The Age of Myth is said to begin with the Crowing of King Usher.
Haldane Ushe’Sher, more properly, but such is hardly known these days. Like much of this era, it has faded into myth.
Twenty-five years after the founding of Sibola, a Cleric of Kybele was visited in a young mother whose husband died tragically, and it was in that time that the people knew, the Power That Be had returned. Over the next dozen years, Clerics were chosen, and though leery, those in the greatest need offered to worship, and gained small boons for it, though it was not how they had heard it had been in the old days of the War.
It was not much, and not enough, and yet, it was a start. Across the way, the sprawling camp of Kahokia was laid down and planned for years to come, the spiral a way of knowing one another. Islandia began to build boats again, and to explore the islands they had been left. In Lemuria, they began the building of a vast Black Tower, while in Duat they began to build the interconnected homes that would one day be covered by earth, and all but invisible.
The Exilian came upon the builders of Sibola, and gave maps and seeds and many useful things, but dared not step into the city, for it was not the fabled Atalanta they seek. The now many hundred-year-old meeting place called Hyboria found that one of the seven Sects was gone, and to this day they mourn that loss, for they were the far travelers, and surefooted, and powerful raiders.
Thule began to explore. It was a task that would serve them well in the years to come, for it is said no one knows the seas better than them among the Foes, and they learned early how to avoid and defend against the Tritons and how to summon the then-feral Merow. They would learn the rivers and the seas, and they would strike when they could, but it would be long yet before they found the Shining City.
Sibola grew. Fields were full of bounty, the sea gave its all, the wilds were full of game, and they found the many kinds of cattle that had survived and re-tamed them and so they began to recover. As they grew, they expanded, and they were not shy about using magic, and in particular they founded a college for it there. It was, at first, a wonder, but it was also fearsome, and it had been built far outside the original walls of the city, built then to protect from wild animals and the occasional monstrosity.
The plans were made and drawn to use an island, to bridge to it, and to carve it, and that island is what became the Sibola we now today, shaped by magic, and the walls that ring it were raised from the earth, such that they could not be undermined, such that they would not fall, and in all the many years since, they never have.
When this was finished, it is said the Lord Collegiate, the grandmaster of the College, the greatest Wizard of the age, was a young man, and ambitious, and though he was well rewarded by the King, by then the elderly son of King Usher, he was insulted and jealous and greedy. And as the people filled the city, he schemed, and he drew to him many other wizards and warlocks, witches and sorcerers, and they determined that as they had done so much for the city, it should be their city, and the people therein should serve them, for were they not the most powerful people there?
Who could stop them?
And the Grand Master Akade smiled, and so the Akadian Coup began.
The Prince of Sibola, young Lord Mikel, was forewarned by his squire, a young girl who had trained in secret, dressed as a man, of the secret plot to steal his kingdom, and together with a Rogue from the streets they turned back and revealed the first two attempts, but the third was nearly a master stroke, for it involved capturing all three of them.
The old King, however, was not a fool, and knew whom he could trust and whom he could keep close, and among his many friends was the ikon of Kybele. She taught he and his court, his advisors and even some common folks, the secret that saved Sibola, and set forth the one thing that all such Mages fear to be used against them: Ritual Magic.
And among the many rituals they prepared, among the many magical items they crafted, was a summoning, the circle for it still exists in the depths of the Castle, alongside many others, and they summoned Akade.
Now, you may not be familiar with how a summoning works, so I should tell you that if done properly, a summoner can compel those who are summoned. That is correct, this was not a letter delivered and demanding a visit, this was a forcible taking of another sentient being, and while no records exist of what was done to this traitor, we can imagine much.
The remaining members of the secret group were rounded up and forced to watch their college be torn down. They were tried and sentenced to a one, and for ten years the use of all magic was banished from Sibola, and the many Mages were put under the aegis of the King’s chosen champion and exiled across the sea.
There they were forced to establish a realm for themselves, subject only to oversight by the King, but left very much alone, for the King knew something that they did not yet again.
The Powers That Be had taken a dim view of the Co, and the powers of mages. They could do nothing about the powers, or not much, we surmise, but they could do the one thing that has since limited much of Akadian efforts: they made it so that magic does not always pass to one’s own issue. The children of the Mages would never have magic of their own, and to this day, that still stands within those families, the power skipping two generations among all of them, such that no living heir to the secrets of a Grand Master will be of their own line.
And so it was that Akade got his wish, of a sort, and of a way, and Akadia was founded, and it truly is the Magiocracy he had dreamed of. He just never expected to have to run the place. If nothing else is true, the point we should always remember from his miserable victory is that one can escape many things, but one can never escape consequences.
Those mages Loyal to the king remained, and they used ritual magic over the years, despite its slowness, under his allowance until the horror hit again. In doing so, it let Astrologers know that this was something to expect, to plan for, to be aware of, and so immense was the disaster that the ban on magic was later removed, and new laws passed.
But even today no one can predict them, and we must expect that includes the Gods, as if they were the product of some mad mind’s whim and vengeance. I speak, of course, about the Skyfall that killed the King, that fixed what the Powers had done, that toppled the mighty Lemurian tower and that shattered and erased many of the islands of much of Islandia, creating the Sea of Silence.
That loosed the Dreadnaughts once again.
It was just as bad as the first one, destroying much, but worse than it was that despite a grandmother who had been not only a Queen but a Grand Master Champion, the young king that rose to power following it, having grown during the rebuilding and watched the untimely collapse that killed his parents in his apprentice year, began to pass laws and rules that limited women, that took from them things that had been theirs, and this in turn led his sister into her own rebellion – The Women’s War.
And War it was, brutal and bloody, and the victors of that War, having taught lessons that few would ever forget but many would try to ignore in the years after, took the entire navy of Sibola – every single ship, from small to large – and sailed off in the Sea of Tears. They chose a horrible time, and they underwent many difficult perils, facing sirens and single eyed giants and tossed hither and yon by storms and winds and waves, until at last they saw a great and broad river, and seeking to be as far from Sibola as they could get, they sailed down it to find a land that was as pastoral and warm as they could have hoped for.
And so it was that Aztlan was founded. They sailed down the River of Dreams, the linkage between the Sea of Tears and the great oceans beyond and found a place they could be themselves.
Now, as I said, it was the Victors who left. That is, the Women won the Women’s War, and few are foolish enough to forget that. But this split the great House of Usher, and split many other Houses as well, and that has led to why it is that every realm keeps a great record, that we may always be able to know whence we came, and to whom we are bound by duty and obligation older that the world as we know it.
Years later, a small village outside of Aztlan proper was struck by terrifying raiders, like massive bears, wearing armor and wielding great curved blades and coming in ships with triangular sails dyed blood red and a black flag with a skull upon it. Runners nearly died delivering the news, and the Queen herself and her great Army feared it was the Sibolans, come to fight for what her family had fought to build (for ever has it been that Aztlan Matrons will speak of Sibolan Patrons seeking to take their wealth).
It was not, and never in living memory had anyone fought such horrific beings. Seven feet tall, covered in fur, raring and swinging their great swords in complex arcs and cutting down warriors and families with equal aplomb and when the two groups clashed it was then that both sides learned a critical lesson.
Aztlan is not the only Matriarchy on Wyrlde; Thule is as well. For these were indeed the Thyrs, raiding for supplies while they made their way into the Sea of Tears, aiming for what they had scouted already: Sibola itself. For the people and warriors of Aztlan, it was as if a childhood nightmare had come to life, things which were myths had stepped out of the past, the ancient Foe that their grandparents had told only faint memories of stories that were old when they had been young. For the Thulians it was just as nightmarish, for the most implacable of their foes were well represented among Aztic Warriors: Elfin Maids in gleaming armor with shining swords passed down through generations, meant to bite and drink deeply of Thyrsian blood, artifacts from the times that perhaps only the Elfin remembered as well, passed as teachings among their communes.
Aye, pupils, it was indeed the first time that the Dread Host and the Bright Host had met in battle in hundreds of years. You can be assured that it was quite a shock to all sides, for none alive then had seen the others since the Day the God’s War ended. Facing an army of warriors equal to their own and of a greater size, the Thulian Matrons pulled back and fled to their ships, and there they encountered another thing they had not been prepared for – and something no Aztic craftswoman would have expected in those days either. It was, unplanned, a brilliant trap among three groups who had not seen each other in centuries, for when they set foot on their ships, they found themselves in a battle with Islandian warriors, who had followed them, and this battle is what that unreadable stele at the docks of the village of Emberton commemorates. So long ago that the winds and salt and sea have all but erased he etchings upon it.
A tentative peace was set between Aztlan and Islandia. Trade began, for Islandians had no metals then, and over the years that followed the Tritons came as well, linking Keris, Islandia, and Aztlan together and setting the basis for the defense of the Sea of Tears that holds to this day.
Do not underestimate the importance of Aztlan. They found it by chance, but it lies on the most critical route for trade and attack in all the world. They are the gate between the Empire we know today and the Seaward Kingdoms, the only waterway from Duat, Lemuria, and Thule into the Bright Lands. While Qivira now controls the north of it, they maintain forts and holds the length of it, including islands within the Hearth Sea.
This is why Aztlan is so powerful, despite being so far away from Sibola. Why the Skyships have a gantry and the Train is a-comin. Oh yes, yes, I keep up with the news. How do you think my old pupil could find me so easily and get this to happen? I have great grandchildren, after all.
When word of this battle reached the ears of the then King of Sibola, he was not impressed. And when the first Kerisian merchants came to Sibola, in his later years, he allowed his spoiled Prince to handle them. This would prove to be his downfall, for that same child murdered him and took the crown and became the first of the worst, the Despot King, and he declared war on the Seaward Kingdoms and Aztlan and did what had long been feared.
They took Fort Tearside and razed it to the ground – you can see the ruins on the sea cliffs still, their inner chambers hidden. The massive Sibolan Navy, larger then than even Aztlan’s, poured through and turned the Hearth Sea and the Sea of Serpents and the Sea of Amity into battle fields among the waves, and it was then that the first Corsairs came to be, which is why even those of the land tend to adopt seaworthy habits.
The Sea War drained the kingdom as the Despot King raised taxes and conscripted troops, to this day, the notion of a press gang is still called a Sibolan Invitation, as many unlucky men and youths were kidnapped from villages and towns and forced into service in the war. Akadian Mages bolstered the Navy, and trade stopped; it is said that Aztic coffee once sold for the equivalent of a crown a cup, unless you had the right contacts with the right Corsairs.
This unreasoning desire to assert his will over the world far beyond his reach was too much for his cousin, who at the time was the Baron of Morovia. He received a visitor one afternoon during his regular audience, an unremarkable woman who delivered to him a series of laws. With her was a very much remarkable man: Mansa. The patron of Sibola. They told him to depose the Despot King and set forth the following laws, which would be inviolable on pain of the wrath of the Powers That Be.
He was unimpressed by Mansa, but he was terrified of the woman.
Six months later, the First Interregnum happened, following the death of the Despot King at the hands of his closest advisors, all of whom he had been secretly planning to execute the following day. It was 20 years before an heir was chosen, and it was the Princessa, not her older cousins or brothers, that they chose. The first Lady King of Sibola, ending the Interregnum.
The Sea War continued. As shall we, but on the morrow. It is dinner time and a light lunch always makes you want to have a good dinner, does not? Until the next time, my pupils.