As you sleep fitfully, a dream worms it’s way into your mind. You toss and turn, while anxiety fills you. You hear a familiar voice, but you can’t see anything yet, too blurry, fuzzy, dark.
A noisy background. People talking. Voices you should not be able to understand, but somehow you do. You listen to an emotion filled conversation. In the background, you sense danger, motion, change is happening. A sort of screeching sound echoes, somewhere. It builds to a crescendo in your ears. You think you won’t be able to stand it any longer, but it won’t go away. Perhaps it’s in the distance, or below you, it feels like it’s within you and all around you. It scares you. In the fogginess of the dream you try to take in details, but things are too blurry to do so. You can see nothing. Shadows of dull hues, blurred into nonsensical shapes. All you can discern is that you are in a vast and dimly lit chamber, and there is quite a bit of movement around you from persons or creatures unknown. Your perception begins to narrow to what is directly in front of you.
You find yourself before several people, forms standing in a group. At least one voice, familiar. In the heat of battle, you have heard voices like these before. They speak in agonized whispers, in a distressed monotone. They are the voices of the condemned.
“The light fades.” A deep and somber voice.
Another voice. “The hordes of Erebus will be over the walls within the hour. The lords of Ket are upon us. We cannot wait any longer. We must light the path, Talos.”
“But my lord, the heroes have not returned.”
“Nor will they. their mission has failed. Our latest scouts have told of overwhelming odds. The traitors have been defeated, but the heroes… have failed.” You hear several gasps as the tense voice confirms in detail the disaster feared for so long.
There is a pause, while something far away resonates like a thunder clap. A different voice now, “Those harbors that have escaped the traitors should hold during the darkening as we have prepared. The others….will not make it.”
“The condemned slaves of Ket, once more,” whispers the first voice. “An unfathomable treachery. the gods of light vanquished, while the lords of darkness given the world. what have we done?” An uncomfortable silence follows.
“Not us, my friend, the three did this. We have been betrayed.”
“But what news from our lords, the four?”
“None. It can only be that they have perished, their lights are lost to us. Our latest intelligence tells us the forces of Atropos or Iggwilv as she is now known, has fallen. News of the second or third, however, has alluded us. The traitors’ plot deceived us all. The ark will close for some, but it will not open now. Closed to our enemy, and closed to us, Tiresias! we are doomed. ”
“Not doomed, there is but one hope, left. We can transcend their power. We can send it on the path.”
“The world will soon go dark, Tiresias! Gaia will be taken and Erebus will have it’s way. There will be no way to bring our people back!”
There is a troubled silence, and then a rushed argument from many voices.
“When the light returns, others will rise. In this time, we will have a window to find the keys the traitors took from us. We can raise the heroes once more. They will open the ark, for us.”
“And how will they know what they are to do? How will the four even arise? Who will we trust to lead them? How can we trust after this day?
“Good Talos. You must already know, who.” Silence. “One must stay within the path to light the way. One who is immune to time’s passage. One who is immune to power, to loneliness. ”
Slowly, the voice answers…“I understand, my lord…. But who will..?”
“…And one must stay behind, remaining in the darkness until the light returns. One who also can survive time’s passage in more than man’s years.”
“But My Lord! you will surely be hunted. They will find you!”
There is a pause, and a gruff voice speaks, “The dwarves can be trusted with this task. My guard and I can remain! We can outlast in the darkness…”
“No, master dwarf. Worthy though you are! It is I who will not be going with you. The others and I have decided to stay. It is as it should be. Our kind is adverse to letting fate decide. Time is not to us, what it is to man.”
“But how? How will you survive the darkening? What of…?”
“The tree, Pelonius. The tree is not yet gone entirely. It will protect us. The path will need guardians to stay behind now after this folly. When the darkness fades away to light, I will search for what we need to open the path once more. I will stay, as will Abraxas, and the others. we are the only ones suited for the task.”
“But will abraxas keep his word? What of gulgol?”
“Trust a dragon?” a mighty laugh erupts, but it fades in equal measure. “Their only hope lies in the path now. It is their salvation, as it is yours. They all know this.”
“But my lord, the lanthorns are lost. The keys have been taken! How will you find them?”
“I will bring those with me that are young. With the last light of the tree, we will be as a light in the darkness. They will learn our ways. Heroes will rise once more, for they all are, they just will not know it. We will find what has been lost.
“That will take decades, perhaps centuries! Even once the light returns… what if the darkness comes again before you do?”
“And what choice do we have, Pelonius? The lanthorns are but a vessel. The keys are but a tool. Those we bind will know what to do, because they will be who is needed. It is why the path was made.”
Several seconds pass. The voice of the one called Talos speaks, “Then, this is goodbye, my lord. Goodbye for now. I fear that I will never see you again.”
“No, good talos. When next we meet, you will still be as you are. As will our people. I will be that which time will make me. I am a weapon talos, as are you. And a weapon shall do it’s work.”
“Yes, my lord. I will guide our heroes when they have come.”
“Then may the light guide you, and may the time pass swiftly until the light returns for the sake of us all.“
The End Days Gospel
From the “Liberation Scrolls”, Chapter 1, Verse 1-23, First Order of the Flame
1 In the last mighty age of Kasil,
Mankind worshipped Gods and served as Their Slaves
Gods of the earth, gods of the sky,
of thunder, lightning, the seas, fears and dreams.
2 Man made others, in his image using bold crafts.
The elves, and the dwarves chief among these. To live longer. To dig deeper. To war better.
Some dwelt in Light and some dwelt in Darkness.
Man flew. He swam. He endured. He tunneled.
He built great cities and bent earth’s shape above and below.
3 Man accepted his place as servant to the Gods.
Thus was Man enslaved to the Gods in both Light and Darkness.
4 But then it came to pass, that Gaia* fell into a great cataclysm of Rock, and Light and Storm.
The Lighted Realms were torn asunder.
Man knew starvation, disease.
He warred. He ate of himself. He knew suffering.
5 Man turned to the Gods to help the People of the Lighted Realms
Even as those in the Darkness prospered.
But the Gods, like Man, had lost their power as well.
6 And one among them, Proteus, did challenge the gods to come forth and show their strength, to aid the people, if they may,
and the gods did not.
And thus did Mankind withhold worship from them. For the first time.
And the Gods grew furious, but their power waned,
so that all Mankind was a witness to their impotence.
7 And behold, there was a great epiphany amongst those in the Light.
Wherein the people who dwelt there discovered that the gods
Were not the Masters.
And behold, Mankind was the Master of the Gods.
8 And it came to pass that Mankind knew the true nature of the gods,
And that it was Mankind who had created Them.
And not the Gods who had created Mankind.
And for the first, the Gods were separated from the source of their power.
9 And lo! The Gods, would not go quietly into oblivion, even as Mankind fought the Destruction of His world.
The Gods brought forth the Soulless and apparitions too terrible to behold.
Finally, in near defeat, the Gods bred the Mighty Wyrm and sent Her to intimidate, to oppress Man.
Still did Mankind worship them not, but tore down their temples into ruins.
10 But in the land of Erebus, of the Darkness, those who dwelt there, the men did not reject the gods
For verily the darkness holds less power than the light, even into mighty Tartarus,
where the heat is like unto a world’s fire.
In anger and resentment at Mankind and the Lighted Races, did remain those gods who dwelt in the darkness
There they found their worshippers still, those who would not dare to challenge their oppressors.
11 Near destruction, the Gods of Gaia did then make a pact with those of Erebus. Once their enemy.
To annihilate Mankind, from the very surface of the Earth so that a (handpicked) few might re-populate and give worship once more.
In Their name. For the Light holds more power than the Darkness.
And this did put a great fear in the host of Mankind. For their enemies above and below would now be set upon them.
12 Yet, in the last hour of battle with the gods and the hordes of their Darkened slaves,
Mankind joined as one, and met at Gathering.
At the Tree of Awakening.
And a great Pact did He make with all of the Inhabitants of the Land.
13 Atop a hill, in the capitol at Nim-Inshu, was the place called, where rivers join.
There, they agreed to destroy the gods,
those last few who now dwelt in the Darkness, deformed, power stricken.
and fashioned a Flame of their collective Wills, within the Tree.
A Flame of Steel. Of Silver and Crimson wood.
For this Flame would be carried aloft into battle, to Light their way and give them Power.
Of their men, and women and children did they hide in great sanctuaries.
14 Nonetheless, there was then but a few tribes of the Outwilds, who did not meet at Nim Inshu, nor did they abandon the worship of the gods.
For fear of pain and soulwrenching.
These Betrayers joined the diminished ones.
And they made battle against the Enlightened Folk. Joining the darkened races.
15 The traitors of Mankind, were led by Three Women of deceit, of malice, of cunning
rose there on the Plains of Golgotha, the field of bones.
The Three took up a darkened banner.
Deceiving the frightened fragments of those enslaved.
They fought for the Diminished Ones. For themselves.
16 And lo! The Heroes met them on the field, their frames alight with the power of their people. The Power of the Flame.
A great Battle was fought. Ripping the land and Blighting the Sky.
Their banners struck down, the Three were killed, their soul kept separate
From the Flame, Forever.
The Godworshippers, defeated.
Mankind’s rise above slavery.
Great seals they did take and verily they did seal the shadowlands of Erebus as punishment.
17 And from whence the Heroes withdrew, but lo! They found, their homes, their children. Their women.
Destroyed by the great Wyrms of the Land.
For the foul beasts had chosen to align with the Three.
And the Three had decreed that the children of the [non-godworshippers] should forever be removed from the face of the earth even unto their very last generation.
And lo the Tree was destroyed.
And only those women who fought alongside the men did survive.
Such was the vengeance of The Three.
18 And it came to pass that on that day, those tribes that survived, Mankind, (elves), dwarves, (Halflings), (half-men), and others Gathered once more where the Tree had been,
and they did light the Flame of Brotherhood with it’s debris.
A Crimson Flame. And they did make a covenant among the land.
19 That once the Willing Souls of the land did believe in gods, of Good and of Evil.
Darkness with Foul Intention, of Ket [deep].
In order for fear to exist in the land. And enslavement, Servitude.
But now all those in Attendance knew that Evil was gone. Only the Good remained.
The Flame would bear the Intent of the people. It would be like unto a Harbinger.
Of Light. The antithesis of the Darkness of the world.
For the Sake of All.
And in a fortnight did the Lighted Leaders bring down unto the assembled people the Crimson Standard, to be a pact among all the Lighted Races:
The Crimson Standard
20 Thou shalt not dwell in darkness.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor or glorify his deeds.
Thou shalt not sanctify that which is manifest.
Thou shalt give order to chaos, but not chaos to order.
Thou shalt magnify right action and demystify rumor.
Thou shalt contribute to the Flame of Brotherhood and not to Darkened lore.
Thou shalt observe RiftenNacht, Gathering Day, and to the rituals of Flame.
Thou will join again in Brotherhood if the Light should diminish.
For the Sake of All
21 And the Lighted Races did then depart and travel to the far corners of Gaia to begin their lives anew, each agreeing to a (Generational Meeting), when the Moons were in their highest, and the Land was thus Brightest.
22 And in time was the land restored. The Great Wyrms eradicated, their victims avenged.
And the dark beings slithered back into the dark holes and fissures. Their pathway to Erebus sealed.
For every wick must meet it’s end. Unless it is restored.
And every Light holds all Darkness at bay.
Popular Repetitions from the “First Sermon on the Temple Mount Text”, Second Order of the Flame
“Those punished or Inquisitioned must give thanks in their Transcendence to the Order as their Goodness remains with the Flame, and it’s people, while their Chaos is driven off into the darkness, into the Beyond.”
The SHIELDED OATH
“The King is our leader, but we do not worship him, nor any Man, or Beast or Instrument. We glorify the goodness of right action and good will. We glorify our Flame, and sanctify our Soul for it’s return to the Light upon our death. We contribute to the Flame, for the Sake of All.”
The Oath of Inquisition
“Swift justice for those who diminish the Flame of Mankind in idol worship.
Swift persecution for those (volunteers) of Inquisition for dark Will.
Swift expediency and immortality into the Flame for fallen Brothers.
Swift expulsion of chaos into the Night.”
The Ballad of Light and Darkness
Believed to be the last remaining oral piece of the Kasillian Age, the Ballad of Light and Darkness is said to be a song of the common people. Few material cultural works exist from that era, and the Age of Simplification destroyed most of what might have been left after the war. However, the Ballad of Light and Darkness became an oral tradition, one in which the Order of Flame, could not quite eradicate. Strangely, the Ballad does not describe the victory of the Lighted Folks as described in the Liberation Scroll, but rather a “Darkening” and the rise of Heroes to fight as was done in the past. For this reason, it is considered blasphemous unless performed in Celn tradition and in the proper military context. When heard, the metaphor of the Heroes and their “Path” has spurred numerous Celns onto battle. It is often played before a great conflict, and always sung after a tremendous victory.
When Gaians hide from Lighted Day
When Erebus , in Night, holds Sway
When those above are shown the way
To dark and deep, forgotten Ket.
When Heroes sleep, but rise once more
When Sages reveal our ancient Lore
When great Kings and Queens from distant shores
Awaken from their peaceful reign.
When silhouettes a Ring of Three
There will in time, come Darkening
When lands do swell from what does breed
Below, in chilled and frozen seed.
When the words of Kasille are unknown
Protecting those who rise to throne
When Heroes deeds will make it shown
The road to the Path of Light.
A Time for those to pay the price
Of man’s betrayal committed thrice
The Lords of Darkness wait to rise
Commanding hordes to battle.
Listen to the Sage’s verse
Not prophets speaking soothing words
To aid us All, a few must hurt
Make idols new; then ruin’s curse.
The Warrior shall be duty bound
His weapon rests upon the ground
His mortal wounds shall bring him down
And he will rise anew.
The Trickster’s tool provides the spark
Between the Sunlight and the Dark
His hooded visage is the mark
His time will come again.
Great Mother’s blood will play a part
Her enemies fear a noble heart.
To end the Dark, the Light will start
Her nature’s noble passage.
The Dying God is he who bleeds
In search of knowledge that he needs
For surely it is he who leaves
Upon the table scrolls of reeds.
The Hero’s Journey is complete
In tome and deed the past does meet
Those Heroes from a distant land
With knowledge lost once in defeat
The shape of destiny may be
And time not just a memory
Open eyes in Sunlight and you’ll see
The path of untold victory.
Hold true with those in righteous might
Beware the traitors of the Night
Seek flame upon the path to fight
The Enemy within the Light.
The Sacred Chant
“United Light, Mankind’s Might.
Darkened Flame, Mankind’s Shame.
For the Sake of All, We Cannot Fall
In our darkened hour, we take our power.”
Pockens, A Commoner’s Game
Many visitors to Cillandar hear tales of Spottle, a game played by Cillandrial nobility. As it is a gentleman’s game of chance, it is often used to settle disputes by those of higher station in the Realm.
There is no doubt that Spottle is quite popular among those of greater means, however, many commoner’s would argue that Pockens requires more study and certainly more practice. In fact, it has been said by Chief Archeaologist Duher himelf that to fully understand Pockens’ many strategies could take a lifetime. Pockens is a common man’s game, and like a good brew, the Celn citizenry regards it as one of their finer entertainments. From sailors around the Crown Isles to those brave enough to live and trade near the Sea of Sands to the East, Pockens is found throughout Greater Cellinor.
Pockens is an ancient game from an ancient time. (Spottle by comparison, is said to have been created one night during a drinking marathon in the Rusty Sabre, to settle a dispute between a Mage who had a frog familiar and one of his love interest’s suitors). Pockens, like so many other Celn traditions and customs is not unique to the Realm. In fact, reference to the game can still be found among the few Kasillian artifacts available on display in various museums throughout the major cities.
The game itself appears simple but is in actuality complex and requires skill in addition to luck. A “deck” of pockens consists of 52 cards from which players will draw a “hand” of 7 cards. There are usually 4 players, but the game can be played with as few as two. Each player plays a role:
The Hero, the Trickster, the Dying God or the Great Mother. Although versions of the game vary, as do the cards themselves and various images found there, the basic premise is the same. Each role offers a negative to the player, but grants other advantages. Therein lies one of the chief components of Pockens requiring proper strategy.
The cards themselves are arranged in five categories. Four of these categories represent cards of numerical value associated with The Hero, The Trickster, the Dying God and the Great Mother. The fifth category represents figures, places and events that “occur” during gameplay. The typical and most popular Celn version of the game relies on motifs quite common among the realm and is infused with iconography of the Order of Flame. However, other versions are common or sought after by collectors.
For instance, a popular Trebian version represents the Four Heroes as animal headed halfs. These motifs are quite taboo in most of the realm though and they can be difficult to smuggle in or around Cellinor.
Although most Pockens’ enthusiasts claim to know much about the lore and history of their cards, and take both the typical Celn superstitious and Cillandrial arrogance about it, many do not know that Pockens was also believed to have been used to tell the future. Although the practice is now quite taboo and subject to Inguisition of the Highest Degree, Pockens as a means to predict one’s fate has survived in certain circles.
Whichever version you play, you are sure to find certain cards that always have certain meanings within the game. Some of these are as follows.
The Three Circles: Each card represents one of the three Moons, known collectively at times as “The Sisters”, as “The Three Lights”. Each moon is slightly of a different size. Ordinarily, they dominate their own portion of the night sky and advance towards the nightly horizon one at a time. When these cards appear in the game, they usually change the nature or pattern. Each has a unique impact, but if all three should appear simultaneously then the game comes to an end.
The Sage: The sage card or as it is colloquially known “The Pointer Card” does just that. It points to whatever card comes next and gives advantages to whichever player drew it.
The Tree: The tree is the foundation of the game. It is the first card that must be played. Without it, no other cards can be cast. Seven “branches” or sections typically lie on the game board around the tree from which players may cast other cards. Often, especially in richer cities such as Cellione, players use elaborate game boards to represent the tree and her branches. Oftentimes, these are family heirlooms and their work beautifully carved into oak to represent the seven branches of the Tree.
The Path: The path is simply a reference to the card numbers. Each of the four sections range in numbers from 1-12. They are, depending on the game version or strategy, usually played in order from least to greatest. Cards cannot be played more than one at a time. A complicated, and somewhat illogical combination of events must happen during gameplay for the next in the series of cards to be played. This can at times, frustrate the novice player. Advanced players typically remark that one must simply learn these game nuances. In any event, Celns take great pride in their memorization of these game events, which do differ depending on which part of the realm one plays.
The Dragon: The Dragon is a card that gives both advantage and disadvantage to the caster. Once the dragon is played, it’s dynamic on the game changes everything, and even the order in which the cards in Path may be played. Colors associated with the cards are referenced when the card is first cast so that different cards are thus affected differently.
The Ship of Theseus
“The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.”
John Locke proposed a scenario regarding a favorite sock that develops a hole. He pondered whether the sock would still be the same after a patch was applied to the hole, and if it would be the same sock, would it still be the same sock after a second patch was applied, and a third, etc., until all of the material of the original sock has been replaced with patches.
George Washington’s axe (sometimes “my grandfather’s axe”) is the subject of an apocryphal story of unknown origin in which the famous artifact is “still George Washington’s axe” despite having had both its head and handle replaced.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus attempted to solve the paradox by introducing the idea of a river where water replenishes it. Arius Didymus quoted him as saying “upon those who step into the same rivers, different and again different waters flow”. Plutarch disputed Heraclitus’ claim about stepping twice into the same river, citing that it cannot be done because “it scatters and again comes together, and approaches and recedes” Wikipedia.Com
Ted Sider and others have proposed that considering objects to extend across time as four-dimensional causal series of three-dimensional ‘time slices’ could solve the ship of Theseus problem because, in taking such an approach, each time-slice and all four dimensional objects remain numerically identical to themselves while allowing individual time-slices to differ from each other. The aforementioned river, therefore, comprises different three-dimensional time-slices of itself while remaining numerically identical to itself across time; one can never step into the same river time-slice twice, but one can step into the same (four-dimensional) river twice. Wikipedia.Com
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John the Evangelist, at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a book or scroll in God‘s right hand that is sealed with seven seals. The Lamb of God, or Lion of Judah (Jesus Christ), opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses.
From the Christian Bible, Revelations, Chapter 6
11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
Creation Story of the Ata’uh-un, From A Crimson Shore…
When the world was new, great and mighty Olo-rah’n lay buried in the rock and mud of the earth. After many ages, he awoke and decided to create a substance on the surface of the world that would entertain him while he walked the lands, swam the seas, and flew in the skies of his creation. However, this substance was too consistent and predictable to him, so Olo-rah’n used his breath to give life to these creatures. In order to sustain their life once he slept again, he created the Sun to give them warmth each day. Thus, Olo-rah’n created Man, Woman and the animals, and he was so amused that he spent his time on the surface observing them and watching the many things they did many times before his slumbers. Olo-rah’n greatly desired to tell these beings that he enjoyed their company so that He, even the mighty Olo-rah’n would not spend his time on the surface alone.
So Olo-rah’n revealed his identity to his people. However, when the Men gazed on him and saw his many wonders they were overcome with envy. Instead of thanking him for the breath of life in their substance, they instead grew jealous, and tried to make themselves better in form and function, just like he was. Why had he kept the best things for himself? After many attempts they were unsuccessful, but one Man, a man whose name is no longer spoken, observed the various animals one day and created a plan. He watched the birds, and fish and insects and realized that a secret of power was given to each.
To the mighty ant, strength.
To the fish, the ability to swim in the seas,
and to the bird, the gift of flight.
It was then, that this Man came to each of the animals, offering his power of Flame and ingenuity. Tricking them into believing he would share his knowledge with them, he stole their powers and gave it to Men and Women of his village, making them more powerful. He then created strange and abdominal beasts, a mixture between man and animal in many forms. The many creatures that the tribe observes today are the descendants of these abdominal forms. (As the party watches the event, they see dancers wearing masks of what seems to be the sahuagin as well as two headed ape-like beasts, horrid women with legs and wings of a vulture, and many others).
Alas, Olo-rah’n watched all this from below and began to realize that these petty creatures had become too powerful and he was angry that they had manipulated his creations. So he awoke once more and coming to the surface, became struck by the hideous beings he saw. Men had manipulated the trees, the stone and the ore of the earth and even their own bodies. They soared in the skies, and used their new powers to rape the land of it’s wholesomeness. In rage, he blocked out the Sun taking their life force and made new animals, hideous versions of the older ones. In order to give these new deadly things a sustaining energy without the Sun, he created the Three Moons. One for the creatures of the Sea, one for the Creatures of the Land, and one for him so that all Beings of the Surface world would remember why they were being punished.
The Men of the earth and Olo-rahn’s new beasts fought a great battle, and in the end much death came to pass. With the sun’s demise, many of the Men lost their “life” and became shells of substance, morbidly wandering the land devoid of their humanity (Here the party sees a group of young children dressed like zombies meandering through the storytelling area).
Few survived the Great War, and nearly all the world was annihilated by it’s destruction, but finally Olo-rah’n’s thirst for punishment was quenched. As he was about to return to his sleep, satiated after a large battle, he passed a Mother crying for the loss of her child, wounded on the battlefield. She had loved her child so much that during the battle she had taken up a spear and slain the beast which had attacked him. Nonetheless, it had made a devastating wound in the youth and he would soon perish from the Light of his being. Taking pity and admiring the woman’s courage, Olo-rah’n decided that as a last act, he would spare the child and breathe the gift of life back into his body.
Coming to the woman in disguise as a simple man, he told her he would help the child. But at this, the woman lamented and asked him not to. Surprised by such a request, Olo-rah’n did not understand and inquired of the woman. She told him there would be no warmth for him to awaken to, and that the people left would one day become either hollowed or fall from the Light forever. She knew now that she did not want her child to live in such a world.
At this, Olo-rah’n at last knew that his creation of life, brought not just the evil he had witnessed, but the good as well and that neither could exist without the other. He called back the Sun for the Woman’s tribe, and left the Moons to give power to those abherrant beings to balance life’s many forms. Because the woman had shown him this truth, he granted her the ability to heal and chose her and her fellow women of the tribe to bring the understanding of this Balance to the people. To this day, these women appear as warriors, communicating their tribal customs and sacred traditions to Olo-rah’n as a sign of their continuing debt.
The many creatures that inhabit the world are still demons from the time when Man tried to steal the power of the animals. The tribe believes the ancient ruins they see are remainders of those who raped the land and used it’s stone and metal to create large fortresses. They believe to live simply is Olo-rahn’s way, and that anything else is to bring his wrath once more. The tribe is familiar with an increasing coming and going of new craft which patrol the waters searching for people to enslave. They know these vessels make Olo-rah’n angry and this is why the volcanic activity has been so plentiful. It is no coincidence then, that when these eruptions begin, often the denizens of the dark become more powerful and noticeable. Sometimes, even the hollowed remains of those who lived in the ancient times are set free from where they fell in battle and begin to wander, hungering for the flesh of those who live in the Light by the grace of Olo-rah’n, the great and mighty.
The Ketian Myth
An ancient race of evil, always at the doorstep…
Where has the idea of the Ketians come from? Why have you not seen them? Or have you? Well, no one knows for sure, but the myth is as old as time. Ket was said to be a place of cold, of eternal darkness and icy pain. Similar to our Christian view of Hell, Ket was believed in the NEW TIMES to be where one went when they were bad, where the once mighty Gods of benign nature could not go. Ket has always been believed to be to the south past the un-navigable passes in the Southern “Ketian” Mountains, believed to hold deadly monsters that somehow consume each other in an icy wasteland.
Figure 2 The Darkness waits for those who are not wary.
Mothers tell stories to their children that when they are bad, and when they do not do as they are told, the KETIANS will come and take them away into the night. They will take them to an icy place, of no warmth at all, where frozen over many years, they will rise as darkened, frayed-skinned animals themselves hungering for other bad children to take away into the night.
As the story goes, one Star above protects good children, so long as they pray to the Flame each night and do as their mother’s tell them. This act is often infused with elements of the Shielded Mothers myth, making the mother appear to be someone who speaks for the Greater Power itself, and knows right from wrong. Do what your mother/the Flame tells you, right. Do what you want-wrong.
The Star is known as The Sovereign Star because it appears to dominate all those in the sky regardless of season . Noted Sorcerers and would-be alchemists have of late been making quite a bit of money thanks to the Star, as it has been noticeably brighter for some several years then it was. Of course, no one knows for sure if it is, but most consider it’s brighter glow to be a sign of good fortune. So too think the children who see it through their bedroom window at night, shining brighter than ever, keeping the Ketians away.
As for the land of Cellinor, are the rumors true? Do the disappearances of recent months signal the return of the Ketians? Or is the Wild simply rising up to reclaim portions of the Lighted Realm, as it always has tried to.
The Trebian Creation Myth and the Story of the Destruction of Kasil
In the first days of the world, there sprang from the Earth, the Great Tree of Yggrasil. From it’s first boughs, like fruit, grew the major civilized races of our world. The humans, dwarves, and elves. The tree was like their Mother, and so they worshipped it. Their power was not only in the might of their hands and [muscles] but in the force of their will [mental power]. Thus grew the first magics. And in time, the races grew and spread among the lands, and they prospered. harnessing this energy of both the body and mind. In time, these races grew powerful in knowledge.
Together, they became a people of advanced magic and healing arts and weapons, of great buildings, monuments and craft of the seas and the land and even of the skies (meaning translates into “ship”). What they gave to the gods in worship, they received back unto themselves. These people were the [Kasillians]. But, as every race that thrives in abundance, others slaved for them. Beneath the Earth, they labored, night and day in darkness to make the great power of the [Kasillian Empire]. They there in darkness did not receive the benefits of their toil. Those above were like masters to them. Their creators, and those races were the goblins, the orcs and the other foul races of darkness. For the power of Kasil came from both the light and the darkness then. And this Dark Realm was called [Ket], and their great empire lived deep and at the bottom of the Earth. Erebus in the shallow realms, and Tartarus in the deeper realms where dwelt those which even the surface world knew not of.
The great realm of Kasille was guarded and governed by 7 Gods, for each of the major [parts] of Mankind’s will. The people gave worship and thus grew the might of these Seven governing Mankind’s affairs. For Man’s incessant curiosity was The Trickster, known by many names. The Hero, for mankind’s courage or cowardice. For His sacrifice or pride was the Dying God whom went by many names and stories. For mankind’s envy or generosity came Atropos, The First Fate. The second Fate, Clothos, represented mankind’s lust, his fertility. The third fate represented Man’s inherent wrath or peacefulness. Finally, each God was [presided over] by the most powerful of them all, The Great Mother, who represented love, and man’s inherent compassionate nature. The realm thrived on worship to each god, and each god was kept in balance. Three boughs above for Mankind’s quest, the masculine, and three below for Mankind’s need to be rooted, the feminine. Finally, the [trunk] represented by the Great Mother, the most powerful. Mankind split into his seven primal parts.
In order to serve the Gods, 12 beings of immeasurable power were created. The great Serpents. 6 pairs to represent the female and masculine of each. Two of Gold, Two of Silver, Two of Steel, Two of Bronze, Two of Copper, and Two of Platinum.
Through the people’s worship, all things flourished for those of [Gaia, surface], and thus the land was kept in balance.
But in a single cataclysmic event, the world was torn from a place of peace to a place of utter chaos. For the balance the tree had given to Mankind had nearly destroyed it’s “roots”. Great floods swept through the land and the deluge of mud destroyed the vast empire’s beauty and serenity. The great monuments and structures of that time were buried completely to become the crawling places of those that shy from the light. The world was in ruin. The great Gods diminished.
The three moons came into being then, and the Sun was blocked for a generation. This woke the denizens of Ket, who had grown angry at their masters and now saw their chance to rise in the Darkness of the lands above.
In order to safeguard themselves, the Kasillians built 12 great arks, each to be protected by one of the mighty Wyrms, each to protect the Kasillian races during the [Darkening], when the slave hordes of Ket would finally rise against their masters. In order that the might of the Kasillian race should not fall into the hands of the Demons of Ket, each of the six Gods was given a branch of the great tree of Yggdrasil, a portion of Mankind’s power. Each were fastened into great [lanterns], one of gold, one of copper, one of silver flame, one of bronze, one of platinum and one of steel. Each God was also tasked with using their remaining power to seal their arks, against the invading hordes.
However, the task of [walking the path] was reserved for the Great Mother and only to three of them, but not the Fates. The Dying God was chosen for man’s sacrifice to each other. The Trickster for his curiosity in opening the arks once more. The Hero for his courage to walk the path.
But to the Three fates, was only given the task of sealing their arks, and relinquishing their power back to mankind.
The Gods, diminished as they were after the cataclysm and war, knew this would risk their immortality. However, when the time came, three of the Gods, Atropos, Clothos, and Lachesis, each representing the female of Mankind, chose to keep the darkened path of their beings, and refused to relinquish their power. They did not seal their ark, but betrayed Mankind. For each of the 6 arks they guarded had now become tombs.
The others, without the knowledge of what the Three had done, gave up their power, and sealed their arks. But, in time, the Ketians invaded the world, and finding the arks sabotaged, wiped the Kasillian race from the surface of the world forever.
The Great Serpents for whom represented the male, could not guard the arks without their female partners, who had now become twisted and corrupted. Nor could they conquer them, as these great Serpents had now grown in the might of a darker power, of black, and red, blue, and green, white and brown.
And thus was the might of Kasille obliterated by the Darkened races of Ket.
Maloras the Mage’s Treatise on Dragons Within and Beyond the Borders of Cellinor
No creature has captivated the realm’s citizenry as dragons have. The great wyrm is seldom seen, and when it is encountered, few stories survive afterwards.
Nevertheless, dragons and their lore are known to some in the land. Dragons, through myth and song, are said to be casters of arcane magics, intelligent beasts that command legions of followers. Famous dragons, for instance fill our modern tales for commoners of the land. First and most well-known is the mighty Gulgol herself, the Black Wyrm whom Borindin himself slew on the eve of the birth of our mighty Kingdom. Then, there is of course, the Gift Dragon, ol’ Fafnir, lone and ancient, who brings presents for children on Riftenaught. Fafnir is often a most revered object of affection in the realm, one of the few such affections that the Order seems to overlook as a childish fantasy. This mythical dragon is, by all accounts, the only story in which a dragon appears as a male.
Other tales have come down to us through our divine writings as well, even from the Liberation Scroll. In it, we read that dragons were created by the gods, weapons to destroy mankind. If this history is to be believed, then the mighty wyrm is responsible for killing nearly every civilized woman during the Last Battle, on End Night in the End Days War. For this reason, women of the realm are to this day referred to as “wild of nature”, and are to be handled cautiously, for only those who took up the battle standard in the End Days, survived.
Although lore presents many views of these devastating beasts, current research has brought forth many other details into the Light. For example, it is now believed, that the last of the ancient wyrms from the End Days has long since passed on into oblivion. If any did survive, they were destroyed, hunted down by man. For truly, no artifacts of authenticity exist in any degree of merit since that time. Furthermore, although dragons are still being encountered (a vicious green for instance was recently captured and brought for sport to Cillandar for the Challenge of Champions), there have been no reports of dragons who are capable of speech, of magics, or of the divine arts. One great White was responsible for the elimination of an entire garrison over the course of a few months in the Impenetrable Mountains, but that claim is still under investigation.
Each dragon encounter of merit, once detailed by thorough arcane review, has yielded nothing to give credence to the idea that dragons are capable of any intellectual ability whatsoever, beyond a mere bestial tenacity and extreme hostility of the most deadly kind. This is not to trivialize what natural abilities they do possess. The wyrm’s breath weapon, natural armor and deadly physical attacks are well documented, and make them the most formidable adversary from the Wilds one may cross.
However, if any dragon or dragons once did exist that might substantiate the claims heretofore written about, or sung by the bards of the age, it is most likely the case that their stories have been greatly exaggerated, and possibly completely fictionalized.
The Order of the Enlightened Spirit
In the vast frozen lands in the southern hills and ranges that lie before the sky reaching Inpenetrable Mountains, to which only the Lords of Ket themselves are said to travel, lie several distant outposts. Most of these are steeped in legend, and perhaps nearly all do not exist. If they had begun, whose to say that they could escape the glowing eyes of the foul demons that lie in the Frozen and Darkened Lands of our world. Whose to say that these outposts haven’t in fact joined forces with them?
No group is perhaps more whispered about, then the Order of the Enlightened Spirit, despite the fact that little is known about them.
It is said that it began with a few of the nobility of Cellione, disenfranchised with the luxury and wealth of the growing civility we know as Cellinor. For once, the commonwealth was established decades ago, those that do not provide that which many need to live, often live lives longer and fairer than those that do. Others rumor that there was a faction in the Order of Flame, that the Enlightened Spirit began as a protest to the strict doctrine that has become commonplace and perhaps necessary in a realm as vast and as new as Cellinor.
Regardless, the Order is said to be unreachable by foot or steed. High in the mountain passes and glaciers of our southern borders, well beyond the watchful eyes of the SHIELD patrols there, the Order of the Enlightened Spirit keeps their secrets to themselves, revealing them only to those brave enough to seek them. Rumors abound that they guard a unique magic. Others rumor that their powers are only a ruse to keep would be enemies at bay.
Members of the order are said to be encountered only very infrequently. In fact, to date, only two encounters can be spoken of, and neither come from reliable sources.
Encountering a Monk of the Enlightened Spirit may very well give a new definition to what A LIGHT in the Darkness of our world means….