Of Gods, Kings, And Incredible Things
I wish I could show you what I see. Take you with me as I journey to the steppes of Morose and through the mounts of dead that litter the fields of Ash. Words are a powerful tool but whenever I try to paint the world for you I find myself running into their limit. Yes, there is a limit to the power of words and it’s far easier to reach than you know. Look around you and try to convey your own homes to a stranger who has never seen it, never felt the grain of its wood, never smelled the scent of a summer’s night. No matter how hard you try details are lost. Can you make them see the colors of the leaves falling down across your yard? What of the warm winds that carry with them the scent of summer? How do you explain the texture of the old wooden rocking chair and how its gentle motions free you of the stresses of a hard world?
No matter how you stretch your vocabulary you’ll fail. Life isn’t meant to be captured in words as ironic as that must sound coming from me. I don’t write to try and convey the world to you, I write because I want you to know that there is more to this world than you know. That just beyond the horizon lays an adventure for each and every one of you and all it takes is the bravery to take that first step.
Religion And What It Means To You
The Lord Above
A religion that did not exist but a mere thousand years prior has now risen to become the most prominent of faiths. Why is this? A result that culminated from a myriad of reasons that range from a decline in the old beliefs that happened to coincide with the vigorous appearance of the new. While believers of the faith can be found the world over they are heavily centered within Edessa. It is here that you will find the towers of the saints and the grave of the man himself. Yes, the Lord Above was known first by a another name.
Gaius, it’s a simple name for a man that would spawn a religion in his wake. It was from the heart of the Veil War that he emerged in the heartlands and rallied its people into forming a single union and led the campaign that would ultimately turn the tide of the war and seal victory. Nine disciples followed him from the start and would become his generals. However, only eight would survive to become the Saints we know today as one would betray them at that final moment and forever on be labeled the Betrayer.
Gaius’s life was lost within the final battle when his ninth disciple Ludo betrayed him with a strike to the back in the very hour of their victory while he was at his weakest. Why? The church tells a tale of jealous envy but whether it is the truth or not is difficult to tell now and irrelevant. The other disciples fell upon him but by the time they reached their Lord it was too late. The battle was won but its commander was lost. It is here that the man becomes the God.
The rifts in the Veil were sealed and its twisted denizens forever locked within. Witnesses say that a spirit of light rose from the corpse of the man and it was he that closed the rifts. A benevolent creator who has watched from the shadows watching the world as it stumbled ever closer towards the edge of the abyss intervening only at the last moment, arriving in it’s hour of dire need to save them with his sacrifice. With the Veil that had been corrupting his creation safely removed he was free once again to use his true powers which he also used to raise up his most devout disciples granting them the boon of immortality and pushing upon them responsibility of maintaining a vigil lest the rifts were to ever open again.
What comes after is a story you already know. Edessa was formed from the union that the man Gaius had forged and its people worshipped the God he had become.
The Old Gods
Ira – God of Time and Memories
Jonah – God of Battle and the Hunt
Cybelle – Goddess of Luck and Dreams
Icarus – God of Invention and Creativity
Kali – God of Death, Decay, and the Afterlife
Lucretia – Goddess of Wealth, Ambition, and Lust
Ambrose - God of Discord, Madness, and Renewal
Aston – God of Order, Protection, and Stability
Constance – Goddess of Labor, Family, and Health
One time they were simply known as the Gods and their power was felt across all faces of the world, a force that even the hardened men in the north were forced to acknowledge. Their influence encompassed the globe and even those that didn’t believe in its faith were forced to work around it. Course ever since the Veil Wars their number of followers have taken a sharp decline. As the faithful prayed for salvation all they received was silence and in the face of such animosity they found another to place their faith in.
Many of the old places of worship have fallen into disuse or converted and put into use for the new religion. What few places remain in use mostly reside within the Imperial Repubic. However, there was one of the Old Gods whose followers never diminished and if anything increased. Ambrose. His believers told of a different version of events. It was not that they were silent but rather that the War on land was but the reflection of a war in the heavens between Ambrose and his brethren. That all his schemes and plots had culminated into the Veil War in which the Gods were pitted again Ambrose and his forces which ultimately ended in defeat for the God of Discord but by the time that the status quo was restored many of their believers had abandoned them. While interesting I can’t say that I altogether feel comfortable with their interpretation.
Even outside of the republic there are several underground worship groups who preach their teachings, a tale of Gods who created the word and guided its early development before departing from this world to oversee it from above. There are many old legends and tales associated with these divinities but I’ll leave them to you to investigate for it’d take several separate volumes to discuss such topics in the detail they deserve.
Not a true religion but rather more of a philosophy that the people of Medaba have adopted. In truth it has no name but for our purposes let us refer to it as Universality. Simply put they have expanded their concept of self or rather done away with it in many regards. It is the idea that our true selves expand beyond the flesh in a sense and covers the world. We are the world and the world is us. It hits upon the fact that there is no true isolated entity within the world and all things are in fact relative to others.
Every step and breath we take impacts the world around us and the world around us affects us as well. Our every action and thought is but a reflection of a thousand chains of events that we aren’t even aware of and yet are set into motion with every second. As they are aware of this connection the people of Medaba feel a certain sense of obligation and responsibility when they act. There is also a sense of resignation. They understand that all things are part of the greater whole and both good and bad outcomes are but results that cannot be avoided always and must instead be accepted. Lasting cases of grudges and hate are things rarely seen among them.
You will find no shrines or prayers among the tribes. It is a lifestyle that they cultivate over time and their understanding of it deepens with the passing of every generation. I must admit to a certain degree of curiosity as to its origin but more than that I must wonder where this mindset will lead them in the decades and centuries to come.
An Introduction To Magical Theory
What is magic? Where does it come from? Why can only certain people use it? Before I can even begin to answer any of these questions I’m going to have to talk of the Veil.
So what is that you ask? The Veil is a realm that exists alongside our own but unless a set of specific circumstance are met we remain separate. That doesn’t really answer the question. The Veil is difficult to describe due to its very nature being formless. A realm shaped and molded by whims and ideas that are in constant flux with little real structure. It is a world constructed entirely out of energies that we would liken to magic and thus anything is possible there.
So is the Veil the source of our magic? Possibly.
There are many theories and many do involve the Veil to varying extents. According to the church it was wicked men who allowed the denizens of the Veil into their hearts. They formed twisted contracts with them that brought magic into our world but also brought the monsters of the Veil. Another theory states that the Veil can brush against our realm naturally and its energies leaked out whilst in contact. There are countless others but suffice to say that our magic and magics of the Veil are similar and connected on some level, intentional or otherwise.
The implications are many and few bring comfort. Magic and those who use it are blamed much for the Veil Wars. We all know what the Veil Wars are and how they ended but the actual start of it is something still uncertain to this day. Perhaps to some it is hard to understand the fear now but back then when most people’s first introduction to the Veil was at the hands of the monsters and fiends that call it home than perhaps you’d gain a bit more of an appreciation for that distrust.
So what is magic exactly? Well it’s free energy with near limitless possible applications dependant on individual strength and understanding of the world. Many of the wonders of the world exist entirely because magic such as the towers of the Saints or the eternal walk ways of the republic. The results are unquestionable though difficult to understand without a mage’s knowledge of the art.
So why are only a few capable of becoming mages? Chance mayhap? A large portion of the world believes that to be true. Men of the eastern republic have experimented with lineages to try and coax it from bloodlines but the results have been conflicting. Edessa states that magic is a gift of the creator and only those who are taught in its colleges are true mages while the rest are the result of tainted blood from the Veil.
Short answer. It’s complicated.
Sir Jethro Esquire’s List Of Legends
The Topless Tower – Amidst my travels I’ve heard many a tale spun about a tower that “Splits the heavens”. Sounds lovely.
Leviathans – Devilish things. Why I recall when I was just young lad and saw one off the eastern coast swallow a fishing boat whole. Dastardly fiend just swam off and nobody believed me! Bah! One day they’ll see. Sir Jethro Esquire is no fool.
City Of The Sands – Too many legends about this place to write it off as a fool’s tale and a half a dozen princes spending fortunes looking for it. Maybe they know something I don’t? Probably not.
Cybelle’s Bed – Sounds like a nice place for a proper nap. Do you think she’d mind?
Betrayer’s Lance – Supposedly Ludo was a lancer who wielded a weapon forged from dragons. Can’t say I ever heard of anyone actually seeing a dragon nor have I ever heard just what part of the dragon it was made from. Speaking of dragons…
Dragons – Every old legend has some dragon doing some misdeed. Probably existed at some point but good chance they all died out. If I were to start looking though I’d go west. Lot of lore to back that up and by lore I of course mean stories.
Viator’s Gambit – Ever wonder why they hold the Valorn once every seven years? It’s because that’s how many years Viator was king, their first king mind you, before he suddenly went crazy and said he was going to war. He gathered the clan’s best warriors and marched north. Yes north. Took the best and brightest and charged up into the mountains at the top of the world and never came back.
Throne Of Heaven – A unique rock formation at the top of the world that looks like a throne but it’s the size of a mountain.
The Shadow That Waits – A creature said to lurk in the jungles and the ultimate predator. They also told me it has a taste for tea but I think they were just teasing. Still, best not to bring the tea just in case.
The Tools Of Creation – Supposedly a set of instruments capable of creating just about anything. Seems to suggest some ties to Icarus. Republic perhaps?
Hall Of Heroes – The men up north can be surprisingly superstitious. Talk a lot about their ancestors souls gathering in some great mead hall and chatting it up about old battles. Do I believe it? No. Would I ever mention that to them? Also no.
Blood Of Gaius – A bit odd but I hear a lot of people asking about it. His blood is supposed to have some sort of regenerative quality though if it truly did I don’t think he would have died in the first place. To be perfectly frank I’m sure ingesting the blood would have some affect but I doubt it would be beneficial. Best I can say is start looking in Edessa.
The Bridge Of Souls – Kali. Has her name all over it and this legend is about as old as they come. It was known as the final destination for dead souls seeking to pass to the afterlife. Honestly I haven’t a clue where to start looking for this.
The Temple Of The First – First Gods I’d assume and perhaps the first temple in general. Lot of stories around this place and not always nice but the history is deep and interesting. Will be planning an expedition here soon.
The Hunting Tunnels – Two ways this legend plays out. First one talks about it being Jonah’s personal hunting grounds. Second states a king used it to punish his people. Trapped them in a warren with a terrible beast. Some evidence that it might of existed but can’t say what sort of beasts lived there.
Lost People – This story originates with the end of the Veil Wars. There used to be several nations west of the jungle but they were wiped out nearly to the man and those that survived fled east. Never got resettled thanks to the ruins still be a common stomping ground for the surviving monsters. Legend says that one city survived by fleeing underground and remains trapped there.
Misty Moor - Cross the forests of Medaba and south through the Broken Hills and follow the river and you’ll find the Misty Moor. What magics befell this place I can’t say the result was any clearer. Demons of water and mist haunt it and will kill any who enter, even a gentleman such as I. Lost my favorite hat here and am offering a reward for its safe return.
Black Lake - The old stories tell of the holy city of the God Aston with a thousand fountains that flowed endlessly drawing upon a blessed spring that never dried. The city fell to the creatures of the Veil and a particularly powerful one was said to have tainted it. The water turned black and thick and swallowed the city whole.
Barkore - Ancient axe owned by Seeker Montag the fifth. It is said that Seeker Montag defeated a demonic, Rhilla with this sword. That’s a cross between a rhino and gorilla for you uniformed people. The beast was twice the size of any seen before or since and after a fierce battle Seeker Montag returned home with the creatures horn and a whole load of wounds.
Kraken Ellipso – Know what’s worse that Leviathans? Krakens. Sailed out on an expedition to the West with some five ships and this thing tore through three of them. Really put a whole damper on the trip. Named it Ellipso after this bloke that cheated me out of a ruby studded skull in a game of poker a few years back. Real slimy bastard. The guy not the Kraken though I’m sure it was just as slimy.
Mantico - An incredibly old and vicious tree ent. Over it's hundreds of years of life Mantico has taken the lives of many an experienced hero. Seek it at your own peril. If you do go after it mind snapping off a branch for me? In need of a new stylish cane you see and I figure this fellow owes me one.
Dead Hollow – A place where dead do not rest and continue to live as if they had never died. Only heard about this place recently and all the rumors are coming from the Empire.
Eye Of Ira - I really hope this isn’t literal because this was an artifact mages would use to see into the future or possibly it was used to enhance seers powers who already had that power. Or both. Possibly an eyeball but more likely a large sphere of some kind.
Dai Ko - A pure white fan from the east. Supposedly it grants its owner power over the winds. I've found no evidence of this, but stranger things have happened.
Ash Fields – Fields that never cease to burn, causing a never ending downfall of ash to fall down upon the region. A dark place that the light never shines upon. The core of the magic is said to belong to a powerful creature of fire and death but I can’t say for certain. It may also be centered on a magical artifact. Might be nothing but you know where there’s smoke there’s fire. Hmm…that might have been in poor taste. Don’t care still like it.
Shining Sky Palace – For a long time now there have been rumors of people seeing a floating city. Just flying around right out in the open! Supposed to be huge and shiny and well flying. Yeah that’s all that I know. No clue what you’d need to do to find it much less get aboard it.
The Bladed Graveyard – There was a band of knights that fought back against the Veil even after their nation had fallen just kept right on killing them like them with no end in sight. That wasn’t a metaphor their numbers were literally endless. Well somehow they managed to survive until the end of the war and they did something queer. Gathered up all of the blades of their comrades and planted them down I the ground that they had held at the moment the war ended. Supposedly the survivors went on and started the Slayers. Asked them about it and all I got were rude looks. Like they thought I planned to plunder the place!
Broken Hills – The Golden Hills, that was their name once long ago in a time when they glowed with a brilliant sheen as the sun hit them. It’s a damn shame that we will never get to see those hills in all their glory. Though I suppose the vast expanse of shattered, barren land filled with decaying ruins isn’t too bad either. Silver lining and all that.
First Temptation - Edessa states that the Veil was torn thanks to the mages of old practicing their fel arts. This is the supposed place of the first time such magics were used and they say they summoned an elder being of the Veil that taught them deeper secrets and lured them down deeper into sin. Not sure what to say but it’s out west.
Mists Of Madness – Far to the north along the winding mountain paths is a place where the mists churn and produce images of…well I’d rather not mention what I saw. Supposedly it’s different for everyone who sees it. A word of warning though. Never. Trust. A. Redhead.