The following is a simple and yet broad history of the world – or at least, what we know of it. It is as brief as one can make 2000 years of history for an entire continent and the many peoples on it. The history of Wyrlde stretches back into the mists and begins long before any Man or Woman stepped foot upon its shores.
To understand Wyrlde, you must understand the history of the world, and how it aligns with the rest of the many universes. Or does not. You should know something about the world, as people who were born and raised here. There are several Ages of Wyrlde. Ages are loosely defined periods of time, typically with a few major events, but are roughly grouped into periods. In the end, they are simply Ages of the world, like the growing a person from infancy into decrepitude. So, let us have a history lesson.
There are many mysteries, many stories, even for a life as brief as yours, Mistral Urton, and I have not the time for your nonsense now! Ah, I see my new Pupils have arrived. Come, come! Gather now, gather! Very well, Urton, you can join.
Listen close and listen well, sense the air, and feel the Passage, for we seek to part the Veil of Time, and peer into the memories of the world. My once pupil tells me you are still lost, still wandering, and as I am long dead upon this mortal Realm, I shall seek to give you what guidance I can, what lessons I can, though only thee can choose to learn from it…
I have asked Sera Domina Caul, the Grand Master of the great Library to do me a favor and speak to you of the history of Wyrlde, and the world’s history. She taught me in the Tanjin of Aztlan.
Before time, there was what the Ancients called The Universe. It was vast and infinite, and all that is of the Mortal realm here was once a part of it. Within a thing so vast it boggles the mind and is too great to comprehend, there was a place, and upon that place there were people much like us, and we call them the Ancients.
This then, is not only our story – it is also theirs.
There was, once, the skies above and the earth below and the Dragons flew and the Salathens roamed, and the world was quiet. No birds gave their song, no beetles built their nests, no squirrels stored nuts, and no ants delved their labyrinths. The world was a quiet and alien place, unrecognizable as the oceans were different and the lands were different. To all of this, the Ancients came, and upon it they spread ten thousand blessings in a rain of steel and fire that lasted three hundred and sixty days. This is known, this is true, and this is what once was. They gave those blessings the ability to take root and take hold and take space and take on the world that lay around each. And so it was that those blessings grew, and upon them no man walked, no woman sighed, no themon waited to be seen.
And then, for a thousand years, it was quiet once more.
The Fae like to speak as if the world was once theirs, and that they used it much as we do, and that the Lost Age was when they retreated to the Fairywilde. This does not fit with the knowledge that the Powers created the Planes, but there are things that are very strange, that no one has explanations for, that are sometimes found in ruins and other remainders of this Age, and it hints that there was a time before the Powers created the Planes. Before they created the Fae. Before they came to this small bauble in the woven felt of the night sky. The Powers and even Chicory speak of surveys and expeditions and plans. They do it with puzzled expressions, as if it is barely known to them. But they say it was done, and that at last, in the fievazwon, The Ancients began The First Journey.
From the great heavens beyond the firmament, they came. The first and the ancient, from whom all of us have come. They came from beyond the stars in smoke and cloud, in fire and fury, for as now it was then, and all peoples were born of the stars and are filled with the stuff of stars, and we are bound to them in a thousand little ways, ways so small your eyes cannot see, ways so large only time can hold them. From them come the First People. Us. You and you and you and you and I and She, all of us are descended from them and their mortal flesh in the Mortal Realm, and here we remain until we are turned once again to the cycle, destined by our choices and our actions to return here or not, as we let ourselves be. We call them The Ancients, because there is none alive today who is truly akin to them, who are of them. Only us, in all our forms, and we are their descendants.
Among the Exilian there is a day that is holy, a day that is sacred, and none of them will work nor travel nor barter nor sell, and that day is the 17th of Frosty. Scholars today believe that was the date on which this fire and smoke, ash and dust marked their stepping, and that their custom of saying homagan comes from the earliest words spoken by the Ancients. For recall, pupils, that the Exilian are those who remember Laningday, and they honor it.
They came and they settled in what now we call The Ancient Land, in the vale Ackyu. They brought to us birds and spiders and squirrels and cats and cattle and the many things of our world that are blessed. Trees and wheat and fruits and berries. They fashioned from their labors a paradise aplenty, and they filled the world with their splendor and grand design, their diversity and even all that we marvel at today. For years and lives they gave to the world, and the world was happy, and they lived in peace and joy.
There are some very ancient legends, fragments, and bits, that do not paint quite so rosy a past. These come from Ancients who lived and breathed and died in that era, found in deep delvings in the oldest of ruins, and these tell tales of struggle and woe, loss and grief, for there were some mistakes made, and among them was an unexpected issue with creatures here before, with the river Salathen, and that a war was fought against them, and that they were driven out and driven to extinction or so close to it that no one ever saw them again, but that these early days were preserved among the people in honor and memory until the God’s War erased them from our knowledge to be found again.
They were akin to the birds and the bees, the fish and the ants – they multiplied, and they spread, and they built great homes and splendid cities and they fought to tame this world they had, and so throughout the lands, spiraling out from Lost Aechkyoo, called Ackyu by us today, they took this world and made it their home, and it was good. Throughout the lands of the world, you can come across their ruins, their monuments, their creations. Above and below, they spread out over the lands, and it was good, and it was ours.
We call this spreading out the Diaspore, and we have seen that it is just as much a cycle, but in those days there were so many people that our grand and great city would have been as a village to them.
The Powers teach us that Paradise is an illusion, and that anything of such great beauty must have a hidden ugliness, and in our case, we brought it with us, though it would many years before we learned it. This is why we say that all that is gold does not glisten, nor all that glisters is gold. What appears noble and proper on the surface may be corrupted and vile beneath, much as the Imps have taken our fair lands and carved into them their warrens and homes, their shelters and tunnels.
So it was that upon a day unremarked, a young girl tossed through time and strife and her friends came upon a strange and peculiar crevice in the world, and they ventured into it, and when they emerged, they were changed, they were different, and though for long they strove to hide and disguise this they were nevertheless still found out, for children can rarely keep such things hidden from their parents. A lesson you would do well to remember, pupils.
Before the great council that ruled Ackyu in those days they were brought, and their discovery was laid bare, but they were not believed, and so it was that they were set to show the twenty-five members of the council what it was they had found and guide them into it. The day came, and the entire council, led by the chief among them, chosen for his nobility and his honor, his dignity and his generosity, the Commander Bill Lyle, and they descended into the earth and were gone for three days and three nights.
No one knows what happened within that time, but thought twenty-five went in, as holy and sacred a number as there can be, it was not twenty-five who came out, and none came out as they went in. It is said that afterwards some went mad, and others withdrew, that it caused rifts and divisions much like we still see today, but in the end, the survivors came together, and they argued, and they fought as we are all wont to do, and there were three factions.
The largest was composed of nine members, the second largest of seven, and the last of five, but the bonds and the deals and the contracts and agreements – as binding then as they are today, for what is honor without dignity, what is dignity without integrity, and what is integrity without commitment – set the five in power over the others, and chief among them was the one called Bill Lyle.
Forgive me, pupils, it sometimes becomes difficult to recall my old lessons, or whom I speak with, as I live now on Yrthe, and while much is the same, much is different, and like our mutual acquaintance Arabesque, I must struggle to recall against two histories.
It was then that the corruption began to be learned.
It is whispered that the change was not immediate, that it was not sudden, that many clamored for it and many tried to fight against it, but in the end the grand council became permanent, not chosen, and those in power began to tighten their grip or become unattached.
As Paramalus, Lyle became the Overlord, and he held firm to his grasp on not only the world, but on those others on the council. Only the children remained forever beyond his reach, and to this day, that is known is to still anger him, enrage him, though at the time he dismissed them as unimportant, and so gave to The Triplets the thread of his own unraveling, and the spur of his own downfall.
And so, the time of Age of the Gods ended, with Paramalus the greatest among equals, the Overlord of all Wyrlde.
Now, in those days the Powers That Be moved among the people, and were seen, and were known and were treated as if they were just one of us, merely mortal, and at first none knew otherwise for it was different, but as the years stretched and the council did not change, did not age, did not pass into the great cycle, people began to suspect and worry and fear.
Paramalus declared himself to be the One God Above All, and demanded the Ancients heed him, serve him and his will and his lieutenants, and they were the Five.
They began to enslave others, often with pretext and simply desire, and gave to them shackles and chains and made them lesser, and we know their names. We know Parabellum the Warrior, Paragon the Leader, Paramour the Beauty, Parafel the Beneficent, Parascient the Sage, Shavan the Rogue, Paranoir the Hunter, Parastrea of the Storms, and Paragnis of the Forge. We know them because they are the Nine, and they were enthralled to the Five, to Belial and Pallor and Dusit and Timur and Trundle.
They had children in these many years, and those children were never like what they had expected. Like their parents they came into the world with great powers, and they were often headstrong and capricious, cruel and malicious. These children were many, and often the product of things best left unspoken, for Paramalus has desires and tastes that even Pallor could not sate. They tortured those who would become the Bright Host. They gave them children and stole those children away to become the Devils and the Angels. They twisted these children, and they went back for more, until all was despair and grief and trauma.
We know as well that in secret, and over many lives, the first to whom the Ancients turned to Worship was Paramour, Mother of Peoples, called today Kybele, and so she gained greater beauty and more splendor, and she was bounteous, and peace reigned.
Seeing this, Paramalus grew jealous of her, and desired her even though she was Mansa’s, and would compare her to his Pallor, and find Pallor wanting, which in turn sparked Pallor to twist him, and cajole him, until finally he planned, and he schemed, and he devised, and at last, he acted. For patience has ever been one of his greatest gifts.
This was the era of Belial’s Reign, and this is how the time of Mansa’s Labors began. We do not forget the old names of the Powers, from when they were Gods. We do not always use them, for we will not forget the betrayals that would one day come, though we knew it not then. But this, Pupils, is why we always use them.
Paramalus sent Mansa away on a series of mighty labors. The lifting of mountains, the caring of seas, the arranging of stars, the shifting of winds, the building of lands. And as he was away enjoining them, Paramalus snuck upon Kybele whilst she slept and took her to his dungeons. There, he ravaged her, he beat her, he punished her and forced her to reveal the secrets of her power, so defiling and obscene were his actions. It was not an easy task, for mighty as the Powers are, it is known that they require worship to become ever more powerful, and among the secrets he learned for the Fairest, was that they were neither alone nor the only Powers, for she had met and as was her nature, befriended the Old Ones, and learned the blackest truth: without worship, they would begin to fade and become twisted and revealed, their forms becoming as obscene as those of the Old Ones, whose time was so long past that they were barely memories.
And he feared, and so it was that Paramalus became Belial, and so it was that the shadow passed over Kybele, who was, as then, the most beloved of the people. And he demanded that the People worship him, and commanded temples be built, and sacrifices made, for he, too, spoke to the Old Ones, and even today he has secrets and knowledge that few others have, stretching back through time and space and moments unknown to long before this world was.
At long last Paragon, to become Mansa, the Bright One, the Sun incarnate, returned to Ackyu and there he found Kybele, The Wonder, The Star of Heavens, hurt and battered, and he vowed retribution, and rebellion and recompense. He confronted Belial, Lord of the Heights, and I tell you my pupils that the land shook and great monuments fell from merely the words that were traded, and that Belial unmoved and enraged by all of this, and so he stuck Mansa with the back of his hand, empowered by the forced worship, and denied Mansa all that he sought.
Some say the silence that followed that lasted three days. That so shocked was Paragon that his friend had betrayed him so deeply that he could not at first believe all of this, though not once did Belial deny it. Yet he did come to it, and as he did His fury rose, and with it the power that was his by right, and he returned the blow, stronger and more vitally. It was this moment that began the God’s War.
Now, know this, pupils, for it is important. In those days, there was no magic. In those days, only these great powers had anything akin to it. The mind powers some show did not exist. There were no rituals, no spells, no Words of Power, no Runes. There were, to our knowledge, no planes or dimensions. Mortals had the thing some still seek to restore, the fabulous and fabled Teknogy. Tamasin says that we lack certain things to ever make it rise again, and that such a lack is intentional, for it was that which led, in part, to the events that came before.
Devils and wraiths, hags and Valkyries, fae and Shadowfell were all part of this world. Yet there were only the Ancients. No Elfin, no Tritons. No Goblins and no dwarfs. Just the Ancients and the Powers. They had vehicles that flew in the sky of their own power, they had vast ships we can only imagine and then poorly at that. They could move across the world in the shortest of time and despite all these wonders, they still did not have magic. They had almost no weapons, and they had much metal and other things that were far more useful. They were not only on Avilon, our beloved home, they were throughout the world, in so many numbers that we do not even have true words for the number of them.
And know this, as well: the world then was not the world today. The shape of the lands, the rise of the mountains, the falls of the seas, the winds of the storms – all of it was different then than it is today.
And as Mansa destroyed the great Temple to Belial, Belial and his closest, alongside some of who would later become the Bright and Shadow Hosts, they pulled their might and they tore all of Wyrlde from the firmament in which it had begun, and they fashioned a new way for the world to be, and all that is said is that for a hundred years there were no stars in the sky save seven, and the tides and the moons and very days themselves were changed.
And in that time, it became known for true and certain, that those who had long ago been merely the council of chosen were now Gods, and that they would have their due. And with that, I must rest. Return tomorrow and we shall continue.
Come, come, be welcome and unweary! Sit, sit! I have fashioned tea and brought water, and you see there the fruit and the bakings, so help yourself and become comfortable, for we will tell the tale of the End of the World and the Birth of the World, and should I do well you might learn how they are both the same and yet different.
I have spoken before of The First Era; of the thousand years and thousand things that came before and fashioned a world we have ever since lost the sight of, save for that in musings and musty records, scribed and scrawled across scrolls and cenotaphs. I spoke of the Retort of Mansa, and the Grand Redress which was the final time that the Hosts were as one. It was two generations following the declaration of Rebellion that it actually began, though we mark it as having started with the blow that felled Belial and shamed Pallor.
During those years, the people began to be divided as well, as the then Gods allayed themselves into hosts and drew to them those who accepted their promises and assurances, their claims and their accusations, their assertions of justice and injustice, each according to the hosts that arose.
Though we call them today the Dread Host, they were first known as The Righteous, and they were composed of the Five who were closest to Belial, and who were secretly as corrupt as he was previously, though now it had been laid bare for all those who chose to see. Not all did, however, and I must stress that the size of all his Host was greater than that of the all the peoples who live and breathe today. It was, in fact nearly four times the size of the Host that arose in opposition to him.
That Host rallied around Mansa, his lieutenant Qetza, and the redoubtable Vulcana. They are whom we call the Bright Host today, but once in an age long ago they were called The Rebellion. Their Host was itself still greater in size than all the people who live today, for the Ancients were a mighty people, and gifted with much, and they were not under such great attack as we are now.
The Third Host was those who sought to not become involved in the conflict at first, who were less concerned about the vagaries of who was right and who was wrong, but many of them had also suffered at the hands of Belial and the others, and so were sometimes willing to aid, but not so much as to place themselves at risk. My former student’s matron, Antelle, is of this Host, whom we call the Shadow Host, sometimes the Penumbrae, for they dwell at the place where light can become darkness, where the Bright can become the Dread.
The Shadow Host’s greatest concern was then and remains still the peoples of the world, though often we do not understand that, and forget that, and become easily lost within the larger war of what we see as Good and Evil, though such simplicities do no justice to the truths of that time. They were the smallest Host, smaller even than the four thousand three hundred twenty-one houses that walked the Bleak Journey. Among their number were the ancestors of the Exilian peoples, who persevered and preserved much and to whom much of this history was known long before it was rediscovered. I spent many a year among them when I was young and alive in that dimension.
And so it was that there were three Hosts aligned against each other. Those who sought to rule absolutely, those who sought to end them, and those who sought to preserve life over sacrificing it. The whole of the world is said to have been gripped by a deep and abiding tension, and each Host made plans and prepared for the petulant violence to come.
However, to engage in the war, it still took a spark greater than that which started it, and that was the outcome of the Grand Redress, which we know today as the Skyshattering. To assuage the terrors and worries and concerns, the God’s had built a great shell about the world, and one day it was shattered, and what rained down caused entire continents to be abandoned and triggered blame and causation and thus the revelation of the secrets that the Dread Host had kept, in the form of the first peoples shaped by the powers of the Gods. For in secret and deep places, hidden and protected, volunteers were organized into 125 Houses who volunteered for to become the secret weapons of the Dread Host, to aid in subterfuge and espionage, to build transports and keep secrets, to protect what must be protected, and thus into the world came the Imps.
Now, I know that we are taught in our Tanjins that Dwarfs were first, but those are the teachings of the Empire, and they have reasons to exclude the Foes from their ways, though I do not agree with them. It is a truth: the Imps were the first among all the many things fashioned, before the Beholders and Dreadnaughts, before the Planes and Dimensions themselves were even settled.
And they were unleashed upon the world as the Dread Host removed themselves to a place that remained secret until the War’s end.
Now harken up, and recall the lesson prior, and you will recall that I mentioned a young girl and her friends who were the first to find the strange chasm that lies at the start of all this woe and weal. She and her friends were still around – she had fallen in love and raised a family and watched over them, helping others if they came but often removed from the world that she might have a happiness and come to terms with what had happened to her. For her story is unlike that of any other on this world, and it crosses through time and space and for in a fluid way that is beyond our ken and our sense.
Her name is Chicory, and she was, is, and will be the Anima mundi, the Spirit of the World itself, absolute within her domain, and when the Gods stripped Wyrlde from The Universe, they granted her power she would not have otherwise had. As the Sky shattered, she lost her family to accident and rage, disaster and Pallor’s wicked cruelties, and so she sought out the others who had been with her on that first day, all of whom were akin to her, and all of them together is a force that only the Triplets need worry about.
As the world dealt with the disaster, they crafted the Planes and the dimensions, and they exiled the Denizens to their assorted homes, and it is important to note that when all was begun, when that moment of first creation happened, every dimension was an exact copy of this one, and every Plane was an exact copy oof this one, and all the changes since are those the Denizens and the powers made manifest.
And from that great and grand effort, the Pale came into being, and yet, they did know of it, nor of the Veils, for sometimes when you create or build something, there are things that are also built – unintended consequences, and though they sought benefice, they laid the foundation for something that changed the world in a way they could not have foreseen.
The sky shattering revealed again the black void of the sky beyond, save for the seven stars and the three moons that were there, and so into that sky in honor of her family, Chicory placed the first star of the night sky, and to this day it is the brightest and most beautiful, and it is called Chicory’s Heart.
Some will tell you it is a story, a tale, a myth. She will take you there to see that it is not and be unconcerned about if you survive the trip. Yes, Ara, it is true. Why do you think the Powers all avoid her? She is why they have flesh when they manifest here. She is why that flesh can be harmed. Do not discount her, nor her ways, for she is a Power among Powers.
Very well then, let us return. The unleashing of the Imps was expected to join the Demons and Devils and Hags in their efforts to aid the Dread Host, and so the war began in earnest, and can all of you imagine the surprise of the Hosts when all their children and grandchildren vanished?
The first battles were not fought near Ackyu, but initially on a different continent. Aracal, the greatest landmass, still today bears scars from that, including a massive chunk of it sunk – and all despite the changes that came later. In the first decade of war, ten million lost their lives in fighting, and nearly thirty million passed from the ravages of it. Children were kidnapped, families were torn asunder, oaths were taken.
Bereft of their expected compatriots, the Dread Powers sought more volunteers, and once again in secret refashioned them, and from those efforts came the greatest of the Foe: Goblins. It took them nearly thirty years, but when goblins joined the fray, the tide war turned in the favor of the Dread Host, and then, in a moment of utter terror that echoed throughout the 500 years of the war, Parafel was killed in battle by Timur, who took his golden armor and claimed it for himself.
Desperate, in retreat, unable to supply front lines and care for the wounded and recover from the devastation, the Bright host turned to the bloody arts themselves, and some of the host stepped up and volunteered to be refashioned into those who could withstand the assaults, who could build bridges, who could heal the harmed and help with Hope; The Dwarfs walked the world for the first time.
Half the world’s population had been lost, the God’s say, by that fateful day, the anniversary of the sky itself shattering and plunging to earth a hundred years earlier. It was a stalemate then, and so the Dread Host tried something new, having learned about the dimensions from the search for a way to provide the immortality they now craved, and their followers sought.
For that which can die is not truly immortal.
They sought out the Devils and the Demons, only to find they were blocked. They sought out the Angels and the Valkyries, and they, too, were lost. So, as they searched, they turned to the Teknogy they had once used, and the dimensions they had found, and from all of that arose the Dreadnaughts, the Beholders, released in massive swarms that drained the whole of Euthania and changed that dimension first among all of them. Monsters came into the world as more and more people turned to the Bright Host and fought beside it.
Meanwhile, the Shadow host was not placid, and of all the Hosts, they had the most who were friendly with Chicory, upon who’s very being this war was fought and who flesh was scarred and whose pain was an echo through everything living thing when Parafel went down. For that is her curse, her price, her life.
And so, it was Charon who taught them the black arts used, the bloody arts, and it was Oremus who showed them how to draw on the Faje and so instill the needed spark and give to them the qualities needed from the other Planes, and the Shadow Host hid and began to spy and to sabotage and, also, to create.
It was Eshu who brought that secret to the Bright Host, though, who worked with Paria and Alfey, and who helped them to bring forth the mightiest warriors to ever tread the world: The Elfin.
By the later part of the second century of war, the battlefields were all over the place, and despite sabotage, the Dread Host broughttheMerow to the seas, and the Bright Host countered with the Tritons.
And as the third century began, in a corner out of the way, the Shadow host ensured a way for life to persevere, even as a new nation was forming of those who sought to avoid the War at all costs, exiling themselves from all other people and beginning to wander, which they still do to this day.
Back and forth the fields went, and slowly the whole of the battles began to compress, to cover less earth for there were ever and ever fewer people. And yet, slowly, so slowly, but surely, ever certainly, the Bright host began to win, and the Dread Host found this unwelcome. They struggled to find out why, to learn what it was that gave the Host its unflinching ability to move forward, and they did not learn it then. But they would eventually: it was the Clerics. By granting their most faithful their boons and attention and the merest amount of their power, they could empower the first Mages on Wyrlde to heal the wounded, to rescue the dying, to cure the ill, to feed the hungry. This was the secret the Dread Host did not learn, and the impact of it had them turn their gazes inward.
To overcome the efforts at espionage and sabotage, they took the ever-increasing number of volunteers and shuttled them into a half a hundred different effort; trying to come up with something. Many of them were destroyed. Some were merely interrupted; others were abandoned too soon. And from those efforts came the Thyrs, for they had seen what the Shadow had wrought, and the Grendels, for they were the madness of made manifest. As the war creeped closer to the fourth century of blood and death and destruction, the Dread Host outpowered the Bright, and at long last the Shadow Host abandoned their efforts to avoid overt conflict.
During the Battle of Keratin, the Bright Host fell in droves and in sorrow before the abominations and the constructs, the goblins and the imps, the Thyrs and the Grendels. They lost their general then, slain by a Shadow Host spy who would, soon thereafter, be slain himself. And in the middle of this massive battle, between millions of warriors, a stone the size of a house fell to earth and decimated both sides as it scarred the planet itself.
This was the first Skyfall. For three hundred and sixty days, the skies spit forth stones great and small, strange and familiar, and at first no one knew what had happened, or why and there was much recrimination, until it became apparent that the problem was something older than they had realized: when they had removed the World, they had shattered many things, and those things came back now to haunt them.
It was only on the Equinoxes and the Solstices that they did not fall. They did not burn like stars that fall from the sky. They did not scream as they plummeted. They were silent. Their craters were not immense. They simply fell. Everywhere. Through roof and wall, steel and bone, blood and flesh, they fell on everything, and it was then that we learned for the first time what it was the Imps had truly done.
For the only place that was safe was beneath the ground, and the Dwarfs built shelters, and the Imps would mine their way into them and so many quiet, hidden battles were fought.
Even the Dread Host was devastated, and it is said that it was the Skyfall that revealed to the Animus Mundi where they had hidden, and so she began to plan. But from the Bright Host, and the Shadow, they remained hidden.
Ah, Pupils, how can I make you understand the loss? The Skyfall obliterated all the wonders of the ancients in a way that not even the God’s War itself had. We lost all those wonders, all those marvels, and there was no chance to recover them, to rebuild, to restore what was lost. Even the simplest of knowledge about Teknogy was lost, and our clockworks are but a pale, shadowed imitation.
After four hundred years of war, the might armies were returned to the old ways, the way of bow and spear, of blade and axe. And these were skills that the Ancients had forgotten. Yet the Skyfall did something else, something few will talk about or tell you.
It was that Skyfall that ended the Ancients, and gave rise to Us, their heirs. It was then that the world had Humans and Elfin and Dwarfs.
And so, the war did not end. It merely became what we know today, and were it not for the Clerics, there might not be any of us alive today to know it.
Dissension began to erupt within the Dread Host. Thyrs would battle Goblins, Grendels would encourage it, Imps would harass all. Morale began to plummet, and cohesion was lost, and yet still they fought on, those unwilling to fight further walking away in the midst of battle or refusing. Some were caught. Their horrific deaths and punishments did not stop it, it made more of it happen, just more silently, more secretly. Entire groups of Human vanished overnight, thinning the already sparse numbers ever further, to a point where it could almost be said that it was a war between Humans and Monsters. Almost, and many did, but the truth is it was never that simple, never that easy.
Four hundred years of war, never more than five days between a fight, God’s being slain, homes gone, and so horrible things were that only one place remained nearly utterly untouched by everything: Ackyu, the Ancient Land, the place where People First Came. It was asked for many years afterwards how it had managed to avoid the ravages, and nary an answer was given until one night Melane told the man who would be a King that it was the Anima that saved it.
It was 25 years after Skyfall that The Cascade happened, and it changed everything. I have told you, my Pupils, of how they had no magic in this war, how the first to walk with it were the Clerics, the most devoted to the Powers themselves. Those Clerics drew upon the Pale, which no one had realized was aware, or indeed that it even existed, and that it depended on the existence of the world itself, of the dimensions and the Planes. The Cascade was what no Power foresaw, and what changed the war in ways that no one could have been ready for.
All around the world, hundreds, no, thousands of hundred-mile-wide geysers erupted, shaking the crust of the planet, shaking the core, a global quake like nothing ever felt before or since. And from everyone came pouring the unintended consequences that had not been realized: Mana. For the Cascade was the rage of the Pale, and the coming of Magic, and the fury of Chicory, and the pleasure of Melane.
And in hideaways now long forgotten and left alone, great beasts awoke, and found that for the first time in over a thousand years, they could begin to plan to strike back at those who had stolen from them.
Oh my, these old bones still ache no matter there’s a rift or not. Time to tell the tale of the closing of the war, though you may have heard the Canticle of Chicory and know it, it never hurts to hear it again.
The Cascade was an immense change that filled the world, but even as it happened, the war went on, only now with people discovering that some could do magic and others could do strange things with just the power of their desire and will. Where once only the God’s had power, now all did, but there was still only the Clerics to turn to for healing, and now they were burdened even more, for far too often did newborn Mages burn themselves or lose a limb or kill a friend who startled them.
It was Chaos, and even still the Bright Host and those who now allied with them of the Shadow Host ever pressed forward, but the cost and the price was great, and the losses uncounted and uncountable. And then the tide turned yet again, and the Dread Host felt as if they were finally going to have their victory, for they released the Kobolds and they encircled the Ancient Land, and therein they trapped the final remaining forces of the Bright host.
But the Kobolds walked away. Nearly every single one decided they wanted nothing to do with this war and this death and this horror. Aye, Pupils: this is why the Kobolds are creatures of the Dread who dwell in the Shadow, for they had not been volunteers, they had been shaped and remade against their wills, and they refused when their bonds were finally released.
Remember that all the Peoples of the world are still, somewhere, in their very essence, the descendants of the Ancients. Even if they lay eggs now, as the Goblins do. No God can touch the Will of a Mortal. This is the decree of the Triplets, who craft the tapestry of the worlds. All People have free will, for without it they cannot choose or deny their destiny, they cannot find or fight their fate, they cannot cast a thread into the Aether to be woven into the grand tapestry.
This is the work of Belial, another unintended consequence, for Chicory was not the only power that he dismissed unwisely.in closing off the World he gave them absolute domain over the Tales. And they like Chicory, and she likes them.
Now, where was I? Ah, yes, The Siege of the Ancient Land.
Despite the defection of the Kobolds and the internal deceptions and strife among the Imps, Goblins, Thyrs, Grendels, and Humans, the Dread Hosts much reduced armies encircled those of the Allied Powers, and there they besieged them. Know this: The armies that were arrayed that day were almost insignificant in size compared to the armies that arrayed before each other in the first battles. This was all the peoples of all the world that any of them knew at the time, and they were then no bigger than half all the peoples of the world are today.
The Dread had abominations and Dreadnaughts, the Bright had sharper weapons and greater heart. The Dread were greater, three for every Bright, but they had never turned to magic among their troops for that would have given them too much independence it was thought. It was a siege the like of which even the worst of the Goblin Wars never saw. For twenty-three years it went on, and then the world was broken and remade in an instant.
It is called The Cataclysm, and while no one can say for sure what caused it, it was in the moments of that event that the Dread Power were trapped, were sundered in Spirit and Soul, Mind and Body, and their hearts taken, and it was in those moments that they were cast into the greater All and chained and sealed from the world until someone could find a way to release them. It was such a massive shock that all the Gods vanished afterwards, unable to be whole, to stay enfleshed and beside their followers. It was in that moment that the Clerics lost all contact, and with that all their great magic to heal and to cure and to save.
No one knows what happened save for those who chained the Dread Host and the Host themselves. The Dread Host do not speak to us who are descended from those who warred against them, and those who chained them have never spoken up. This we do not know what truly ended the War of the Gods.
We know only that the Dread Hosts armies were scattered, and that the Tritons were unable to come to the aid of their Bright host brethren who remained stuck in the Ancient Lands. We know that the Ancient lands turned fey and deadly, poisonous and inhospitable, and that earthquakes were frequent and that those who survived still had more death and despair as they scrambled to escape across lands that were being swallowed by the sea and trying to devour them, a ragtag mass of people who ended up being four thousand three hundred twenty one families standing on the shore of a land they did not recognize as the home they had known for years, that had stood for over a thousand years, vanished from the face of the earth.
That, my dears, is the history of The God’s War. Five hundred years of pain and slaughter and change and sorrow, capped by a betrayal the remains to this day. It is late now and so I will send you all on your merry way. We will meet again, though. We have the Ages past still to come. I certainly hope that you, Mistral Urton, have at least learned a thing or two about hells from such.
But for now, we must retire to our homes and our families, break this day long fast with good food, good people, and good hope, and then rest that we may have the strength to learn even more on the morrow…
That no time had been given to them to gather their belongings or to arrange for needed things, to know that the children needed food, or the men needed water. They were, in The Aftermath, suddenly upon a shore with wounded and dying, no gods to provide succor, no supplies to survive on, no promises kept, and no way to know what had just happened.