“Guests of the prince, my name is Hyperion, Cillandrial Wizard of Light, and I am the personal scribe for Lord Garondin,” said the elf. He was young for an elf at least, yet with rigid lines of age bordering his distinctively softer facial features. He reminded Frank of an elegant chair that had been overused in too short a period of time. Garondin had called him over from another ship and when he arrived, magically of course, they seemed to have gotten on well.
Now, belowdecks, Hyperion looked intently into their eyes, his hands clasped together upon the table. Next to him a long multi-colored feathered quill stood straight upon a piece of fresh parchment. As he spoke, it began to move in an elegant script.
Areia, as per usual, noticed his robes instead. They seemed so out of place here in the ship. She watched the edges rock back and forth with the incoming tide. Behind him, Hojo, wearing his ridiculous Noble’s hat, but little else, was walking around Melf’s mechanism. “What an incredible device!” murmured the jester. “Does it launder your robes?! Wherever did you find such a thing?!!!”
He was about to touch it when Areia shot a small pebble at him with her sling. It hit his hand, and he winced. Areia winked at Thrak watching Hojo walk around to the other side of Hyperion. The jester pulled a large plate of hard tack bisquits to himself and began to eat heartily as if nothing else had happened.
“Why don’t we start with the object.”
Zy’an straightened up, and turned his gemlike eyes to the mage across from him. “We will end with that, once we have met with the King.”
“I see,” said Hyperion. “And I understand too. It is a fascinating piece of Kasillian machinery, is it not?” His quill was writing furiously next to him, and he seemed quite genuine, as though he were discussing breakfast. He picked at his sleeve, and glanced up casually at the bard. “We found another several seasons ago. This,” he paused, “this is more complete it seems.”
“And what did it tell you?” asked Iricah innocently. She wasn’t trying to be coy, she was simply worried. They all were, except perhaps for Areia and Thrak who had already bored of the conversation and had gone topside.
“The Darkening comes.” The room predictably, grew silent.
“When?” asked Zy’an. It was the question everyone had of course.
“That, my friend, is what I was hoping you might tell me…”
Iricah looked at the others. Frank nodded. So did Marcus. Lood was studying the quill and murmuring something to himself about a magical cantrip he once invented, but of course, he couldn’t recall how it worked.
“We have years, but not so many as a generation, mage.”
Hyperion let his hands drag backwards across the table, unclasping them as he sat back. He sighed, “That is the information we possess as well. Your teacher, Duher, made the same claim to his majesty. His majesty was not….prepared….to hear it.”
“Will he hear it now?” asked Frank. There was a tone of urgency in his voice.
“He must,” said the elf. “May I see the device?”
“You may,” said Zy’an, “With the king present.”
Hyperion stared at them all. He looked as though he were about to say something serious, but then his face broke into a grin. He called for some wine. “The King’s grapery, please.” He looked again at the guests seated around the communal table here in the common galley. “Please enjoy, it’s hard to come by these days. Our southern valleys are growing colder, our northern fields, hotter. We believe we have only a few season of crops left to harvest.” But his tone grew higher, and he changed the subject quickly. “Ok, my heroic friends. How in the Light were you able to escape from Enceladus?!”
“We rode a ship made out of rock that glided through the mud and rock of the mountain.”
“You huh?” spat Hojo. Bits of bisquits flew from his lips and clung to Frank’s breastplate.
“The vessel glided through the rock as easily as this ship glides through the water,” he continued, a look of disgust and then an acquitting smile on his face.
“Incredible,” said Hyperion. “We have reports of Kasillian ships that can use the wind in the same manner, flying through the air!” Iricah couldn’t help but notice the man was clearly fascinated. She remembered, just then, that she had heard of Hyperion. He was a long time adventurer of some fame in Cillandar. His name had appeared on several documents she had unearthed before she left. In fact, she thought, she may have even acquired one of his texts. She resolved to look later that day, whether they were on their way into battle, or back to the colonies.
Sometime later, Iricah, unable to tame her curiosity, spread her parchments out before her. She knew she had seen something, something that once seemed trivial, fictional. Her hands glided along the edges of scrolls, different names appeared. Nebu Chanish, a famous mage exploring the northern wilds, Nebu Chan, his brother from the Seas of Sands to the East of the realm. Many from her mentor, Duher. But then she found it. Hyperion. An odd scroll. One she had dismissed so many times before as a mixture of philosophy and historical myth. Her lips moved while her eyes scanned across the parchment paper. Myth rose from the page, philosophy spreading through her fluid mind, hardening the thoughts into very real connections and a sense of dread to rival the islands named as such.
What is a God, without it’s worshippers? In ancient times, in and perhaps before the Kasillian age, the existence of man’s consciousness was all there was, besides his physical tools that we now know to be inferior. There were no Gods, only but a Flame of the eternal thought and curiosity of man, the collection of ambitions, desires and thoughts. If one were to consider those thoughts they could be even categorized into one of several or more, types of ambitions, desires, passions. The essence to be an intelligent being. Some benign, some malign. We could consider this a new “magic” that grew into being from a world of chaotic beasts, and random occurrences. As the collective wisdom of creatures coalesced in the magical void of time, they began to manifest themselves, intangible, devoid of shape or size, or other mortal coils. They were able to communicate themselves being by their very nature, of an intelligence, and because they coalesced from that which identified itself, they too could become an identity in collected form. They could and did begin to form alliances with those which their creation stemmed from. And indeed these collectives sought out such alliances being by nature of the same identity. Several of these forms “became” and grew as worship to these same new “beings” grew. The intelligent creatures worshipped these “consciousnesses” and because they portrayed Power and Energy, they called them Gods and assumed their existence before Man. The people believed that the power of the Gods came from some divine pre-existence, but the Gods knew better. They knew that the true power of their existence came from the thoughts, the ambitions, deeds and non-random decisions, and most importantly the inner heart of these events, the soul of those who worshipped them. For surely, a creature’s soul was the very heart of this power, and so devotion became a treasure so vast, the gods fought over it. Additionally, when the immortal part of the mortal existence departed, it didn’t go away, or “die”. Nor did it stay separate. Could it be raised? With effort, because it was still there. Some of us believe perhaps it never goes away, making each new creature born into our world a new source of energy, constantly growing, forever until the end of time. This is still debated, but the consensus is that this energy is beyond vast, and more of it exists than even we understand. The more powerful the soul, the more powerful the God accruing it’s departed spirit. Perhaps the gods must seek out these souls more so than they may seek out those of lesser power. Current research suggests that that power is there for the taking, whether one be a god or no. The tinkering into this has begun by some of my colleagues, but at present is too dark an endeavor for me to consider. Perhaps, when the darkening is closer upon us.
And thus the Gods were created, and thus their relationship with men and intelligent beasts as well. From good deeds and intentions arose the good deities, and from the evil doings and desires came the evil ones. The Gods themselves, those we know of, that were of good consciousnesses, knew that this relationship was the source of their existence, and knowing this, created a bond. They chose women, especially child-bearing females to whom a bond would be made as a metaphor for the birth of the Gods through mankind. The Shielded Mothers became the voice of these Gods, a representation of the truth that existed between men and Gods. They provided the magical power from the Gods to the people in healing and positive works, and reminded the people that the Gods needed them to do good works as well. This is the origin of our Kasillian divinity.
Long ago, the Shielded Mothers were known as the protectors of the people. A sort of Divine Militia found in nearly every civilization. They were imbued with dignity and power from the true righteous Gods, serving as the liaisons between themselves and the Immortals. Their pact was sealed in both the woman through choice and through the Gods by sharing divine power. Neither consciousness could be separate from the other. Over time, they took on the physical form of warriors to embolden those around them to action, in order to make the Gods stronger. Chaotic Gods formed pacts as well, never as powerful, since by their very nature a seal of trust could not secure the bond.
But the Gods do envy men sometimes and women too, and three of them, viewed their energies embodied within the mortal flesh with envy. For what was consciousness compared to the delights of tasting a strawberry, or of the joys of the warm sun on skin? Power mattered little to a being created from joy and heartache without ever having felt it for oneself, a secret few mortals if any had been privy to. After millennia of considerations, Three Gods, gave up their divinity and took on material form. Some would call this the material plane, but in reality they simply “became” something based on a physical structure. These three seized control of one powerful being whose bond they shared and decided to live forever within the realia of space through arcane methods to delight in the pleasures of the mortals.
Alas, taking on the bodies of three of the Shielded, three women known to us in name as Iggwilv, Calychia, and Devronis, who were said in legend to be sisters, innocent and beautiful. Many versions of the story exist even after the age of simplification, but it would seem all were chosen for their allegiance, trust, wisdom and inner strength, all powerful in their right, leaders of people and speaker of each of these Gods. At first, the Three delighted in the shells of their being. The few artistic renditions found in the Kasillian ruins that Duher has unearthed, reveal that one fell in love. One delighted in the beauty of the world, and one sought the power of the physical world, of the raw science that immortals have no knowledge of. The immortals however, soon discovered each a problem with their new mortal shells. One, disease, another, heartbreak, and finally, a third the lack of worship, was taken for granted as an immortal. This lack of power was not enough to compensate for their delights of the flesh. Two found love only to be crossed by dishonest lovers, one found the pleasures of discovery grew meaningless without the ability to affect it divinely. As the aging process took hold and their arcane methods to stop it less effective with their new mortal means, each in turn began to look for methods to prolong their earthly lives.
Iggwilv, delighting in her mortal beauty, became a creature that fed off the blood of others, and used her power to charm. She gained her immortality back through the will of her subjects, through the will of her charms. Her Kingdom in the south became her domain and she was known in her later years as “Atropos”. Clothos, whose curiosity and hatred of boredom brought her to the material plane, had taken on the body of “Calychia”, hungering for knowledge and a means to Godlike powers again. However, in order to gain back her immortality, she discovered the power of the soul in death. As her subjects died, so she lived. Finally, Lachesis, whose mortal form craved and sought both longevity and the means to channel her energy into great power, through a terrible ritual, manifested herself into something of incredible size. If records are to be believed, of unfathomable magical power. She took on the form originally of Devronis, but her later form is lost in the record of my research.
Even then, they agonized over the loss of their Godliness, now even more so for the part of them they took on that was mortal, still lived inside of them. In giving up the decent parts of their mortal selves to live indefinitely, they had cast aside what orginally had them most happy. Within yet a lifetime of humans, all three had descended into madness over the loss of their immortal rights to power, and worshipped existence. The three traitors decided to make a pact with their polar opposites, the coalescense of evil deeds, the Evil Gods.
And here the story is still blurry, for the research to determine what happened to the Three is unattainable at present.
That night, Iricah dreamed once more. As she had so often done, she found herself standing in a hallway. A figure before her. She expected it to be Galen. It had always been Galen. Tonight, it wasn’t. Tonight, a robed figure lay in the shadows beyond her. A long tunnel. It’s eyes gleamed in the pale light of candles. “Galen?!” she called. “Galen! Please. Please….”
The figure moved towards her. It moved like Galen. Withdrawing it’s hood, she stared into a face like Galen’s but not his. It was her face. The figure was her! Only it was darker, as though a shadow hung around it, a shadow the light could not penetrate.
“Balance Iricah,” whispered the sweet voice, her voice. “Balance.”
“I don’t want balance! I want peace! I want justice, I want…..I want him back,” said the bard her words ending in thick sobs. She felt the tears run down her cheeks, the dream was so vivid.
“Balance is peace,” she heard herself whisper. “Shadow exists in every light. And so it is inside of you. Justice can be yours! And so can the freedom from your pain.”