"The Maker's Mark" - A story written like a nonfiction article with a bit of advice at the end. it's set in a fantasy world I dreamed up called Aetherius. Most of the stuff I will be making at first will be set in the Lost Isles but there are other areas like Plaugewood, The Ashlands, and the Shadowlands. Edit: I've decided to add the story to the thread post. THE MAKER'S MARK In the lost Isles, land of eternal storms, most lycans live off the land, hunting game and farming crops like salt-rice, moon-fruit and marshroot. A few live in towns, serving as shop-keepers, tailors, coopers and the like. A few more lead a life of adventure and treasure-seeking, delving into the numerous ruins that dot the island and facing the dangers that lie within. But, everywhere you look, there is a strange lack of blacksmiths on the island. there are some, but they are few and far between, and do not deal in arms and armor, only horseshoes and nails. This is because only the those branded by the maker's mark have permission to arm and armor the thunder king's legion of knights. New parents living on the island fear this mark, and rightly so, for those branded with it will likely never see their parents ever again, or care to. The mysterious masked seekers search eternally for more branded children, and take them to the molten heart of Mt. Charr, where they will be with their own kind, doomed to forever work the great magma-forges that churn out some of the finest armor in the known world, not to mention the iron constructs that bolster the living forces of Thunder King Valindor III, lord of the island. The branded are not a pretty sight, as their skin is scarred and furless from the intense heat, and most of them are blind from years of working the forge without eye protection. Makers, as the branded are often called, ill often go weeks at a time without eating or sleeping, and so develop a skeletal, malnourished appearance. The Branded all smell to some degree or another, and they are frequently bleeding or leaking pus from somewhere or another. They appear to be immune to pain and live even longer than their already long-lived counterparts outside of the great workshops, however, their muscles are notably weaker and t heir bones more frail than those who see the light of day. Their mannerisms support their monstrous appearance, as both genders wear no clothes, as being blind and living inside a volcano makes them unnecessary. Makers have poor social and communication skills, talking to themselves constantly and laughing for no particular reason. They often engage in long conversations on the finer points of their craft, but rarely ever talk about anything else, and one will often continue to talk long after the other is already long gone. Branded care little about hygiene, never bathing and reliving themselves wherever they see fit, frequently near the forges they tend, as without working eyes finding their way back to the work-station can be difficult, and dangerous, as one wrong step could send you plummeting to the sea of magma below. Despite their hideous visages and hellish working conditions, those that tend the fiery crucibles, workshops, and magma-forges are happy, because they are surrounded by people they can relate to and understand, and feel needed. No finer smiths exist anywhere in the world of Aetherius, and the makers are proud of this fact. They live where they do because it is a place where they feel like they belong. Those makers that manage to hide from the seekers often feel different, even alien, to those born to live in the surface world. While the reason makers began being sent to Mt. Charr is long forgotten, we know that it is what they are meant to do. We are all born with a set of strengths and weaknesses that give us our identity and place in this world. Going against this birthright will always lead to sorrow. All sentient beings need to be needed, loved and accepted. The makers know this is what they are born to do, just as some are born coopers, tailors, farmers, or adventurers. Readers would do well to remember this fact.