Life, The Universe, & Everything
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In the beginning, there was Naught, floating everywhere and endlessly. For untold ages, Naught ruled nothingness alone, knowing nothing, seeing nothing, and hearing nothing. Then, one day, a feeling came to Naught: something unfelt before, a desire, a want, a need, or something to be mustered from all of this ennui.

Naught scooped and sought the endless ethereal emptiness all around and found with profound shock that failure had not been achieved. From this shock came bolts of inspiration, striking the indecisive mass of matter and giving it purpose.

At first, Naught found absences to be revolting and maintaining everything kept nothing going nowhere, fast. But with nowhere to go or not, eventually the maker must acknowledge its creation. So, learning to forge newfound power and responsibility, Naught began to make mistakes molding creation.

Trial and error is a poor way for original conception. Avarice and greed and untold poisons of the mind spilled out into the tableau of thought, all-consuming paranoid flaws were more numerous than fixes. Naught knew something more was needed. To needlework blindly in the dark was madness and cruelty, and something created unseen is kneeling at the altar of know-nothingness.

With a brilliant cast of flame and illumination now shimmering above, the creation could be seen clearly but the existence of something kept Naughts influence at bay. In that instant, there was annihilation as although creation was now illuminated, Naught had nowhere to be with the newfound creation.

Thus, a darkness generator must also be made. An avenue of Naught to, if not directly, still give a backdoor of control. A nothing is a tricky tiger to take by its tail, so dense time curls around it and the demons and devils crawl from the cracks, inventing their time, an age where mischief must be tolerated to save all that which has ever been thought from becoming lost media.

By virtue of meanest illuminating enlightenment , Naught had been sealed off. Controlling and seeing everything but impossible to touch or feel. An existence so empty not even a universe of wonder could make it whole.

Frustration and anger balled and pent up inside and out. All that which could be felt by Naught was projected outward into all of the time and space emanating from without shadow. A little ball of something, somewhere, born of rage and hope and fear was starting a shallow reaction from an aching heart.

It was ugly, but it was wholly of Naught and they could not stand to see a real something floating in such an imperfect orbit, teeming with strife and anguish. So watching, Naught focused on feeling out the good vibes which has long ago abandoned them.

The first destiny of the something emerged as a molten orb, a rocky craggy place where darkness crept around every corner and light only served to illuminate the horrors of chaos.

But those terrible elements were not being left unchecked, echoes and memories of a long-lost good nature were replacing the fibers to craft a world. From the fingertips of what isn’t, came Goddesses, slowly and carefully, beauty overtook where there had before been death and mightily molten lava monsters.

Elra is the first named place and it was wild. Many beasts roamed the world, even as the rulemakers were able to keep order. Soon, though, bored doldrums began to set in. Naught seemed to have vanished from the stage, and without them maintaining a ruleset the chaos crept back, disguised gradually integrating to a system which, to inside eyes, seemed naturally self-sustaining.

When all had been for Naught, habitation was easy. Each took on the avatar of an animal or some piece of the lush vegetation stretching endlessly in all directions.

With the dividend of Naught now spreading something from nothing, the first Peoplefolk began to grow in. At first crude, these imitations of lesser ideals felt like a natural extension of the division of power that now felt traditional instead of transitional. Soon they were so numerous that the planet was teeming with power. All across the world there was great power blossoming as the spirit of these goods became embodied every place the land.

Needing new diversions, the biodiversity began to increase exponentially. With small lifetimes inhabiting so many diverse means and ways that almost everything seemed to be possible but it was all up to them. Massive channels were carved across the landscape, and grand natural structures began forming left and right. Too much to do and too much time to do it with.

What seemed like progress, however, was actually sowing the seeds of their demise. As these new cavernous expanses of nature began to collide, cracks and collisions between the titanic structures were too much. The world quaked, the storms came back, and everybeing who dreamt delusions of destiny, all who styled themselves as though they were the masters, was reminded that they were not first.

The grand palace of the gods was betrayed by the ice and descended into the sea. In the eye of the storm, many of the lesser gods rushes to rescue their reputable regents but were swallowed by the sea before they could free them.

Eventually, as all things must, confusion, panic and fear was ended. Stormy times passed, and from the wreckage a world looked out across a less perfect future. There was much work to be done. All of the flooding and the vile feeling that had spread in the chaos storm’s wake showed no signs of stopping. Daily disasters befuddled every attempt to bring their world out of darkness. But they still had hope, in the end that was all it took to come back to put things back together when they inevitably fell apart.

After mustering their forces, these flawed and conflicted peoples were able to raise up one small part of the great lands which had existed before. It was named Elrich, a name which still applies to the first land they received from the foamy sea.

At first this extraction from extinction was nothing more than a rocky atoll perched among the waves, a last stand against all the worlds being swallowed up in salty seas. Life was slow to return, and when it did it faced punishing challenge where there had before been abundance.

Then, one day there came a boat sailing over the waves towards the land. The very last survivors of what had once been a great land across a planet. Being batted from side to side and toyed with by the sea, they desperately sought land to escape the schizophrenic schisms slamming them from all sides.

They almost missed the dry rock that represented their last salvation. But one of the oldest things among them saw their trajectory, and using all the strength imbued within the lands bound with its divine strength, outstretched a new panhandle to scoop them from the sea, and then uncurled another one to keep them safely in the new islands arms.

That is how the all encompassing bay of Elrich came to be, and it was in this calm from the storm that the first settlers of the kingdom made their mark. Their patron god now forever enshrined within their geography used the outstretched anchors of the bay’s land to keep all sea dwelling monsters in their keeps.

It is disputed what the first thing the settlers did upon stepping foot on dry land for the first time in a generation. Some say they kissed the ground and groveled in thankfulness for the deliverance they had received. Others say a raucous party began as jubilation overtook them and they began a procession up and down the sandy shore now in their possession. Still others say that, dutiful and disciplined even in the presence of providence began assembling makeshift homes from the hollow boat’s wood.

Whatever the case, Elra soon began to spring from the shoreline. It is known that the first structure to be built was the docks, and from there the rest of the town took form. Streets and houses came at first from wood but then as that resource ran dry stones quarried quarterly kept roofs over their kids heads.

But soon, as men always must, there was discord in this new settlement. A few wished for more than they would till, and soon departed bringing threats of steel. This was true enough, and they brought themselves raiding in a crude but each time more refined manner. Although Elra repelled these attacks, they would always be under threat as long as the bay could be used to bring pain.

The raiders, although they had come to the inside of the bay just like the rest no longer felt welcome. The protector of Elrich now had them set as enemies, and each time they tried to settle along its side they would be beset on all sides by rambunctious chipmunks and birds. Sunshine did not reach them as easily as it had seemed to before and the crops were always sour.

They left the bay for parts unknown for now, but between every season there would inevitably come another attack from the castigated carousers. Ever proclamation upon their defeat doomed them to another set in the cycle of violence. It seemed endless. 33700

As the banditry burgeoned into what seemed like a war, any incursions were limited to the mouth of the bay. Slipping unseen through stone’s edge, they would bring fire and death to anyone unwary of their presence. It seemed as though Elra would forever be shackled by these scalawags, slaving and slaughtering.

Eventually, they knew, they would be overrun. Each time the pirates came back stronger, with their defenses growing weaker and more demoralized with each neat defeat. Finally, enough was enough. No more would these criminals be allowed free reign over Elra’s rightful waters.

It should be mentioned now that the King of Elrich, formerly captain before Elra had been settled, had not been sitting idly. A man by the name of Tramiel, he was renowned in equal measures for his wiseness and his conservativeness. The time of raiding had been a time of preparation and waiting. The King knew that no matter how strong their walls were, the people would always be exposed if the enemy held the bay’s water.

Sand and stone were gathered from all corners of the now-city of Elrich. Although growth had been limited by frequent sacks and slaughter, there was still some small smatterings of progress. It had been quiet uptown, where those who had time to kill lived, whereas the peasantry lived down by the shore where the only ones being killed were their friends and family. Resentment planted here would not quite fade for any time.

After this patient period of resource allotment, Tramiel had his move to make. One night, when all was dark, a crew led by Tramiel crept up through the woods and camps that dotted the forested countryside all around the bay. Upon arriving at the edge of the bay, where it let to sea. Surveying the landscape, orders came at once.

Construction began with no haste and it soon became apparent that some divine finger was directing construction as much as their king was. Their wooden planks and stone structures laid across the craggy mouth became a flow of sand, laying down below sea and propping up shallow water above it.

Raiders would never again trouble from the other side of the water.

It should have been a crowning moment to cement a dynasty, sealing off the bay for peace and prosperity forever. Instead, it was a turning point from external threat to internal struggle. The last gasp of life on the surface world had been consolidated and it was now time to decide who would lead the people. For a challenger now arose from the ranks of the people. A cultivator of medicine, remembered by the name Tengen.

When they had arrived, social constructs and contracts had been made without words. Those who still had a few scraps of value were able to shake their way past the bay, giving themselves the interior. All the rest took refuge at the shoreline, at the mercy of destiny. Now with their safety assured, the masses began agitating as they always do.

Tengen was their voice. A farmer by trade, he spoke of how vegetables and fruits had the spirits of gods in them and gave those who cultivated it the real power. No protector or King had the right to demand anything of them for the very realm that King ruled had no place in the world without cultivation.

Speaking in the squares of town, tales of dancing lights coming in and around the patches, peeking at those whose toes could feel the dirt being squished beneath their toes and entangling their roots in the threads of the walker’s destiny. Only by allowing themselves to be intertwined with the vegetative state of being that they could achieve enlightenment.

Tramiel, naturally, did not see the value in all of his food producers lying out in mud patches talking to squash and cabbage. But a pragmatic man, he allowed Tengen an audience to speak of this teaching. Met face to face with a man he had been told wished to ruin his reign, the King was nonetheless impressed by this mess of a man standing before him.

Tengen would be back, many times, for the King grew more than curious about this mystic’s ideas. In fact, he found them fascinating. But the King was also a sick man by now, old and battered by the life he’d lived. The vegetable life seemed to be a fresh new piece of happiness instead of the noble grind of rule.

So impressed was the king with these ideas that eventually when push came to shove, lying in his sickbed and waiting for what might be the end the King decided to take the time to trawl out among the patches to see if there really was such magic to be found in leaf and curling branch.

It is not known if the gods really talked to Tramiel when he went out on his cabbage-patch constitutional. What is known, however, is that there was a rejuvenated and radically altered king who came back to them. Declaring that he had seen a grand and glorious future for the people he ordered all homes uptown be knocked right back down, and the timbers used to build patches for farming.

Although the uppers thought he had gone mad from fever, the people led by Tengen proclaimed his actions. So keeping their mouths closed, their noses upturned, they gave up what they had taken and allowed for new patches of vegetables to be planted.

Massive gourds, leafy greens and other keen things grew like machines and reams of plants careened into the bellies of Elra’s people. No longer hungry, the people rejoiced as they slept in carved celery shacks traveled in hanging pumpkins drawing them from place suspended throughout the city.

But winter was now harder than it had ever been before. Although a grown house might seem like a terrific investment when things are good and the sun is shining but when the darkness and the cold crept back around the world their gourd would crawl back under the earth and leave the people huddled in a mass, scooping cold snow to stuff their faces so that they when they die, their heads might keep shape long enough to be buried.

Life was not extinguished in this first winter after the rediscovery, but it was a harsh lesson for the survivors. It was not always going to be easy and even when they were handed a gift from gods they could not take it for granted, there would always be problems to be solved on their own terms. Tengen and Tramiel huddled together in the last stone structure, a stone tower taller than ten trees. Court also hid with them, as did holders of the seeds.

In spring, they emerged to an angered populace. Feeling betrayed, their feelings were somewhat assuaged by the regrowth of their homes. With less mouths to feed bounty of food came to pass. Every day though, the new gifts luster faded away from these gifts and resentment for those who take and take to make their own fate kept growing.

Tengen and Tramiel knew. Each day, as the King and his counselor rose to watch the people mill around, they debated and discussed how to abate the tension now stringing them along from conflict to conflict. It was not a path towards the glorious future revealed in that fated patch of green. Perhaps it was a punishment, that they had used the vegetables to solve some silly problems instead of enlightening them.

Of course the solution they happened upon, although now common sense seemed so sacrilegious to the masses that they rose up as assassins as soon as the proclamation reached their ears. It had been decreed, and beseeched, by the King that they abandon vegetable abodes and keep themselves to wooden huts as before.

Riots ripped through every settlement Elrichians had made, and Elra nearly burned to the ground. Farms were spared, but any manor, plantation, any place of moneylending or the houses of worship, all burned by the anger ripping through the newly enshrined homeless and paupers.

Making no effort to hide their wrongdoing, even the royal lands around the tallest tower were torn up, spurs dragging through the dirt and the land being rendered unfit for the cycle of seeding. Seventeen days and eleven nights, everything built before was once again torched in the heat of emotion. But this too passed, and as calmness spread over the battlefield the people looked around and despaired. Every tenuous bond they had build as they fought together was ruins.

Standing above them on the last rampart around, King Tramiel denounced the destruction only momentarily. Promising forgiveness to all coast and uptowners who had participated in the proceedings, the only condition offered was acceptance of a law code written while they screamed of injustice outside.

Accepting with a roar before these scrolls could be read, the new code laid down and enshrined rules that would govern the realm for ages to come. The royals, the runners, and the rabble would all have their own classes with privileges and rights afforded to each. Consumption of vegetables was abolished, only for mystic purposes or for the furtherance of the realm. Idle usage of veggies to make houses or food was punishable by all manner of horrors, up to and including death.

The primacy of the monarch was assured in every regard, and in fact his word now became law. However, in turn, there was an assembly elected by the people that could manage affairs overlooked by the decrees, and each held veto power over the other.

The church of Elrich was organized formally, with the Patriarch Tengen becoming its first overseer. All vegetable patches in the country would be protected by this government’s steel, and the Patriarch could veto any law legislated by the assembly which they felt could harm vegetable life. Thus the cycle of Elrichian governance, division of responsibility and the place of each living thing was set in stone.

People approved of this measure in great drove, and the endless cycle of death seemed diverted back to the river of progress. Past patiently waiting for power to be transferred, all now had a hand in making Elrich great again.

With law and order laid down, the scholars within the tower began expanding the simple powers and dividing it further. The people’s assembly was decided on, and a grand stone palace constructed alongside Kingstower to keep the ruler company.

Passing from this world, King Tramiel died peacefully in his patch after a long and fruitful rule. Legend tells us that when passing from this world, the King’s body was enveloped by a cabbage plant and brought beneath the surface to feed those he had liberated from edible fears into eternity.

Tengen wasn’t much longer for this world, but his last act would leave a lasting legacy. On behalf of a deathbed decree he decided to take one vegetable and give it primacy among all the others.

With these pillars of society in place, the two founders of the Elrichian spirit and the Elrichian city passed into the ages.

In their wake, Elrich was blessed with a string of wise rulers. Each one rising up in their own way to make their mark on the Elrichian order of things. The three greatest strengths of Elrich came from these men. They brought respect to the vegetables of the realm, made it strong in times of crisis and prosperous in times of peace.

The first of the three to ascend to the throne was the thrifty King Osborne. A member of the people’s assembly, he was elected unanimously to be their leader. In the assembly now, there were men of note who could afford to campaign for the office. The rich had filled most of the ranks by the time of Osbornes ascendancy. One of the first laws that came to be in his realm was aimed at combating this.

The first Elrichian National Party was formed by King Osborne, and the Notables Peter Peterson and Harriet Martimer. These two were among the most influential member of the legislature, having the largest and most productive farming estate to be found throughout the land. Breaking down his support, it was strongest among farmers and others employed in the foodstuffs trade. His counterpart, the esteemed Harriet Martimer headed the docks and sailors. They looked to her as their benefactor, a wise woman of coin who’s thrifty trade among the small Elrichian colonies now dotting the beaches safe from raiders kept the economy going.

With money in one pocket and food in the other, the National Party was completed when a monarchical figure took the helm. With this combined support, there was no word any other group could have in the chamber. The National Party was an overwhelming umbrella that sheared down its opposition through sheer force of numbers.

With such strength in the legislature, the conclave of cabbage-kind looked unkindly at the new lands assigned to farming which might have once been used exclusively for sacred crops. Whisperings and murmurs began to echo throughout the halls of the religious masters chambers. The new Patriarch, a pious man by the name of Lasko despised the rise of politics.

With his closest disciples on hand, Lasko plotted to undo Osbornes reign. Denying the royal throne resources that might be used against vegetable interests. But in all the scheming and working behind the scenes, not once did one of these holy men think to talk to those who were causing them such grief.

The whispers and secrets kept by the churchmen made them everyday more and more aware that the wares they declared weren’t there was a lie to divine right. Was that really putting them in the right just because they saw severe strain on the morality of their fragile nation.

Inevitably these invisible obstacles became barricades beyond which those in the tower and the assembly were unable to proceed past. Although bills may be passed and policies proclaimed there was pushback to every word. Suspicious of the King’s every move churchmen passively denied any request for help and their parishioners followed suit. With no specific motive to unlock their granite resistance, everything crunched and ground to a halt.

On the fiftieth morning of this crisis, the King left his tower and took his troubles to the churchmen’s house. Standing before their threshold and demanding an audience, eventually he was let into their hallowed halls. A meeting with seventeen of the highest counselors of the cabbage patch ensued. The sacrality of some patches was confirmed, while others were relegated to new progress.

Negotiations were grueling. Each new concession brought pages of conditions and regulations keeping it to the liking of all seventeen men who wished to institute their wishes as each individual one of them saw fit. Osborne was exhausted by this diatribe, as was Lasko. Plotting had gotten them both in an exhausting rut.

Seeing the physical divide that caused them to be divided, Osborne knew what must be done. If they continued to operate separately then they would be forever doomed to crisis after crisis. It was decided that all religious persons of note must congregate within the castle which was quickly constructed around the nucleus of the King's Tower and the People’s Assembly Hall. With new form, the complex was rechristened as the Bottled Palace, a microcosm of all Elrichian life and cultre.

With the accumulation of all government in one building, Obsborne could now focus on a task of naming his church. Religious life was important to all aspects of Elrich but there was very little that could be done to inspire the people about how to worship. It was an individual exercise, but there were rules that didn’t get widely known. A priest might be aware that licking an onion after midnight was the true cause of backne, but this wasn’t known to most of those who most needed it, the youth of Elrich.

They needed to be inspired. Without knowledge of the great men and deeds that had come before them, how could they be kept away from the temptation of vegetable consumption and habitation?

Osborne mulled over this for many moons. How would it be possible to reach those kids? As he watched youthful hi-jinx from his balconies, the King saw them playing and laughing, whacking each other with sticks and rambling on about endless boasts and bravado. Girls and boys frolicked around the mud, giggling endlessly and tossing balls of muck at one another.

The solution came from these observations. Osborne saw that there was only one way to get kids listening to their preachers again, and that was to train some of the brightest youth to bring it to them. After all, old men could only reah those who were truly ready to listen, which was far and few between among kiddies.

But one of the young people themselves, it was an elegant solution. Teach one or two kids, give them status, and then the rest will flock to listen to them instead. Although the mass inspiration desired by the leaders was found lacking in execution of this plan, it nevertheless got more kids going to church and learning the ways of the old history.

This had the unexpected side effect of fossilizing much of the teachings. If they were to be taught to kids, things must be simplified and boiled until they can be shown to even the simplest minds that can be found in all the Kingdom.

This resulted in a creation myth that passed from facts into legend, with Naught creating the men and women of this place in his image and giving them a strong sense that history had its eyes on them. It was a responsibility, a duty, to bring about a generation of Elrichians even greater than themselves.

But this phenomenon primarily played out in Elra itself. The numerous towns that now dotted the countryside were demanding that they have some kind of representation in court too. After all, why should the decadent denizens of Elra being isolated from the other Elrichian peoples be the ones calling all of the shots?

Osborne, older now and less tolerant of dissent than he had been in the beginning of his reign decided that these outsiders had no right to complain. Each one of their families had come from Elra and therefore they should be happy that they even merited recognition from his majesty, as choosing to live outside the city clearly meant they wishes to have some distance from the divine rule of righteousness?

Near the end of his life, Osborne began to show some of the tyrannical tendencies that burgeoning now would become a hallmark of future rulers. Where before, he had taken up meeting with the numerous claimants who came to him for help daily in his courtyard, now all visitors were turned away due to the king's newfound irritability.

Within a few years of this turn, the King died peacefully in his sleep. When the royal physicians examined his body, they found clutched in grip was an order, signed and sealed, for a campaign against the ungrateful inhabitants outside Elra’s walls. Where this despotic mind might have taken the realm is a mystery, but the cause of the King’s misery was not.

When the body was examined, a black nodule bearing signs of life was found in the royal cranium. What this was is a mystery, but those at the time decided it was a source of great shame. Hiding it and studying it, they soon discovered it died when taken outside its host. Patriarch Luko, in his last act, declared it an evil which should perish from this earth.

Nobody really knows for sure what evil lurked in the King’s mind, guiding him down a dark path near the end of his life. Some say that it was only a cancerous growth, pressing against the King’s good nature and letting the dark thoughts which inhabit all of mankind take over. Other say that it was the evil that inhabits the sea and all places beyond crawling through cumulative exposure to the crisis of the realm into his ears and from there poisoning his mind with unkind thoughts and feelings. However the King might have met his end, it would be up to his successor to bridge the gap between the haves and the have nots.

It was a divided nation that was inherited by his successor, King Falcon. With the King dead and heirless, the legislature and the rites of religion began to comb the land for a worthy bearer of Elrich’s torch. They found in their own capital a wise man, recently traveled of all the towns in the realm, who knew enough to keep the wheel turning.

Proclaiming him to be King Falcon I, it took some time for the new King to adjust. Confined to his castle, the King kept himself amused by poring over descriptors of the lands outside the city walls. All sorts of amazing and mystical reports reached his desk, and although many were farcical or mistaken there were still others with greater credibility.

While his studies were ongoing, the first real crisis faced by his administration was the lack of space in the city proper. A sense of entitlement had arisen among the inhabitants, and few now wished to leave to brave the fine world outside their gates. Children were taught never to venture beyon the walls with the result of within one generation, all were stuck inside the gates.

Needing to know the world outside, the King launched with great vigor into his first scheme. All persons with five more members of their family would henceforth be collected as colonizers for the great outdoors. Of course, this was easily the most unpopular policy ever proposed inside the city and riots seemed prime to rage again.

While tensions inside Elrich’s greatest city seemed to be boiling over the countryside was more than pleased. Here seemed to be one of their own, promoted by fate and providence to rule of the land, who was now seeking to alleviate the tensions that threatened to divide them all forever.

Rushing to their now-beloved King’s aid they rushed to the city and began counter-demonstrating their own pleasure in equal measure to the resentment that was already on display. Seeing the equivocation of their soon-to-be neighbors and seeing that their numbers, while dispersed, were easily in equal measures to their own. Thus, the city dwellers relented and allowed the resettlement to proceed.

Deporting many of the families which had so fervently fought against his implementation, Falcon publicly pushed them to find the same joy outside that he himself had used to form most of the early life. Secretly, he was happy to be rid of their accursed bellyaching and murmur campaigns. With a less populated city, people would have to work harder and fewer layabouts would be powerful enough to organize any resistance.

These deported families did not sit idly on their hands after their relocation, however. Almost as soon as they arrived in their new homesteads many of them attempted to build powerbases that might one day propel them back to the capital. In turn, most of these folks found themselves enjoying being a big fish in a small pond rather than one of many semi-powerful families that could be found in Elra itself. Let the King busy himself with pleasing the people and suppressing their power. The masses were fickle. They had a powerbase. All that was left to be done was wait for opportunity to present itself.

Meanwhile in the capital, Falcon had grown more bold after his success in uprooting most of the opposition to his reign. However, his position was more precarious than he realized. Angered by most of their parishioners being pulled out and patrons no longer providing plenty of pretty coins. Once again, a conspiracy of the churchmen took shape.

None of this bothered Falcon, who continued to reign and decree as though there were no problem. His next move was to cement his reign with an heir. To allow the assembly to decide a successor seemed to him a dreadful fate for his legacy. Why let some random qualified person be King when the son of an established ruler might have a right to take the throne?

Thus, the King began to court the notable women of his capital. Though he interviewed every candidate who cared to come to his gates, none excited him. Even when he bit the bullet and brought in a wife he settled on, no happiness came his way, nor did an heir. He didn’t know what love was, and nobody seemed to make him happy.

Doing as he was told by advisors and counsel alike, the King discarded his newfound family and focused on his duties. Power and selectiveness did nothing to bring about the desires festering in Falcon’s heart, and it showed in his policy. Curtailing and stifling ritual replaced the freedom his subjects had enjoyed for so long.

Before any field could be plowed, a prayer must be offered, followed by five free frogs hopping across fields and bringing them luck. It could take a day or two for a frog to find its way across if it ever did, and crops suffered suchly. Any entrance to a non-wooden structure had to be processed by a botanist assembler, who made sure that every flower adorning the door was symbolically giving the enterer good fortune or bad, depending on the homeowner’s feelings towards their guest.

Many of these rituals added style and flair to Elra’s depopulated populace and mollified them to some degree. But others were still angered, and those who opposed Falcon’s policies began to coalesce with the conspirators. The plotting soon took the form of a new party.

The Second Elrichian National Party’s rise came as the death blow for its predecessor. With such a small population, their power bases no longer had any basis in reality. Swept out of power and into the dustbin of history, King Talon now faced an unexpectedly hostile legislature purged of his keys to power. Each further reform he proposed was subject to intense scrutiny, which quickly tired out the monarch.

Exhaustion was a constant reminder to the King throughout his rule. Finally tired by strife and partisan battles, he collapsed while inspecting the ramparts. For many years after his death Falcon was cursed by those he had displaced and their families. However, with his passage came time, and although life was not kind to him in time his legacy has shaped Elrich in more ways than can be said.

By dispersing the nobility, King Falcon had demonstrated early on who had the real power and who merely postured and preened their family name without exercising any positive power.

But with the King’s passage from this world into the next we were now left with a final quandary which needed to be settled once again. With no heir to speak of, where would the continuation of royal power come from? The legislature was loathe to let in another stranger of high esteem, and instead turned to one of their own.

Ferry Sinclair, a merchant of high birth who kept the caravans running on time was elected on the first ballot. King Sinclair, as he would be known, decided that his legacy would be righting the nebulous ways of tradition into hard law. A process which had been initiated by his predecessors and which he would certainly finish.

The lawbringer began his task by bringing all those outside the capital who were experts in law to his conclave. There, they debated the merit of many a misguided manuscript describing specific forbidden acts such as turnip fondling and the carefully-treaded taboo of blinding oneself in the sun as protest for the price of beets.

Slicing away the more vestigial aspects of the code, there was soon a coherent code of law. But it was only a start. It described acts of legality and illegality for sure, but what of those who abused and perused citizens through the veil of coin and intrigue. Surely those being harassed by a campaign of destruction should be awarded justice as much as any wronged merchant or victim of violence.

Religious scholars and priests alike had always picked the judges for crimes, for who better to try an accused than the gods? None were more certain of this fact than the Patriarch of Sinclair’s day, the esteemed Lord Chandleven who had worked for many years under the reign of Falcon tending to dislocated people’s spiritual and physical needs. It is said that many were saved from starvation when the serene Chandlevan would arrive with a sleigh filled to overflow with food and blankets.

The first winter had been his finest hour. Distributing supplies to the poor and the destitute, hundreds of citizens said that without support from the church during that trying time they would certainly have met their fate at the hands of the ice, snow and the yetis which prowled at night taking those foolish enough to have risen from their beds at such a late hour.

While on paper it seemed like these two might bring unity to three divided pillars ruling the realm in spirit and body. In reality, each considered itself to the the primary ruler of the realm and constantly fought and brougth greater division than had ever been seen before. But they would be united in the end, whether by choice or by necessity, for the first marsupial incursion came at this time.

It was widely known in Elra that there existed outside their town a great number of fanatical magicians, many inhuman and learned through the mystic ways. Most commonly, magic raccoons would peruse the edges of the city, looking for scraps and sending haunting magic to chase anyone who came too close. City guardsmen made short work of them but it was still quite an endeavor to behold, having to take care of all these creatures.

In the forests around Elra, they began to plan. Not at first with any coordination, but as more and more of their ilk congregated together it became ever more apparent that there is strength in numbers. Sophistication became their next evolution, and instead of scrounging for whatever wasn't good enough for Elra’s denizens, they would bring its first sack in three generations.

The attack could not have come on a worse time. Within the city, gridlock was the word of the day after the legislature refused to ratify demands from either the King or Patriarch until they could learn to settle their differences. Butting heads into their own pillars of strength, each pulled loyal guards away from the gate to their own palaces to prepare for what they saw as a coming storm. But they did not realize the call would come from outside the house.

It was a bright summer’s day when the attack was set to come. The guards around the walls of the city were, as had become custom, pulled away to deal with the internal squabbles of the cities factions. While partitioning several representatives at spearpoint, the attack came. From all across the walls, racoons began slipping over, dressed in white robes and holding sticks of magical enchantments.

Roaming from street to street, they turned home, carriage and market stall alike into pillars of hot garbage. The stench was nauseating, but the determined invaders were used to such disgust in their everyday diets.

As they rampaged through the homes of citizens and businesses alike, the monarch called for council in the people’s assembly. All those who had been fighting each other on counts of merit now fought on how to defeat this menace that suddenly threatened their very lives.

King Sinclair had a solution. As a member of the legislature’s waste sub committee, he knew that much of the city’s trash was stored in a big pit under property owned by a merchant the previous King had disliked. If they could be lured there, then perhaps their appetites would be occupied long enough to rout them.

Springing from his seat, the King ordered his soldiers out in the streets. Marching towards the rich man’s house, it is understandable that the man was quite frightened. He had been an enemy of the last administration, was this him being put to pasture?

Only slightly less appalled by the true nature of the visit, the merchant nevertheless opened his home to their forces. They did not have to wait long for the band of thieves and miscreants to reach their location. Howling with delight at discovering the leader of their enemies, the mystic raccoons began to assault the home.

The King’s men held out slowly, but then as the pressure mounted they gave way back inside the building. When pursuing, the raccoons found much to their delight that a massive cavern of garbage was right beneath their paws! Momentarily forgetting their fight, the creatures lept into the pit with reckless abandon. Moving quickly, the hole was sealed with steel and wood, preventing any escape. Not that any was attempted. The gorging inside the pit lasted for days and, upon its conclusion, each warrior found themselves too rotund for combat. The First Battle of Elra was over.

In the aftermath, the King made many reforms to the militia. Forming a core as bodyguards, conscription and drilling turned a group of thugs into legitimate soldiers, as much as that transformation makes much of a difference most of the time.

Seen as the savior of the city, King Sinclair led the rest of his reign with comfortable popularity. Although many would try to return the kingdom to the days of strife on lock, the newly minted military made sure they didn’t do anything against the agenda of the royal court. Thereafter the checks and balances which had once determined policy found themselves slipping away.

Much of this popularity wore off the moment the King met his maker. In a hunting trip taken with some advisors, he was pushed off the edge of a cliff by a Golden Goat, ending up impaled on a jagged rock. When his next-in-line, the Grand Vizier Ptolomutt, tried to intervene, he too was pushed to his doom.

When word reached Elra a wave of anxiety swept through the city. For the third consecutive time, a ruler had died without an heir. If this upstart was able to seize the throne, would he continue the long line of each ruler losing a little of the luster the last one had earned? Something had to be done. Thus, a conclave of patriotic priests and parishioners took to the great castle to find some common rules.

While they deliberated, rule was in the hands of nobody. It is said that during the thirty days and nights that the council deliberated, the King was the embodiment of Naught, seeing them through with no goodness or tragedy on any path. No great crisis seized the realm while deliberation was ongoing which the people interpreted as a sign of good faith.

The rules laid out for the Elrichian Cabbageflower dynasty were as such. The monarchical candidate, after proving themselves rigorous enough to be a person of interest and notability within the realm, would be ushered into the patch where, once in place, a duel of the minds would commence.

The cabbages of Elrich are the purest and most direct links to the gods available to the people. Leaves and roots can be used for seeing, provided of course that the plant is not killed in the acquisition of such ingredients. Royal cabbages have powers beyond such simple tricks.

The royal cabbages have been with Elrich since its Foundation. The greatest treasure kept under lock and key for centuries. When approached by a mortal, they will know that a challenge has been issued. The less keenly-willed candidates will keel over right then, overwhelmed by the power of psychic contact. Those remaining will quickly learn that they are now in a fight for their life. For losing your focus in a game of death with a cabbage will bring you closer to a grave than a throne. If the claimant were to succumb, the cabbage would take his place on the throne and rule in its own right.

The first survivor of this ordeal became the first natural King of Elrich and the founder of its first dynasty. King Herold I was a rotund cabbage, a plant of glowing intensity who responded to all greetings with gruffness and rebukes. He was also a kind man, known for spending hours tending to his garden and speaking softly to the plants inside. But ultimately his reign would almost end the idea of the cabbage conclave as soon as it had begun. An ill-advised attempt to show athletic prowess ended in tragedy when the King was literally crushed on the Pickleball court by a crowd of well-wishers congratulating Herold’s win. This and the quick action of his widow were equal reasons that a historic succession came unexpectedly to be.

The first Queen, Caroline of Elrich, was unlucky in that her reign would coincide with one of the most trying times for the Kingdom, the war with the Seed People. For the residual evils sown long ago had not fully departed from this world. It only bid its time, waiting for this last enclave of enlightenment to find its footing only for it to be ground into dust with all the other rubble that once called itself civilization. Time, after all, was on its side.

The coronation of Queen Caroline was a quiet affair. Out in the palace gardens, the Queen was crowned by an older Patriarch Zannon, and proceeded over by all members of the people's assembly and a collection of Elrchian notables.

There was the grand wizard Renmar, whose spells and potions kept the Kingdom one step ahead of its rivals. Businessmen such as Harvey Flagger and Dennis Dindey were on hand, captains of a resurgent economy that would see Elra become the great port it was destined to be. All these and more applauded as a disoriented Queen, fresh from psychokinetic cabbage battle, gave a brief speech about the importance of looking both ways before crossing the street before being ushered into her new royal chambers to recover. It had come as quite a surprise when she had emerged victorious from the battle. In the days to come, she would prove to be even more surprising as the first woman to command Elrichian forces in battle.

The day of the Second Battle of Elra began simply enough. Several days after coronation, there were hands at work in the fields. Scythes and great piles of manure being shoveled along with livestock hemming and hawing as they sarcastically imitated those who would eventually use them as caloric merchandise. Barefoot laborers seeking work wandered around, ostentatiously asking if anyone needed help with anything.

Below the soil, buried displeasure began to morph and take new form. Humanoid in shape, although featureless and wearing rocks and metal as armor. They suddenly punched through the bottom of the ground as one, dragging any soul unfortunate enough to be near them to an early grave.

The rest of the citizenry were generally alarmed by all this. The Elrichian militia forces were scarcely able to get there when the Seed People attacked. This time it was every memory of a bad disaster pushing outward over everyone. Pouring into the streets, anyone at low altitude was downed or drowned in its wake.

Hearing of this disaster, the Queen ordered at once for all fighters of family age to assemble at her castle. There was no way these creatures could be taken on in a fair fight, so they would need to play dirty. In the very garden where her coronation had taken place, a camp of soldiers were drilled in playing the game to win.

Regaling them from a balcony on high, Queen Caroline beseeched them to stomp, hollar, and attract the attention of the rampaging waves. At the same time, these same waves had been rushing through the streets on a search for the final stop, the castle. There, the center of it all would be disowned and drowned, the rest of their cities would fall in short order. This was their idea as they rushed the gates.

But the Queens men were ready for them this time. With dirty on their faces they screamed a bloody war cry while charging into battle. The combined psychic power of cabbage and simping was on their side, and it was simply unstoppable. The screaming forces of the Vegetables which were dug from the ground and inspired dirty thoughts swept away the old awfulness, which swiftly became nothing more than wet dirt.

Although the water level would be low for the rest of the year, Queen Caroline was heralded as a new savior of Elrich. Her peace was won by the same honor afforded her by the wicked cruelty buried under her world, and when it had to play by her rules it didn’t stand a chance.

This is not the end of history. This was a day just like many others, to say the least. What was there to do in this orbit, when you’re just another middle moon child, too far from home to ever feel geocentric? I dunno. You tell me?

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