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Update

I’m finally getting over my jet-lag from returning to Malaysia, and am starting to settle in. I’ll be starting work in 1 and a half months’ time, in which the flow of  travel posts will slow down a little, but will not stop. In the meantime, I’ll be working more on fictional content, especially on the world of Evryn, which I have somehow grown a slight attachment to.

In a nutshell, here’s what to expect in the coming posts:

  1. The final chapter of ‘Snippets of Fiji’
  2. A short on a Malaysian Wedding
  3. Dr. Heimler’s Journal

So here’s a sketch for the meantime :3

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Practice makes perfect, someday.

 

Evryn, Fiction

Dr. Heimler’s Journal (2)

Date: 10/11/1694

Six days have passed since the blizzard struck the city of Anaya. Despite the Lantharian winter keeping us trapped in the laboratory, research still continues, and our supplies should last us as predicted.

My work on the sample continues to yield results that defy conventional science. Hardness index higher than that of enchanted Surtnarian Gamylite (which is slightly harder than diamond), tensile strength off the charts, and an exponential heat capacity depending on the amount of energy exerted on the sample are among the results. The only thing that I have been able to deduce from my constant experimentation is that the sample becomes exponentially reactive to energy beyond a certain threshold, although I have yet to deduce what that is.

The matter-altering properties of the sample appear at higher energy levels consistently, affecting all matter in close proximity. The intrinsic properties of matter vary in different situations, with homogeneous changes appearing after extensive exposure. The properties altered are seemingly random, but the object exposed to the sample at high energies always emerges with improved function. Based off a series of over 15 experiments, my hypothesis is that the sample alters the properties of matter exposed to it based on its purpose, improving its functionality as a consequence. From what limited knowledge that we have been able to derive, the sample demonstrates behavior similar to that of a magical enchantment, or even alchemy.

Wanting to test my hypothesis, I consulted Garick, the resident mage who runs the laboratory, on the matter of my research. Upon conducting some basic magic tests, we discovered that the sample has further properties of being a powerful conduit for magic, resulting in Garick being able to alchemize 500 grams of Maculite from the same amount of chalk. Repeat tests have shown that a gentle beam of light focused through the sample being able to be amplified by up to a thousandfold depending on how Garick used the light beam. Intention and purpose, it seems, are the magus’s guiding tools to manipulate the effects of the sample. Garick and I agreed that my hypothesis had some merit, but we needed further verification from a true expert. While Lanthara was a leading expert in technology, we were still young in the development of our magic as a people, and as such we needed help. Garick had a contact in Vanar that would probably be willing to help us out, and so after contacting him; he arranged for a member of the Spellblade Order to accompany me for the remainder of my research. We to leave as as soon as the snow is cleared out.


Sample Information

Procurer:       Jake Hansen                                  ID:     3142DF32HC                        

Discovery date:  06  / 11 /  1694  

Item:        Crystal sample                                      Origin: Verar, Surtnar                

Notes:

Discovered in a Maculite mine in Verar as an isolated crystal. Crystalline sample does not resemble any known minerals and also seems to be inert, but radiates a soft glow upon extraction. Possibly a magical conduit of some sort, given the toughness and magic-dampening properties of S-Maculite in the immediate vicinity. Further study on sample is highly recommended to understand the unique properties of S-Maculite compared to Maculite from anywhere else on the main continent.

Recommend storing in magic-insulated container, strongly suggest S-Maculite.

S-Maculite: Surtnarian Maculite


Fiji, Travel

Snippets of Fiji (5)

Where the first 4 snippets of Fiji were about life in Bavu village, in Nadronga-Navosa, this post focuses on the culture of the people, and also my last days in the village.


19th July 2018

1945 local time

The night began with a free and easy session with our foster families. The atmosphere was charged with tension, and everyone present felt it subtly. The inevitable was coming to pass; we were leaving Bavu tomorrow, making tonight our last one in Bavu. At the behest of the village elder, we all sat down. It was time to make peace with our foster families and the village folk. The tension that was felt slowly broke down as all of us did the same. Heartfelt words and tears from deep within poured out of both sides as we knew we had to part come dawn. I cried a lot. Compared to my life back in Edinburgh, Fiji seemed like paradise, and despite all its flaws, I had somewhere that I could call home away from home, and a foster family that I didn’t know that I loved until now.

With the tears and sadness out of the way for now, a grand feast was had for all present.

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Now we’re setting up for the kids, too.

Our bellies filled and our spirits lifted, the villagers held a Meke (meh-kei) for us to commemorate our time in the village. For those who don’t know, the Meke is a traditional Fijian performance that focuses on the history of the people, the Fijian warrior spirit, and the beauty of the human spirit. A Meke group comprises of a band with vocalists, and a bunch of performers. The vocals and performers sing/dance to the tempo of the band, which can go from a leisurely 60 bpm to a breakneck pace of 160 bpm and above. The best part of the Meke is that the performance is actually audience-inclusive, which means that spectators can actually be invited/dragged up to dance with the performers. While the dance moves are actually relatively easy to pick up, an energetic performance and being in perfect sync in the performers gets difficult at higher tempos, but it almost always makes for a good cardio session. Personally, I enjoyed the Meke session, both from a musical perspective (Fijian guitars are tuned a half step lower than usual, and the songs revolve around strumming 3 barre chords) and a dancing perspective, where I made it a point to have tons of fun. Soon enough, everyone joined in and the session turned into a congo-line/dance off, making our cardio far more enjoyable.

Note: video will be uploaded in the coming few days.

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Me and my Meke homies Maone and Esa.

Our bellies filled and our feet tired from all the dancing, we returned into the hall for our last kava sesh with our foster families.

Kava is a traditional Fijian beverage enjoyed during major events (weddings, funerals, celebrations), its name derived from the plant from which it is made from. The kava plant is native to Fiji, and is grown for at least two years before being harvested for its leaves (made into medicines) and the root which is ground into a powder and mixed into water to make the drink. Widely recognized as the Fijian alternative to alchohol, kava has a bitter taste that leaves a strange aftertaste and a slight numbing sensation on the tongue. While the taste might put many off, the beverage is known for its relaxing properties, with 5-6 bilo (bowl) being able to relax the entire body, 10 bilos and more inducing grogginess or even napping. Other side effects of kava include increased visits to the bathroom, as the beverage is also a diuretic, too.

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Kava root sample. At 1 Fijian Dollar per 10 grams (0.47 USD, 0.37 GBP), kava is considerably cheaper than alchohol.
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Taken from my foster father’s clan meeting. ‘Grogging’, as a kava session is also known as, is bound to have some people napping after 8-10 tsunamis.

There are rituals one must observe when participating in a kava sesh. The sesh is held around the central bowl, with the village elders and honored guests sitting at the head of the ceremony. You have three choices before offered a serving: low-tide, high-tide, and Tsunami, two of which are self-explanatory. While a standard bilo is palm-sized (shown below), a tsunami is easily twice the size of a standard bilo.

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While this bilo may be slightly smaller than a normal one, I still take pride that I made this myself from a coconut in our backyard.

When offered your bowl, it is customary to clap once before receiving it, then shouting ‘BULA!‘ to acknowledge everyone around once you received the bowl. Then you chug it. Afterwards, three claps and an optional ‘maca!‘ (ma-tha) says that you’ve finished your portion and honors the ceremony.

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Memories. Some of us in the background already grogged out.
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While not a part of the ritual, a celebratory dab always adds an extra touch of cheekiness 🙂

And so the night went on and we grogged with each other for the last time.


20th July 2018

0700 local time

I never thought I would say this, but I miss the chickens going off at 3 am.

Our debriefing ride would be waiting for us at the village hall, leaving at 0730. Waking up after last night’s festivities felt like sobering up after a long dream, that the inevitable was coming to pass: we’re leaving Bavu today.

We’re leaving Bavu today.

I miss the roof, where Semi, Johnnie and I would go up to stargaze, or fix the TV antennae for the world cup.

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Evening rooftop view.
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Morning. It’s really not that far off now that I think about it.

I miss the living room, where we’d have our meals in front of the fridge.

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Nice and simple, but forever homely no matter how I look at it.

I miss the open space in the front yard, where we’d horse around and take open air bucket showers in our underwear.

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Buckets where we took our showers on the far right, just below the clothesline. The 3am culprits enjoying their morning rice. The grey toilet all the way across the yard. I miss them.

I miss our room, where Jamie and Johnnie would banter on for hours and where Semi would join in on us.

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Good times.

Before we knew it, we were walking down the road that we came from 4 weeks ago, towards the village hall.

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It just stretches on forever, but someday we knew we had to leave. (Jamie on the left, Johnnie on the right).

Dragging our feet, small talk amongst ourselves, the hall grew closer and closer with each passing moment. That familiar sight, where we normally played touch rugby and all manner of sports, now filled with villagers and volunteers, a blurry sea of people. Blurry? Something touched my face and flowed down it.

Wasn’t R&R supposed to be something to look forward to, after all the work we put into our village? Now only in the crowd of villagers and volunteers, steps away from the ride, I realized I didn’t want to leave. From the depths of my chest, a deep rush of emotion suddenly overcame me, like getting hit by a massive tidal wave, and I realized it. My foster mother realized it too. She looked at me, tears in her eyes, and I let the mine flow. Spasms wracked my body as I started sobbing uncontrollably, holding her tightly in our last embrace.

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Vavai, Father. Lewa, Mother.

“I’ll miss you” was what I made out through our sobbing.

“I’ll miss you too, Tai.”

“Thank you for everything…”

“I’ll never forget you, Johnnie, and Jamie..”

“I promise to return someday, I swear it, I’ll be back, you hear me?!”

I don’t know if I can fulfill it, but I swore on it. I needed to come back home, to return to my other-family away from home.

Saying my final goodbyes to the community that showed me that I could be that 14-year old version of myself without any fear, to bring out my talent and help share it with the people around me, I let the flood loose. Fighting back more tears, I looked back at them as I stepped onto the truck.

We’re leaving Bavu today.

I remember the last sight of my foster family, standing behind the truck as they pulled away. Nothing but footprints and memories I carried with me, but a world of grief and hurt as I left home, possibly for the last time.

I miss them, and until then…

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“Sota-talei”

See you later.

 

 

Evryn, Fiction

Dr. Heimler’s Journal (1)

Date: 7/11/1694

This winter is the harshest that Lanthara has seen in 10 years. Its been 2 days since the blizzard began, and snow has already piled up to 1.6 meters outside the door, with no signs of abating.

We are trapped inside the facility, but with proper rationing the food reserves are expected to last us a week. In the meantime, research continues as usual, with the new sample occupying the majority of my time.

The sample may prove to be the breakthrough that crystallises a concrete, scientific explanation of magic itself. However, the sample proves to be a problematic study subject, maintaining a fluctuating state of matter when under observation, while reverting to a crytalline form when contained in a Surtnarian maculite container under ambient conditions. The sample behaves differently when exposed to different conditions, deepening the mystery of its nature, but other sources may have an answer. Today’s experimental report is included here for reference.


Heat test

  1. Maculite container is placed in an insulated heating chamber, and manipulators are used to open the container and place the crystal on heating platform.
  2. Maculite container is then removed. Sample is heated at an increasing temperature of 50 degrees/minute, temperatures are taken, and observations are recorded.

Observations:

The white crystalline structure of the sample retains its state of matter up to 1100 degrees celsius, then begins to sublimate. The resultant gas has a soft, white glow, and  flows around without any outside interference. Upon turning off the heater, the gas instantly condenses, and over a period of a minute the droplets seem to gravitate toward each other without any interference. Further observation details a crystalline structure forming on the base of the heating platform, with more vapour condensing on top of the structure, but reforming into another shape. The crystal stays inert when the chamber returns to ambient temperatures, although parts at the bottom of the heating chamber have been colored a slight, translucent hue of aqua as a result. Attempts to clean the ‘mess’ up have failed, suggesting that the change was not cosmetic, but perhaps some parts/properties of the heating chamber have been altered.

Myxlite Crystal
Sketch of sample in solid, crystalline form.

Notes:

Further analysis of the altered heating chamber section parts show an improvement in tensile strength of 42.65%, and an increased thermal resistance of 76.54%. This unprecedented improvement needs further verification.

Repeat experiments of the sample yield several similarities and differences.

Similarities – The sample mass before and after the experiments does not change. The sublimation and condensation process of the sample remain the same, although the temperatures at which the process happens vary.

Differences – The change in states of matter for the sample seem to be related to the rate at which the chamber temperature is increased. The temperature at which the sample sublimates decreases exponentially with a heating rate increase (25% increase in heating rate from teach previous experiment).

With each heating process, various parts of the heating chamber have their material properties (tensile strength, thermal resistance, weight, and flexibility) improved, although the aqua coloring does not seem to be consistent with all the changes. The material alterations show a range of improvements between 20.9% to 146.96%, all of which are dependent on the duration at which these materials were exposed to the plasma.

Despite the difference in alterations of material properties throughout the series of experiments, somehow the parts of the heating chamber seem to work together, or at least ‘blend’ together with surprising efficiency. The result of the final experiment saw the majority of altered parts of the heating chamber demonstrate near-homogeneous properties, being able to handle much higher temperatures than before (initial maximum operating temperature was at 1500 degrees, new operating temperature is shown to be 2204.4 degrees, after testing in the localised furnace).

This phenomenon requires further testing with other materials.


I believe that the sample may be reactive to energy, which requires further testing to validate. Based off my limited observations, this substance defies the laws of matter, but holds exciting potential for further study.  The potential to disrupt the industry, or maybe the world as we know it, could very well lie in this hand-sized crystal. I lie in my room with these exciting possibilities and theories in my mind, writing this. My dinner lies cold on the floor, but my mind is filled with the things that I’m looking forward to do tomorrow.

Quickies, Travel

A midnight in Abu-Dhabi (2)

A 7 hour layover period. One city to explore. This mini-series is a narrative of my time spent in Abu-Dhabi, and is written in chronological order.


WARNING: POST CONTAINS BLURRY PICTURES


Plan for 7 hours:

      • 2 hours Check in and getting through customs
      • 1 hour Stash extra cabin baggage in airport, exchange currency, figure out taxi stand location and fares
      • 4 hours RUN around Abu-Dhabi

Flight landing: 1930 local time

Flight departure: 0230 local time

My target is to explore town then arrive at airport by 0030 local time.


2245  local time

“Bro, do you need a ride?”

Here’s a fact about taxis in Abu-Dhabi:

If you hitched a ride at the airport, your starting fee will be 25 Dirhamswhich is much more expensive than anywhere else in the city, where your starting fee is Dirhams. Given the fact that Abu-Dhabi is a large city, the best way to get around is either by buses, taxis, and cars.

That was the first thing Raja told me as we started our drive. As we pulled into the main road, I told him that my destination was the airport, but we’d take a ‘detour’ around town. Given that the biggest attractions such as Ferrari World and most of the shopping malls were closed by now, this would be a sightseeing tour than anything else.

One of the first things I noticed about Abu-Dhabi city center is the abundance of large buildings, with each one beautifully designed/decorated. The streets are wide and brightly lit, giving the city a metropolitan look, but with plenty of open space that you don’t feel like you’re in just any city (think Hong Kong or NYC, but with an abundance of open space).

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Wide streets give the city a much more open feel, lending to a metropolitan impression.
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The building designs cover a wide variety, each of them more fancy than the last. Imagine them during daylight.
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Striking with their lighting, these buildings light up the night, similar with Hong Kong.

2300  local time

The first destination on our joyride was Al-Maryah island. This island, and others like it, more famous examples being the Palm islands in Dubai, were made with sand as the foundation. With construction started in 2007, the island was only completed later in 2017, and the beauty is self-evident. With a hospital, a finance center, and a massive supermarket (The Galleria), the island has an extensive underground tunnel network that employees working the island can use to get around, clearing the main streets for the visitors above.

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A picture taken along the bridge to Al-Maryah island. Hard to believe that the entire foundation is made of sand.
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Sadly the only barely acceptable picture I have on the island, this one is the hospital. Definitely an unusual choice of lighting, but impossible to miss.

According to Raja, Abu-Dhabi is a hardworking metropolis. Unlike its more renowned sister Dubai, I was initially surprised that Abu-Dhabi wasn’t a party city. Raja puts it this way (or at least from what I can recall):

“In Abu-Dhabi, we don’t party all the time, maybe on some Saturdays, where people go out to the streets and have a good time. Otherwise, we normally spend our free time relaxing in shopping malls. Me? I like good coffee and a movie.”

2320  local time

Speaking of malls, when we arrived at the Marina Mall, I couldn’t help but be impressed. From what I can tell, it is massive on the inside, and according to Raja, it is the place to go to for leisure, and I’m sure that the locals agree too. Shame it was closing by the time I arrived :/

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The mall is actually much larger than what this picture suggests. The lack of people make the entire place feel empty though.
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A ferris wheel outside the largest shopping mall in Abu-Dhabi, why not?

2330  local time

So many attractions in one spot. The Etihad towers, featured in the Fast and Furious 7 (where Dom and Brian drive the Lykan Hypersport through two towers), but sadly with the light pollution, it was nearly impossible for me to get a good picture of these towers.

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Just needs a perfect sunset, two very specific people, and a Lykan Hypersport. Pretty cool though.

The Emirates Palace, a famous, well designed 5-star hotel, but even more gorgeous at night. At this point Raja decided to stop our taxi (and meter), and allowed me to get better shots of these attractions.

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That’s Raja’s taxi in the background. The empty street gives one the impression of just how lively this place can be during the day.
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Just as red as that traffic light 🙂
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Pretty.

The UAE Presidential Palace. The residence of the Khalifa himself, it is nothing short of absolute splendour (at the gates). Due to security reasons and the palace being closed off to all but invited guests, we could not stay and take any pictures. Of course, your cheeky author got a quick, blurry snapshot from the ‘safety’ of the taxi.

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Easily the worst picture, but I’d say worth?

With that being said, I had a flight to catch.

2345 local time

We hit the road, heading straight for the airport. Luckily, there was one last sight to see before I left Abu-Dhabi. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, easily one of the more beautiful mosques I have seen. Being next to the highway, Raja slowed down for me to take these shots:

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Taxi at 60 km/h, but the mosque is still pretty from afar.
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Raja literally slowed the taxi down to 30 km/h for my shot, but I guess it’s either the phone camera or my skills lacking 😛

0020 local time

Meter fare: 108.50 Dirhams (For reference, my taxi ride from the airport to town cost me 85 Dirhams, and this taxi joyride took Raja and I approximately 1 and a half hours and cost 108.5 Dirhams.)

It was with slight sadness when I stepped out of Raja’s taxi. While at this point in time I have forgotten most of our conversation, I will never forget him being my friendly tour guide. I don’t know if you’ll ever come across this, but thanks for allowing me to me to catch a glimpse of another world not so different from home. You rock.


There ends my one-midnight adventure/joyride in a city not so different from all the places I’ve been to, albeit much more pleasing in aesthetics.

When was the last time you had an adventure like that during your layover? Where was it? Let us know in the comments, and have a great day ❤

 

P.S: Note that names in this post have been changed for anonymity purposes, upon request.

Evryn, Fiction

Of stories, worlds, and Evryn (1)

So I have been doing some thinking, about the worlds that we created as children. And when Open Angel Arena (Standalone) announced their writing prompt (which can be found here), I leapt at that chance. So after a long day and a half of writing, here it is:


THEME

The Ascended: Angels and Demons
Long ago, the world was dominated by a thriving, space-faring race known as the Ascended. With the power of Miraculum (their secret sauce), they shaped creation to their will, seeded the planet with life, granted themselves immortality (not invulnerability), and great power. Playing God, it was through a series of experiments to turn themselves into the perfect beings gone wrong that started their downfall. The “Angels” favored progress, order, strength, and authoritarian rule; and the “Demons” who rejected their ideology, prizing their own free-will above all else. What started out as a fierce debate rapidly escalated into a civil war that spread across the planet (Evryn).

As the conflict betwwen Angels and Demons, escalated, their battles spread over the planet, and in the last days of the war, both sides managed to weaponize Miraculum, the elixir of their Ascendancy. With the ability to reshape the fabric of magic and reality,  their battles devastated the world and beyond. In the climax of their final battle at the place that would eventually be known as Surtnar, the energies unleashed by their Miraculum warfare tore the planet apart in an event known as “the Sundering”, leaving a crater in the heart of the world. In the aftermath of the Sundering, the Angels “won”, but victory was a bitter one. Their population decimated by 96.735%, and with ideological rifts still existing, the Ascended slowly faded into history, their numbers less than hundred. The very few remaining extremist Angels shaped history with their version of the conflict, with the Garden of Eden and how man was a creation of theirs, and the whole tragedy of being cast out as one of their many stories.

Knowing that another war would eradicate the rest of their kind, the majority of Angels and Demons have taken to keeping their existence a myth, agreeing on an uneasy truce, although occasional skirmishes between Angel and Demon extremists do happen. However, the majority of the Ascended now walk among us unnoticed, disguising themselves as humans. They perform the occasional miracle to atone for their sins, with the guilt and memory of what they once were haunting them for eternity.

Note: Granted, many Ascended who walk the gray area, never associating themselves with either faction, but were dragged into the war. On the other hand, the Ascended extremists who live today believe that their supremacy should be restored (Angels and Demons have diametrically differing views on supremacy), and so the conflict rages on.


The current world (Evryn)
Our characters live on a quasi-stable world, where there are a number of different dominant nations. Some of these nations co-exist with each other, prospering through trade and alliances(think of trade unions or military alliances). Other nations are expansionist in nature, acquiring more lands through conquest, military intimidation, or even through deep espionage (think puppet-politicians or spies attempting to undermine the current rule). While there are many soveriegn city states/ smaller nations in the midde of the map, the balance of power between nations is a delicate one, and many see the signs of an all-out war brewing on the horizon.

Nations: (ideas)
“Vanar” – An aristocratic nation. While utopian-looking on the surface, it has some tightly guarded secrets, such as a small part of the populace comprising of Ascended disguised as humans. While Angels and a Demon majority both live in the nation, they have come to accept their differences, mended their rifts, and coexist with each other. With mounting pressure from extremists from the east, this haven of coexistence between humans, angels and demons will be put to the test.

“Confederacy of Surtnar” – A system of independent nations banding together, all living near one of the prominent features of the world – a massive crater dividing two continents that formed as a result of “the Sundering”. A thriving system, they have prospered through trade with other nations, and selling geothermal energy, although with mounting pressure this remains to be seen. Rumor has it that one of these nations is actually the extension of an entire entity (not Ascended, but some otherworldly being that consists of all citizens and ruler as one), but nobody has been able to prove it.

“Zuerta” (zer-ta) – An “utopian” expansionist nation based on the rule of strength through order. Has a ruling council of 5, each with extreme power and great skill (strength, guile, vision, science, and charisma) with extremely strong military and assassins. Constantly at war with Vanar, border skirmishes with the Confederacy, but also cunning enough to acquire city-states through espionage and treaties. Lead by humans (who believe in strength through order)working together with Angel extremists (who want to crush the last Demon “stronghold” in Vanar).

“Lanthara” – A nation of great technological and magical prowess. Located near ancient relics found in the aftermath of an ancient war. While seemingly neutral on the outside, their leadership consists of charismatic figures who have learnt how to enslave Ascended (angels and demons) While being a technologically and magically advanced nation, they are obsessed with discovering the secrets of our world, seeking to wield the fires that forged it.

“Tianzeia” – A peaceful country with a series of islands to the east. Their rule is by democracy, made up of representatives of different provinces. The current head of the council is Anathael, ex-Angel who defected during the war and disguised herself as a human in the aftermath of the Sundering. A peaceful, magic-infused place, some of the people there have demonstrated extraordinary abilities, all of which are harnessed for the common good. While they do trade minerals with Zuerta, in recent times Zuerta has sought to subjugate the peaceful nation through political means. Even as of now a corrupt politician stands in the council, paving the way for a future invasion.

Other nations/factions:
1. Yarrmathia – a seafaring nation prospering through trade, although shadier elements rule the people, much cutthroat. Ran by a badass human leader.

2. Jalantis – a tribal island nation of strange cultures, some of the most agile warriors the world has ever seen originate from here. Blood magic, spirits possessing warriors and stuff like that. Island was once part of a larger continent, which was sunk in the Great Flood.

3. Barbaric tribes in the Kharun Desert in the south that continue to plunder the Confederacy and Yarrmatey. Recent news has it that a new King, a warlord by the name of Drakath the Cruel has managed to unify the tribes and is set on conquest, starting a warpath towards Yarrmathia and the Confederacy.

4. Undead sightings around the coast of Lanthara. Evidence needs further verification.

Here is a world map, for reference:

Evryn Map
A fractured world, on the brink of total chaos. Old hatreds stir, and more forces than ever threaten form all directions. These are trying times indeed.

Major events that shaped the world:

The First Age
-The Great Starfall (Giant meteorite, responsible for the creation of Mt. Vakhirest, the tallest peak on Evryn)
-The Miraculus (The discovery of the magic sauce)

The Second Age
-The Moonweaving (The creation of the moon)
-The Sundering (War of the Ascended, the formation of Surtnar)

The Third Age
-The Great Flood (The sinking of a continent, leaving Jalantis behind)
-The Mxylite Wars (Humans discovering Miraculum in the form of Mxylite. Naturally they fought over it, creating the Kharun desert in the process.)
-Many nations founded during this time.

The Fourth Age (Current Age)
-The Destruction of Mt. Minomato (Unstable energies, cause otherwise unknown, the nation of Zuerta built near the mountain range 45 years later)

CURRENT EVENTS
-Trade depression
Started when an ancient living weapon broke free of its prison, going on a rampage in the Confederacy. While the beast was stopped, it crippled the mining capabilities of the Confederacy, which caused a massive shortage of Maculite (type of ore) and Steel in the market. As both Vanar and Zuerta rely heavily on these exports for their ongoing war, and with Lanthara being a steady customer, prices have shot up drastically and affected the rest of the economy.

-War between Zuerta and Vanar
With Zuerta wanting to expand to the west, naturally they coming into conflict with Vanar. Since their conflict with Vanar, Zuerta has had to rely more on the Confederacy for their military supplies as their capital is far to the east and transporting resources are constantly being raided by barbarians. With the trade depression going on, their efforts to expand to the west have been greatly hampered on the frontlines. While the majority of their subjugated city states prosper under their control, some see it as a weakness and seek to break free.

-Tension between Tianzeia and Zuerta
Thareus, relatively young provincial councilperson, Zuertan by birth but raised in Tianzeia, stands on the ruling council. While he appears as an ambitious politician, he senses that some of the council members are not what they seem, and suspects a possible invasion from his homeland. While Thareus and Anathael seem like allies on the outside, he has a deep mistrust towards all on the council, further complicating matters.

-Rising faction in the South
Recent news has it that a new Barbarian king by the name of Drakath has managed to unify the tribes in the South Kharun Desert, and is set on a warpath towards the Confederacy, Yarrmatey, and Zuerta. For the past 3 years, ports have been raided, their resources stolen, and even travel on land is not safe as these barbarians have struck from nowhere and disappeared. And now three barbarian armies are on the march northwards.

-Strange creatures from the North
The harsh tundra is averse to life, aside from nomadic tribes. Recently, reports of strange beings coming from the North and aiding the people have been circulating, and people sent to investigate rarely return. Those that do describe a rapturous experience like no other, and some return…changed. While rumors speculate those beings to be Angels/Demons, but known to a few, their true nature is confirmed to be anything but Ascended. Whatever they may be, the nation of Lanthara has taken special interest in them and sends continuous expeditions to the north.


This is part 1 of the writing prompt, with part two to be released further on today.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. Leave a comment if you like or think that it can be better. I know it can.

Have a great day.

Food, Quickies, Travel

A midnight in Abu-Dhabi (1)

A 7 hour layover period. One city to explore. This mini-series is a narrative of my time spent in Abu-Dhabi, and is written in chronological order.


WARNING: POST CONTAINS BLURRY PICTURES


Plan for 7 hours:

    • 2 hours Check in and getting through customs
    • 1 hour Stash extra cabin baggage in airport, exchange currency, figure out taxi stand location and fares
    • 4 hours RUN around Abu-Dhabi

Flight landing: 1930 local time


With extra cabin bags stowed away in the airport services and armed with 300 Dirhams (equivalent of 81.70 USD or 64.20 GB), I set out to find a taxi that would take me to town at 9 pm (delays :/).

The first thing that hit me was the blazing 34°C night. Even with the majority a lifetime spent living in a tropical country (Malaysia), sweat escaped my pores within seconds, drenching me within minutes. That being said, stepping into any enclosed environment of any kind was relief, which in my case was pure elation when an airport taxi pulled up next to me.

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The people here drive on the right side of the road, similar to the US. The speed limit on all taxis on the freeway is 100 km/h, which is monitored by the fare meter. Any time the driver exceeds the speed limit, they will be warned; any more than 3 warnings will result in the fare being nullified (and the passenger getting a free ride consequentially).
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A bridge I spotted on my way to town. This was to be the first of many architectural wonders I’d see in Abu-Dhabi.

Normally, I’d head straight for the city center, but I needed dinner first. While not the smartest idea, I asked to be taken to a place where the locals frequented. A 15 minute ride ended up outside a small array of shops/offices, which was on the outskirts of the city. I kicked myself mentally after I got out for not asking the driver to take me straight to the city center. But to be fair, the fare was rather expensive (87 dirhams) and I’d much rather not spend all my money on taxi rides. Making do with the situation, I walked up to the Arab restaurant (below, with a green sign) and asked to see their menu.

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The layout of these shop-lots is very similar to south-east asia.

They weren’t serving any more food, I was stumped, and so other options had to be considered. Where most Arab restaurants close their kitchens by 10 pm (which was when I arrived), their Indian counterparts are still open and serving customers. Walking around a corner, I ended up outside a tiny Indian restaurant, and was invited in by the owners.

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Tiny it may be, but don’t let the look fool you. This restaurant does some pretty good curry.

With a glance through the menu, I came to the conclusion that an average meal in a shop like this would amount to about ~10 dirhams, which meant that I had plenty to spend. Going with the chef’s recommendation, I got myself a southern Indian-style beef curry, which came with a side of salad, and a plate of roti to go with, which cost a total of 7.50 dirhams.

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Indian-style beef curry (bottom right), salad (middle left, eaten with salt, pepper, and a light lemon dressing), dhal (middle right), and roti (bottom left). Water is free, in containers on the table itself (top left).

The salad was simple but very flavourful, with the salt and pepper working wonders in combination with the raw onion, and the lemon making the salad more interesting, with the different flavours contrasting each other. However, the curry was what stole the show. The first spoonful was warm, with the typical Indian curry characteristics: heavy on curry powder, with a hint of cumin, zero sweetness. The surprise factor kicks in after a few seconds: a kick unlike any other curry I have ever tasted, a burn out of nowhere that literally infuses your taste buds with fire. I choked.

A second tasting, this time with the roti, and I start to notice the flavours through the burn: staranise, beef stock, onions, and more curry powder. With my third helping, the burn had almost completely disappeared, replaced by a warm, gentle tingling sensation on the tongue that didn’t numb, and after that point I really enjoyed the curry for what it was: a nice, simple work of Indian culinary art.

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My kudos to these two for the great food, and for maintaining the restaurant as a popular spot for the local Indians. You guys are awesome.
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These two (Jovy and John) joined in just after I arrived. Really nice folk to chat with.

With my food finished, I chatted with my fellow patrons, Jovy and John (above) on how best to get to town since the taxi driver pretty much dropped me on the outskirts of town. Turns out, we were about 10 minutes drive from the heart of the city itself, and you could walk along the road and get picked up by a local taxi (not an airport taxi, which is far more expensive) within minutes.

Thanking them, I left the restaurant and started down the main road, opposite the Khalifa University main campus, with my left hand stuck up in the typical hitch-hiker gesture (thumbs up if you get it :D) .

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That’s the Khalifa University main campus. Too bad my poor phone camera couldn’t keep up 😦
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Just next to the campus, this intersection goes in many directions. Twas a long walk to cross.

5 minutes of walking, past the university, and past a very complicated, busy intersection, I came by a bus stop where I decided to camp for a taxi. Admittedly, from what little I saw of Abu-Dhabi, I could draw many parallels with Kuala Lumpur, albeit with Abu-Dhabi being a more futurised/optimised version of my hometown. I wonder if-

PIIIINNN PIIIIINN PIIIIIIIIINNNN!!!

Turning around, a cab (Toyota Camry) pulled up beside me, and the right door opened, revealing a smiling Indian man.

“Bro, do you need a ride?”

2245 local time


To be continued