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Salutations, Taen!

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carl sagan space GIF by Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski

Chaos had a way of putting one's plans off course in a way...

Thunder cracked the sky, and a portal spewed forth what looked to be an endless amount of creatures upon the hot sands of the desert. Copious screams and chatter filled the air, confusion and bedlam in all corners, with answers on short supply. 

Among the possums, the hedgehogs, the pangolins and the armadillos, one stood to return civility back to the masses.

"Order! There will be order!" Among the armadillos, Darius was King, and in that, he was King of all of the Jin Dynasty. After some commotion, it appeared the people were calming, allowing Darius to speak to them clearly. "My people, there has clearly been a mishap in our world, but hold fast and we will make our way to the nearest shelter we can find."

"My King, where are we?" One of his advisers asked. 

"Surely we are somewhere else in the Lenay desert. We shall go west and look for our neighbors, the Munti, and seek their aid. It should not be a long journey for us." 

How little the young ruler knew, for they were nowhere near the Lenay desert, nor were they even still on their home planet...

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A head count of their people revealed at least ten thousand, roughly. It was disturbing, as that was barely a tenth of what comprised their home city. Without Darius there to lead them, he feared the worst.

"I have never been so close to the common folk before." Darius observed, walking along the warm sands with his retinue of advisors.

"Yes, my king, but you must not get too close to them. We do not have the necessary materials for a cleansing ritual." His advisors were correct, and Darius made certain to take a step or two away from a family of possums making their way through the crowd. It was unfortunate, how the circumstances of birth restricted even the highest among us. 

"Let us move on then, before we are overtaken by the suns rays."

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Ten thousand souls trying to find a new home, and what they find, shakes them dearly. 

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"There is nothing in the old stories about such a place." The advisors told Darius. "It looks so...strange here, in this place."

"But why?" The king asked. "What lies within that makes it feel so...unnatural?"

"We cannot worry about that now, My King." Another of his advisors stated. "The people grow thirsty, we need shelter so we can begin taking stock of supplies and get our bearings. If we do not stop now, I fear the worst for us all."

What his fellow armadillo said was true. The beating of the suns (since when we're there two suns in the sky?) had made the heat almost unbearable for them. Try as they might, they could not withstand anymore of these temperatures, no matter how badly they wanted to get home. 

"Tell everyone to go into the largest of the buildings, then get the magicians working on drawing as much water as they can, while we form a scouting party to get the lay of the land." As always they obeyed, and Darius felt some sense of relief as the massive train of people started to move into the ruins of this strange city. Soon, very soon, he would begin a chain of events that could not be stopped, and would change everything.

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It was cool inside the building, with its massive stone walls and large openings. A breeze could be felt, and the people were happy for it, making Darius feel good about his choice of locations. With enough space to hold all of them, Darius wondered just who exactly lived in such a place.

"Have we put together a scouting team to search these ruins?" Darius asked of his advisors.

"Yes, my king. We have gathered together the swiftest pangolins with the sharpest eyes. They will discover the secrets of these ruins and where we are in the desert." 

"And what of our water situation?"

"The magicians are working their magic, and have discovered their spells are working even greater than anticipated. We expect the people to be well watered in a matter of hours, with plenty to ration." Darius nodded at this, surprised at this newfound efficiency of his wizards, but figured it must be the will of the gods protecting them. 

"Send out the scouts immediately, and we will wait for them for a time. Now let us worry about the next issues, like a place for our people to rest their heads." 

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"There are a multitude of buildings, my king, with many in various states of disrepair." The scouts were giving their report, claws crossed as they spoke to their ruler. "Some were too unstable for habitation, while others looked perfectly intact save for some weather damage."

"Interesting." Darius noted, wondering if the more broken buildings were done so by some manner of conflict. 

"We have also discovered what looks to be storage sheds, which we managed to open with some effort. Inside we found stone tablets with strange writing on it we couldn't identify, as well as an impressive stock pile of food inside of it." Earlier they had unloaded the food, and much to their luck it was still very much edible, fresh even, for reasons they couldn't understand. With this, they could feed their people until they could figure out a better plan.

"What of the area around this city? Have you determined where we are in the desert?" To this, his scouts were hesitant to answer. "What is wrong?"

"My King...we believe we are no longer in the desert that we know. It is our theory that we are in fact...on a different world.:

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The news was troubling, and it left Darius feeling dizzy, his life feeling upside down. "That...that cannot be possible. That portal..."

"It is possible the portal was what brought us here." The advisor said, the possibility that they were so far from home bringing him discomfort as well. 

"But why didn't it bring all of us?" Darius asked, and to that no one could answer. "This is wrong, you must be mistaken! There are tens of thousands of our people that need me, they need my guidance." The truth was not something so easily accepted, especially by a king. "Go out again, and do not return until you have discovered one of our neighbors, or our enemies, or something!"

Denying their king was out of the question, so the pangolins left in search of new evidence. The advisors were concerned, and intended on holding a meeting together about what to do. Until then they said nothing, and prayed the scouts would return with something to ease the mind of their ruler. 

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When the scouts returned, they came bearing news that Darius was not expecting. "Dog men? I did not know they were out here in the desert."

Back at their homeland, they had many who wished them destroyed, one of them being the voracious dog men of the upper wastelands. They were merciless Raiders that attacked them night and day, harassing supply lines and devouring anyone they could get their paws on. To know they were here was grave news indeed.

"They looked to be in a large encampment around an oasis. It almost looked like a town." 

"Impossible." Darius stated. "Dog men do not make homes, they only burn them. If they are in an encampment, it must be because they killed or ran out whoever was living there first."

"But my king, it did not look as if-"

"Enough! We need a more usable land to give our people a chance to make a home for themselves. Then we can focus on finding our home. Get our troops ready, we will March upon them at dawn." 

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desert_village_by_crs1009-d5zij53.jpgA force of a few hundred were gathered for the assault, each Pangolin armed with heavy blunt weapons, such as hammers and maces, armored with metal scales to compliment their natural ones, and ready for battle. The sun was just beginning to come up, bathing the landscape in Golden light, already beginning to raise the temperature of the surrounding area, but they were unfazed. Each of them had lost someone, or felt the sharp claws of their enemy, all in the task of defending their homeland. Now they were going to claim a new home, and wrest this place from the paws of such cruel monsters.

The greatest of them, a warrior general who wielded a mighty mace handed down from generation to generation. It was his greatest pride, and his tool against the terrors that hoped to take his people away from him. With vigor and conviction he called forth to get their attention. "Villains! Demons of the sands! Come out and face us in this battle!"

Some approached, looking confused and wary. They could not understand what these strangers were saying, but knew the sight of weapons and armor. Slowly they approached, hands raised, speaking in their own language foreign to the pangolins ears.

Both sides continued to speak, unable to get past the language barrier, until things finally came to a head. The general was tired of trying to speak to such scum, and decided it was time to end this once and for all. With one mighty blow, the mace crushed the dog man, leaving everything quiet, until.

"Attack!"

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The battle was over in a matter of minutes, as the dog men could not muster a defense that could withstand the heavily armored attackers. When it was all said and done, the remnants were scattered to the dessert, where they would likely not survive the harsh elements. It would only be much later that they realized they had destroyed the entirety of the dog men in the desert of Taen. 

Dead bodies littered the streets of the once peaceful village, the buildings largely intact, some containing their own victims of this wanton violence. The general was pleased with this, and ordered for a messenger to alert the king that the village would be ready for them when they arrived. 

"Begin moving these bodies away from the village and into the outskirts. I do not want them stinking the air when the king arrives." 

"General!" Some of the soldiers went up to him, holding the whimpering forms of dog men pups in their claws. "There are many of these hidden away in basements and hidden rooms. What should we do with them?"

Snorting in disgust, the general waved them away. "Throw them in cages. The king will be pleased when I present him with new slaves to do his bidding." They nodded and walked off to spread the word. "Now they will know the meaning of suffering."

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"Do you see how I have given to the people, even in the midst of confusion and madness?" Darius was more than proud of this accomplishment, he felt as if he had avenged whole scores of generations who had been slaughtered by these barbarians. Many souls can rest now that these murderers have been put down for good.

Already repairs were being made to the village, all traces of battle being swept away like it never happened. His advisors were certainly impressed, and were reconsidering their worries about him already. Perhaps it was simply the stress of things, and when he was in a better mood, they could speak again about their situation. Surely he cannot still believe they are on the same planet as before.

"Are you set upon using the dog men as slaves, my king?" One of his advisors asked.

"Of course." Darius stated. "They will be at the very bottom of the Caste. No one will be allowed to touch them, or else they must be purified." He nodded. "That will be our justice to them." 

"Very good my king."

"The people will love you for this, my king."

"Your name will go down in history as the greatest king of all!"

"Yes, yes." Darius said, soaking up their praise. "I am indeed a great king for our people."

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Days go by, and the village grows in breadth as the people begin to make a home within this place. It was important to begin efforts of agriculture so as to feed the people. Possums set to work on the best possible course of action, and plots of land are mapped out by the Armadillos to further coordinate the efforts. 

Darius sits upon his new throne, having taken the largest of the buildings as his new home. Though not as grand as the palace he was used to back in their city, it would suffice for now. 

"We need to focus on efforts on finding our way back to our true home. Assemble the scouts and task them this mission." 

"My king...are you so sure that we are even on the same planet? The last time the scouts went searching..." The advisor went quiet after feeling the glare from their king. "Yes...yes your majesty. We will send the scouts out once again, as you command." They left in a hurry, feeling more concerned than ever about their ruler. 

Was this the start of something terrible?

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