01 September 2007

Historia Antiquitatis VI: THE END OF THE ANCIENT WORLD


So it was that the Children of Bræa, throughout the Age of Wisdom, gained power and wisdom, and lordship and mastery over much of Anuru. Mighty were the empires of the Esudi, and wise the kingdoms of the Haradi; strong the realms of the peoples of Lagud, and everywhere, the Nosadi lived among their brethren. And though they diverged and grew apart, still fixed and unbreachable were the ties between the Children of Braea; and they were known throughout Anuru as the Kindred.

But the Age of Wisdom finally passed into ruin when Ūru, after long labours in the dark places of Anuru, unleashed his foul monsters against the Kindred; and thus began the Age of Battles. The kingdoms and empires of the Kindred were strong, and they resisted long the onslaught of the creatures of Darkness. So Bardan, on the advice of Ūru, and with the aid of his brothers and sisters of the Dark, came forth from his fastness under cover of shadow, and stole away many of the Kindred; and took them to the deep places of the earth; and with fell magicks, warped and bent their spirits and their forms. And over time, and in defiance of the Ban of Ana, Bardan and his siblings created new Speaking Peoples from the twisted and mutilated bodies of the stolen Kindred.

From the children of Hara, Bardan bred the Orcs, the cleverest and most obedient of his monsters; from the children of Esu, the Ogres, not so wise, but massive and mighty, as hard as the stones of the hills, and second in strength only to the giants; from the stolen Lagudi, he bred the Goblins, who were iron-tough and cruel, and cunning in the ways of stone and earth; and from the children of Nosa, he made the Gnomes, as nimble and clever as their cousins. And these new races he bred each with the other as well; from Orcs and Ogres, Bardan made the Uruks, who were both mighty and wise in warfare and evil, and who became the leaders of the new armies of darkness. From orcs and goblins, he made the Hobgoblins, cunning warriors of the under-earth, and strong in Bardan’s fell magicks; and from ogres and golbins he made the Bugbears, hardy and repellent creatures, with fell fangs and mighty claws. And all of these shared the powers of Speech, of Free Will, and of Immortal Spirit, for their parentage was from Braea; and they hated their distant parents.

But of all his creations, Bardan found the Gnomes least ready to his hand; for like the children of Nosad, they were hardy and feared no power or creature, and so were not so readily bent to evil; and they could not be made to breed with the others of Bardan’s speaking monsters. And so Bardan did not loose the Gnomes upon the world, but kept them in abject bondage as his slaves; and in their torment, they wrought hard armour and mighty weapons for his armies, and so they grew in wisdom and skill, and feared and hated their master.

Then because his children were legion, Bardan sought among his brothers and sisters for any who would rule and govern over his new children. Morga, the Destroyer, adored the might and power of the Ogres and agreed to rule over them, while disfigured Zaman took the clever and deceitful Orcs as her charge. Kær the Thief became the god of the Gnomes, although their worship was fitful and grudging. The Goblins with their love of destruction and decay fell under the rulership of Dæsuglu, the Pestilent One, while the Hobgoblins (and the Trolls, whom Bardan bred by mating Ogres with fell monstrosities of his own making) came to worship Ekhalra the Witherer. But Bardan took the mightiest of the fell warriors, the Uruks, for his own, and raised them above all others of his children; and they became first among the speaking monsters.

Thus when the speaking monsters were launched against the empires and kingdoms of the Kindred, the war was renewed in earnest; and the Kindred feared for their survival. While the Powers of Light and Darkness struggled between Heaven and Earth, and their Servants, Avatars and Minions battled ceaselessly for the mastery, the Children of Bræa struggled against the foul creatures of Bardan and Ūru. And because the minds of the Powers were turned away from their creations by battle and slaughter, the free will of their offspring arose. Certain of the Children of Bræa turned away from the Light and entered the service of Ūru; and many of the disobedient beasts and speaking monsters of Ūru left the lordship of the Dark and joined the ranks of the Children of Bræa. So it was that certain of the Haradi, the Esudi and the Lagudi fell into evil; while many dragons, giants, wolves and raptors of the skies aided the side of good; and their betrayal of Bardan was ever after called the Great Division. But of the children of dark, the serpents and the vermin, the Orcs and Uruks, the Ogres and the Goblins, and the Hobgoblins and the Trolls, remained ever evil; and of the Nosadi, and their cousins the Gnomes, many escaped their bondage, and none ever after re-entered the service of the dark.

And as the Battles of the Powers sundered Anuru, cleaving and burning the Earth and the Heavens alike, empires tottered, and kingdoms fell, and the Powers began to fear for their offspring, for the Battles took a fearful toll of the Minions, the Monsters and the Children. Mighty empires and kingdoms crumbled, and whole swaths of the children of the dark were slaughtered. For the Powers, the Servants and the Avatars possessed a life beyond Heaven and Earth; and so if their Manu were to be slain in battle on Anuru, each would arise again beyond the Dome of the Firmament, to return anew to war at the next rising of the Lamps. But those of the Minions, the Monsters, and the Children who were slain did not rise again; for the spirit that animated them was not of the Powers, but rather was the gift of Anā and Ūru, and so when that spirit strayed in death to the Halls of Tvalt and beyond, it could not return.


Fearing the eventual destruction of all that lay within the Ether, Bræa sought out Bardan, who was equally fearful; and between them, they swore the Vow of Eternity. Under the terms of the Vow, the Powers of Light and of Dark withdrew forever beyond the Ether, which was encircled by an impenetrable shield forged by the Powers, called the Dome of the Firmament; and nevermore could the Powers exercise their might directly within the Dome, either in the Ether, or upon the Heavens or the Earth. Under the Vow, each of the Powers could assume a mortal form (called a manu) like that previously worn when walking in Anuru; but in that form, they could not wield the indomitable might of Light and Dark, and so would be little greater in power than the manu of the Avatars. And even less so, for although the Vow allowed the Powers to teach and to counsel, it forbade the Anari and the Uruqu in mortal guise to lead or to dominate the lesser beings contained within the Dome. And the manus of the Powers, if slain within the Dome, would cease to be, and the Powers would be forced to return to their halls beyond the Dome, there to linger a long age, before they could once again take a mortal form within Anuru.

While Bræa and Bardan, in their separate wisdom, saw the necessity of the Vow, their siblings were hard to convince; for the Brothers of Bræa wished to continue to instruct, protect and live as gods among the Kindred; and the siblings of Bardan sought the growth and dominance over Anuru of the creatures over whom each had dominion. And far worse it was, for to balance the Universe, all of the Powers must withdraw behind the Dome; but Tian lay still upon the highest peak of Anuru, mortally wounded and yet undying, imprisoned by the combined forces of light and of dark, not be released by any Power or combination of Powers. And thus Bræa and Bardan were forced by the balance of the Universe to agree that one of the Uruqua had to be left behind, to live eternally in self and form in the Heaven and Earth made by light and dark, imprisoned until the End within the Dome.

At first Bardan wished to usurp this right, for he saw that, alone within the Dome, he could by his power quickly dominate all of Anuru; but then he feared that the Uruqu, without his leadership, could not withstand the assaults of the Anari in the Void beyond the Dome. And so he asked his sister Zaman to accept the task, but she refused, fearing to risk imprisonment in the mortal realm with Tian, whom she had betrayed. Tvalt refused to leave the Halls of the Dead, which were his charge until the End; and Kær, when the call came, was nowhere to be found. At length Morga the Destroyer agreed; but Bræa refused, for in his power and heedless madness, he might well obliterate the world, and all within it; and likewise she refused Dæsuqlu, fearful that his filth and pestilence would destroy altogether that which had been wrought.

At the end, the Anari and the Uruqu agreed that Ekhalra would remain behind to balance the sacrifice of Tian. And so each of the Uruqu bequeathed to her a portion of their wealth, and their might, and their followers and slaves, and built for her a mighty realm in a desolate place far from the Kindred lands, and peopled it with monsters and all manner of fell beasts; and there she agreed to abide, reigning in awful majesty until world’s end. And though her power was much reduced, yet once the Dome had closed, she was by far the mightiest being within it; and none dared assail her strongholds.

So it was that Bræa and Bardan invoked their place as wielders of the power of Anā and Ūru, who had no wish to see their creations destroyed; and the Light and the Dark agreed, and the Anari and the Uruqu withdrew forever beyond the Dome of the Firmament. And the Uruqu raged at being forced to relinquish for all eternity the chance of dominating the Heavens and the Earth; but the Anari wept at being forced to forever abandon their wounded sister Tian, who was condemned by the Vow to remain imprisoned within the Dome, pinioned forever to a mountain peak by the great sword Vasatri. But Ekhalra gloried in her new pre-eminence, and with the Anari and the Uruqu gone, she took the title Queen of the World, and gathered all evil and powerful beings unto her; and the rumour of her terrible might reached even unto the kingdoms and empires of the Kindred, and beyond. And thus began the slow decay and withering of all that had once been beautiful and eternal in Anuru.

But the Vow had an unexpected effect upon the Servants of the Anari and the Uruqu, and upon the Avatars of the Light and the Dark as well; for although they were some of them nearly as mighty as the Powers, and were nonetheless of the void, yet they were bound to Heaven and Earth; and thus the Vow trapped them between worlds, across the great divide of the Dome; and although their power was weakened, yet they could exercise it both within the Dome and beyond it. Thus they were not left powerless to influence the affairs of their children upon Anuru. And to ease this, Bræa and Bardan forged the River of the Stars, a space that was not; a place that was no place, and yet was an easy road between the Void and the Ether, and those with both wisdom and power could find and cross the River at will. And so the Servants and the Avatars came to serve as the messengers of the Powers, carrying their word and working their will in Heaven and upon the Earth, where the Anari and the Uruqu no longer held sway. And in time, the Children came to worship the absent Powers as gods, forgetting that once they had lived among them, and sired their races, and taught them as parents.


Thus had four ages of the Universe passed: the Age of the Beginning, which saw the birth of the Universe from the Void, and of the Powers of Light and Dark, and of the Avatars, and the selection of the Servants of Light and Dark, and the War of the Powers; the Age of the Making, which saw the creation of Heaven and of Earth, and of the Minions of Light and Dark, and of the Children of Braea; the Age of Wisdom, in which the Anari lived among and instructed the Children, and they waxed and spread across Anuru; and in which the Uruqu bred the Monsters; and the Age of Battles, in which the monsters were loosed upon the earth, and the War of the Powers was renewed. And the Age of Battles was brought to an end with the forging of the Dome of the Firmament, and the withdrawal of the Powers beyond its eternal walls; and with the springing forth from the Universe of the River of Stars to serve as a bridge across the Dome.

Thus at the end of the Age of Battles, the Universe lay divided: upon the Earth dwelt the Kindred and the Monsters, including the Speaking Monsters that Uru had forged from the Kindred. Between Heaven and Earth dwelt the Minions of Light and of Dark, and Heaven and Earth, taken together, were Anuru. At the outermost edge of the Heavens began the Ether, a formless place touched by Creation, but largely empty; and yet ripe with the possibility that, someday, worlds could be built there, thus expanding that portion of the Univers called Anuru. For the Ether was the bedrock of Creation, and it permeated and penetrated the waters of the seas and the stones of the mountains; it is the real stuff lying at the secret heart of the world, and that which we perceive as solid and real is but illusion. And the Servants and the Avatars, and certain of the Minions, and some of the Monsters, and even the Kindred, if aided by powerful magicks, could touch the Ether, and even travel through it, walking upon the bedrock of creation, and passing like ghosts through the less substantial matter of creation. For to those of wisdom and of sight, the Ether is the real world; and the real world is naught but a dream.

And at the outermost edge of the Ether lay the unbreachable walls of the Dome of the Firmament. All mortals, with the Ether and all of Anuru, lay within the Dome; and of all creatures, only the Servants and the Avatars of Light and of Dark could cross the boundary of the Dome and retain their true form, sailing the River of the Stars (known to the magi as the “Astral Plane”), which was the only road to penetrate the Dome of the Firmament. Beyond the Dome lay the Universe; and beyond the Universe, the Void, the nothingness that was the Universe before it had been touched by the Hands of Ana and Uru. And the Powers, after their Exile, took the Vast, trackless reaches of the Universe as their new home; and they built realms, and lands and castles, forests and lairs for themselves and for those of their Servants, and Avatars, and Minions whom they took to dwell with them. Some of these realms grew powerful and mighty, and tremendous under the gaze of their rulers; yea, even gigantic. Thus were created the planes of Hell and Acheron, and of Elysium and Gladsheim, and of Nirvana and Concordant Opposition.

But what lay beyond the Universe, within the trackless and untraversed Void, was not known; for only Ana and Uru, the Light and the Dark, had come before, and thus only they knew what predated the beginning of the Universe; save for luckless Tior, and his grandson Biardath, whom vengeful kin had cast beyond the ken of Kindred or of Power; beyond the reaches of the Universe, and lost for all time.

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