Category:SF History

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The Saga of Creation, Harmony, and Discord

  As Recited by the Bard Aenian ap Gwynedd at the Court of Semhid Ain Teraith 
The Marennon

It was sung that in the beginning, Darkness and Light were single and one…


Then Light looked upon the womb of Darkness, and this begat the home of all things. Darkness held up the home of all things before Light, and from this was born Shadow. Darkness, Light, and Shadow each brought forth a child, the Firstborn Gods, to love and guard the home of all things.


So it was sung of the Age of Creation.


Weor, The Dreamer, God of Primordial Darkness, held the world up before him to Eir, Goddess of Light. As Weor slept, Eir sang unto to him the first of songs, and played upon her golden harp, Sun, and put light into Weor’s dreams. Thus it is that all things dream of the First Song.


Mara, Goddess of Primordial Shadow, held hands with Darkness and Light and bade them gaze upon her, and see in her themselves. Darkness and Light gazed upon Shadow and understood, and smiled, and were content. So it was in this time, all was one and the same - life and death; thing and spirit; thought and meaning; being and song.


So it is sung of the Age of Harmony.


Cursed was the day when Mara asked Eir to teach her to play Sun, so that she might sing to Shadow a Song of the Night. Despite all Eir’s skill, Mara could not raise one note from the strings of the Sun, for they fell asunder with each touch of her fingers. Weeping tears of rage, Mara broke Eir’s Harp, and its strings fell from the Sun down below into the Darkness; the first sunbeams.


Mara’s tears pooled upon the home of all things, becoming the seas, and Eir descended below their waves into the Darkness in search of her harp strings. The home of all things fell into the first Night. No more did the First Song guard Weor’s sleep, and upon the fading of the last note Weor’s sleeping visions filled with blackness, horror, and void. Of these visions were born the Marennon, the Nightmares, formless spawn of terror, malice, and fear.


As Eir searched for the strings of the sun, she came upon Weor in the darkness. As she bent to soothe his troubled brow, Weor wakened from his black dreams. Wishing to see no more, he gouged his eyes from his head before her.Eir became frightened and fled towards the Light. Hearing her shy away from him, Weor reached out for Eir, and the home of all things slipped from his hands and came to rest - half lost in Darkness, half facing the Light. Thus it was that evil came into the world, and then and since and till the end of all things will Darkness follow Light; Shadow, Light, and Darkness know discord… and the home of all things be known as Darkshine.


That, o children, is how began the Age of Darkness…

The Age of Darkness, the Marennon, and the Birth of the Elder Races

With strife sown between the Firstborn Gods, Weor’s nightmares came upon Darkshine as a plague of shapeless evil, polluting all things with pestilence and decay. Searching for form, the Marennon corrupted the creatures of the water and the earth into foul mockeries of their true forms – twisted monstrosities possessed by the nameless madness of the void. They burrowed into the deep places of the earth and tore at the very bones of Darkshine – howling wordlessly up to the Firstborn till the skies wept blood and the mountains bled fire.


It was Mara, Goddess of Shadow, who first heard the cries of the Marennon and the anguish of Darkshine. Summoning the Firstborn to her, together they made a council of war against the blight that now consumed Darkshine. Though perfect harmony was now forever lost among them, the Firstborn Gods came to an accord – each would bring forth children to wage war upon the Marennon and restore the natural order of creation.


Weor took of himself his flesh, and from it crafted the race of Man, giving them virtue and fertility so that they may spread over Darkshine and purge her of the Nightmare vessels of the Marennon. Eir took some of the light that shone from her harp, Sun, and sang it into the form of the first Elves. Into them she breathed wisdom and longevity that they may fight alongside Man across the ages and keep them to grace and valor.


Mara thought awhile, and asked of Weor and Eir to put their breath into her cupped hands. To their mingled essence she whispered, until it took shape in her palms and arose as the race of Shades - reflection and balance, friend and enemy to Elves and Men. Mara’s Shades were imbued with the dark qualities of each; passions dark and light, and in turn neither good nor evil - as had been the way of things in the Age of Creation.


As so thus began the great purging of Darkshine by the Elder Races of the Firstborn Gods - the Age of Cleansing


The Age of Cleansing and the Summoning of Balur

the Summoning of Balur

The Great Cleansing of Darkshine raged for many centuries. Many ballads were sung of deeds both great and terrible, and were passed down the ages, only to slip from memory ere the Nightmares were driven to the brink of destruction. Fighting shoulder to shoulder, with the strength of the Firstborn Gods guiding their blades, Darkshine was purified by the blood of Man, Elf, and Shade alike until the Marennon were wiped from all but the most forsaken mountain gorges, deepest caves, and most feverish swamps.


Weakened, but not yet vanquished, the Marennon bode their time in the darkness and wove their vengeance. In lightless depths and forgotten places, they prepared a ritual with which to summon forth a wrathful God of their own.


Entering their dreams and whispering base lies and black promises, the Marennon seduced one traitor from each Elder Race, and bade them retrieve one fresh teardrop from the cheek of Mara, one strand of Eir’s flaxen hair, and one of Weor’s lost eyes.


The Marennon placed the stolen essences and flesh of the Firstborn into a foul vessel for their dark God; a grisly abomination carved from the flesh of their fallen and the defiled putrescence of vanquished Elder heroes.


Swollen by the pure malevolence, rage, and frustration of the Marennon; and fattened by the warm spilt blood of a thousand innocents, the void spat up a dark seed - a spark of misshapen divinity that descended upon the rank form sitting upon the altar.


Dead muscle twitched. An empty, burning gaze stared forth out for the first time from the corrupted Eye of Weor and the ragged hole into nothingness beside it. Sinews tautened and hearts froze as it raised its gaping maw and rent the night sky with the birthing cry of the Void incarnate.


Lo, Balur was come unto Darkshine, and the Age of Chaos was begun.

The Age of Chaos and the Coming of the Lesser Gods

The coming of Balur reignited the war, and the Nightmares once again grew bold. With Balur’s knowledge of earthly things the tide slowly began to turn against the Elder Races, until it seemed that without new allies, all would surely be lost. So it was that after waging long and terrible battle with the Marennon, Weor planted his great spear, Gwarheyvad, into the earth, and lay down to rest upon the vast plains. So tired was he that he slept for a hundred years, and his body became as stone, and the earth gathered upon him to form a great mountain range. The spear Gwarheyvad sprouted roots deep into the heart of Darkshine, and became a great tree. Upon awakening, Weor shook the earth from his shoulders and it fell to the ground - thus forming the six ancient hills of Stormfall. As he grasped his spear to pull it from the earth, beneath its knotted roots he found the Lesser Gods - Bran, Dana, Ran, and Hildr. The Lesser Gods rose to become the Patrons of the Elder Races and Weor’s generals in the Great Cleansing. Weor left the Gwarheyvad spear growing in the plain as a sign of the promised victory of the Elder Races, swearing to reclaim it upon the Day of Eclipse - the final battle with Balur and the Marennon.

The Birth of Lovar

Though united as one against the Marennon, the seed of jealousy took hold in the hearts of the Firstborn. Mara yearned for the longing Weor bore for Eir, and desired a child by him. One day, as Weor slept beside his Gwarheyvad spear, Mara came unto him and conceived of him a son. From this union was born Lovar, the Halfson - God of Knowledge, Artifice, and Trickery. Lovar inherited his father’s dark nature and his mother’s wisdom of the true nature of things. His capriciousness and love of cruel mischief set him apart from the Lesser Gods as a pariah. Often the great ones of the Elder Races, and sometimes even the Gods themselves fell victim to Lovar’s vagaries - yet it was to be Lovar who made possible Balur’s defeat upon the Day of Eclipse.

The Latter Races

The Latter Races

As years of endless battle passed, the Lesser Gods came to desire servants to aid them in their work and stand beside the Elder Races. Bran gathered his brother and sisters to him and convened a Council of the Lesser Gods, and together they begged of the Firstborn their leave to bring issue upon Darkshine.


Of the Firstborn, Mara alone denied them, demanding to know why her son Lovar had been excluded from the Council, and withheld her blessing until he was made welcome. Chastened, the Lesser Gods conceded and Lovar was invited to join their number – he accepted, but would not soon forget the slight.


With the blessing of the Firstborn, all the Lesser Gods (excepting Ran) stepped forward in turn. Bran, God of Stone and Smithcraft, struck a great boulder with his clenched fist, and from its shards arose the first Dwarves.


Dana, Goddess of the Hunt and Vengeance, gathered up the winds of the plain and sands of the desert and in giving them life became the Mother of Nomads. Hildr, Goddess of Hearth and Harvest, gathered together ash and soil, and smiling upon them she brought forth the first Halflings.


Stepping forth last, Lovar smiled darkly at the Lesser and Firstborn Gods. As they looked on, he pricked his finger and went among the Elder and Latter races, offering his lifeblood to suckle them that desired it, so creating Vampires. “Your children” he spoke, “shall shun mine unto the ages of ages - but shall always be welcome among my kind, and need no invitation.”


Ran, God of Warfare and the Seas, slapped Lovar roughly upon the back, and declared himself content in his dominion, and made nothing - for he had knowledge that the day would soon come when he would lead all Races upon the field of battle, and they would be as his children.


And so it was that the Latter Races, Dwarves, Nomads, Halflings, and Vampires came to walk beside the Elders. Together they would fight the Marennon, Balur, and their evil unto the Day Eclipse and ever after.

Orcs

Like the Marennon, Balur was of nothingness, and so could create nothing. Like them, he could only corrupt and twist, imitate and make foul. But, being made of the Firstborn, Balur was born with great knowledge of the frailties of the Elder Races – and so he gathered their children to him to defile and bend to his will, so that he might once again bring War upon Darkshine.


First, he whispered to the great among the Shades while they slept, and drove them mad. They awoke from fevered dreams of rapine and death, wild-eyed and drenched in the blood of their loved ones. They were cast out, or fled, and went to live as beasts in the wild. One by one their minds were broken, as each night the dark voice called to them. One by one, in misery and wretchedness, they came.


From among all the Races he did draw his slaves. The dwarves who followed the silent voices down spiraling shafts that promised endless riches, if they would but descend deeper. The elven maidens who stretched out to pluck the perfect lily - only to see it vanish as gnarled hands pulled them down into the marsh. The human children that strayed too close to wild places and were taken - all were lost forever, never again to be seen by sky or sun or decent folk.


In the deep places Balur taught them black things, and plunged their hearts into darkness. Forgotten were light and laughter and hope, and in their stead was given hunger and greed and cunning. Far away from the eyes of the Gods he tortured and befouled their minds and bodies, and through hardship and pain turned their grace into brutish strength, and disfigured their noble features into bestial shapes.


He bade them feed upon living flesh, and breed with foul things, and master the wicked arts. Over ten centuries they changed and toiled, like maggots, in the darkness below while carving Balur’s dark kingdom of Anhr’even from the living rock. When at last they rose again, they were Orcs, the Children of Balur.

Weor’s Heirs

Weor and Eir came together as husband and wife, and all of Darkshine rejoiced. Of this union Eir soon bore him a son - Veyon, God of Wind. Balur, hearing of this, thought of the terrible power that would belong to him who enslaved a pureblood heir of the Firstborn, and put his mind to making this so. In a dream he came to Lovar, and spoke words of treachery.


“Dost thou not know they call thee ‘bastard’, and dark one, and make sport of you - though you are by right the eldest seed of the Firtborn? Will you let this pup, this spawn, usurp you? Think upon these words, son of Weor, and if thou findest the courage to defend thy birthright, make known to me your will. The rest shall be done of my hand.”


And so it was that the next sunset Lovar planted a dark banner upon the field, and upon stealing from the depths of Anher’even towards Veyon’s cradle, Balur found the way unguarded and all doors unbarred to him. He came upon Veyon, and went to bind him to his service.


As Balur leaned to grasp the child, Veyon awoke, and seeing Balur cried forth a mighty blast of wind with such great force that Balur was cast upon the ground, striking sparks from his armor. As Veyon cried, the gale blew life into the glowing embers, and they burned with the brilliance of a hundred suns. Balur was struck with terror and vexation before the holy fire, and was cowed with fear. From the white pillar of flame that raged before him sprang forth the infant Eldur, brother of Veyon, God of Fire.


As the Gods rushed to Veyon’s cry, Balur fled to his realm of Anher, even to nurse his rage in darkness, and still to this day the God of Chaos cannot bear the sight of daylight upon the world.


Bran, God of Stone and Smithcraft, was made Eldur and Veyon’s mentor, and together they wrought great works, and gained knowledge of the arts of war and craftsmanship. As they grew into manhood they were to perform many great feats, and in time were granted the guardianship of Stormfall, and have ever since been paid homage and honor as its patrons.


The Prophecy

On the eve Weor and Eir’s union, Mara wept and clad herself in shrouds of mourning, for a vision had come to her. In the midst of all celebration and revelry she stood before the Gods and spoke the prophecy of the Day of Eclipse.

  Blackness under wings of fire, day bows before the night,
  A Firstborn felled in seas of blood, lost will be the light,
  Glint of steel and raging tide, shall rise up from below,
  And a traitor from among our kin shall loose the fatal blow.

Having spoken thusly, she retired, and would speak no more. The gods conferred amongst themselves, for all knew of her love for Weor, and it was agreed that it was only her bitterness and discontent that had spoken these dark tidings, and put it from their minds.

The Day of Eclipse

When all things were made ready, the day came when Eir and the Sun were taken from Darkshine. As Eir walked across the sky with her guard and handmaidens, bearing her harp the Sun before her, the shadow of the great Western Dragon, Farwol, came streaking towards her from the West. Long had he flown from unknown lands beyond Arc and the Gilded Sea, answering the call of Balur. Belching flame and brimstone he drove all before him and, gripping Eir in his talons, carried her down into the darkness of Anher’even.


Darkshine was plunged into blackness, and the Gods and their children gazed in terror at the night skies. Only then did all remember Mara’s prophecy, and tremble. Thus was Balur’s challenge issued to the Gods, and the coming of the host of the Marennon heralded across the land.


Weor summoned to him the Firstborn and the Lesser Gods and their children, the Elder and Latter Races. All came to him but Lovar, who was not to be found. Weor bade his son Ran gather their armies in the great valley between the six ancient hills and the Gwarheyvad Spear-Tree, and called Balur forth that he might show himself and do battle for Eir. And lo, the six hills grew black as endless hordes of Orcs and Nightmare beasts poured forth from the living rock, and gathered upon them and lit fires, and made ready to sweep into the vale below and meet the armies of Darkshine. Standing with them and looking on, stood Lovar, the bastard son.


And so it was that on the Day of Eclipse began the Battle of Gwarheyvad, forever to be known as a day of valor, blood, and grief; and after which the Sun would never shine again as bright as it had of old.

The Battle of Gwarheyvad

The armies rushed headlong across the field of Gwarheyvad and met with a crash that echoed across the valley. The Lesser Gods led man, elf, and shade; halfing, dwarf, and vampire alike against Balur and the Marennon host. Cries of the wounded and dying joined the havoc and din of battle. Above all was heard the mighty beating of Farwol’s wings as he circled and plunged above the battlefield, plucking up man and beast alike in his claws and dropping them to their death, spewing death and anguish upon the children of the Firstborn. The stench of scorched flesh fouled the air, and acrid smoke choked and blinded all who struggled across the plain through that longest of nights.


As the piles of the fallen grew ever higher, the Dwarves gained ground upon the hills, seeking to descend upon the Orcish horde from behind. As Farwol sighted them he wheeled, and made as if to set them alight. Bran leapt before his children and bore up his right hand between them and Farwol’s fiery breath, and it was burned away.


Ran, God of War, fought madly, scattering all before him and roaring with the blind joy of battle. Though he bled from a thousand cuts and the poison of a thousand Orcish arrows coursed through his veins, still he drove on all races with his valor and bloodlust – and upon his death was truly as a father unto them all, as he had foreseen, and to this day remains.


For three days and three nights the battle raged. In darkness and fire all fought on until the field was slick and swamped with blood, and once again Darkshine itself groaned in horror and the skies above were rent asunder. Weor, wounded and bloodied, knew that with Farwol was breaking the heart and spirit of his faltering army, and grimly knew that all would soon be lost unless the beast was slain. Grasping the great spear by its haft, Weor tore Gwarheyvad from the Earth and beat upon his breast with it, and bared his chest to the blackened sky, and bellowed the challenge of a Firstborn god to Farwol.


The serpent flattened his wings and dove at Weor the Blind, driven on by the scent of blood and flesh and Balur’s screaming madless echoing in his mind. Balur rose to watch from the hilltop as the dragon fell like a stone, and Weor held his ground and listened for the beat of the wings, spear poised and motionless. Not until the heat of Farwol’s breath was close upon him did Weor spin upon his heel and, with a strength born of the time when all was one, plunge Gwarheyvad straight through worm’s heart and drove its point deep into the ground below. So strong was the blow, the earth was rent into a deep chasm, into which Farwol bled fire as the life left him, and fell upon the ground, dead. Weor stumbled to his feet, burnt and broken, and turning sightlessly to Balur, taunted him and bade him come. “God of Chaos! O you who have my eye, but cannot see! Think thou a match for I? I, Woer the Dreamer, whose Mother was the Darkness before time, Woer the cursed father of your Marennon – come! Come to me that I might teach you what it is to be a God!”


And Balur grew mad with rage and came, and locked arms with Weor. Mountains were driven up and great riverbeds dug by their struggle, until at least both lay bleeding out their divinity upon the plain. As Weor lay before him, neck bare and gushing, Balur weakly crawled forward to lap at the ebbing power of the greatest among Firstborn, and looked to Lovar to seal his birthright. Without a word, the traitor loosed the fatal blow, and the prophecy was fulfilled. Drawing the shattered hilt of his sword from Balur’s chest, he cast it aside, knelt low, and whispered “Empty one, you know little of Gods - and nothing of treachery.”


Lovar stood aside as his half-brothers Eldur and Veyon came forth, and bound Balur’s spirit in the eye of a great storm of wind and fire. Scattered and made dumb with fear, the Orcs broke and fled, and as the storm grew and fell upon the battleground, and consumed the great host of Balur’s slaves and the Meronnen’s nightmare vessels. It grew, and raged, and purified the valley, and burned down into the depths of the chasm Gwarheyvad had pierced into the earth, and broke it open to the sky, and flooded the caverns of Anher’even with white fire.

Eir saw the light, and clasping the sun to her breast climbed up and bore it back into the sky. As the sun shone forth again, Weor’s heirs condemned Baldur’s spark back into the darkness whence it came, imprisoning him in Balur’s Chasm. So ended the Thousand Year War with the Marennon, and from that day hence, the land of the battle was forever known as Stormfall.


The Age of Peace and the Rise of the Seven Kingdoms

In the years that followed, Farwol’s body rotted away to the East, and became the mighty mountain peaks and known as Farwol’s Ridge. The Dwarves dug great cities and glittering palaces beneath the dragon’s bones, and from their great fortress Caer Bran upon Farwol’s Crown traded freely with the other races. Upon the plain of Stormfall, men erected a mighty citadel upon the place of Weor’s demise, beside the waters of the great lake Godsblood that formed where he lay, fed by the tears of mourning the goddess Eir shed for her fallen love. The roots of Gwarheyvad again bore fruit, rising above the plain. In its shadow, the Kingdom of Stormfall prospered, and came to be known as the cradle of civilization, and the seed from which would spring a great Empire.


Over centuries the Elder and Latter races grew to fill every corner of Darkshine, and founded their kingdoms. The Elves took to the Island of Teer’hael and the shores to the west, and in the thick forests of Ravenwood. The Nomads tended their herds and ranged upon the Wild Marches to the northeast, while the vampires withdrew to their own matters in their Kingdom in Frostbite. The halflings made their home in the meadows and fields east of Farwol’s Ridge, and tended their farms, and learned the speech of Dragons. They again would come to do great things in the matters of the world. The shades, being not fully of this earth, went to places unknown – but build a gateway between Darkshine and their realm of shadow in the great keep of Everdeep on the shores of Clawhold to the East. In time, the many Kingdoms swore fealty to the Citadel of men, and were united under the Empire of Stormfall - and for a thousand years there was peace among all the children of Darkshine, and the gods smiled upon the land.

Eir’s Grief and the Great Beacons

The Dwarves

Marred only by minor forays against the few the surviving and Orcs in Balur’s Chasm and Darkmoor, and the expected border clashes and wars of succession among the great Kingdoms, the greater peace held for a millennium.


Every year, upon the Day of Eclipse, the Emperor and the Kings of the Seven Realms assembled in the Citadel of Stormfall to pay homage to the fallen Gods and renew their oaths of brotherhood and fealty against the forces of evil. Every year upon that day, in memory of her husband and the dead, Eir would cast her mourning veil across her Harp, and the land would again be cast into noonday shadow. Upon this moment the races would join in her sorrow, until she drew took comfort from their love, and the sun would emerge again renewed.


But, as the centuries passed, the Day of Eclipse grew ever longer, and the sun shone colder – Eir was becoming weakened as her grief consumed her. Though Eldur and Veyon gave her strength, and bade her rejoice at all that had been won, with each century she slipped further into her reverie. And so the ritual took on ever-greater urgency.


In time, even the faith of the Emperor became shaken. Summoning the great Kings to him to beseech the Lesser Gods for answers, he begged to know what would become of them when the sun no longer shone, when Eir’s light no longer warmed the Earth, and evil was free to walk again in the endless night.


The Lesser Gods heard their pleas, and bade the Kings return to the Altar of the Citadel in a fortnight for their answer. As the Kings gathered, Veyon came upon them amid a brilliant light, and gave to them a shared vision. The Kings saw towering altars spread across the hills and valleys, from which flowed a brilliant light driving back the darkness. People of all races worked beneath the light of the towers, and fields of grain grew heavy, and the land prospered, though there was no sun.


Veyon spoke to them, saying, “Great kings of Darkshine - we too mourn the sickness of our mother Eir, and even in our strength cannot save her. But, know that we will not forsake you, our children, in the coming darkness. As one, you must raise these Beacons throughout the borders of your lands. And as one, shall your faith shall grant us the strength to light them and keep away the night. We seal this covenant with all peoples of Darkshine. Go forth and spread these words amongst your peoples.”


And so was begun the great project of the Beacons. Under the guidance of the gods, young and old labored to raise the altars, and learned mages wrought their stones with great magic. Within a lifetime that stood tall and proud, and beneath their shadow, the people sang the praises of the gods and their Kings, and all races of Darkshine prospered.


The Fall of the Seven Kings

All stood well for two centuries – until the last Day of Eclipse. On that black day, the Seven Kings joined hands upon the Citadel before the people of Stormfall, and faced the Sun together as it slipped into darkness. As the last ray of light faded, the people held their breath for the minute of darkness before the renewal, as they had for a thousand years. As Eir pulled back her veil, and the rays of the sun again shone forth, sighs of relief quickly gave way to cries of panic and dismay - for the Emperor and Seven Kings lay slain upon the altar, their royal blood pooled upon the flagstones.

The Age of War

Leaderless, the Kingdoms of the Elder and Lesser races quickly fell victim to bloody warfare over the succession. Pleas for unity from the Lord Regent, Oberon, went unheeded as treason and murder quickly escalated to full-scale civil war. Accusations flew and oaths were broken as each of the races cast blame upon the other. Once-great kingdoms were torn into warring, petty fiefdoms. Fields were left fallow and overgrown as roving armies pillaged towns and villages, and barons and princes squabbled over the empty, crumbling thrones of Darkshine. The Citadel of Stormfall has gone to ruin, the purpose of the beacons has been lost to legend and ignorance, and each year the ritual goes undone upon the Day of Eclipse - and so the covenant is broken, and the Gods seem to have forsaken their Children.


Now, the task lies before new heroes to restore the glory of the Sagas. Great ones must rise who can again bring order and unite the races, and through acts of valor and strength earn back the favor of the gods, bringing peace again upon the land. It is said Oberon still walks the lands of Stormfall after all these many years, in search of such men.


Time grows short. With every year, the sun shines darker. Evil stirs on the borders of Stormfall, foul things crawl in the night in the depths of Balur’s Chasm, and bands of Darkmoor orcs ride out beneath the moon across the countryside. The Dwarves whisper of dark things rustling in the deepest mine shafts, of smelling smoke and sulfur, and hearing whispers from below. All of Darkshine sleeps uneasy, and none dare speak of their worsening nightmares…


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