last, the essence of the dead slann retreated back to their bodies, and a pronouncement was made, from a thousand voices and one. It came rolling out of the dark, with no rising noise to precede it nor echo to leave a sign that it had been there.

    The fruit of the ultimate predator was rotten and brought only death when eaten at long last. It now stands a hollow remnant, a mockery of that which was before.

    The Garden will rage and thrash at its discovery, but could not halt the inevitable. The storm cannot be controlled; it can only be allowed to pass by or stopped in its tracks.


    Then the tombs were silent once more, and the slann did not speak as they ventured out of the halls of dark and stillness.

    The Relic Priests have given a prophecy.

    -----

    Itza population growth: 50,000 Saurus, 100,000 Skinks, 10,000 Kroxigor
    Hexoatl population growth: 30,000 Saurus, 60,000 Skinks, 6,000 Kroxigor
    Tlaxtlan population growth: 30,000 Saurus, 60,000 Skinks, 6,000 Kroxigor
    Xlanhuapec population growth: 20,000 Saurus, 40,000 Skinks, 4,000 Kroxigor


    Hexoatl dinosaur population growth: 868 Bastiladons, 894 Stegadons, 8,095 Terradons, 2175 Ripperdactyls, 287 Salamanders, 227 Razordons, 12,269 Cold Ones, 890 Horned Ones, 29 Carnosaurs, 14 Troglodons, 1 Dread Saurian.

    Itza dinosaur population growth: : 955 Bastiladons, 840 Stegadons, 1,011 Terradons, 341 Ripperdactyls, 195 Salamanders, 233 Razordons, 5,176 Cold Ones, 298 Horned Ones, 10 Carnosaurs, 12 Troglodons, 1 Dread Saurian.
     
  12. Xantalos
    Skink

    Xantalos New Member

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    Turn 5/Results

    Kroq-Gar stood on the walls of Xlanhuapec and watched the Ayacmanik stream east. The creature's fight against the Orks was going ... if not well, then not poorly.

    Morale is irreversibly crippled upon decisive overwhelming of leader-caste in direct combat.

    As more and more boyz sailed to shore, the Ayacmanik fought them with more and more of their exotic, formidable bodies that had taken time to relocate to the battleground. This the slann had told him, for they were keeping close tabs upon the direction of the battle.

    Primary purpose of baseline individuals is aquisition of high-intensity combat. Feigned retreat after initial clash provokes undisciplined pursuit, allowing for envelopment and defeat in detail of numerically superior formations.

    Their technology caste was still working on their concerted project, which seemed to be beginning to take shape as the orks dragged masses of metal towards the sparking, chaotic work site.

    Orks do not exhibit surrender behavior patterns - any display of such is a feint that should be exploited by slaying them before they drop the facade.

    Kroq-Gar's fingers tightened around the haft of his spear. He did not blink.

    Ayacmanik concentration around Xlanhuapec has reduced from Small-Moderate to Small!

    5 million orks have made their way to the Waaagh!!! against the Ayacmanik, but the parasites are resisting the ork offensive, being pushed only 50 miles back. The Meks are continuing to build their project.


    --------------------​

    The curse shrouds the Communion! These are the only lucid slann this turn:

    5 Third Generation Slann
    18 Fourth Generation Slann
    24 Fifth Generation Slann

    As the Geomantic Web is level 2, you have 8 actions total, two actions for each of your temple-cities. Please vote by plan, and indicate which city is performing which action. For further information on the action system, consult the Mechanics threadmark on the front page.

    You have six hero units available: Mazdamundi, Kroq-Gar, Chakax, Teninhuan, Awanabil'tat, and Tiqtak'to. You may assign them to boost a city's action, or take an action independently. Some actions may only be taken by certain hero units.


    ---Actions---​

    New Actions:

    Scatter the Barbarians - An Ork Waaagh!!! is a threat that will never dissipate unless it is destroyed. The greenskins only grow stronger as they experience more conflict, and as they grow bigger their warmaking aptitude grows more and more astute. This horde must be stopped now, before it builds up momentum. Send your legions to the battleground east of Xlanhuapec and slaughter them where they stand. Kill their warboss and mount his head on your walls. Effect: Send specific number of units to battle the ork horde. Will be resolved in a Battle Turn.

    Behead the Beast - Orks cannot function cohesively without their warboss to impose order upon them. Without his authority, they will scatter, each ork heading to fulfil his unique demented desires. While besting their leader in a duel is the most effective way to rout a horde of orks, the chameleon skinks have extensive practice with killing warbosses from ambush. Send them to kill the brute, and watch his army fracture. Effect: Send chameleon skinks to assassinate the warboss. Unit numbers do not need to be specified; additional actions devoted will represent further preparation for the mission. Time: 1 Turn.

    Scry and Spy, Ork Edition - The horde of orks displays several characteristics that are different from what the greenskins on Mallus had, although their baseline behavior is largely the same. The primary points of diversion are in technology, where the orks wield strange ranged weapons and possess an entire caste of inventors and scientists, though their standards are somewhat lax. They must be investigated. Effect: Send slann to scry on aspects of the ork waaagh!!! Can choose between: The Warboss, The Shamans, The Weapons, or The Meks. This action requires slann, not city actions.

    Scry and Spy, South Continent - The southern continent of Mochantia is an extreme unknown - from the strange psychic crystal layer covering the continent, to the mountain that defies physical laws, everything there is unlike anything else on the planet. More must be found out about it, and carefully. Effect: Send slann to scry on the south continent. Choose between examining the crystal and examining the mountain. This action requires slann, not city actions.

    Scry and Spy, North Continent - The northern continent is infested with orks and little else, but the mystery of what exactly caused the destruction of the polar mountain remains. The sheets of metal found in the rubble were too angular to be natural, or even ork-made. Effect: Send slann to investigate the northern mountain and attempt to discover what is underneath the rubble. This action requires slann, not city actions.

    Slann Spawning Service - With their newfound mastery of the spawning spells that birth new lizardmen, the slann are now capable of spawning other lizardmen on cue. This capacity could be harnessed to boost population growth if the need is sufficient. Effect: Set slann to act as makeshift spawning pools for the turn, producing a set number of one breed of lizardmen that varies depending on the slann's generation. Refer to the front page for exact figures. This action requires slann, not city actions.

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    Purge the Parasite - The Ayacmanik are a potentially dangerous foe, capable of harnessing the megafauna of the planet and using them against your kind. Their presence cannot be tolerated near the temple-cities, and the saurus live to purge those who would threaten their sacred ground. Muster your armies and march! Effect: Patrol the area of the designated city and destroy any Ayacmanik nests found. Must specify number of units participating in this action. Time: 1 Turn.

    Assign Slann Ruler - With the departure of the elder slaan, many of the temple-cities have been left without a ruling mage-lord. While the slaan in charge of a city typically does not deal with day-to-day matters, having a figure to consult on important issues will aid the skink chieftains in matters of efficiency. Effects: Appoint a slaan to rule over the specified city, granting a minor boost to action power of that city and greatly increasing defense capability if attacked. Unlocks other actions. AN - While the Mind Fog is active the bonus may sporadically vanish as the ruling slaan falls victim to it. I will accept character proposals with this action, with the caveat that while the voted character will be noted they will not become a hero unit (yet).

    Perform Geomantic Ritual - The Geomantic Web is newly established still, but it still houses enough energy to smite stone and reshape the earth. You alone have the capability to wield that power; what you do with it is up to you. Mazdamundi required for this action. The objective of it is subject to write-in - see the front page for examples of use. Additional slaan assignment will boost the speed (and at this magnitude, power) of the resultant ritual, varying depending on the number of mage-priests assigned.

    Transfer Populace - The lizardmen will go where their masters command. If a city is underpopulated, excess population from other cities may be diverted until the spawning pools make up the lack. Effect: Transfer specified amount of lizardmen and/or dinosaurs from one city to another. Does not count towards action total except if transferring very large numbers.

    Found New City - The secrets of the spawning pools have not yielded themselves as of yet, but there is no time to waste. The Web must be expanded, no matter the risk of over-extension. New temple-cities must be founded, and it is the unceasing labor of the lizardmen that will make it so for the first time since the Old Ones walked Mallus. Effect: The specified city founds a new temple-city, locking in its action while it sends workers and materials out to the site of a new city. New cities will be treated as if they have already been scouted and patrolled. Time: 4 Turns. Each subsequent city action devoted reduces time by 1 turn.

    Improve City - In order to harness greater levels of geomantic power within a city, the entirety of the metropolis must be upgraded. Some of your cities have fallen far from where they once were - bring them back to their former splendor. Effect: Upgrade a city to the next level of geomantic infrastructure. Time: Equivalent to the level being upgraded to - level 1 -> 2 will take 2 turns, etc. Each subsequent action devoted reduces time by 1 turn. Maximum upgrade level is 3.

    Exploit the Jungle - This planet is home to a very wide variety of deadly and thus useful creatures. Some of these species may hold potential as warbeasts, if they are captured and trained. Effect: Domesticate a new species of alien beast. Can either search for anything useful, give directions on what capabilities to look for, or suggest species to take (subject to GM vetting). Time: 1-2 Turns, depending on species.

    Awaken Additional Slann - Your brethren sleep, trapped in a cloying fugue of the senses and memory. For any other, it would be impossible to change that fact. But you are Mazdamundi, Lord of the Solar City and heir to incomprehensible arcane might. For a time, you will defy whatever malign entity is behind the curse and rip some of your kin free. Effect: Roll an additional dice in a chosen generation of slaan to attempt to free more from the clutches of the Mind Fog for the turn. If this option wins, a vote will be held to determine where to assign the awakened slann. Mazdamundi is required for this action.

    Dispel Mind Fog - Enough is enough. It is time to rip the veil of sluggishness off of your brother slann. The full might of the Sublime Communion will be needed for the lizardmen to prosper in this new world, and until they are freed you are held back. Now that the nature of the curse has been fully unveiled, it is possible to attack its grip upon the slann directly. Effect: Attack the curse's hold on a specific generation, reducing its coverage of that generation by a percentage. Synchronizes with other actions meant to disrupt the mind fog.

    Expand Sotek's Cult - Gods are ethereal machines, powered by belief and action devoted to their identities. The more they receive, the stronger they are, and there is only one god in the lizardmen pantheon at the moment. Allow his prophet to convert more lizardmen to the following of Sotek, and let the serpent god grow in power. Effect: Increases amount of followers Sotek has by a percentage. Teninhuan required for this action.

    ---Research---​

    New Research:

    Skink Priests: Different Winds - Currently, only skink priests attuned to the Azyr and Ghur spectrums of magic are spawned. However, with the slann's new mastery of spawning mechanics, it is wholly possible to engineer priests of the other six Winds of Magic. Effect: Design skink priests of any wind of magic apart from Azyr or Ghur. May only engineer one at a time. Difficulty: Hard for each variant

    Dinosaur Spawning: Basic Edition - The warbeasts of the lizardmen currently reproduce in a fairly conventional manner, breeding with each other and growing to maturity from their birth. But this is only a mortal process, and the growth of their population is inconsistent and fluctuating. It must be corrected. Effect: Modify all conventional dinosaurs so that they spawn from spawning pools instead of breeding to increase their population. Difficulty: Very Hard

    Dinosaur Spawning: Exotic Edition - The warbeasts of the lizardmen currently reproduce in a fairly conventional manner, breeding with each other and growing to maturity from their birth. But this is only a mortal process, and the growth of their population is inconsistent and fluctuating. It must be corrected. To perform such modifications on such formidable beasts as the troglodons and Dread Saurians, additional effort will be required. Effect: Modify all exotic dinosaurs, save for the Coatl, so that they spawn from spawning pools instead of breeding to increase their population. Difficulty: Absurd

    Sacred Spawnings: Basic Manipulation - The mechanics of how sacred spawnings are produced are still somewhat obscured to the slann, despite their newfound understanding of the spawning spells. Focusing on them should allow some manipulation of how often different varieties of sacred spawnings are generated, as well as open up further understanding of their mechanics. Effect: Study the sacred spawnings, allowing their rarity values to be slightly altered. Difficulty: Very Hard

    Slann Spawning: Physical Construction - The spawning runes for slann are entire orders of magnitude more complex than those of the other lizardmen breeds, but if one can be deciphered then so can the other. While it is obvious that other components will need to be completed in order to actively spawn slann once more, figuring out their biological construction will be an achievable start. Effect: Decipher how the slann's bodies are made, the first step in learning how to create new slann. Difficulty: Impossible

    Basic Soul Structure Examination - Figuring out how lizardmen bodies are constructed is only the first step to fully understanding the intricacies underlying the makeup of the servants of the Old Ones. The next step is delving into the structure of their soul, which in many aspects is even more important than their physical forms - the soul is the wellspring of their immunity to corruption and subversion, their unending growth in ability, and their immortality. Duplicating these features is one thing, but understanding them is another. Effect: Decipher the basics of lizardmen soul structure. Unlocks more advanced sub-breed creation. Difficulty: Impossible

    Create Sub-Breed - With the newfound understanding of how the lizardmen's bodies are made, the gates have been opened to modification. It is now possible to create additional sub-breeds, subsets of the various kinds of lizardmen. Only bodily modifications are currently possible, which puts a limit on some of the more advanced ideas proposed, but the possibilities are still vast. Effect: Design a new sub-breed of lizardman. Directed by write-in - modifications are limited to physical changes currently. Consult with GM. Difficulty: Varies.

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    Mind Fog: Alternate Solutions - The revelations into the nature of the mind fog have generated some discourse within the slann - perhaps there are other avenues of getting rid of it other than directly attacking an entity of unknown but considerable strength. The prospect of empowering Sotek to do battle with the creature has been raised, as well as other, more estoeric avenues of action. All that they need is to be investigated. Effect: Investigate the viability of an alternate way of dealing with the mind fog and begin figuring out how to implement it. Directed via write-in, consult with GM prior to inclusion in a plan. Difficulty: Variable. If enough research is provided to complete the vetting of a course of action, it may be applied on the same turn. Consult GM for reference.

    Search Relic Vaults - The hidden vaults of the temple-cities contain artifacts of great and terrible power. No living being truly knows the extent of the things found within, but the ancient technology of the Old Ones would surely be of great use if they could be deciphered. Effect: Searches the relic vaults for useful items, all of which are generally examples of tech that has not yet been unlocked. Choose between Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons, Defensive Equipment, Magical Trinkets, Magical Equipment, Magical Artifacts, Mechanical Devices. Write-ins accepted for specific examples.

    Consult Relic Priests - The spirits of long-dead slann still cling to their bones in ancient mausoleums held deep in the innermost sanctums of their cities. Lingering near the veil of life and death as they are, their withered spirits are capable of dispensing great wisdom, but they sometimes prove unresponsive for their own reasons. Effect: The Relic Priests may provide advice on a random topic, greatly increasing progress to unlocking or improving it. The Relic Priests will not give a prophecy if this action is taken.

    Deific Template - The power to build gods would be an immensely potent ability, but the chain of prophecy the Old Ones wove to create Sotek was complex indeed. It will take time to distill the core elements of the process and figure out what is needed to shape a gestating warp entity according to a coherent design. It promises to be a lengthy process, but the potential rewards are immense. Effect: Design a standardized god creation process. Difficulty: Hard.

    Teach Geomantic Rituals - Once the art of geomancy was held by all of your brethren, but those days are long past. Now you are the only repository of the ancient knowledge required to harness the devastating power of the geomantic web. It is time to do what you have not done for millennia, and spread your teachings. Effect: Spread the knowledge of geomantic rituals to other slaan, eliminating the need for Mazdamundi to conduct every one. Mazdamundi required, obviously. Until the Mind Fog is lifted this action will be unreasonably difficult as the curse wipes the knowledge from the minds of your pupils.

    Examine Tablets of the Old Ones - Until you find a way back to Mallus, the ancient Plan of your creators will have to be ... put on hold. But that does not mean that the wisdom they left behind on their golden tablets is now useless - the development of your people was ordained upon them. With study, you may be able to reclaim some of the glory you have lost. Effect: Unlock various sections of your tech tree. See sub-sections for examples, though alternate options may be inquired about with the GM.

    - Forging Districts: Sections of temple-cities entirely dedicated to industry, churning out arms, armor and technomagical devices for the legions of the lizardmen. Difficulty: Hard

    - Sacred Sites: Magical defense systems set up as automated sites that exert effects either passively or when the territory they protect is attacked. Elaborate to set up, but the effects they exert can be quite potent. Difficulty: Very Hard

    - Level 4 Infastructure: The next level of geomantic architecture and city complexity, with all that implies. More defenses, more temples, more spawning pools, more geomantic pathways allowing for greater utilization. Difficulty: Very Hard

    - The Great Plan: The unfathomably ancient designs of the Old Ones. No longer viable to complete until Mallus is found again, but perhaps inspiration for other things might be drawn from its examination. Difficulty: ???

    Ascertain Their Usefulness - Some have suggested that the Ayacmanik may be able to be dealt with in some way that does not involve extermination - perhaps there is a way to raise their collective to sapience without sacrificing lizardmen hosts, or subdue the species to use their coordinative capabilities. This may bear investigating. Effect: Investigate the viability of communication with the Ayacmanik. The direction taken may be directed with a write-in, subject to GM vetting. Difficulty: Hard.

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    Found New City/Improve New City/Purge The Parasite: 1 Hexoatl Action, 1 Itza action, 2 Xlanhuapec, 2 Tlaxtlan Actions, Awanabil’tat, Kroq-Gar, Tiqtak'to, Chakax

    For thousands of years the story of the lizardmen had been that of a bulwark pushed back inch by inch, straining valiantly against implacable forces. Again and again temple-cities had been assaulted, and time and time again had their scaled defenders sallied out to protect them. Chaos marauders, ork warbands, misguided warmbloods, it mattered not - the lizardmen stood fast all the same, breaking the tide of entropy that battered at their empire.

    But their labor had taken its toll, and they had lost much of their might in that first great catastrophe that defined their fate for so long afterwards. Without the knowledge of how to construct spawning pools, when a city was lost it stayed lost, for even if it were re-founded as ancient Pahuax had been, there was no way for them to produce their own defenders. Each city lost was another blow to their strength, one that could not be regained.

    Now it was different. For the first time in ten thousand years, the slann had pieced together the puzzle that was the conception of new lizardmen. The equation had changed; now instead of merely holding their ground for the length of an age against all who would dare push them down, the children of the Old Ones could finally push back.

    Resources poured in thick streams from all the temple-cities, rivers of stone blocks and glowing crystals and fields of hulking saurian workers congregating in Xlanhuapec. The founding of the new city was to be to the west, in the interest of expanding away from the orkoid incursion, and nothing was to go wrong. Entire batallions of skink priests accompanied the growing work force that more resembled a crusade than a construction crew, preparing weavings of their magic both in defense of the builders and to assist in the magical portions of construction. Flocks of terradons wheeled overhead, soaring through Xlanhuapec's mists with a lazy grace as Tiktaq'to coordinated them, covering the skies with a razor-sharp eye. Coatl from all four cities joined them, the air rippling strangely in their wake as they wove themselves through the sky.

    There was no questioning that Awanabil'tat would be placed in charge of the overall construction effort - as the oldest and most experienced builder skink the lizardmen had, there was no other individual with his level of skill for this task. But before the architect skink could do his work, the security of the coming enterprise had to be sealed. As the first temple-city to be truly built since the departure of the Old Ones, this founding could not go wrong in any way.

    Chakax the Eternity Warden was roused from his vigil at the empty central temple of Xlanhuapec and given Awanabil'tat as his charge, and by extension the entire operation. With his mind now set on ensuring the safety of not just the elder skink, but the entire procession of kroxigor, skinks, and dinosaurs that were subordinate to him, Chakax turned his attention to the defense of the project and found it lacking. Under his rumbled direction, patrols were tightened, sentries set to watch over the new city's materials in tightly-packed shifts, and an entire network of messengers were assigned to watch and report the slightest mishap to him or one of his subordinate Temple Guard. He kept to Awanabil'tat's side day and night, but his attention was everywhere, stretched out through his network of underlings so that he could pay attention to everything happening to do with the growing crowd of workers at a moment's notice.

    Kroq-Gar gathered to his side a great procession of saurus and warbeasts from all four temple-cities. Carnosaurs, Cold One packs and their riders from Hexoatl, Salamanders and Razordons from Xlanhuapec and Tlaxtlan, and saurus veterans from Itza all congregated in a throng unlike anything that had been assembled in lizardmen territory for millennia. As was his way, Kroq-Gar ensured his soldiers were all either mounted or capable of moving at a fast strategic pace. He drew many Oldbloods into his command group and spread them out amongst the divisions of his army, so that the interlocking parts of his war machine could work together without requiring his direct oversight.

    The spot the city was to be built on had been scouted out by the Master of Skies himself, and found to contain only a modest Ayacmanik presence, the nests of the creatures extending from tunnels underneath the ground all the way up to the top of the jungle canopy in some places. A particular breed of carnivorous tree - motile, as most on Mochantia were - was present in large amounts in this area, and the parasites had engaged in a mutually beneficial arrangement with the organisms, where they fed them their dead and a portion of their kills, and in exchange the tree defended their habitats with its branches that were capable of coiling in on themselves and exploding outwards to impale a passing creature. In some cases the tree would even tolerate hosting Ayacmanik forms within itself, providing its body as shelter in exchange for nutrition and propagation of its seed-fetuses. A variety of other dangerous fauna and flora had been observed as well, but the only militarily significant obstacle was the hive-soul.

    With sufficient force to raze warmblood nations assembled, his target made clear, and a timetable provided, Kroq-Gar ordered his forces forward, sending a mammoth procession of scaled hides into the Mochantian jungle. Skinks chattered as they darted to and fro, the deep lowing of bastilodons sounded out like foghorns through the trees, and the rasping chanting of saurus battle rhythms maintained a steady pace as the lizardmen force marched on and on, going without rest as they traveled the five hundred miles to the designated grounds of the new city. They arrived before five days had passed, and wasted not a moment before they began their ordained work.

    Under the guidance of the Oldbloods, skirmishers and Cold One riders were sent out into the presence of known concentrations of hostile creatures and made to rouse them up and draw them back towards the main saurus lines. When the creatures entered the correct area, contingents of Salamanders set the jungle aflame, with their skink handlers careful to direct the blazes in the correct directions, cutting any errant flames off through the use of controlled burns. Many of the creatures of Mochantia's jungles were stubborn and agitated enough to consider charging a saurus shield-wall, but faced both with that and an encroaching fire, many chose to flee instead, saving both time and energy.

    Kroq-Gar took his personal contingent and struck at the Ayacmanik nests, slaying the oversoul's defending bodies and either cutting down their tree hosts or burning the creatures alive, the high-pitched squeals of nutrient pockets in their bark boiling and bursting providing a backdrop to the slaughter. The Ayacmanik, for their part, did not put up much of a fight - many of their nests were already in the process of being relocated, likely due to their ongoing conflicts with the ork horde to the east. The oversoul fled rather than engage in any protracted conflict with Kroq-Gar's far superior force concentration, and once it became clear how much territory the ancient saurus was laying claim to, the many-bodied creature left, its remaining nests simply abandoned and its host bodies streaming east and north.

    With no significant opposition left to face them after the first few months, Kroq-Gar spent the remaining time until the actual expedition arrived cleaning up the territory - he drove burrowing land eels and their pups from their dens, slaughtered colonies of Ahizotl, a fast-breeding wolf-monkey pest, and had the rivers set aflame to get rid of a persistent infestation of colony organisms resembling a thick film of gelatin that stretched themselves over the surface of bodies of water to trap and digest anything that encountered them. His saurus cut swathes of vegetation with as much enthusiasm as they cleaved through enemy flesh, his warbeasts devoured errant underbrush attempting to sneak back in, and his ceaseless patrolling ensured that nothing untoward entered the area when Awanabil'tat's convoy finally arrived.

    The architect skink came at the head of a crowd of millions, kroxigor and warbeast alike straining as they hauled massive wheeled tracks weighed down with heavy stone foundation blocks. The combined total of all the stone was over a million tons, and yet it was only a fraction of what was needed. They had taken over a year to arrive, but had cleared a path behind them, laying a highway to Xlanhuapec behind them as they traveled. With the site secured by Kroq-Gar's forces and the necessary transportation infrastructure in place, Awanabil'tat set about building the core of the new city, the hub around which everything else would be built.

    A foundation miles wide was lain by his underlings as the elder architect contemplated the necessary dimensions of the city's central pyramid. He had managed to accrue enough resources to build the city to Xlanhuapec's current standards, so the ziggurat would need to be constructed accordingly. He conferred with councils of elder skink priests, discussing the arcane intricacies he would need to take into account with the innermost chambers - he had accrued more familiarity than most lizardmen with the complex webs of energy that were incorporated into temple-city architecture, but though he could perceive the strands of magical force intertwined with the stone blocks, he could not manipulate it like the priesthood could. Their perspective was thus a useful one to consult - nothing could be allowed to go amiss.

    It rose from the ground like a mountain collapsing in reverse - from a scattered pile of rubble, an ordered foundation was constructed, and over the course of months it ascended, level by level, till it reached one hundred meters up into the sky. At its core was laid the founding blocks of the new city's geomantic web - obsinite pylons that had been specially crafted were driven deep into the ground at the center of the ziggurat, and anchored into the base of the structure. Circles of skink priests pumped magical energy into the structure until it glowed, and Awanabil'tat then took up a golden chisel and carved the name that had been chosen by the Sublime Communion into the pillar.

    Yenehectua tapped into the geomantic energy of the planet with a great rush of air, a rumbling boom as the local cosmos adjusted itself around this new expansion of the lizardmen's magical network. The work of the kroxigors accelerated as power rushed into their flesh, flushing their muscles and connective systems with rejuvenating force. Under the guidance of the skinks, they built at a methodical, feverish pace, finishing buildings in days, districts in months.

    Chakax helped supervise the construction of the walls and perimeter defenses. His keen eye mapped out a web of towers, bunkers, and fortifications that left no avenue of approach within a kilometer of the city walls uncovered. Gargantuan ballistae were mounted upon the walls, which had been reinforced with the city's magical signature to be much harder than ordinary stone. Befitting its name, Yectenehua was a decidedly Hysh-oriented city, and its defenses thrummed with iridescent white energy that was a bane to all entities with even a hint of lower-order warp energies within them. So long as the integrity of the walls was not completely destroyed, their mere touch would burn the flesh of corrupted entities or chaos daemons. If a slann were given dominion of the city in full, greater things would be possible - bolts of energy focused into beams of killing light, darting between magical crystals placed in a network all over the city. As it stood, the passive effects of the city's configuration were all that could be accessed without a slann present, as no skink priest possessed the capability to manipulate the wind of light.

    The labor continued without stopping for eight years. Temples to Sotek and the Old Ones were raised, and sacrifices made to the former to commemorate this expansion of the serpent god's domain. Flagstones were made smooth by the treading of countless feet, and great networks of mirrored lenses were set up all over the city, the glass enchanted so that it not only directed and amplified light, but retained it to some measure as well, so the city was lit by a shifting network of lines even at night. Habitats for the inevitable dinosaur population were set up, and Kroq-Gar and Tiktaq'to made use of their warbeasts by setting up defensive patrols and outward emplacements to ensure the territory around the city stayed secure. Lesser pyramids for the habitation of slann were built with the utmost care, the Temple Guard watching carefully to ensure the potential dwelling places of their masters were made as secure as physically possible. Great vaults were set aside for the proper storage of sacred relics and artifacts, an entire complex was set aside to house Relic Priests should they choose to be stored within.

    And when all else was done, the defenses robust and the walkways scrubbed until they were gleaming, Awanabil'tat and a select few of his most senior underlings descended into the spawning caverns. There they spent the final year painstakingly carving the runes of spawning and life that the slann had imprinted into their minds upon the empty pools. Water that had been transported from Itza itself in magically sealed stone caskets was poured into the apertures, and with all the components in place, the pools glowed and there arose a blessed spawning touched by Tlazcotl, skinks, saurus and kroxigor alike set with gazes grim and minds steady.

    New City Founded - Yenehectua, City of Light! It has been founded at geomantic level 2, with all appropriate patrols, defenses, and spawning pools set up. Ayacmanik presence in the area is Tiny. See front page for more info.

    Mind Fog: Alternate Solutions, Impelling Sotek to fight the Mind Fog: Ten 5th Generation Slann
    Expand Sotek's Cult: Teninhuan, 1 Itza Action, 1 Hexoatl Action


    During the war against the skaven, the cult of Sotek had been constrained, smothered by the necessity of combating Clan Pestilens while struggling with a skeptical populace. The slann were under the long sleep, and those who were awake did not have access to the requisite tablets confirming the serpent god's authorization. Without their approval, Sotek seemed to many among the lizardmen a potential defect that had cropped up during the destruction of Chaqua. The red crests, increased musculature, and blinding speed and ferocity Sotek bestowed upon his devotees registered on many of the same checklists as that of Khornate corruption - indeed, some among the slann had even begun to devise plans to purge the affected skinks once the skaven threat was dealt with. It was only when the campaign came to a head at the battle of Gwakmol Crater, where Teninhuan's forces dealt the skaven a crushing defeat and offered one hundred thousand ratmen hearts up to their god, that attitudes changed. For then was Sotek finally granted enough energy to catalyze himself into existence, and the Lustrian jungle boiled over with snakes immune to the diseases of Pestilens that drove the ratmen into the sea.

    Now the situation was different - Sotek's existence was understood by the Sublime Communion, not as a dangerous defect or damage-induced corruption but a tool gifted to them by the Old Ones themselves. Something not to be denied or destroyed but used in the service of the lizardmen - the slann did not and never would worship the serpent god, but they now saw him as the guardian spirit that he was. And thus they felt no compunctions when they approached Teninhuan and asked for his aid.

    The fifth generation slann Xomox sat with the prophet of Sotek in Itza's cavernous Temple of Twenty-Seven Waterfalls, and through the medium of the mist cascading through the air between them showed him what fraction of the mind fog's immensity his mind could fathom. This took many days to accomplish, for true understanding of daemonic entities of such immense potency was damaging even to god-touched minds. Once the knowledge was safely implanted within his brain, Teninhuan closed his eyes for a time, murmuring prayers to his god and hearing the reply in the rumble of water on rock.

    "You desire Sotek to battle this daemon, do you not?" he rasped.

    "The curse must be thrown off the Communion," came the booming reply. "Sotek's strength will aid in the completion of our endeavor, and throw off chains that were there before he was ever conceptualized."

    Teninhuan thought on the slann's words for a time, and nodded. "Sotek was made to devour and destroy that which is most corrupt amongst our enemies," he declared. "Physical or spiritual, the ire of the serpent god strikes them all the same. I will hold communion."

    "But I will need assistance," he said, standing.

    "Of what sort?"

    "I do not fear for my god in the battle against this foe, for as long as his venom pumps through one of our hearts he shall endure. But his strength may currently not be sufficient to the task. Sotek has come far indeed from the days of his birth, but the divine is fed by worship and dedication, you know that as well as I. Give Sotek followers, and his strength shall blossom like a blood flower."

    Teninhuan's teeth gleamed with a crimson hue, though there was little light in the temple.

    "Give me the sponsorship of the slann, and I shall feed my god enough that he will strangle your daemon within his coils."

    Xomox returned to his temple and joined his mind to the Communion. It was swiftly agreed that as the required effort to sponsor Teninhuan's proposed campaign of expanding Sotek's cult was largely ceremonial on their part, it was a worthwhile investment of time. He was sent back to the prophet with nine other slann of the fifth generation, and they pledged their assistance in the endeavor.

    Teninhuan sent Xomox and four of his brethren to Itza and his eldest companion Saantan with the other four to Hexoatl, while he and his underlings organized massive rallies seemingly centered around the presence of the slann. The legions of cultists chanting, bloody banners hung aloft, and menacing idols that were erected all seemed to be centered around emphasizing the presence of one of the mage-priests.

    As anticipated, the implicit approval of the slann drew huge crowds of lizardmen, the fact that the toad-like mages did little save sit and meditate mattering not to their underlings. The mere fact that they allowed themselves to be present at a festival dedicated to Sotek was enough, and the streets ran red with blood as numerous creatures from the jungle were sacrificed upon holy altars, their still-beating hearts cut out and offered to the snake god.

    The massed chanting and stomping of feet at these events took on a curious rhythm without any outside prompting. It was a simple, savage beat, intoned in the exaltation of the god's name, in the breath dedicated to his praise, in the lives he ate. It was like the two-toned beating of a massive heart, thumping with increased potency as priests spoke to crowds of thousands, as more and more hearts and minds turned to the cause of the serpent god.

    Thud. Thud-thud. The rippling echo of millions of feet against blood-soaked stone. Thud-thud.

    Teninhuan took his new converts in their millions and led them to the crossroads between the four original temple-cities. On that hallowed ground they built an altar, a crude thing built of wood and bone and blood, and there they anointed Sotek's new followers, dousing them in the fluid of life until the great god turned his attention to them and their crests turned as red as their fury.

    This was no ordinary ceremony, for the slann were here as well. On the appointed day, when the sun was just dipping below the skyline, flooding the sky with a cruel mixture of scarlet and saffron hues, Teninhuan's attendant skink priests cast an enchantment upon the Prophet's voice to allow him to address his entire crowd of devotees at once. When the skink spoke, the winds carried and amplified his voice across the vast throng.

    "Sotek is war!" He roared, and was met with hisses and bellows of agreement. "But he is not war unrestrained," he continued. "Hear now the story of Sotek's birth, those who are new to his scales. Hear now of your god's conception, gestated in battle and honed with lives and victory. For just as we do not slaughter all we see like wanton beasts, so does Sotek direct his thirst for war towards one place and one place only!"

    Thud-thud. The crashing beat of drums. Can you hear the rhythm in your blood? It builds and builds, furious and terrible. Thud-thud. Thud-thud.

    Teninhuan then launched into a frenzied exaltation of Sotek's rise, in greater detail than he had even given the slann several decades earlier. He spoke seemingly without the need for breath, as he dove into the story with such passion that the entire audience was drawn into it. He wove his narrative with comparable skill to an elder skink priest casting spells, describing the horrid stink of the plagues that had afflicted Chaqua in such lurid detail that the nostrils of his devotees burned with the imagined stench.

    He spoke of the skaven erupting from underground like an infestation of maggots, and the crowd felt the rustle of fur and the bite of rotting teeth.

    He spoke of the evacuation he had affected from the City of Gold, merely him and a handful of red-crested skinks, and their hearts felt the same frenzied mix of peril and fury that his had.

    He spoke of struggle, of battles against the ratmen armies that were fought down to the wire, for though the morale of the skaven was weak and liable to shatter, they had a god and the lizardmen did not.

    He spoke of sacrifices, uncountable lives ended by his hands and those of his servants, more hearts offered to Sotek than there were bodies in his army, and how the gentle hiss of the god in his ear had grown louder by faint degrees over years of blood and toil.

    He spoke of the tide turning, as more and more lizardmen understood the necessity of combating the ratmen regardless of Teninhuan's affiliations, and the stream of hearts going to Sotek increasing. Soon, the unborn god had purred in a faint rumble that rustled the scales of those listening, past and present.

    He spoke of Gwakmol Crater, where they had lured the bulk of the Pestilens forces into a battlefield-scale ambush and sent them running by the millions. He spoke of the aftermath, of the miles-long chains of trembling skaven being sacrificed in bloody rituals. Of how scaled beasts of all kinds had clustered around the altars, drinking the free-flowing blood. Of how the jungle foliage had hissed in unison upon the offering of the last heart, and how he had screamed to the sky with fangs gifted by his newly-birthed god and feasted upon the blood of the sacrifices.

    Lub-dub. It is the beating of a heart the size of a mountain. Lub-dub. Lub-dub.

    "Sotek has an enemy," Teninhuan exclaimed upon the thirtieth day of his speech. "He feasts upon the corrupt, the vermin of the cosmos, those with the taint of darkness upon their flesh and within their hearts. In this he protects and defends his children, for it is these dangers he was made to deliver us from!"

    He turned and gestured to the ten slann seated behind him, who had maintained the same expression of meditative repose throughout the entire event. "Even the honored slann does Sotek aid, though they share not his faith," he exclaimed. "It is a vast and cunning beast our masters have been struggling with since the Cataclysm that they seek Sotek's prowess out for now, and it is here that we shall draw our god's attention to his prey!"

    "Show us, lords," he shouted. "Reveal the daemon to Sotek's sight so that he may know to crush and devour and kill it, for that is what he is for!"

    The slann opened their eyes with ponderous slowness, regarding all before them with blank indifference. The charged atmosphere was placed under an unspoken pressure by their gaze, even the youngest of the slann emitting a spiritual force greater than the entire crowd of frenzied devotees. The silence grew in intensity, and all found themselves with their eyes bound to the slann, all senses tuned in anticipation of something that they could not articulate.

    Xomox was the first to speak, followed by Saantan, then Daaz'her and Pran-zuur and all the rest. They dared not speak the entirety of the fog daemon's name aloud for fear of subsuming their minds under its attention, but a fraction would suffice for this demonstration. Their voices sculpted the Warp as they climbed out of their throats, the collective vocalization turning into a synchronized spell that conjured an image showing a faint fraction of what assailed the slann in their souls.

    It was vast beyond conception, throwing the entire crowd into darkness that shifted and moved with a slimy crawling motion. It was uncountable limbs that moved and morphed and faded into and out of each other, turning from pseudopod into fully-realized muscle and tendon into rotting putty that sloshed together with a sickening lack of sound. It was mud, an endless field of numbing quagmire that sunk in on itself forever. It was four hundred eighty four ambulatory mouths that slipped and slid past each other, lips growing in size until they eclipsed the sun. They murmured and babbled endlessly, yet said nothing and gave no sound. It was fields of fifty eight billion fingers that would stroke you to sleep and never let you wake up. It was all of these and more, an endless tapestry of suffocating paralysis that hungered for nothing save oblivion. It was endless and unstoppable and could not be beheld.

    Teninhuan gazed upon it without fear, for Sotek guarded his soul and allowed him to look upon it without flinching. "Sotek," he called, his voice gaining a strange echo as it reached beyond the veil of mortal existence and burrowed into the ear of his god. "Behold your prey! For long ages has it slumbered in the souls of the slann out of fear, but now it is brought into your hunting ground!"

    His fangs lengthened, gleaming like stars, and his voice grew deeper as his body began to shift, adopting a more primal aspect as something in the Warp turned its attention to him. "It is the Great Serpent's will that the hearts of the unclean be ripped out and consumed," he boomed, eyes flashing with a terrible will. He seemed to tower above the crowd, until he matched the scale of the fog beast, the mantle of Sotek settling upon his broadened shoulders. His tail, now longer than his body and thin as a whipcord, lashed with rage, and his fangs dripped venom that was as red as an arterial shower.

    "In my sight is one ripe for the taking! Hearts! Heart's blood for the feeding! SOTEK! SOTEK! SOTEK!" He thundered, and flung himself at the burbling, leviathan impossibility that was the fog creature.

    Skink devotees of Sotek increased to 50% of the population!
    Saurus devotees of Sotek increased to 30% of the population!
    Kroxigor devotees of Sotek increased to 30% of the population!


    Perform Geomantic Ritual, Magnitude 3, Targeting The Mind Fog: Mazdamundi
    Dispel The Mind Fog, Targeting the 5th Generation Slann: Five 3rd Generation Slann, Eighteen 4th Generation Slann, Fourteen 5th Generation Slann.


    At the beginning of the decade, nearly all the slann that were awake and aware gathered in Hexoatl, to coordinate with Mazdamundi before the elder slann went into the long trance that would be required to marshal the energy of the Web. They assembled in an amphitheater designed specifically for meetings such as these, with enchantments in the stones to better channel the magic the slann gave off when speaking.

    "Be wary, my brethren," Mazdamundi croaked. "The potency of the daemon is proportional to how many of our siblings lie trapped in its murk, and the time is not auspicious. The creature holds nine tenths of the Communion in its grip, and it will be a grueling ordeal to pry free even some of their souls." As he spoke, his words turned to mist, coiling up and out through the air until it had blanketed the entire arena in a thick coat of grey. Mazdamundi vanished within that concealment, fading into nothingness.

    A pulse of strong psychic pressure descended upon the slann, breaking their composed expressions and causing some to groan in distress before it receded. "The touch of the daemon will be stronger by far," came their elder's voice, echoing out of the depths. "Do not allow yourself to be scattered." The pulse came again, greater in intensity, a wall of mental force fit to crush any mortal mind.

    The slann heeded the words of their elder, and joined their thoughts, sharing each other's mental energies and using their combined strength to push back. The pressure was forced away by degrees, only to redouble in strength.

    "Remember your purpose," he called, his mental projection showing no hint of strain. "You are the scions of the Old Ones!" The force coming from his mind intensified yet more, driving the collective of slann back physically with sheer mental power.

    It was difficult to pinpoint where the thought came from - it could have arisen from any of the thirty-seven slann struggling to fend off Mazdamundi's assault. Whatever the source, it quickly grew to dominate the miniature communion, which swiftly acted with the surety only possible with minds that knew each other as the slann did. As one, they shifted their focus, no longer pushing back against the mental assault but slipping 'under' it, allowing it to flow past them without harm. Almost immediately, the mist began to disperse, allowing vision back into the assembly.

    "That is the correct way," Mazdamundi told them. "Your strength will be outmatched, and a direct contest will not lead to victory."

    "So do not fight directly."

    The slann ascended into the Warp the next day, melding their thoughts together as they sunk into the sea of souls. They were like a constellation, a deceptively delicate chandelier of lights arranged in a multidimensional prism that shone out like a beacon. They made no effort to hide their presence as they had before, instead allowing the vibrancy of their spirits to serve as a bait.

    It was not long before it was answered, the Immaterium quaking as the fog daemon dragged itself from slumber at the prospect of subsuming their souls. It was close to the zenith of its strength with so many slann within it, and it manifested accordingly. It was a many-limbed giant that stood forty trillion miles high, with fingers that were murmuring tongues and a belly that dimly glowed with 436 swallowed stars. It was a cosmic leviathan, an abomination of the deep that had surfaced to shallower waters and bloated to horrendous sizes, all pallid grey rubber and hungry suckers. It was all of these and more, a tide of discolored sludge that flickered into the semblance of form for brief instants before disjoining into meaningless slop once more.

    Mazdamundi had spoken truly, for the fog daemon had grown strong with the slann inside of it. Its attack was quick as thought, a vast wall of its soulstuff lashing out in the Warp, washing over the slann, completely submerging them in its essence. Their communion shook at the power behind the blow, but they had been prepared, and held strong. They did not attempt to hold off the force of the daemon's attack, but instead reinforced their bonds to each other and dove, plunging into the ocean of fugue that was the daemon, the luminescence of their souls lighting the way.

    They moved quickly, and the daemon seemed unable to accurately pinpoint their position within itself, its broad nature not suited for this sort of spiritual exercise. The slann moved through vast dark chasms, the inner landscape of the daemon shifting to the bottom of a lightless sea. The slann were attacked there by many creatures, mere fragments of its gargantuan power. Many of them were spawned by concepts they recognized from their sibling slann's thoughts, carnivorous mathematical formulae and cannibalistic theorems seeking to grow their influence upon the greater being they were part of by accumulating power. The slann did not destroy these proto-daemons, though they were wholly capable of it, for fear of alerting the fog's greater self, which manifested occasionally as an incomprehensibly vast abyssal creature, fumbling through the depths of its own being with blind claws.

    The slann sought the chains that bound their brethren, and after a long while they found them, ancient rusting links that stretched in spatially impossible directions to basalt statues representing the slann that they bound. The slann conjured great pickaxes out of light and heat and swung them at the many chains that bound the fifth generation, working as quickly as they were able. They had no means to disguise the great clangor this generated, and it was not long before the fog's self-awareness came, clad in the form of a many-limbed cephalopod horror, its sheer size forcing a wall of water before it.

    The slann were ready, and scattering before the titanic entity's wake, they grabbed the multitude of chains around them and cast them around the daemon's form, tangling it thoroughly. As the creature thrashed and raged, they combined their mental energies once more, producing a lance of impossibly bright flame that struck the creature in the flank, heating the metal of the chains overlaying it to such a degree that they burned great scars into the skin of the creature.

    They scattered before the daemon's rage, as the pain of their attack drew enough of its self-knowledge to itself that it realized the chains were a part of itself and absorbed them. Each slann burrowed down into a different crevice in the illusory inner world of the daemon, even as its primary awareness screeched and dove after but one or two of them. They bored through layers of metal and rock, piercing the mantle that was only there because they expected it to be with unnatural swiftness and employing geokinesis to draw great skeins of it up into contact with the ocean. A great cry echoed out as the two opposing elements made contact, mutually annihilating each other and producing vast amounts of choking steam. It was a gurgling wail of pain and anger, and it grew world-shatteringly loud as the pain finally became enough for the daemon to fully realize where the slann were within it.

    The clouds of steam thickened, their substance becoming dense and cloying, and they expanded like a reality-eating cancer, swallowing everything around it until all was once again fog. The slann reeled each other in, joining their minds for protection as a million billion eyes that were also slavering maws opened up around them, looming closer and closer while salivating streams of narcotic liquid from their reddened sclera. The jaws gaped wider and wider...

    And a hissing, bone-chilling rattling cry echoed through the Warp, giving the fog daemon pause. Through twenty of its innumerable pupils, the slann could faintly glimpse the form of Teninhuan ripping the heart out of a tentacled beast in front of a baying crowd.

    Sotek had come.

    He crashed into the daemon with a full-body blow, armored in scales a mile thick with his tail stretching off into infinity. He was raging, a furious red tangle of constant movement with a split tail and twin fangs that shone like stars. The Warp rocked as the fog daemon was pushed back, crying out in agony as the serpent god plunged his fangs into its chest and injected enough venom to fill a small ocean. It reached out and grabbed the god with a grossly distended hand made up of weeping faces, pulling with the strength of a titan. Sotek thrashed in its grip, musclebound limbs growing like a time-lapse from his sides. He pulled out one of his own teeth, and holding it like a dagger, plunged it directly into a swollen eye on the creature's wrist, rupturing it and sending thick ichor spilling across the sea of souls.

    The slann seized their opportunity, using the daemon's distraction to dart up onto its newly-manifested head, so large that their spiritual presences were like gnats next to it. They flew up into its hair, which was made up of four hundred eighty five tendrils of inflamed, throbbing flesh, each with a pustule resembling a slann at the end of them. They worked quickly, chiseling away at the thinner strands of flesh with magic and crystallized will. The landscape that was the giant rocked as they worked, Sotek not letting up on the creature for even an instant.

    The god battled against the daemon with a berserker fury, the rage that had been stoked within the hearts of his followers at the corruption of Pestilens for over a millennium being unleashed upon the creature. It was an entity of passivity and ensnarement, and though it was ancient and massive and strong, it was not made for battle in the way that Sotek was. It shifted form, going from a sky-shattering titan to a gibbering creature of a billion and one limbs, and he followed, dissolving from a planet-encircling snake to a chromatic swarm of smaller scaled beasts that bit and stabbed and tore. He was everywhere, flowing in, under, and around the fog's defences, and while he occupied the entirety of the creature's attention the slann continued their task, severing a great many of the cords that bound their brethren to the monster. The daemon cried out in pain each time a connection was severed, and the errant soul floated up, out of sight of the warp.

    Skill is paramount in warfare, but perhaps more important is luck, and after a small eternity chance turned against Sotek. The creature stuck him in place with a flood of coagulated blood, and then slammed down once, twice, three colossal blows with childlike fists that tore great chunks out of the war god's hide. Sotek crashed to the ground, suddenly miles down at the titan's feet, and the creature turned its attention once more to the slann. Scooping them off of itself with a single pseudopod, it looked at them, held inescapably within its grip, with something approaching confusion. How could such minuscule things have caused it such pain?

    The eyes of the slann glowed in one final burst of defiance, and a focused lance of energy zapped outward, piercing directly into the creature's vast eye. It shrieked with pain and sudden wrath, great tears flooding from its cyclopean aperture, each the size of an inland sea. The daemon furiously blinked its vision clear, its colossal brow crinkling as it beheld something new.

    A sun had risen in the warp, vast and golden and so bright it was near-blinding. It rose from what could be faintly perceived as the ethereal reflections of the temple-cities, strands of energy feeding into it as they had done for a decade. Now at long last the accumulation of necessary power was done, and the light of magic shone brilliantly in the Sea of Souls.

    "BEGONE, ABBERATION," Mazdamundi proclaimed, and the full force of a Geomantic Ritual crashed into the daemon's substance, striking like an apocalypse.

    It was a blast wind that scoured flesh down to the soul. It was a bludgeon from the hammers ancient titans of the cosmos had used to forge planets, carrying force sufficient to crack continental plates. It was an explosion, channeled to an infinitesimal thinness by a mind of adamant will. A merciless line of light, split into seven trillion fractal angles of annihilation. It was power, and even the fog daemon could not stand against it.

    Its soul-flesh blistered, boiled, and burst. Its spiritual architecture was shattered by the hurricane force of the Ritual, what semblance of conscious activity it had pieced together burned to dust and scattered to the corners of the Warp. In the fading echo of the detonation, all that could be seen of the creature were scattered wisps of fog that slowly, ever so slowly, began to piece themselves back together.

    The mind fog has been assaulted and greatly weakened! Multiple Attack Avenues bonus triggered!

    Fog coverage of the 5th generation has been reduced from 55% to 20% by the combined efforts of the slann, Sotek, and the Geomantic Ritual!

    Fog coverage of the 4th generation has been reduced from 65% to 55% by the power of the Geomantic Ritual!

    Fog coverage of the 3rd generation has been reduced from 75% to 70% by the power of the Geomantic Ritual!

    Fog coverage of the 2nd generation has been reduced from 85% to 80% by the power of the Geomantic Ritual!


    --------------------

    Itza population growth: 50,000 Saurus, 100,000 Skinks, 10,000 Kroxigor
    Hexoatl population growth: 30,000 Saurus, 60,000 Skinks, 6,000 Kroxigor
    Tlaxtlan population growth: 30,000 Saurus, 60,000 Skinks, 6,000 Kroxigor
    Xlanhuapec population growth: 20,000 Saurus, 40,000 Skinks, 4,000 Kroxigor
    Yenehectua population growth: 20,000 Saurus, 40,000 Skinks, 4,000 Kroxigor

    Hexoatl produced no Dread Saurians or Coatl.
    Itza produced 1 Dread Saurian and 1 Coatl.
    Xlanhuapec produced 2 Coatl.
    Tlaxtlan produced 3 Dread Saurians.
    Yenehectua produced 4 Coatl.
     
    Sreeves and thedarkfourth like this.
  13. Xantalos
    Skink

    Xantalos New Member

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    [X] Plan Scry, Die, And Goodbye.

    Examine Tablets of the Old Ones, Forging Districts: Twenty Five 5th Generation Slann.

    In the vast city-scape of Itza, there were many stretches of buildings that could be considered nigh-abandoned by most beings. Areas larger than whole villages often went untouched for years at a time, going decades without seeing more than one or two lizardmen in them at a time. This was a common occurrence in all temple-cities, the purposeless shells of forgotten districts preserved without thought, save for when the stone in their walls was needed to repair more critical areas, but in Itza the phenomenon was to a whole different degree. Were it not for the vigilance of the saurus, whole tribes could set up residence in the First City's empty places and never see a lizardman for their entire lives.

    Sharply angled stone walls echoed the sound of vast, trudging feet for miles. A Kroxigor strode through the empty city, scaled head swinging back and forth as it took in its desolate surroundings. Upon its broad shoulders a skink perched, adorned with the ceremonial headdress and staff that marked him as a priest. His face was concealed by a mask of polished stone inscribed with Chamon-attuned runes, and his gaze flitted back and forth from building to building as his companion trudged down the wide avenue.

    "Pause, B'b," he chirped suddenly, and the Kroxigor halted midstep, weight partially transferred to his front foot but arrested by his muscle control. "There, between the pillars. It is what our master showed to us!"

    The Kroxigor's head lifted up to look at what his companion was indicating, elevating the skink in the process as he gazed up at a building with many stories. Images flashed behind his eyes, vague flashes of knowledge that he had not had previously. Their slann master had made mention of secrets of construction, contraptions, forging that he and his kin had deduced via extensive study of the Tablets. Now not-recollections of the same concepts flickered in and out of his mind, and he knew on a level deeper than thought what the slann had sent them there for.

    The skink priest, Tza-Ini, yelped as B'b suddenly began to move again, causing him to nearly lose his balance. "Hold, B'b," he chirped. "We do not know if any wards have been left upon this place!"

    "No," came the rumbled reply as the kroxigor walked in between the gargantuan pillars that seemed to serve as the entryway. "Not a place of guarding."

    The pair proceeded into a wide chamber that was bereft of any furnishing save for a gargantuan piece of stone in the center that resembled nothing so much as a box that was open at the top, situated directly underneath a hole in the ceiling of the same size. There was little light in the room save for that which shone in thin strips through the small, slitted windows lining the upper walls. B'b marched up to the stone box, then paused, his unspoken insight telling him this thing was important but not how, nor what to do from there.

    Tza-Ini clambered down from his companion's back, looking at the edifice through the magical vision of his mask. To his eyes, it was a mere square tube of unadorned stone, but through the mask he saw things differently - skeins of energy wove themselves through the entire building in unusual densities, with a particularly large number of them converging under the stone artifact. He peered closer, reaching out with his mind and power to one strand in particular that resonated in some ineffable way with him. It was familiar. He was certain that if he could just examine it a little more closely, he could figure out what exactly it was.

    Tza-ini's hand stopped short just before it could touch the artifact, and the power in his soul was effortlessly dissipated as a voice echoed into his mind. That would be dangerous, emissary. He was treated to the sensation of his limb retracting on its own, his body standing and shifting independently of his will as his slann master occupied the controlling space of his consciousness. He could feel the shifting of his master's mind against his own, the inscrutable machinations of the slann's mind seeming like the shifting cogs of some vast machine.

    "Ah," his mouth spoke with a reverbating voice as the slann found what he was looking for. "B'b, grasp the edifice. I will show you how to move it." He walked to B'b's side as the kroxigor bent down, vast hands grasping onto the sides of the stone. Tza-ini felt the slann's mind extend outwards, and B'b blinked once in comprehension. Then his arms jerked with tremendous force, and with a deeply echoing crack, the stone block shifted a crucial fraction of an inch. Immediately Tza-ini could sense the difference in the energies pooling in the ground beneath his feet - yes there was the essence of storm and sky, but that was merely a guide, a framework. The vast majority was rigid, golden gleaming earth, and inside and around and intertwined with it was riotous fire. He felt the slann's presence reach out and grasp the two opposing winds in a way he could not perceive - Ker'mit's thoughts were running on two alternate patterns simultaneously, neither of which made any sense to him. The slann grasped them and moved them and the two became one, as a column of lava erupted out of the stone.

    Tza-ini fell backwards, landing hard on his tail and opening his eyes as the presence of his master left his mind. Before him there was something quite spectacular - a column of lava, constrained by magic to be perfectly square, extended up from the stone artifact, up through the hole in the ceiling to the next floor. It lit the room up with a gently fluctuating reddish glow, and waves of heat rippled outward from it.

    B'b turned to face him, the light from the column silhouetting the kroxigor and casting his shadow over half the room. "Tza-ini," he rumbled, his voice inscrutable.

    "Yes?"

    B'b motioned to the lava. "Not a ward."

    Forging Districts researched! They have been set up in Itza and Qotlpetl as part of the research process, but other cities will take 1 action each to establish them. New actions unlocked.

    Deific Template: Twenty Four 5th Generation Slann.

    A god's story was its life. Its birth was written in the faith of its followers, and it grew and changed as it helped its faithful through the world. When they died, it was not by choice or age, but because their stories ceased to be told. Stories were everything to gods - words were their blood, names and titles and mighty deeds their bones.

    Sotek was no different in this regard - he had made himself known as a furious protector during the war against the ratmen, a vigilant sentry who would venture out and destroy threats to the lizardmen before they grew rather than building fortresses to endure attacks. That was what he was, and the myths told of him reflected this truth. Snakes shed their skin because the serpent god used his own as a decoy to fool a daemon. When a meteor shower occurred, it was Sotek's multitudinous brood that lived among the stars chasing a daemon out of the sky.

    It was by these stories that Sotek's cult blended reality with the truths of their god. The aim of the slann was to determine how a narrative for any sort of deity might be constructed, so in order to attain the fullest comprehension of how such a structure was built, the mage-lords had to go through the process backwards - collecting the innumerable explanations and anecdotes that made up the structure of the snake god and picking them apart to their roots, seeing how they related to reality instead of how reality was reflected in Sotek.

    To that end, the circle of slann invited numerous priests of Sotek to share the legends of their god throughout the decade. They were inundated with stories, from the great saga of Sotek's birth to apocryphal legends of his deeds in the spirit realm. There were cautionary tales, religious anecdotes, even battle strategies recorded and ritualized as tellings of how Sotek defeated a foe with the espoused tactic. The slann listened to all of these stories, their skink attendants inscribing them on stone tablets, and began to decipher them, analyzing their structure, what their purpose was, what they connected to. They communed with each other in the Warp around the temple-cities and told the stories to each other, watching how the soul realm twisted and rippled as their voices inscribed a narrative into its substance.

    As the slann delved into more and more detail in their analysis of Sotek's myriad stories, they gradually found themselves identifying several key elements that, put together, formed Sotek fully.

    The first was perhaps the most obvious, the identity and personality of the god themselves. This was perhaps the smallest actual part of Sotek or any other god, although it was the one that saw the most interaction with other entities. It was seen in the forms the god took, what they loved, what they hated, by what blessings and manifestations their will was known through. A god was the main character in its own story, and establishing its character was a vital step in ensuring that the rest of its narrative functioned well.

    Next was the god's way of being - how exactly a god tended to start their stories informed a host of qualities that would help determine how the rest of their narrative flowed. Whether it was the story of their birth or not, the way they began their stories influenced their character to a great extent - what method of worship they favored was found here, for that was how gods were birthed, as well as the general scope of their personality, aesthetic flavor of their blessings, and most importantly, what variety of god they were. This was to gods as a profession was to mortals - Sotek was a war god, but more specifically he was the god of bloodshed, of berserk wrath that rushed forth and destroyed those who would dare to intrude upon lizardmen territory. He reminded them not to sit in their cities and ossify as the world moved around them, but to go out and destroy burgeoning threats before they could grow.

    The final element the slann picked apart was the most broad and basic, but also the most important. It was the foundation of the aetheric construction that was any spirit, the reason their stories were told in the first place. It was the god's reason for being - every story, and thus every spirit, had some reason for existing in the first place, a need in their tellers that they filled. Sotek fulfilled the lizardmen's need for protection against corrupt and evil beings they could not otherwise match. This formed the basis for everything else Sotek was - he was a war god because his story was told through the lens of war. Without this, the rest of his structure would fall apart as it became meaningless personality traits and character details that had no place without the story that framed them.

    It was these three principles, the Reason, Way, and Being, that the slann teased from the library of stories surrounding and making up Sotek. They would be the foundation of new narratives, new gods for the lizardmen to worship and sustain. But left without symbolic flesh to cover them, a story to serve as a skin, the bones the slann had made would be of no use, and they had not told any stories in a very long time.

    They convened in a temple in Itza that had once belonged to a member of the First Generation. There, awake and aware as they had not been able to be for uncounted years, they shared stories with each other. Initially they were exacting, matter-of-fact recollections of events they had witnessed - a slann would relay the account of how a skink priest serving him had taken Sotek as a god and changed as a result, sharing data on how the skink's soul had fluctuated and grown, showing the progression of the serpent god's blessings in minute detail. Others shared analysis of various jungle species, or of the progress of the newest temple-city's construction. They relayed the bulk of these accounts telepathically, for speaking the details aloud simply generated moving images of the events in question, a waste of magical energy.

    They had been fruitlessly attempting to create stories in this manner for well over four years when one of the slann, Lord Krepacl, his mind eager for more productive avenues of thought, gazed upon the script carved into the rock of their chamber that indicated it as belonging to the slann Blotbova. He sighed, and from his mouth cascaded a scene driven by his memory, made of Ulgu and Shyish and minute amounts of all the other winds.

    "Lord Blotbova saved my life during the Catastrophe," he began, and his voice conjured up the image of himself as he had been those ten thousand years ago - physically much the same, but with a spirit that any of them could see was immature and meek compared to his current state. The Krepacl simulacrum sat on his palanquin next to many other junior slann, gazing up at a slann that was far larger and wiser-seeming than them.

    "The polar gates had collapsed, and much of the Web with them. The world outside of the temple-cities was so suffused with warp essence that we were confined to our Star Chambers for our own safety, and daemons assailed the walls constantly." The miniature slann were divided into stone boxes inside a rough representation of a temple-city, which was then attacked by a writhing tide of monsters, looming creatures with exaggerated features and long, lanky shadows.

    "None of our generation knew what to do - we had been spawned only a few centuries before, and there was no precedent for an incident of this scale."

    "But Blotbova did."


    The large slann in the image reached out with ropes of scintillating light to each of the junior slann, binding them together in a miniature communion. From their chambers they pooled their powers and struck back against the daemon hordes, blasting them again and again with bolts of incandescent power. It was a devastating display of arcane might, but the shadowy monsters kept coming in greater numbers, and soon neared the point of overwhelming the city.

    "We could not hold forever, and there was no way to stop the influx of daemons. So Blotbova taught us the means of self-relocation through the ethereal planes, and told us to evacuate to Xlanhuapec. He would hold the warp-hosts off long enough for us to make the transition safely. We refused, because as a member of the First, his life was worth more than all of ours. But he judged otherwise."

    The large slann gestured, and his juniors vanished, their own energies unwillingly redirected into casting the teleportation spell. With them gone, the tide of daemons closed in on Blotbova, who closed his eyes serenely as his aura began to charge up with a terrifying glow. The image dispersed in a cloud of glowing particulate, and Krepacl looked up at his brethren. "That moment was important, and I have never forgotten it," he said. "I think this is what stories are - accounts of events have no value to the soul if they lack resonance and meaning."

    For a moment, there was silence. Then, understanding bloomed, and the speaking began.

    "I once communed with the spirit of my mentor Aztlecl after his death."

    "My Eternity Warden carried me out of Quetza when the Xa'kota plagued it from below."

    "I witnessed the battle of a Thunder Lizard with a cephalopod from the depths of the sea."


    They relayed these snippets of their lives to each other, and as they grew more skilled at conveying what had meaning, their voices sculpted the tales into self-sustaining enchantments. The slann examined these thoroughly, and from the few that stayed stable without outside input, they were able to draw up a comprehensive documentation of what forms of narrative would need to be constructed in order to ensure a healthy warp entity was developed. This knowledge was inscribed upon beaten tablets of gold, and stored with care within the deepest archives of the temple-cities, where the most complete records of the Plan were kept.

    Divine Template completed, allowing for the construction of lizardmen gods. New options unlocked.

    Found New City, Improve New City: 2 Hexoatl Actions, 1 Itza Actions, 2 Yenehectua Actions, Awanabil’tat, Kroq-Gar, Tiqtak'to, Chakax.
    Improve Xlanhuapec to Level 3: 2 Xlanhuapec Actions and 1 Tlaxtlan Action.


    The elder councils of lizardmen society had convened in the wake of the revelation of the Ork threat and determined that passivity was not a viable strategy for retaining a long-term presence upon Mochantia. Though the existing cities had to be improved as much as they were able to, it was recognized by the skink elders that ran the day-to-day logistics of the lizardmen that more bodies would be of immense value in fighting off the greenskins if it came to an invasion by the full Waaagh. The only safe way to establish more spawning pools was to build more cities, so more cities had to be raised.

    Awanabil'tat was the strongest proponent of this philosophy, having seen firsthand the drastic effect of a reactive approach to defense in the Southlands. He eventually swayed the majority opinion to his view with the aid of the cult of Sotek, which enjoyed a much larger presence in lizardmen society than it ever had before. With the assistance of several high-ranking priests of the serpent god, Awanabil'tat was able to assemble an expedition comparable in size to the one used to raise Yenehectua.

    They traveled until they reached the sea, the unnaturally straight coastline of Mochantia stretching out into the distance in either direction. The creatures here were thus those adapted to moving through water, and more often than not were fully amphibious. Naturally buoyant vines grew into colonies at the roots of trees that stood on the edge of the water, serving as shelter for some waterborne creatures, and predator for others which did not know to avoid the trigger hairs lining their inner layers. When a colony grew large enough it would split, part of it forming a raft that would float with the currents until it landed upon a suitable place to take root.

    There were several different species and varieties of these types of plants, and some of them had adapted more fully to the water, becoming floating habitats for the various species of fish that lived in the waters close to shore. Further out into the ocean they grew larger, several colonies often joining together into conglomerates the size of small buildings that actively preyed on other such collections.

    A large portion of those lizardmen travelling to build and live in the city were faithful to Sotek, and it showed. Where previously Kroq-Gar and his saurus legions had traveled to the chosen site beforehand and cleared it of harmful beasts and Ayacmanik, here the colonists themselves travelled to the site in active war parties, coordinated not only by the ancient saurus leader but by the priests of Sotek, driving back the jungle with fang and fire. It was well that they displayed such fervor, for it had been judged that the amount of military strength committed in clearing Yenehectua's site could not be assigned to the effort this time. In the absence of the ability to completely clear the area, the cultists of Sotek held the line while construction took place, battling back opportunistic foragers and creeping flora.

    Somewhat fortunately, the Ayacmanik presence in the area seemed to mostly be focused upon breeding and raising soldier bodies to send against the orks - though there were enough of them to be comparable to the colonies around Hexoatl in numbers, they were fairly passive in behavior. Many of their host bodies were a species that were born in the water, and spent their first years as a stingray-like creature that used its flippers and long, spider-like legs to maneuver around the root networks on the shoreline. As they matured, their legs thickened and grew claws. They then clambered out of the water to become a more tree-dwelling species of arachnid crab-clawed creatures that held a potent venom in their stingers and could crack stone with their mandibles. A great many processions of these creatures were seen marching northeast through the jungle, practically boring a way through the underbrush. Aside from the occasional scout, the hive-soul's attention was clearly focused on other things than the lizardmen.

    The city was raised quickly, the aid of active experience with an endeavor of this scale combined with inborn knowledge letting the kroxigor build temples and raise housing districts smoothly and ceaselessly. Here too the priesthood of Sotek left its mark, many of the skink artisans leaving the walls and columns of the growing city festooned with carvings of snakes and Sotek's symbol, the twin-tailed comet. They conducted grand rituals as the temples of their god were built, consecrating them with blood, and many more places dedicated to Sotek were constructed than was otherwise normal.

    At last the work was done, and the city was dubbed Qotlpetl, Stronghold of Serpents. In commemoration, the priests of Sotek held a grand ceremony celebrating the foundation of what was likely to become the central home of their faith for many centuries. The ceremony lasted several months, with chants echoing off the stones and the blood of sacrifices running freely through the gutters. The large amounts of dead corpses attracted many scavengers to the outskirts of the city, including a curious species of snakelike creatures that produced a potent venom and grew to reach formidable lengths. Many theological debates were produced as a result of the significance many priests attributed to the presence of the creatures, but all agreed that it was a good omen for the Cult and Qotlpetl.

    New City Founded - Qotlpetl, Stronghold of Serpents! It has been founded at geomantic level 2, with all appropriate patrols, defenses, and spawning pools set up. Ayacmanik presence in the area is Moderate. See front page for more info.

    ----------​

    As the bulk of the lizardmen's construction efforts made their way towards Qotlpetl, there were some who turned their eyes east. Xlanhuapec was the closest city to the orkoid incursion, and thus would inevitably become the first to be assaulted should the savage creatures ever learn of the existence of the lizardmen - and over the long term, that 'if' became a 'when'.

    So did veritable trains of kroxigor swim through the canals of the City of Mists, periodically diving deep to inspect the underwater foundations of many of its structures. Fog ghosted off of the water's surface as they worked, the residue of Lord Chaacalot's ceaseless enchantment having embedded itself into the bones of the city after thousands of years. Though the second generation slann had left, and taken his knowledge of the mists that had cloaked the city for eons with him, the concealment had become on some level enmeshed with Xlanhuapec's identity, and so with the power of the Web flowing through it the streets of the city draped themselves in a cloak of fog, a great sheen of Ulgu permeating the entire vicinity. This only intensified as the city was improved upon, and it soon became a common occurrence for stray jungle creatures that had the misfortune to wander into Xlanhuapec's vicinity to become irrevocably lost, often stumbling around in a circle until they dropped dead, all the while thinking they were wandering endlessly through an unending plane of fog.

    It made gathering food an easier task.

    Xlanhuapec has been upgraded to level 3.

    Unleash The Serpent: Teninhuan and Ten 5th Generation Slann.
    Perform Geomantic Ritual X2, Magnitude 1(2), Targeting the Mind Fog: Mazdamundi
    Dispel The Mind Fog, 5th and 4th Generations: Six 3rd Generation Slann, Fourty Three 4th Generation Slann, One Hundred and Ninty Three 5th Generation Slann.


    The Sublime Communion had endured the weight of the fog daemon upon their consciousnesses for untold millennia. Always it had been an omnipresent weight, an immutable aspect of reality that had been imposed upon them when Chaos broke into the world their creators had made them for. The remedies that had been attempted to alleviate the constant pressure upon their minds had been as varied as clouds in the sky - some slann had choked down foul concoctions of herbs and stones with wakeful properties, while some had their skink attendants massage numbing salves into their scalps to ease the headaches. Some had refused to leave their star chambers for hundreds of years at a time, believing that a lack of contact with the tainted outside air would alleviate their symptoms. Still others attempted magical remedies, or meditated in the tombs of their dead brethren, or spent much of their lucid time destroying the enemies of the lizardmen in errant attempts to stoke the battle fervor that saurus spoke of within themselves. None of these had truly worked, and whatever the slann tried, the fugue inevitably claimed them again and again.

    Now, through decades of toil and effort, the true source of their ailments had been made clear, and the slann found that the solution to their problems was evident - the entity assailing them was a cancerous creature, bound by its nature to rapaciously smother the souls of the slann within itself and never let go. In a correctly ordered universe, such an entity would never have existed. It was an aberration, a grand cosmic mistake for all that it had been crafted by the hands of daemon lords.

    The slann had been made to correct the mistakes of the natural order.

    They surged into the Warp in their hundreds, numbers that, save for the Deliverance, had not been mustered in more than eight thousand years. They dove into the Sea of Souls through the gateways that were the minds of their still-sleeping brethren, and there they found the daemon waiting for them.

    The temple-cities had reflections of sorts in the Warp, an ethereal landscape that was illuminated by the brightness of the Geomantic Web. It showed itself as a glowing network of impossibly complex glyphs, flowing through streets and across landscapes with rivers of energy as wide as actual waterways. Standing atop all of it was a colossal tentacled spider, a creature of dripping slime and flowing mud that darkened the sky with its bulk and stared at the slann with one hundred fifty-nine beady eyes. Even the smallest of its limbs was wider than the pyramids of the cities it squatted over, and the drool cascading from its jaws contorted into grasping hands reaching desperately at nothing. The creature was bound by the terms of its creation to hunger for the souls of the slann, and after its previous defeat it now knew expanses of pain and woe that it had never conceived of previously. The presence of willing prey before it was too great of a temptation to resist - it exploded into motion, all of its limbs reaching desperately for the slann at once, sprouting screaming maws all along their lengths that wailed and gnashed their pointed teeth.

    The slann were ready. The eyes of the six elders of the third generation flashed and a great thunderbolt - wider than the creature itself - rocketed down from above, striking the daemon mid-leap and knocking it bodily to the immaterial ground. Temples broke into fragments of light as its colossal bulk collapsed, and the aftershocks of its fall crumbled even more of the ethereal city.

    The fourth generation spoke a word and the lightning solidified and stretched out, extending into a burning net of white fire that anchored into the ground and shrank once it had covered the entirety of the daemon, burning its flesh with a searing shriek that echoed through the shared soulspace they fought in. The daemon melted into fog and oozed out in between the gaps of the net, whereupon the fifth generation compressed their magical construct yet further, shrinking it down to the size of a pinprick, until it shone with the light of a star. From there it expanded as a tremendous explosion, the blast wave catching the daemon off-guard and tearing the mist that comprised it to tatters.

    The slann closed their eyes as the shockwave washed over them, and when they opened them again, the daemon had reconstituted itself. It resembled nothing so much as a gargantuan pile of sludge the size of a mountain, with many weeping sores and jagged chasms constantly opening and closing upon its surfaces that let out piteous moans. It lurched towards the slann with wobbly, tottering movements, its substance squelching and oozing towards the Communion as it bayed with a hundred thousand starving throats.

    They struck it with every element imaginable - gouts of fire, gargantuan spikes of ice, razor-sharp bursts of air and bolts of pure cutting force fashioned out of adamantine will. Its essence withered under their pitiless assault, struck from every conceivable avenue. It held immense power within its bulk, but it was a creature of unending suffocation and stagnancy, not of change and combat. It had struggled greatly to compete with the slann when it had held the majority of their souls within its gullet, and now the spawn of the Old Ones stood against it in enough numbers that they over-matched it in sheer strength. It was not a question of if, but when the daemon would taste oblivion.

    And the slann were not the only threat the fog daemon had to contend with.

    As it was driven out of the spiritual representation of the temple-cities and towards the reflection of the Mochantian jungle, something glinted far above the combatants, rapidly growing brighter and brighter. A shining beacon with two trailing tracks, a twin-tailed comet that cast a film of blood-red illumination over the entire battlefield. As it descended, the echoes of thundering chants could be faintly perceived, the exhortations of Teninhuan and his followers imploring their god to follow the slann into battle once more.

    Sotek crashed into the fog daemon with all the force of the meteor he manifested himself as, plowing into the creature and latching onto it with a death grip as they tore a great furrow into the earth. The daemon squealed in pain as they tumbled. Dozens of holes were torn into its vast frame with tooth and claw and tail in seconds, injecting oceans of venom and ripping free great gobbets of warp-flesh. The daemon bled furiously, sheets of fluid coursing down its flanks and cascading upon the ground, where every drop transformed into a subsidiary daemon that represented a thought of the slann that had been smothered at some point in time. Sotek responded in kind, shedding thousands of his scales in an elegant twist, and as he continued to assault the main body of the daemon, these shed scales morphed into angry figures, skink-like humanoids that wielded two bright red fangs as swords and chittered constantly in shrill, agitated voices. These scale-men clashed against the thought-daemons, the warring of their miniature armies mirroring the battle of their parents.

    However, the purpose of this fight was not merely to inflict damage upon the creature, but to dispel it and end its affliction of the slann. With the daemon weakened by their initial assault and now occupied by Sotek, it was possible for the slann to focus fully on their actual objective. As one, they blinked their eyes, retracting one of their many layers of nictitating membranes, and changed their sight. The grotesque creature the daemon had formed itself into, the furious tangle of the serpent god, the spiritual representation of the jungle, the temple-cities, all of it vanished, instead replaced by something more simple yet also by far more complex - a conceptual framework.

    The daemon was an unhealthily vast accumulation of [sloth] and [entropy] and [rest], ballooned vastly larger than what was naturally sustainable in the Warp. It was simple in a way that mortal souls could never be, and though it was bloated and powerful, it possessed none of the complexities that even an animal's thoughts held. The slann reached out and tore into this vast blank canvas of fugue, attacking it with concentrated scalpels of [waking] and [energy]. They carved great portions of it out and tore the excess warp-matter off to reveal the souls of their brethren, the lodestones that kept the daemon's self from collapsing. As the souls gained awareness and vanished back to their material bodies, great swathes of daemon-flesh shrivelled and rotted away, robbed of the power that had sustained them.

    After a subjective aeon and an objective instant, the souls of many slann had been freed, and the strength of both the Communion and Sotek had been largely spent. The serpent god slithered off into the depths of the Warp to recuperate, hissing promises of future destruction as he went, and the slann too made ready to exit the Immaterium. But there was one more gambit they had to deploy, and they could feel in their mind their elder's acknowledgement of readiness.

    Above the spiritual mirror of Itza's mountainous center did the slann gather themselves and let their souls shine brightly, focusing the luminescence of their being directly towards the senses of the fog daemon. It came, as it inevitably would, an immense thunderclouds of mist drifting in from the horizon, coiling tendrils reaching out towards them to draw them in, seeking to add them to the collection of glowing lights at its core. They were just shy of touching the defenseless slann when the Web pulsed with an immense surge of power, and a cataclysmic boom echoed out through the Immaterium. A wall of force surged out from Hexoatl, ramming directly into the daemon's form and shearing into its being with enough force to scatter it into many small pieces. As the daemon wailed in continued frustration, the slann vanished from the spirit realm, their task done.

    The mind fog has been assaulted and greatly weakened! Multiple Attack Avenues bonus triggered!

    Fog coverage of the 5th generation has been reduced from 20% to 0% by the combined efforts of the slann, Sotek, and the Geomantic Ritual!

    Fog coverage of the 4th generation has been reduced from 55% to 15% by the power of the slann, Sotek, and the Geomantic Ritual!

    Fog coverage of the 3rd generation has been reduced from 70% to 67% by the power of the Geomantic Ritual!


    Behead The Beast: 1 Tlaxtlan Action and 1 Itza Action.
    Scry and Spy, Ork Edition/The Warboss, The Meks, The Weapons, The Shamans: Twenty 5th Generation Slann.
    Perform Geomantic Ritual X2, Magnitude 1, Targeting the Mek Project: Mazdamundi.


    The lizardmen had watched the progress of the ork Waaagh!!! from afar for two decades, and the eldest saurus Oldbloods had judged with the ease of long experience that if the greenskins were left alone they would quickly enter a period of great expansion. As more orks made their way to the middle continent and the momentum of their campaign against the Ayacmanik grew, they would gain more and more territory and entrench themselves firmly into the ground with their mobile ecosystem. If not disrupted early on, they could potentially take centuries to fully purge from lizardmen territory.

    Thus it was decided that in order to preserve the current state of strategic camouflage, where the orks were in a containable state and had no knowledge of the lizardmen's presence, that their warboss would have to be assassinated before he could build too much strength. With their leadership gone, the orks would hopefully fall into a state of infighting, robbing them of their fervor and unity.

    A conclave of fifth generation slann thus spent over seven years observing everything they could about the ork horde while a team of assassins was prepared, examining the strange projectile weapons they bore, their leader, their oddly potent shamans, and perhaps most crucially, the construct that the bulk of their technology caste was feverishly focused on completing. Their spirits left their bodies for many months at a time, drifting high above the heads of the greenskinned masses. No matter where they went, they were never hard to find - everywhere the orks were, the psychic echo of their gestalt field followed, an eternal warcry unifying their species.

    The 'shootaz' or 'gunz' of the orks proved to be a curious concept - they were very similar to certain weapons that human intruders had borne when they had first crept into Lustria, only somehow both more and less advanced. The guns the humans had wielded had been examined briefly by the slann back then and deemed an ineffective weapon for the effort of producing it - while the projectiles they fired had impressive penetration and stopping power for their size, their observed tendency to jam or misfire in adverse or dirty environments combined with their tedious and slow method of firing made them either not useful for combating the heavily armored foes the lizardmen routinely fought, or too loud for the purposes of ambush warfare.

    The guns the orks used, on the other hand, were different - they were even more simplistic and unreliable, seemingly having been designed to be as loud, unwieldy, and intimidating as possible. But aside from their shoddy construction, they actually worked as intended a fair portion of the time, and more to the point could fire their projectiles in rapid succession, a rolling, booming rhythm of thunder that the orks called dakka. They were obsessed with the concept, and even those that did not belong to the mek caste spent a large portion of their time attempting to obtain as much dakka as they could - whether the word referred to guns, bullets, or the firing of such depended seemingly on the whim of the ork in question.

    When they were not falling apart or blowing up in their wielder's faces, the ork shootaz were devastatingly effective - a single ork boy equipped with a 'slugga' could kill many times his own number in Ayacmanik bodies without suffering a scratch if his aim was good and he didn't decide to run into melee range while still firing. The potential for these sorts of weapons turned to lizardmen hands was high, and so did the skink attendants of the slann faithfully jot down notes and diagrams that their masters implanted into their minds. It would require some work to find out how to build guns that did not run on blind faith as the orks did, but the reward was evident.

    The reason the ork's guns could fire in the first place despite often missing crucial parts such as the trigger was not entirely clear, but was fairly clearly tied into their psychic field, so the logical next avenue of observation was the psykers that the orks called weirdboyz. The staff-wielding shamans were an eccentric lot even by ork standards, each given to its own peculiar obsessions and intricacies, but the slann quickly observed three commonalities surrounding them - first, that they could sense the astral presences of the slann, albeit vaguely and inconsistently, and often reacted with fear if they came too close to one, wailing about ghosts, something that invariably yielded guffaws and the occasional punch from other nearby orks.

    Secondly, they were not mages in the sense that the lizardmen and other species saw it - rather than reaching into the Warp for power and filtering it through their souls in order to extrude it upon the material world in the form they desired, the shamans instead harnessed their innate connection to the shared soul-field that permeated every aspect of the orks, using the collective desire for battle of their fellows to crush their foes with ethereal fists and vomit lightning. This source of power was in some ways more stable than the Warp, for it was not subject to random fluctuations in power that had been the end of many a warmblood wizard. But it also rose in potency as the orks around a weirdboy grew more agitated, and when they got involved in a battle it rose to a fever pitch, which led to the discovery of the third commonality.

    The heads of the shamans had an impressively common tendency to explode when the orks drew too deep upon their psychic field. So much so that a weirdboy's head simply exploding out of the blue was not seen as an eye-raising occurrence by anyone. This made the task of concealing their presence much easier for the slann, who were simply able to burst the head of a shaman asunder if they happened to become too aware of their presence.

    Like any mage, however, with age and experience came the ability to better control their powers, and the more senior weirdboys did not possess quite as much of an alarming rate of cranium detonations, with some even being able to use their powers mostly reliably. One of these elder weirdboyz acted as an advisor to the warboss, and as luck would have it this particular wierdboy was such an eccentric individual that the ork leader spent as little time around him as possible, enabling the slann to observe him in detail without worrying about rousing any suspicion.

    The Warboss was a fearsome individual - standing nearly three meters tall and almost as wide in the shoulder, so heavy that he shook the ground with his stride and so strong that he could crumble rock with his bare hands. He was called Wurkaz Slashytoof, so named because he had cheated the primitive economic system of the orks by pulling out all his natural teeth and shoving small daggers into his gums in their place, thus ensuring that any ork who attempted to take his teeth would only cut their hands.

    This was regarded as a move of great cunning by his subordinates, who often wondered aloud how he had gotten his teeth to grow into knives.

    He wielded a gun almost as large as his torso, with at least five redundant barrels and enough ammunition to break the back of a squig. When he chose to fight in melee combat he used a weighty hammer that was customized with many spiked chains affixed to the head of the hammer, and attached to a motor within the handle itself. With the pull of a trigger, the chains (most of the time) whirred around at great speeds, thus assuring that whatever the hammer hit would not only be crushed, but mauled by the chains as well. He wore a suit of armor that was more randomly-shaped sheets of metal than actual worked plate, that scraped and shrieked against each other whenever he moved and was in some places bolted into his flesh.

    After a preliminary observational period, the slann ceased their studies of the warboss himself, as it was evident that while a saurus scar-veteran might struggle against him due to the equipment disadvantage, any oldblood would trivially dispatch him. Instead their focus turned to the last piece of equipment he wore, something that he never removed. It hung from his neck on a squig-hide necklace alongside the teeth of many of Mochantia's predators, rather diminutive next to them but far more important to the eyes of the slann. It was a crystal, roughly the size of a skink's palm, shaped in a smooth oval and made out of the same material as that which covered the southernmost continent. It changed colors depending on the light, alternating between various soft shades of pink and blue, but was otherwise ordinary to the naked eye. To the mystic sight of the slann, however, it was a miniature sun - there was power in that stone, and it palpably expressed itself in the spirit realm, obscuring the warboss' soul entirely in its radiance. Wurkaz referred to it as his lucky pebble, and frequently rubbed it with the hand he intended to punch someone with to invoke good fortune upon his fist.

    All of this information was conveyed to a contingent of chameleon skinks who had spent the last seven years refreshing their ork-hunting techniques and retuning their venom to become lethal to the greenskins. The location and layout of Wurkaz's ramshackle city he had built on his landing site, everything regarding his usual habits, the amount of security in his fortress, and his favorite things to kill and eat were all noted down diligently by the color-changing assassins.

    "The war-leader's death is paramount," intoned the skink attendant of the fifth generation Qonzlatl. "But this amulet of his is also of great interest to the lord slann. Consider recovering it for study your second priority, even should a portion of your lives need to be sacrificed for it."

    The leader of the chameleon skinks merely blinked in response before his scales shifted and he seemed to vanish from the temple chambers. His voice was the last thing to leave, and then he was gone.

    "Acknowledged."

    ----------​

    Night, Wurkaz Slashytoof's Boss Fortress

    "- and den I threw da grot in too, which I fink mighta made it tastierer, and den I -"

    "Get to da point," Wurkaz barked, and his Warphead, a one-eyed specimen named Squinty, quieted down, a strand of drool hanging from his bottom lip. "Yoo wuz tellin me about sumfing da godz told ya, not what yer konsentrashun grog iz made of." The Warboss stood up from his slapdash boss chair inside the cavernous metal hall that was his personal quarters, walking closer. There was an slim chance the weirdboy had generated a good idea, but a chance nonetheless.

    Squinty brightened up. "Oh, yeah! Dat wuz it, thanks boss. I wuz munchin on a toasted Sameboy leg when Gork - or maybe it wuz Mork? Or wuz it Gork and Mork, I never thought uv dat... Gmork? Mgork? Mebbe dey'z just called Ork when it'z da two uv dem?" Wurkaz glared at him, and he cut himself off. "Right, right, sorry boss. Anyway, I was munchin on da hoof when da godz came to me and smacked me right on da noggin and told me, 'Oi Squinty! Derez uvver fings on da planet ta fight! Dey'd give da orks a real good scrap for sure!' And I thought dat wuz real exciting, so I came runnin up 'ere ta tell ya."

    Wurkaz sighed, shook his head, put a paternal hand on Squinty's shoulder while rubbing his amulet with the other one, then cracked his Warphead with a mighty slap across the face, sending the smaller ork flying. "I keep tellin ya, Squinty, da Sameboyz has so many different boyz wif dem dat dey'z really more like 'undreds of different types uv gits, only dey all fight da same. Dats why dey're called da Sameboyz. Da godz wuz tellin ya dat becuz you forget it all da time."

    Squinty nodded in acknowledgement as he climbed to his feet, rubbing the welt on his face. "Yeah, dat makes sense, boss. I'ze got so much waaagh in me head dat I don't got much room fer finkin. Dat's why you're da boss, becuz you'z da biggest and da clevererest!"

    Wurkaz nodded in satisfaction. "Dat's right. Now get back to yer weirdboy fings, I gotta fink on me konkwest strat-er-gee." The warphead nodded and shuffled out of the dank metal cavern that was Wurkaz's personal quarters. The Warboss sighed in relief at the shaman's departure, and stomped out onto his balcony to have a look at his Waaagh!!!

    He emerged onto a rickety metal balcony 50 meters off the ground and gazed out at his city of Smashyshinybuildyplace. It was a sprawling urban jungle of slapdash construction and smokestacks, from which the hustle and bustle of several million orks could constantly be heard, abusing gretchin, shooting things randomly, and hammering away at metal to make something flash. The buildings were often so tightly packed there was no room to move between them, and there was absolutely no planning to where things were placed - the pens of the easily-agitated war squigs were next to the gun ranges, both of which were adjacent to many ammunition stockpiles. The resultant accidents from such an arrangement had nearly burned down the city multiple times, but it kept the boyz on their toes. It was truly a sight for ork eyes.

    Seeing as it was night, it was also a sight that Wurkaz couldn't see very much of. He grunted in discontent and found himself pondering Squinty's words, something that he usually made a point of avoiding. "Sumfing else ta fight..." he mumbled, gazing across his domain. While he had been having the time of his life fighting against the sameboyz with millions of orks at his beck and call, the prospect did have a certain appeal to it. He knew just as well as any ork on Mochantia did that the only things to fight on the planet were other orks and the sameboyz, and even then a boss only managed to round up enough boyz to both fight and win against the sameboyz every once in a while. The idea of fighting, waging war against something else, something new, appealed to him in the very deepest part of his orky gut.

    He snorted and shook his head. "Yooze getting too thinky, Wurkaz," he chided himself. "An ork not liking 'aving all da fights 'e could want, all da time? Dat's krazy talk." He turned around and trudged back indoors, and paused as he saw something that had not been there before - a small bundle of golden fur with large, dark eyes and a disproportionately long tail huddled in the center of the room, trembling at the sight of the warboss.

    Wurkaz guffawed. "And Squinty sez dere isn't enuff fings ta fight! Well wot do ya say to dis? I should give 'im anuvver bash on da 'ead ta fix his finking up," he mused, walking towards the unexpected creature. "First it's time for ol' Slashytoof to have a snack, though." He bent down and picked the creature up by the tail, chuckling at how it instinctively wrapped the appendage around his finger even as it cringed away from him. He lifted the small ape-thing high and opened his maw, lowering the creature slowly towards his gullet so he could enjoy its whimpers of terror before he crunched it up.

    A dart silently hissed out of the shadows and pierced into the back of his open mouth, extracting a startled gurgle from the warboss. Then four more. A potent numbing sensation quickly bloomed out of the points of impact, strangling his attempted bellow of irritation in his throat. He dropped the monkey-thing and reached into his own mouth, cutting his hand deeply on his metal teeth. He swallowed quite a bit of his own blood, but eventually extracted a dart, by which time his entire lower jaw had been paralyzed by the toxins permeating his flesh. He looked at it closely, and had to squint to get a good view of it.

    Three more darts pierced into the back of his neck, and he whirled with deceptive speed. "You wanna go?!" He attempted to yell, but it came out as a slurred mumble. There was nothing there that he could see, just the opening onto his balcony - no, there was something fading in out of thin air. Some twiggy scaly git, with twitchy eyes and color-changing skin. It was holding a blowpipe and looking at him all funny-like. "'neakhy ghit," he slurred, growling in irritation as he felt the wooziness penetrate into his skull. Then the scaly thing raised its pipe and blew a dart directly into his eye, and he bellowed in rage. "AHN 'ONNA KHILL OO," he yelled, and charged headlong at the twiggy sneaky thing. He could feel his balance degrading as he moved and his motor control lessening, but he still had enough fight in him to crush and stomp the lizard git to death.

    The chameleon skink vanished from Wurkaz's view just before he could get within arm's reach of it. Following this, three things happened in quick succession:

    The other chameleon skinks that had infiltrated his fortress hefted his gun between ten of them and fired it into his back, knocking the warboss even further off balance.

    Wurkaz crossed the threshold of the balcony and his feet became tangled up in the tripwires the assassins had set up and slathered with more of their toxins.

    Uncontrollably rocketing forward, having almost no vision, and without the ability to regain his balance, Wurkaz hit the edge of his balcony and crumpled it under his weight, sending him plummeting down to the ground so very far below.

    When he landed, it was not solely on the ground, however - the skinks had set up a great spear by taking a felled tree, sharpening the end into a point, and slathering it with even more of their venom, going so far as to congeal it into pastes and powders. Wurkaz was impaled directly through the chest on the way down, landing with a great crunching thump that shook the earth. Bleary-eyed, he looked around with his last remaining bit of vision, looking for his bodyguard boyz. He'd tasked some of his best nobs with making sure no unwanted gits got inside his fortress, so where were they now? Zoggin' gits better not 'ave wandered off ter have a pint of grog.

    He blinked in recognition as he saw one of the nobs slumped down against the gates, covered in a torrent of blood coming from his slashed throat. Dat explains dat, I guess.

    It wasn't long before the scaly boyz showed up again, clustering around him and blinking in their weird, sneaky manner. He tried to swing his arms, to raise his head to bite one or two of them, but the venom had suffused his body by this point, and he couldn't move. The scaly things began chirping to each other, talking, but he couldn't understand what they were saying. They seemed to come to a decision after a short time, and they clambered all over him, pulling gleaming knives from sheets. One of them climbed onto his chest and began cutting away at the twine holding his lucky pebble in place, and Wurkaz's eye bulged. Krumpin' me is one fing, but dat's me lucky pebble! It's MINE, he internally raged, and summoned up the strength to fight back the venom's influence for a moment, reaching furiously for the scaly git with both arms, though they felt like they weighed fivety dozen hundred orks each.

    A knife flashed down and into his other eye, and his strength left him. He slumped down as he felt the other chameleon skinks begin their bloody work, severing vital arteries in his legs, wrists, neck, and torso. Eventually the bloodflow took its toll and everything faded to black.

    ----------​

    Big Mek Orkfred Nobel's Big Project, Northern Continent

    Big Mek Orkfred crossed all four of his arms - two originals and two made out of pulleys and gears and powered by steam - and grinned with orky pride as he gazed at his masterpiece. It was finally finished. Boss Slashytoof would sure be pleased when he heard about the project being done - from what he'd heard through his speakyboxes, the waaagh against the sameboyz was going smashingly well, and with the advent of his Big Quick-Buildy Flying Trukk Faktory, soon all the boyz that were going crazy with waiting for the boats to bring them across the sea could be racing over to the fight on flying machines!

    The local Meks, under Orkfred, had labored for several decades to achieve the Big Mek's vision, prying every scrap of metal from every worthless little deposit they could find in the frozen wasteland that was their home. What they had produced was both awe-inspiring and truly orky - a miles-long building crammed to the gills with every sort of tool, supply, and blueprint needed for the Meks to build lots and lots of transport vehicles for the boyz to get to the fight with. There were even big mechanical arms mounted to the walls inside it to help move the bigger parts of the trukks and keep everything chugging along nice and quickly - they'd been painted extra red so they'd work extra fast. The gargantuan hangar doors had been fashioned to look like a big ork face, and every ork agreed that the amount of smokestacks, spiky bits, and random lights affixed to every possible surface made it extra orky.

    "Yooze out-dun yerself dis time, Orkfred," the Big Mek congratulated himself. "Dis is gunna change da whole Waaagh!!!" He took one more long look at his creation, then crinkled his brow as he noticed something amiss. There was a big bunch of weirdboyz running around in circles at the entrance to the factory, shooting panicked flames out of their eyes. Orkfred shook his head in disdain. Did they not know to let an ork have his moment?

    "Roit, wot's dis den," he barked at the warpheads as he marched up to them. "Can't you see we'ze about to start da faktory?"

    "It's bad, boss, it's real bad!" One of the shamans yelled, though he couldn't pick out which one since they wouldn't stop moving. "It's about ta happen!"

    Orkfred raised a brow in confusion. "Wot's about ta- "

    He was interrupted as the earth groaned, a deep bass that was lower than hearing, something that shook the bones and rattled the brains. The shamans wailed as a great pressure descended upon them from some nebulous source, bursting their skulls and showering Orkfred in blood and gore. He was thrown off his feet as the earth split open and an invisible wall of force slammed down on the factory, shattering it with a titanic thundering. A cloud of ash and dust billowed out from the impact point, blocking the sun and obscuring all vision. Many nearby orks were caught by large pieces of shrapnel, impaled and sent flying by the sheer force of the debris.

    Eventually the shaking stopped and Orkfred rose to his feet, and gasped in horror at what he saw. "Me faktory," he cried in dismay. "Aw, dis is not gonna look good to da boss."

    A great divot had been torn into the earth, and the factory had been crushed down into it by the immense force of whatever had happened. Dead and dying orks were everywhere, which Orkfred dismissed - what drew his attention and anguish was all the crumpled, torn, and broken machinery that had been scattered for miles. Everything was broken, from the thingy-benders to the hot grease vats to the smashy-plates! Everything he and his boyz had worked so hard on was gone.

    Then, as if to compound his issues, a grot he vaguely remembered as being in his employ came running up. "G-got a message fer ya, boss!"

    "Wot izzit? I dunno if you can see with yer grot eyes, but me faktery just got krumped so I needs some good news."

    The grot cringed, but in an action of unusual nerve, chose not to lie. "Just got word on your speaky-fings, boss. Warboss Wurkaz is ded. 'E got krumped in da night, no one knows how."

    "Oh," said Orkfred, and kicked the grot, sending it flying some distance away - an act of great generosity on his part. He rubbed his chin, processing this unexpected news.

    "Well, least I don't 'ave ta tell him da projekt failed."

    Progress has been made on understanding the various intricacies of the orks, including their guns, the nature of their psychic powers, and other things. New options unlocked.

    The ork Warboss has been assassinated! The chameleon skink team assigned to the mission recovered the strange, psychically-potent amulet he carried with him. New options unlocked.

    The Orks were constructing a super-factory to build boats and aircraft in order to transport their troops to the central continent faster. It has been destroyed via the use of a Magnitude 1 Ritual.

    ----------

    Itza population growth: 50,000 Saurus, 100,000 Skinks, 10,000 Kroxigor
    Hexoatl population growth: 30,000 Saurus, 60,000 Skinks, 6,000 Kroxigor
    Tlaxtlan population growth: 30,000 Saurus, 60,000 Skinks, 6,000 Kroxigor
    Xlanhuapec population growth: 30,000 Saurus, 60,000 Skinks, 6,000 Kroxigor
    Yenehectua population growth: 20,000 Saurus, 40,000 Skinks, 4,000 Kroxigor
    Qotlpetl population growth: 20,000 Saurus, 40,000 Skinks, 4,000 Kroxigor

    Hexoatl produced 1 Dread Saurian and 1 Coatl, and transferred 1 Saurian each to Yenehectua and Qotlpetl.
    Itza produced no Dread Saurians or Coatl.
    Xlanhuapec produced 1 Dread Saurian and 3 Coatl.
    Tlaxtlan produced 2 Dread Saurians.
    Yenehectua produced 2 Coatl.
    Qotlpetl produced no Dread Saurians or Coatl.
     
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