After that, “Skorn” (“The City of Skud”) became the first Imperial Colony on the Great Continent, and the seat of power for the whole of the West.
What we know of today as Scorn Castle is in fact the upper part of the Great Tower of Watch that was built during that time.
At that time there were a great many dragons that dwelt in the Great Continent, which had long been their home. But the Empire drove them out of the West, far on the other side of the mountains. They built the Great Wall to keep the dragons away, and for over four centuries, Scorn and the West were rich and peaceful.
Eventually the Empire started to crumble and there was great political unrest. Enteranni the Red tried to seize power and declare himself emperor, he planned to unleash the dragons upon the West, that he might be the one to banish them and be the “saviour” of the West. Unfortunately (as it is told in the “Tale of the Flaming Walls”) he failed, the dragons he helped unleash crossed the Great Wall and attacked the West.
Scorn was crushed under a rain of stone, while its inhabitants fled to the swamps in the north.
Azuriner the Careful finally used the Golden Lance of Lythander (which was claimed by Mandor the Mad to be powerful enough to “Command to Those of the Skies”) to defeat the dragons and rebuilt Scorn - above the old one.
It is said that when Azuriner died, he was buried in the Old Scorn Below with his Golden Lance, and asked his sons to seal the doors to the world below, which was now “the domain of the past”. The key to open the deeper levels of the Old City was believed to have been sent back to Khelens, but no ships have crossed the High Ocean since the end of the Flame Wars, nearly 5000 years ago.
Children in Scorn usually love the stories of their quests. It is much better so.
That's indeed weird to have so many easy travels to Brittany, while the whole point of the Exiled was to be hard to reach :)
While Brittany is the area where the Last Men went to hide from the Werebeasts. Strange thing, actually, that “Brittany” comes from the old Khelentari meaning “Wide Plains”. Well, it is nowadays strange, of course. When the first explorers reached that area, there were no mountains separating that from the region of Scorn.
You see, it was a harsh time. It was during the Great War against the dragons. Scorn itself stood firm, but many people doubted that it would be able to resist against the Great Dragons that had crossed the Wall.
The Baron of Quay-Vy, a small state-city that was allied to Scorn, then sent messenger all around in the few territories still free from the dragons asking for any possible help, promising a huge treasure as a reward. Many came, but with no real proposal.
Then, a Mage came. The story forgot his name - or maybe he made it forget - but he was powerful for sure. He sent his creation to help men: the terrible werebeasts. And, as we now know, the Allied People vanquished the dragons. And so did the mage ask for his bill to be paid. But his price was way too high, and the ravages of the war made it impossible for the Baron to pay him.
“So be said, then !” said the furious mage, “You'll pay with blood what your purse refused to spit out !”
Werebeasts then attacked those they once helped. Already weakened by the dragon's war, the remaining Thinking Races were on the verge of becoming extinct. The College of Wizards of Scorn then took a drastic decision: selecting 100 young men and 100 young women across the country, the “Last Men”, they organised an exodus to the south, and used all their powers to prevent the werebeasts to kill those survivors.
First, they raised mountains all around. High. Dangerous. Nasty Weather and stuff.
Of course, it meant that the Last Men were now cut from the rest of the world completely. Then, they built two fortresses guarding the two passages that existed through the mountains they had raised. And, to ensure they'd stand against the werebeasts, they cast a spell of Temporal Lock on them.
Temporal Locks are very powerful and dangerous spells.
As long as they are in effect, the people they protect never get old, and are harder to kill than simple mortals. On the other hand, invaders and enemies of all sorts perish much more easily.
There is a drawback to Temporal Locks, though, which is why it is usually banned by most white wizards.
When the spell comes to its end, it “runs out of magical energy”. Then, it finds energy to try to maintain itself at all costs, and sucks the very life of those it protects. Turning them into people that are neither alive or dead, or even undead, but both and neither at the same time. Finally, the spell dies, having exhausted everything and everybody, and only ruins remain, that look centuries old even if they are only a few months old in fact. That's what happened to the two fortresses for sure.
What about the werebeasts ?
Well, unknown to the inhabitants of Brittany, the Five Ones tracked them, killed them, and saved not only Scorn, but also the Thinking Races, from total destruction. The Five Ones then were able to reach Brittany and tell its inhabitants that they could stop hiding. The Five were actually a team of five, well, heroes that are still famous today.
But, so confident were the Last Men in their magical defenses that they didn't believe what they told us, saying that they were just poor comedians in desperate need of easy money. Disgusted, the Five Ones left Brittany. And no other man crossed the mountains for 2500 years.
During that time, Brittany flourished, completely convinced that it was the last human kingdom in a world dominated by monsters of all sorts. Then, Mer'eric the Walker discovered by accident that a light could be seen, on clear days, from above the top of Nursen, the high mountain that dominates Brest, the Capital City of Brittany.
He spent ten years of his life to build the Great Heliograph, a device that could focus the sunlight into a wide beam, that could be used to send messages.
On the other side, the man now known as the “Mad Mage” was holding experiences about the properties of light. It was him that inadvertently attracted the attention of Mer'eric. And he quickly noticed the signs sent by the Great Heliograph, and built on his side a similar device.
But in Brest, things weren't as joyful as one could have thought.
People were thinking: “Those are dragons, trying to fool us ! Mer'eric as doomed us all !” And Mer'eric himself became afraid of the consequences of what he had done. So he hid his machine, and decided to cross the mountains to see by himself what had happened.
When he came back five years later with some companions, Brestians were forced to admit that they weren't the last ones on Earth. And they felt angry and spoiled from what they said was their heritage. Tension rose between Brittany and Scorn, and shadows of War became longer again. It is then, when everything seemed to go to another butcher's feast, that the Five Ones reappeared. It is said that it is the “Mad Mage” that called them through the gateways of time. Who knows ? One thing is sure: they prevented the war, about 10 years ago. One of them, a brave warrior with hairs of the color of the sun, is still the only and true ruler of Brittany.
But where is he ? And what about the four others ? That I don't know, and probably few people can answer that question. The “Mad Mage” is now grumbling alone in his solitary tower about his younger days, when he ran on the Earth to save people with his four friends, but who is to believe the bearded man with foolish, tearful eyes ?
As for myself, I don't know, and here ends my knowledge about Brittany's Past.
Some also say that Lorkas is a dark spirit, a lost soul, an unclean, unfaithful, untrustworthy creature of Doom and Chaos.
But, for what matters, some also said that Fido was a fiction, or that the Empire never was more than a dream of a past that never existed. Some definitely are foolishly uninformed for sure, and speak more than they think.
Because, if they were less quick on jumping to conclusions, they'd quickly notice how difficult it is for an angel to fall from the sky and never be able to climb back, as if wild gooses were never able to take off again once they land after their long journey to the South.
Anyway, as every wise man knows, Lorkas was no angelic creature of divine essence, or even a magical creation of a godly force.
Some say that Khelens is the Beginning, first of the Cities of Men. That, too, is untrue: before the Age of Khelens was the Time of the Kingdoms at War. And before them, the Era of Songor the Great. And going back through the thick book of history, you'll cross Arnistar of the Desert Dwellers, the Republic of the Two Rivers, and the Ancient Haemdel, and the Kingdom of the Long Wall. And before it, the forgotten towers of light that Horadrists built.
Lorkas was born in Kuratas, a small agrarian state that existed on the Coronian Valley, when Songor and Khelens were still in infancy. He was a boy that wanted to see everything, to understand the world and its stars, and discover its limits, for it was extending much further than the mists of his home valley.
But life was rude in Kuratas, and trying to think about anything else than your next harvest wasn't well perceived by most; and, more than often, Lorkas dreamed with tears and despair about the Mountains with the white tops, and Seas that ended only when they touched the sky, far away.
Tired of his senseless life, he left his parents, his village, his friends, when he was only 12, and for weeks walked to the West, until he reached the Coast of the Stonewalls.
And there, he saw Ottarakans, the Infinite Ocean that extends west of the Old World, and so fell in love for the sea. He then joined the Port of Kridatta, which was famous for its ships, as its inhabitants had mastered a powerful arcane, so that their boats roamed not only the seas, but the very clouds themselves.
Because he was smart and quick-brained, Lorkas soon got enrolled in the team of Capt'n Bortaras; and after several adventures I shall maybe tell about another day, he took the succession of the old mariner.
But Lorkas heard about a wonder that him and his crew soon wanted to find: The White Bird of Hope.
Buried in the Very East, it was said to be. And so he sailed east; he crossed the Great Desert, passed the Mountains of Daigojij, reached the forests of the western normanika. But still was the Bird further away.
Reaching the Eastern Ocean, they decided to try to cross it, despite that it was said to be the end of the world. And for 30 days and nights, across tempests and monsters, they firmly kept heading east, east, east.
When despair was growing on them, mists magically opened, revealing a golden city built on what seemed to be a rich, fertile coastal plain.
People there spoke a strange language; they were small and not unlike joyful foxes, and they welcomed Lorkas and his men (and women) warmly. Soon, they learned to understand each other enough.
They called themselves “The People of the Mother”, and they had never seen the “Flat-Eared Giants” before, although they already met “Flat-Eared Beards” and “Flat-Eared Greens” before.
But there was a lady called Sonja. And, although she wasn't human, she seemed brighter, smarter, more beautiful than any other woman Lorkas had ever seen before.
Those months were the most wonderful for him - and her - and time seemed to have stopped for them in their endless love. But of course it hadn't.
And after a while, some of his men wanted to go back to their own homes, and some wanted for their families to come to the Golden City. And, also, there was the Bird.
They had no problem to find the White Bird of Hope - a statue entirely made of the purest of the white marble, with gemstones of red ruby as eyes. But so much the inhabitants liked it, so they thought that a valuable friend was much better than a valuable statue.
And so they said: “Take the bird as a gift of us to your masters, to show them we want to make friendship with them. Welcome are the friends of the children of the White Bird.”
And so Lorkas left, promising Sonja that he'd soon return.
The people of the Golden City also told him that “The Bird is imbued with powerful magic: the one owning it will always keep hope.”
When Lorkas came back, he and his men were welcomed as heroes. So where does the story turns sour, as Lorkas is said to have fallen from the skies ?
Well, when he and his crew came back home, Kridatta was at war with Sinas, and for several years, he and his crew fought, using the power of the Bird to help them. And during those years, Lorkas kept in his heart the hope of seeing again Sonja.
Then came the Fever Plague, that killed a third of the people in the Ancient World. And again was the Bird used, and again did Lorkas help all those he could help, still having hope of seeing the Golden City again soon.
And then, he sent messengers and explorers, as he had become influential, rich, and powerful, across the seas, to rebind the ties with the Golden City, as he promised. But they all came without finding their way to those faraway shores; yet all that time, and for each new mission sent to explore the seas and the skies, they seemed closed and closer from the goal.
Sixty years passed. The world changed; new kingdoms ruled old cities; Lorkas was now an old man that lived in a small house looking at the Ocean.
And still, each day, he spent hours waiting, watching the line where the sea met the sky, hoping that one day, one would sail back and tell him: “we found the Golden City !”. And always he hoped, but never received.
Nearly all of his companions were now dead, and the Horizon had been retired long ago, now slowly rotting in the bay, fading souvenir of a long forgotten past.
Lorkas walked to his boat, and where there was only tarnished wood and corroded metal, he still saw the fierce ship on which he saw Sonja for the first time, so long ago. Who knows what he did, then? One thing is sure: the vigile of the Sea Tower of Kridatta, that watched boats coming and leaving from dozens of miles away, reported that an ancient ship left the bay, with Lorkas sitting at the front of it, holding the Bird, as if he was sleeping.
Nobody knows exactly where he went. Was he even dead? Nobody knows. But everybody kept hope that, one day, he'd reach the Golden City again. Lots of people tried to find the Bird after that event. They all accused Lorkas of having “stolen” it. The story became legend. The legend became fairy tale. And the fairy tale got forgotten by most.
Yet, Centuries ago, deep in the oldest parts of the Old City of Scorn, people claimed to have found an ancient mausoleum, a relic of the past. All made of the purest, finest gold. On the walls were engraved a man at the wheel of a strange ship, and a woman with pointy ears, watching the skies. And many nowadays keep the Hope that the White Bird now sleeps down below the streets, having found its way back to home with Lorkas.
But who could tell if it is the truth, or only a silly story? Who knows? As for myself, I don't care: I just hold hope it is. And so ends the Story of Lorkas, and so keeps Hope running.
You'll not find Gnat in the Khelentika for a pretty good reason.
The Suranimites, one of the religious movements amongst the cult of Gaia, believed that it wasn't Gaia that had created the world, but that she rather was its “cleaning woman”, the one that keeps it running and nice.
But most people outside Suranimites feared and hated Gnat at the same time, because it was an annoying god for two reasons. The first was that it shattered their beliefs that gods were omnipotent beings, serving the Builders and representing them before mortals. That something else may exist turning them into minor servants was not something easy to swallow.
But there was something else… Gnat was said to be married with Ada, the Unquestionable Lady, The One of Order, that represents the ultimate force of order, as opposed to chaos. But she also represents ultimate entropy, the glacial end of eternity, and that's something that meant that the world was not eternal. And Gnat started to be seen as a puppet in the hand of Ada, creating only to escape from the boredom of eternity.
Moreover, Gnat is associated with Xathena, the One in Green, Mistress of the Carpenters who endlessly work at keeping the structure of the universe in shape.
Xathena was also hated by most races, as it is said that she confined them into the limits of her own Greenish Structure , jailing them away from the felicity that only Builders can enjoy.
After the religious wars of the IVth century EK, the Suranimites were wiped out, their books burned, their temples converted into Gaian ones.
Each major religion had a reason to conceal the existence of Gnat, Xathena and Ada:
Nowadays, only those who follow the cult of the Mother (Fendrakis, of course, but also Maössis and the orcish tribes of Druven, for example) do refer to Gnat with respect.
There is a prophecy telling that the time of Xathena will pass, and the rule of Gentaki will come. And after Gentaki, Sawinga will come, and then, Gnat's influence over Bigworld will decline, as the Cosmic Gnu will go into a long sleep, dreaming of the past, leaving most of the work to Builders.
Finished is the story :)
[from a story in IRC, dated 11/02/2008, 18:30 -0500 UTC]
Saving a discussion from IRC, 2008-11-17