Welcome to Exilian! We're one of the friendliest communities on the internet, democratically run and existing to help facilitate a range of projects in fields including game modding/content creation, programming, drama, music, debating, writing, RPG and wargame design, e-learning, and more. You can also come here to chat, discuss the news, post poetry, play forum games, and just to meet a diverse range of people from all over the world.

Enjoy your stay!

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Posted on July 13, 2022, 08:40:57 PM by Jubal
Updates from the Forge 46: Summer 2022

Issue 46: Summer 2022


Welcome to another issue of Updates from the Forge! First, an apology that even by our usual sluggish standards this is a late issue, almost two weeks after we'd usually have it out: unfortunately with a very busy run of conferences and wading through the later stages of his PhD writing your regular editor (and chair, and executive officer) is having a somewhat hectic time of it at the moment, and has not had time to sit down and write about himself in the third person like this until now. Also, the imaginary llama we employ as an editorial assistant remains useless, so we're giving it a 20 percent paycut. As we don't pay it, this won't make much difference, but it's the thought that counts.

It's been a quiet but not an un-busy few months here on Exilian, as the below run of articles and projects shows. We've got new poetry, whole new game projects, mod releases, travel writing, and more besides. Our regular monthly meetups have continued too, and keep going from strength to strength - if you'd like to join in on those and haven't been getting the emails about them, please get in touch. We've also been busy at the back end of the website, and may have some announcement to make about possible changes to our hosting situation in the coming months.

But for now, we'll keep this editorian short and let you get onto what you presumably came here for - summer's Updates from the Forge!


  • Editorial
  • Game Development
    • An RPG... In A Box?
    • Rus TW - Fortis Bellator
    • Fall of Telmar: A Narnia Total War Cinematic Mod
    • Innkeep Steam Page Launched!
    • Bigosaur's Block Buster Billy
  • Arts & Writing
    • Infinitas: The Griffin Imperium
    • Poetry by Jubal
  • Miscellany
    • Jubal's Venice Travelogue
    • Exilian: A Choose Your Own Adventure


An RPG... In A Box?

Created by new member ol_smaug, RPG In A Box is a new voxel-art game engine for making RPGs. It includes a wide range of features including a built in voxel editor and asset library, a map editor, tree dialogue and quest editors, a flexible scripting system, and more besides. Combat options include both a real-time and a more detailed turn-based combat system, and a flexible inventory manager allows you to equip and unequip weapons and equipment on characters as well, with experience and character advancement features built in. There is, in short, everything you need for building a basic RPG easily accessible, and the RPG In A Box community already seems to be working out how to take the engine and script systems in a range of exciting new directions

Jubal's Valethad, in RPG In A Box's map editor.

RPG In A Box is still in development, and new features are being added and announced via social media and on the engine's discord server all the time. Recent updates have included adding percentage chances for loot drops and the beginnings of a more flexible character stats and status effects system which will no doubt see a range of improvements and additions in the coming months. Here on Exilian we've even already got our first little project using the engine, Jubal's Valethad (pictured above) - perhaps you'll have your own sometime soon as well?

Rus TW - Fortis Bellator

We've also got some Rome: Total War modding news - BagaturKhan has produced a new edition of Rus Total War, originally created by VIR and the Imperial Community modder group. Rus Total War takes you back to the eleventh century and the initial flowering of the Kievan Rus, a complex network of principalities that stretched across much of modern Ukraine, western Russia, and Belarus. You can play as the princes of Kiev, Halych, Novgorod, Smolensk, or a number of other ambitious Rus leaders attempting to expand and maintain their power across the landscape. Or, equally, you could play as one of the powers with which the Rus clashed at times in this period, a time when Rus were raiding and fighting as mercenaries across the Byzantine world and the Mediterranean beyond. Byzantium, Hungary, Poland, and the Volga-Bulgar Ilkhanate all stand at the edges of the Rus polities and may have their own political goals in the region.

Will you rally the Rus to your banner, or change the course of history entirely? Find out by taking a look at the mod...

Fall of Telmar: A Narnia Total War Cinematic Mod

Also in Rome: Total War modding news, BagaturKhan has released a new submod, Fall of Telmar, for Jubal's epic Narnia: Total War. The new mod significantly overhauls the graphics of the Telmarine Narnian and Old Telmarine factions, moving them away from the mix of Pauline Bates inspired reskins of vanilla Rome: TW units used in the original mod and towards the conquistador-like morion helmeted Telmarines of the 2008 film.

For those who want their Narnia: TW experience to better mimic the battles of the big screen, this is a must-have mod that will let you witness a much more cinematic view of Narnia. Images from the film series have also been used for the loading screens, further moving the experience of the game towards the modern cinema experience. Do check it out!

Innkeep Steam Page Launched!

BeerDrinkingBurke's game Innkeep now has its steam page launched, a big new milestone in the journey towards the best [citation needed] fantasy inn ever with the most experienced, honest, legitimate [citation seriously needed] master of the house at its helm! In this tavern simulator game, you start as the eponymous Innkeep, and must learn to serve drinks and food to paying/threatening customers... but there's a lot more to the inn business than just keeping your customers happy. Picking up on news, rumours, and secrets around the inn, and ensuring your revenue stream is supplemented by trading in information and in items mysteriously going missing from tavern patrons' bags in the night, may all be a part of making your tavern a success!

Bigosaur's Block Buster Billy

Sometimes, in life, you just have to push through your blocks.
Billy may have taken this too literally.

The latest new game project from Bigosaur (creator of Son of a Witch, The Game Is On, and Windmill Kings among other titles) is another puzzler, Block Buster Billy! This game focuses on mathematical-style block pushing problem-solving puzzles, where you as the eponymous protagonist must create connected blocks by rearranging individual numbers and symbols into valid equations, or disrupting an equation block to be able to move the blocks inside it into different orders. As you progress through a series of islands the puzzles get more complex, requiring you to build right-angle hooks in the block pushing or use comparison statements to reach the chest of shiny shiny gold that awaits Billy at the end of the level.

Can you beat the puzzles? How many islands must you progress through for your final victory? Why does Billy want all this gold anyway? At least two of these questions may be answered in Block Buster Billy!


Infinitas: The Griffin Imperium

In a recent thread, BagaturKhan has introduced  the Griffin Imperium, a key part of the setting for his upcoming story Revenge of Tyrants: Soul's Storm. Here you can find out about the lore of this newly detailed part of the Infinitas setting - the Imperium is based on a mysterious planet, on which Griffin-like aliens once ruled. Now under its often short-lived Emperors it hosts a mixture of supersitious locals and contract soldiers, operating from the capital city of Dane, a refuge fled to after Griffin City itself was torn apart in the Acheronian war. Find out in the thread what happened to the Ho-Nari Emperor Silotl, or the recently deceased Emperors Antonio, Maurizio and Dimitri - or discover more about the risk of cults and the pressures on the contract soldier system in the Acheronian war. There's another whole society from Infinitas to explore!

Poetry by Jubal

So it's when the world feels heavy
And the sky seems like to fall,
That I wonder if the wonder's that
The sky stays up at all...

Recent posts in the writing section have included further additions to Jubal's poetry thread, a blockbuster thread containing most of his poetry and song lyric writing from 2008 to the present. Poems in recent months include 'Ouranos' Pockets', quoted above, which reimagines the sky through different outfits and their imagined weight, and 'Herons', which gives some reflections on visiting the Alte Donau heronry in Vienna during the opening days of the Russia-Ukraine war back in March. If you like poetry, why not go over and comment, or even post some of your own work for people to read?


Jubal's Venice Travelogue

The Lion of Saint Mark, a traditional symbol of Venice

Exilian has had a long history of people posting travel writings, and whilst the difficulties of the last few years have led to something of a dry spell, some of us have been able to get out and about a bit more this year - including Jubal taking a trip to Venice! In his travelogue, take a deep dive into the past and present of one of Europe's most tourist-heavy and yet enigmatic cities, one that dominated the Mediterranean but, in turn, is threatened today by encroaching waves. Dipping between medieval history, the fauna and flora of the Venetian lagoon, the food and drink of the area, and the experience of visiting Venice today, this is a narrative well worth reading if you're interested in travel.

Exilian: A Choose Your Own Adventure

In the far depths of Exilian nestle the pages of Exilian: A Choose Your Own Adventure, a sprawling forum-based choose your own adventure game written by our members over a number of years. The forum is set up such that any Exilian member can edit their own links and pages in and contribute to the four madcap stories on offer: that of Adonibal Barca, a pangolin captaining a trireme, the tale of Tibula Khan, ruler of Tasmongolia, the story of Comrade General Angus, a minotaur with many firearms, and finally the story of Beesnot Lumpwagon. Why you would want to play a story where you get to be Beesnot Lumpwagon is anyone's guess, but the option is there for you all the same.

So why not go and have a play and let us know what you think - or even add more nodes to the game yourself and give players some more endings to choose from! The choice, as in any good adventure game, is yours.

2022 continues to be a packed year, and we're now more than halfway through it - this summer, we hope you get a chance to rest somewhere that gives you even a little space to breathe against the hot gales of the world. We hope, too, that you get a chance to create and find out new things, even as life throws challenges in our way. Exilian will be here to give you any help we can in those endeavours - and to bring you, in three months' time, autumn's Updates from the Forge. We'll see you then.

Posted on April 09, 2022, 03:48:07 PM by Jubal
Updates from the Forge 45: Spring 2022

Issue 45: Spring 2022


Welcome to another issue of Updates from the Forge! In time-honoured tradition, this comes to you just over a week late, as we forge our way into spring of 2022. It's felt like a long winter - many have in recent years - but we hope that wherever you are in the world, the year is getting greener for you, metaphorically if not literally. In this issue, we also say farewell to Leafly, whose tenure as editor of Updates from the Forge in recent years has provided us with a lot of great articles and stories from across the community. Thanks to Spritelady for her help getting this issue put together: we'll update you on editorial matters in Issue 46.

Speaking of Spritelady, as of this year's staff elections we welcome her as Exilian's new Tribounos, meaning we have our full quota of regularly elected committee members for the first time in a few years which is fantastic news: she'll be responsible for adjudicating on issues where there are disagreements over moderation, staffing, and how we run the site. If you ever feel you've been unfairly treated by a moderator or that Exilian staff aren't acting in accordance with our own rules, you can ask for a review of the decision, a system we're very happy to have in place. We've also celebrated Exilian's 14th birthday - nearly a decade and a half of our democratic, creative little corner of the internet.

We're far from running out of creative juices after those 14 years as well: recent months have included finding out the results of our Winter Competition, which saw fantastic joint-winning entries from Spritelady and medievalfantasyqueen and a wonderful array of other artistic and creative outputs that you should absolutely go and check out. We also had a hilarious new article giving a calendar with a bad pun RPG idea for every week of 2022 - why not check out which quest your birthday or other significant date gives you?

And then, of course, there's the regular news - the Updates from the Forge - that as ever we're delighted to present. Read on...


  • Editorial
  • Game Development
    • Fenlander
    • Updates from Olympus with Rbuxton
    • Pip's Tale comes to Tourney
    • Utherwald Press - Signing Off?
  • Arts & Writing
    • Spritelady's Writing Thread
    • The Storyteller's Tale
  • Miscellany
    • Coding Medieval Worlds
    • Matyas Music Multiplies...
    • YouTube Reorganising



A text-parser game with limited graphics released by Jubal in January for itch.io's Historical Game Jam 5, Fenlander takes the player deep into the heart of the medieval East Anglian fenlands. With a player goal of making eel-rent, the game lets the player select one of three key tools - a reed-scythe, eel glaive, or peat spade - at a time, before going out the fens to gain some of the riches of the wetlands. Over-tiring yourself and failing to eat and sleep in pursuit of your goals, however, risks increasing illness and ultimately death: working out a balance between gathering different types of. No man is an island, either: successful players will also get to know some of the non-player characters in their village, and thereby gain necessary additional items that will help keep them going through the difficulties of fenland subsistence.

Much of the game's charm comes from its lovingly described fenland landscapes, with herons, snipe, and bittern all calling through misted reeds. Immerse yourself in the deep mud of medieval Fenland life and see if you can fish the eels you need!

Updates from Olympus with Rbuxton

Rbuxton has shared his experiences so far this year creating and playtesting boardgames in his dev diary, Master of Olympus.  Most recently, he's been working on building a story-driven game using art collaged and cannibalised from other sources, in the spirit of games like Dixit though with elements of Codenames and some Dungeon Crawler ideas mashed in. The process included some interesting insights into what gets into game art in the first place, and where starting with other people's creative outputs can lead us in terms of our own storytelling. This magpie approach to game development is well worth checking out on Rbuxton's blog.

It's been a busy time on Olympus generally, including travels to Beachhead 2022, a tabletop gaming show held at the Bournemouth International Centre in February. Working with Playtest UK, 10 games were shown this year and he reports on the interesting and useful hints, tips and tidbits shared by the other designers, playtesters and volunteers at the event.  At the monthly Playtest UK meeting in January, Rbuxton shared his new project of the year: a storytelling game with mathematical puzzle mechanics, named Yarn. He discusses branching out of his usual comfort zone when designing games, and trying his hand at a lightweight narrative game involving cards that allow players to spin a yarn for themselves. More details on this intriguing game can be found in his dev diary.

Plip's Tale comes to Tourney

In continuing updates to Tourney, Tusky's game of medieval jousting, a new mini-RPG mode has been added! Previously only available to kickstarter backers, now everyone with the game can now go through the tale of Squire Plip as he attempts to enter his first tourney and become a real knight! Of course, along the way he'll have a few bits of work to do, to help or hinder fellow tournament-goers, and the choices he makes might lead to very different outcomes for both himself and those around him at the tournament ground...

If you haven't checked out Tourney, now is a great time: at heart it's a theme park simulator style game that takes you through a story-driven campaign, starting holding a tournament as a desperate money-spinner in the one field you inherited from your family and growing both your renown as an organiser and that of your house knights as you put on progressively grander events in progressively more lavish locations, from Avalon to Atlantis to the royal City of Flowers. It's bursting with classic medieval-fantasy humour and the additional element of having your own competitors in the mix makes it a twist on the usual park sim genre. Go unfurl your banners and check it out!

Utherwald Press - Signing Off?

Some major news from our friends at Utherwald Press - Stephen "Stormwell" Hughes, Utherwald's owner and lead designer, is taking some time out from game development to do basic training with the UK's RAF (Royal Air Force). Frozen Skies has always been built around Stephen's love of aircraft, and we're excited for him now getting to put that passion into practice. This will likely mean fewer Utherwald Press updates in the coming months, but never fear: Stephen's been putting plans in place for various bits of production to happen while he's away, and still hopes to get the Savage Worlds Adventure Edition version of Frozen Skies out this Autumn.


Spritelady's Writing Thread

Our new Tribounos, Spritelady, has recently started a writing thread to discuss some of the concepts, creatures and ideas she is using in building her tabletop RPG worlds. The lore she's included so far includes some detail about the hellish creatures of her world, in particular the illriggers, a sort of order of hellish paladins who can lead the armies of devils and enforce the will of Hell on the material plane. Created by D&D great Matt Colville, Spritelady has her own additions and takes on these feared foes and how they can fit into a campaign world. Imps, some of the classic minions of the dark powers, also get a look-in, with discussions of the demonology of how to repel them and the things they fear. This sort of practical-but-mystical, rather than pseudoscientific, approach, is a really interesting way of approaching creatures that has a lot of direct implications for how protagonists interact with them, something that's often not as well considered as it could be when designing creatures for use in fantastical settings.

There's no doubt more to come, as well, and we're excited to learn more about creatures infernal and otherwise as we get more development on Spritelady's worldbuilding in the coming months. If you want to find out more about the legions of hell and other aspects of this developing fantasy world, why not head over and have a look?

The Storyteller's Tale

I once met three travellers on the road. One was dressed like a prince, in fine robes of purple and crimson; the second was a soldier with a sword at his belt and a dark glint in his eye; and the third was a wayfarer, a minstrel, who loped a little behind the others, smiling at a joke half-hidden. I couldn't tell you where they'd come from; I couldn't tell you where they were going to. I had never seen them before and I have never seen them since.

But they seemed wise; and so I asked them how to save the world...

Our Exilian spoken storytelling section has long had a good array of tales for spoken storytellers to make use of, and now we've got a new addition in the form of The Storyteller's Tale, which Jubal told at ExiliCon 2014 but which has never had a written up version available for other tellers... until now! The story is a tales-within-tales parable where the teller compares the imagined stories by three different travellers, giving different sorts of advice on how to save the world. But whose tale will our teller ultimately believe?

You can find this alongside many more tales, and thoughts and advice on spoken-word storytelling, in our Spoken Storytelling area. It's a treasure trove of information for tellers - and maybe other folks too, for traditional storytelling has its place in the roots of so many things we do as writers, TTRPG game masters, computer game developers, and more. Why not dip in and see for yourself?


Coding Medieval Worlds: Networks and Connections

In February, we had our second Coding Medieval Worlds event, welcoming over thirty scholars and game developers in collaboration with the University of Vienna's Digital Humanities team. Coding Medieval Worlds is an innovative online workshop series and format, bringing game developers and medievalist scholars together to discuss how we represent medieval worlds in games. The discussion isn't just confined to ideas of "historical accuracy" but looks at why particular parts of medieval history make it into games and others don't, what developers can draw from medieval history in both historican and fantastical game settings, and how all that can shape both people's views of the past and make more enjoyable games all round.

Whilst most of the time is spent in discussion groups we do have some talks as part of the programme. This year we had Crusader Kings III content developer Claudia Baldassi and Tom Brughmans & Iza Romanowska, agent-based historical modelling experts from the university of Aarhus, giving keynote talks, as well as fascinating panels on connecting people and the past through games and how games represent cultures around the medieval world with speakers looking at Byzantium, West Africa, India and Ireland. If you weren't at the event you can check out the talks on YouTube - the 2021 and 2022 event talks are now all available.

All in all it was a fascinating few days, and we look forward to reporting on CMW3 next year!

Matyas Music Multiplies...

Eric Matyas’ wonderful library of textures and music has been expanding steadily so far in 2022. This brilliant selection of resources for use in creative projects is available from Eric’s SoundImage website. The latest additions to the musical features include a number of ‘puzzler’ tunes, including ‘cool’, ‘sky’ and ‘bubble gum’, perfect for adding to your latest puzzle game project!

Some of the other expanding areas include fantasy and sci-fi sound effects and ambient sounds. All music is completely free to use with attribution for commercial and non-commercial works.

YouTube Reorganisation

Did you know that Exilian has two YouTube channels? Now you do! We've been working on reorganising and updating them recently, to help ensure you can find and subscribe to the things you need. In particular, we're moving talks and panels from events off Exilian Media and onto The Exilian Channel. This will help Exilian Media stay focused on entertainment and artistic videos from drama to comedy to music, while information - be that via vlogs, announcements, game trailers, or the panels and talks from our events - will all be hosted on the Exilian Channel as the home of the interesting and informative. We've also got a bunch of new content available, including a number of previously unseen videos and talks from previous conventions that cover everything from spoken-word storytelling to Constantinopolitan vampires to the lairs of Cthulu. Go take a look!

We're all hoping that 2022 turns out an easier year than 2021, but it's been a difficult start. We stand with creators and friends around the world who face deep pain, oppression and war, from long-standing conflicts like those in Tigray, Yemen, Syria, or Afghanistan, to the new horrors being visited upon Ukraine. In times of danger, it can be easy to feel that what we do here is worthlessly small compared to what's going on in the world - but division and pain do not lessen our need to create, connect, and explore. If anything, they make those fundamentally human things more important when finding what we can share around the world. So, here, we'll keep bringing and reporting on imagined worlds and interesting information and games and stories - they are the feathers that, one day, might let new birds fly when dark skies clear. We'll see you next time, Exilians - take care.

Posted on March 18, 2022, 01:20:24 PM by Jubal
Exilian is Fourteen!

It's March 18 again and that means it's Exilian Day! We were founded on March 18, 2008, and we've existed for the promotion of creative geekery ever since. In that time, as a unique democratic online community, we've made mods, run competitions, promoted computer games, written poems & stories, run conventions and workshops, published articles, and more besides. And, as ever, there's more to come: we have a lot of upcoming possibilities in the pipeline for the next year and we hope you'll be along for the ride.

Do use this thread to share some of the things that brought you to Exilian and some of the things you most value about this community - we always take account of what people tell us on the volunteer team that keeps Exilian running, and we're keen to make use not just of our long history as a site & community but also of any reflections and ideas new to the table.

Most importantly though, this is a time to say thank you - to you, dear reader. Whether you're a long-standing member, an occasional forum lurker, someone who comes to the virtual meetups, or someone who's stumbling across us for the first time, it's the interest and creativity of all the people who make up Exilian that makes this community special. Thanks for being here - and we're looking forward to seeing where we all go next. Into our fifteenth year we go!

Posted on February 27, 2022, 04:23:50 PM by Jubal
Winter Sunset Competition: The Showcase!


Dreamy Pixel, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Our Winter Sunset competition is complete, and we're delighted to be able to share a much longer showcase than last year's with you, with some fantastic pieces in it! Thanks again hugely to Victoria Corva and Jenny Mathiasson, our judges, and to Tusky Games, Jubal, and Bigosaur for providing prizes.

And speaking of prizes, we have a TIE for first place, and thanks to the generosity of our prize-givers Tusky and Bigosaur we can give the grand prize to both of...

Medievalfantasyqueen with her piece 'Every Winter's Tale Needs Its Teller', and Spritelady with her piece 'The Khionaskadi'!

With a combined score of 36/40 from the judges apiece both scored very highly on all categories. Each of the two winners now gets the grand prize including copies of Tourney and Son of a Witch and a custom-written song of their choice - and, of course, our warm congratulations. We hugely value all the pieces we get in for our competitions, of course, whether they win or not, and as such here's the showcase of all contributions, with writing, art, photography, and hopefully inspiration for your own future projects. Do leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Entry Showcase

WINNER: The Khionaskadi - Spritelady

On cold winter evenings, when breath froze in the air and the wind bit with frozen teeth, the people would tell stories of the Khionaskadi. She was known by many names, sometimes ‘the icy mistress’ or ‘she of frozen breath’, sometimes merely ‘the Winter Queen’. It was said that evidence of her passage through the night could be seen in the dawn light, in the trail of ice that clung to the fields. Many of the stories described her home, for she was not of this plane, but instead dwelled in an icy realm with plains of snow that stretched as far as the eye could see. The tales of how she came into being varied, often changing with each telling. Some said she had been a maiden, who had become lost in the woods one winter’s night, and had lain in the snow until it seeped into her being, freezing her heart and turning her touch to ice. Others said she was the daughter of the north wind, tasked with bringing forth snow and ice to be flurried by the north wind’s gales on winter nights. There were even a few who told a tale of a mortal man, who desired a maiden as pure as fresh snow for a wife. They said he crafted her from the first snow of winter, and gave her life with a kiss.

As with all mortal folklore, there were grains of truth in many of the tales. She was indeed a being of cold and ice, and she lived in a realm as cold as she was. But none of the tales truly told of all she was. She called herself ‘she’, for this was how mortals described her, though in truth she had no gender. But it was no more inaccurate a word to use than any other. Over the years, she had come to think of herself as ‘she’. She supposed that was the effect of mortals’ long-standing belief.

When she had first encountered the mortal races, she had been surprised by their fragile nature. She had supposed that beings who were susceptible to not only the ravages of time but also to so many physical ailments would have a powerful stature. Beset as they were by the many failings of mortal flesh, they would need power to survive beyond their first winter. And yet, these mortals were delicate, clinging to life much like mayflies in a desperate struggle to survive.

When she had first crossed from her home into the material plane, it was on the cusp of a winter evening. The sun clung to the horizon, as though reluctant to leave and take its warmth away with it, and splashed the sky with vibrant colours that made her think of holly and cranberries. It was the sun’s lingering presence that had allowed her passage, the potent magics created by the moment of sunset as day changed into night and warm departed, leaving the cold that was so familiar to her.

The cold air was so similar to her home, and yet altogether foreign. The smells the air carried were different, scents of smoke and stone, cut wood and meat floated around her. As she pressed forward, curious about the beings that had called her into existence, she became aware that around her, the forest’s foliage was becoming coated in a layer of frost. The wisps of her long dress were catching on the forest’s undergrowth and painting them icy white. She was a creature made of the cold, and the touch of winter emanated from her being.

As she drifted towards the small village just barely visible through the trees, she began to hear sounds that were as unusual to her as the scents on the air were. Sounds of laughter, the cries of young mortals, everything melded into a constant bubble of noise that seemed to blanket the village. After the crisp silence of her home, she couldn’t help but be carried forward into the hubbub. And so she found herself standing in the centre of the village, turning her head this way and that to catch more of the strange sounds, the strange smells and, above all, the strange sights around her.

Inevitably, a mortal caught sight of her. The news that the Khionaskadi was there spread rapidly throughout the village, like the rush of ice across the surface of a pond when she touched it. But none approached her. She wanted to talk with them, understand their world and the strange things around her. But as she drew close, they shrunk back, their breath fogging the night air as they gasped in fear. She withdrew then, not understanding their animosity.

In the passing years, she often visited the village. Her curiosity regarding the mortals naturally led her to explore, to interact, to try and understand the strange creatures. However, her curiosity faded as time passed, and she came to understand that their response to her presence would not change. Shock, awe and, most often, fear were so common to her now. It seemed the mortals were not interested in the stories she could tell or the knowledge she held, they were only fearful of her. She grew mischievous then, delighting in causing chaos with a gust of chilled wind or a touch of ice to the ground. If they would not speak with her, then she would laugh at them, at their clumsiness and lack of grace when surrounded by her natural element. This did not endear her to the villagers, and she often heard the warnings they would mutter to one another as evening approached. They knew well how she appeared on those nights when sunset would paint the winter skies in shades of crimson and bronze, and on those nights it was common for fires to be piled high to ward away the night chill and the creature of ice that came with it.

The mortals had several tales of the time she had spent a year in their world. It was commonly said that a mortal had tricked her into staying past the last sunset of winter, and she had been unable to leave until winter began again. Some said that this mortal was descended from the one who first created her, and that the descendant had tempted her far away from the forest that allowed her to reach her home, until it was too late to return.

The stories were wrong. She had not been tricked. She had met a young mortal, that was true. And it was for this mortal that she had remained past the last sunset. But she had not been tricked. This mortal had been intrigued by her, wanted to understand her. And she had not met a mortal like that in all the time she had been visiting this world. She hadn’t known it until that moment, but she longed for companionship, for someone to speak with and spend time with. So she chose to stay with the mortal. On the last day of winter, she had lingered outside until the last sunset of winter passed, watching as the sun dropped beyond the horizon, before returning to the home she and her mortal had built together.

For a time, they had been happy together. She showed the mortal things they could never have witnessed without her. She showed the mortal the extent of her powers, her ability to summon an icy storm, or call the winds to move as she directed them. She guided the mortal to places in the forest where magic grew strong, places where it could inhabit a tree or a passing stag, rushing through them and changing them, creating the creatures that the village told stories about.

But mortals fear what they don’t understand. This was a fact that she had learnt well over the years and chose to disregard when remaining with her mortal companion. The villagers didn’t trust her, and by extension, came to distrust her companion. And though she was accustomed to being greeted with fear, warding symbols or signs and, on occasion, outright hostility, she could see how this affected her mortal. They built a home outside the village, where they could hear the crash of the sea on the shore and where the villagers would not disturb them. But as months went by, the mortal grew lonely, without the comfort of their family and friends, and she knew her mortal would suffer for as long as they remained together. And so they parted ways, and she passed back to her home on the next winter sunset.

They still cared for one another, and she would often visit her mortal as time continued. They still shared many confidences. She lamented as each year the mortal showed more and more visible signs of ageing, until one day she passed through the veil to the material plane only to find that her mortal was no longer there.

It was harder after that. She had known what it was like to share her life with someone. To confide in someone and be confided in. She had known the warmth such companionship could bring. The cold seemed harsher to her now.

WINNER: Every Winter's Tale Needs Its Teller - medievalfantasyqueen

“DO YOU HAVE A STORY FOR THIS, TOO?” SHE HAD ASKED THAT EVENING, when the air had fallen still, pricked only by the occasional twittering of the small birds perched nearby. A young raven watched from the naked tree that stood tall next to them, its head tilted as its beak tapped out a strained caw.

The trees, black and empty, the black and grey covered in white, the green all stripped away by the changing days, and it was hard to imagine that the black twigs once bore flowers and the nests of birds from which nestlings sang for food.

Life draining away, ebbing helplessly with every new sunset that marred the skies.

And yet, there was beauty in that, still.

“Not quite a story,” Azerlathes replied, leaning against the very same tree, wings folded in and legs stretched, twiddling a twig between his fingers. “Not everything needs a story.”

“But I am sure there is something to be heard in this,” Venmaros chewed on a dried fig as she spoke, the stray curls of her hair dancing about her face as she tried in vain to push them away.

“I’m surprised, actually, that you have nothing to say. You always cook up something.”

“When I feel like it.”

“Yes, and you are not feeling anything, at present?” She cocked a brow and then yawned, stretching her arms and wings before leaning back. “You cannot be serious.”

“But what if I am?”

“You confuse me.”

“I’m glad I do.”


“My pleasure.”

“Shut up.”

“You were the one who asked me for the story,” Azerlathes smirked, ducking just in time to avoid his sister’s swinging hand. “Hey, violence is forbidden, remember?”

“Unless it is justified,” Venmaros smiled. “I asked a question, and you failed to answer.”

“I did, actually.”

“No, you did not.”

“You asked me if I had a story, I said I did not,” Azerlathes said. “There lies my answer to your question.”

“Shut up.”

“Aww, second time,” he clicked his tongue, earning her sharp glare. “Perhaps the third time shall be the charm.”

“You’re seriously that bored,” Venmaros chuckled. “Your beloved humans don’t hold your attention as much anymore?”

Azerlathes felt the lightness slip away from him, his sister’s remark the barb that snatched away the cloak from his shoulders. “Ven,”, he said, “why do you always bring them up?”

“Because of this,” Venmaros inched a bit closer and reached a hand, touching her brother’s face, her eyes unblinking and a sigh resting heavily on her lips. “You are always so sad every time I mention them.”

“I don’t” Azerlathes forced a smile before sighing and giving in halfway through it. “Fine, yes, what else can I do? Do you not see why? Even after all that explanation I have given?”

“Lifespans?” Venmaros scoffed. “Look, that little wren there is in his first year of life, and probably only has a few more left before he’s dust. There are some insects around that live for just a day. So, I don’t get you. Humans live for a hundred years at most, so what of it? Why are they so different from the rest?”

“When the wren’s final day dawns on him, he bids it welcome with no regrets.”

“I suppose so?”

“The fly is glad to leave the way that he came.”

“What are you getting at?” His sister tossed another fig into her mouth and started chewing slowly.

The watching raven cawed twice, and then flew away, his wings leading him into the skies, and in the silence of the air, he disappeared as a black speck etched upon the blue sky that was now peeling away into shades of red, pink, and orange.

“You asked for a story,” Azerlathes said, standing up to watch the raven disappear. “It is time I gave it to you.”

“I’m listening,” his sister replied, walking forward to stand next to him, the tips of their first pair of wings touching. “I didn’t mean it to be like this. It was just a jest.”

“Stories begin with lies and jests, more often than we give them credit for.”

“Brother, –”

“Do you know where the sun goes to every evening as he sets?” Azerlathes’ question pierced with a suddenness that Venmaros did not understand.
She did not reply with words, but by quietly shaking her head.

“Death,” came her brother’s reply to his own question, the syllable resonant through the quiet wintry air, and Venmaros’ mind was beginning to fill with concern.

“Az,” her hands brushed against his. “I’m sorry, you don’t have to do this. We can leave. The lake, we can go to the lake and watch the birds come in for winter. Or anywhere, anywhere else. I promise I will not mock you anymore.”

“Why are you apologising?” Azerlathes asked, his voice thin.


“The sun knows that with darkness comes his death,” Azerlathes continued, not taking his gaze away from the orange thread in the sky, shrinking under the weight of the darkening blue. “And yet, he faces it the way he is born, bright and happy.”

Venmaros moved closer to her brother and wrapped a wing around him.

“Even in the darkest of days, he still comes to bid his greetings to the world before he is forced back to where he crawled out from.”

A shade fell upon them like a cloud, sudden like a sneeze, and the thinning thread of orange disappeared into the blackness of the night. The whiteness of the landscape around them now swelled in its intensity, the empty trees now mere etchings in the snow.

“His is a song of death,” Azerlathes continued, his voice fallen to a whisper. “But it is one which bears the promise of life. For each winter’s sunset is one closer to the spring.”

“Hmm,” Venmaros nodded along, not entirely sure if she had understood her brother. “It is beautiful. All of this, the setting sun, the snow, the cold…”

“Transient,” Azerlathes replied, “and tragic. Though in hope for spring, the sun sets, but the winter always returns.”

“And so does the spring,” Venmaros offered. “Right?”

“But a dead man never wakes,” Azerlathes sighed. He paused, and so did she, and the waves of their shared silence ebbed across the snow and rolled towards the distant mountains.

“Does that answer your question, sister?” He asked after a few moments had strolled past, and she stared at him.

“I don’t understand.” She admitted, letting her hand slide away from his.

“Unlike the wren, the fly, or even the sun, man dies into the darkness, reaching for that which he can never touch.”

“But he tries,” Venmaros continued, “does he not? He tries and listens and tries. If not him, then his son, then his son’s son and so on…”

“But the first man never sees this.”


Azerlathes shook his head and then, he said, “you are not wrong.”

“What?” Venmaros blinked.

“Every winter’s tale needs its teller,” he continued. “Perhaps this is what we were seeking.”

Venmaros merely nodded slowly.

“Thank you, sister,” Azerlathes turned to her with a smile. “You always know the best.”

“You’re… welcome, I suppose?”

As the birds fell silent into their slumber, Azerlathes embraced his sister with a kiss on her forehead.

A Dice Sunset- tesswatty

Winter Sunset Dresses - Trickthegiant

Dress 1

Amelie swept into the kitchen in a beautiful ball gown.

Richter looked up briefly from the potatoes, then returned to his peeling. "Are you going somewhere?"

"No, of course not," Amelie responded. "It's the middle of winter. And I'm magical, not rich. Where would I wear it? How do I look?" She swirled around, the dress trim floating over the tiles like feather-light snow.

Richter looked up properly. His eyes crinkled into a fond smile. "Gorgeous as usual."

"I feel like a princess when I wear dresses like this. But I don't support monarchies."

"You look like a fierce, lovely citizen."

Amelie snorted.

The dress was floor-length and wide-sleeved. It started a dark red at the collar, caught the sun along the way, and finished in a creamy, gold-tinted trim. It wasn't particularly form-fitting with its thick fabric belt and loose material, but Amelie's soft collarbones and hint of cleavage didn't need it. It had intricate stitching up the front and back holding the two pieces of fabric together.

“Are you stitched into that dress? How did you get it on?”

“Over my head. It’s loose enough.”

Richter nodded. “Well, that’s good. For later reference.”

Amelie shook her head and smiled.

Dress 2

The next day it snowed. Richter invited Amelie on a walk in the evening to the lookout so they could see the sun set over the valley. Amelie prepared a simple coat dress for the occasion, of course, which sat over warm snowpants and boots. It was purple-blue of the evening and had several layers of thick material, making Amelie look like a dusk-tinted marshmallow. As Richter looked closely, he realized the dress was made of dream-stuff.

They went out, Richter bundled in layers of jackets and Amelie in her dress.

“Do you not want an overcoat?” Richter asked.

“Are you doubting my craftsmanship?” Amelie teased.

Richter kissed her cold-red nose.

They made their way to the lookout through sparkly, crisp snow and stood, arms and bodies intertwined, as the sun set over the gentle valley below.

Dress 3

The third dress on the third evening was jet black and twinkled as she walked. Amelie ducked into the kitchen to show it off.

Richter didn't look up. He often fell asleep when it was warm, and that night was no exception. Although he would certainly wake with a crick in his neck the way he was splayed over the table. At the sink was Amelie's friend Sara, visiting from next door.

"Up to no good again?" Sara said with a teasing smile.

"Always," Amelie replied. "Pity Richter isn't awake to see this one. He would love it."

“Wake him up?”

“No, he was sleepy all day.”

The dress was made of sheets of night, stitched together into sharp angles by Amelie's magic. It was form-fitting around her breasts and butt, but with shoulders and sleeves and a hem that jutted out. The pseudostars on it glistened like snow crystals, a harsh geometry made beautiful. The dress stopped just short of the floor like it couldn’t deign to dirty itself.

“You look hot,” Sara said.

Amelie hesitated. “Maybe I will wake him.”

Sara gave her a knowing smile and left the kitchen.

Win, Terse One - Tusky

Home Sunsets - Jubal
This entry was created by an organiser and so not submitted for judging.

And that's all folks! We hope you enjoyed all these great pieces - and we hope to be back with more fun community competitions, projects, and other events for you to join in on as 2022 unfolds.

Posted on February 17, 2022, 10:19:05 PM by Glaurung
Election Results, February 2022

Election Results

This month we welcome Spritelady to staff as Tribounos (Site Adjudicator). The full election results were as follows:

Regularly Elected Staff

Jubal (FIF) re-elected unopposed as Basileus, 6 votes to 1 with 0 abstentions
Tusky (Ind) elected unopposed as Sebastokrator, 6 votes to 0 with 1 abstention
GMD (Ind) elected unopposed as Spatharios, 6 votes to 0 with 1 abstention
Spritelady (Ind) elected unopposed as Tribounos, 7 votes to 0 with 0 abstentions

Ratification of Permanent Staff

Jubal (FIF) ratified as Megadux, 7 votes to 0 with 0 abstentions
Glaurung (Ind) ratified as Sakellarios, 6 votes to 0 with 1 abstention
Lizard (Ind) ratified as Technikos, 4 votes to 2 with 1 abstention

Thanks to everyone who voted and to all our staff: the next regular elections will be in January 2023, with opportunities for joining the staff team in the meantime likely to be announced in the Questions & Suggestions forum.