Asherons Call: This is the end, Beautiful Friend...

| 31 Dec 2005 18:59

The following segment is as told by Tapuaua, as we ventured over the lands.

"The end of the Golden Age came when Bael'Zharon rose out of his prison, where Asheron and the alliance had put him which turned out to be under the Inner Sea. He took out Rez'arel [the moon] on the way up -- the band of rosy light in the southern sky, called the Hopeslayer's Scythe, is what is left of it. Auberean now is a ringed planet, with one moon....and Alb'arel is now in a retrograde orbit, rising in the west and setting in the east. The lights on Alb'arel appeared only a few months ago, and about the same time gromnies and their elder forms, gromnarocs, appeared again....and we have seen a few Gromnatross flying high overhead.

The Hopeslayer took out Yaraq on his way down and then most of the A'mun desert. He strode over Dereth, shattering it into many little fragments of land, and spreading the mutagenic Black Breath wherever he went. Many of the creatures that lived on Dereth in times past survive only as strange mutations. The fragments collected in three archipelagoes, which we inaccurately call continents: Osteth (which was northern Osteth), Omishan (which was mostly the southeastern Sho country), and Linvak Massif (which was the southern parts around the Linvak Ranges). Many of the towns we knew in AC1 are completely gone; Holtburg, and Kara, and Qalaba';r.

At this point I should backtrack a little and explain about the Kingdoms. During the Golden Age many people joined these factions, which were not species-specific. By now we had three intelligent races working in harmony: the Humans, the Tonk (or Tumerok), and the Lugians.

Some of them joined the Order of Dereth, which follows Asheron as its symbol, if not its actual leader... Aun Tanua, you remember him, when he escaped from imprisonment by the Virindi, helped draft its charter.

Some joined the Shadow Kingdom, which follows Isin Dule, you remember HIM, who rebelled against Bael'Zharon and saved us all; they take an oath never to follow the Hopeslayer's path.

And some joined the Virindi Dominion, in the hopes of coming to understand those strange creatures and helping them to understand us so they don't take us apart any more.

Well, when Bael'Zharon came to Dereth, Asheron--who had been living peacefully in retirement in the Knorr Lyceum, letting us mind our own affairs, returned to Dereth to combat him. We don't know the site of the battle. It may not exist any more. As the two of them faced off, the leader of the Virindi Dominion, called the Imperator, watched to see which would win. But something went wrong.

Does the name of Geraine mean anything to you? His Eternal Splendor? The Firstborn of the Dericost undead? The head of the Filinuvekta? Well, let me recap the story. The King of the Dericost was troubled, because his only son was a sickly child, and the King feared he would not live to take the throne. To him came one day three green-eyed Falatacot witches, who offered to heal the boy, in exchange for the King permitting their people to settle in Dericost. They took the child, whose name was Geraine, away, and brought him back, seemingly restored to health. But they had made him undead, by a ritus that required one of them to give her own life to safeguard him.

Geraine throve,. and took his father's throne, and made his friends and courtiers undead as well. But when he performed the ritus on his friends and courtiers, he did not have the aid of willing blood, willingly sacrificed, to power them. He could use only the unwilling blood of slaves. And the people he enchanted became undead, but without his power and resilience. So they were weaker because the souls were unwilling After a few centuries they began to look undead, and must hide away, served by intermediaries who eventually would be rewarded by undeath themselves.

And eventually, the Yalaini and the Haebrous found out that the rulers of Dericost were undead, and they brought war against them. Geraine and some of his closest friends, such as Rytheran and Aerfalle, escaped to Dereth. The rest were burnt in the town squares, and destroyed, and the common people punished, leading to the death of Avoren Palacost and the rebellion of his father Ilservian. But you know about that.

Meanwhile, back on Dereth, Geraine and Rytheran and Aerfalle slept for centuries, to wake again and see what was going on, and sleep again. Geraine had woken, not so long before the time when Asheron and Bael'Zharon met, and discovered that Dereth, and even Knorr, were crawling with mortals whom he despised. He determined to destroy us all in one fell swoop. He stole the menhirs that channeled power throughout Dereth, and buried them deep underground. When Asheron called up magical power to slay Bael'Zharon, he could not control them. The energies arced through Asheron, through the Hopeslayer, and destroyed them both. The Virindi Imperator, standing by, was also killed in the blast. We speak of them now as the Fallen Kings.

After this, we had a few decades in which to attempt to recover. At that time we built Cragstone Castle, to the north and east of where Old Cragstone had been. We can go there a little later and you can see the ruins. The shattered Shadow Spire and crater are still there. But, after those few decades, we had trouble again, for Geraine had not been idle He went to the Gurogs, a recently developed race on Linvak Massif, and by slaying their chief in one blow became their leader. He spoke to the Burun, who lived on Omishan, and persuaded them that the Gurog were their gods, to be worshipped and obeyed. He spoke to the Drudges on Osteth and persuaded them that the Burun were their gods. And in one night, the drudges attacked Cragstone, the Burun overpowered the Tonk cities, and the Gurog slew the Lugians, while Geraine stood on a cliff overhead and laughed.

The survivors banded together and created Shelters in portalspace, to which we could retire and save ourselves. We remained in the Shelters for ten generations. From time to time we would send out scouts--who never returned. Finally some did return, to report that the surface was habitable, and that some of the towns remained, though in a ruined state. Also that some previous wave of scouts had set up a new portal system, very efficiently laid out between towns and regions, not like the haphazard ones that arose at the time of the Sundering. This was a technology learned in your own time, when many of the town portals were moved into the towns, rather than out in the boonies.

Ever since we've been struggling to reclaim our world.
--Tapuaua

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And so with that, I logged in:

First we visited the Hero Shrine


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That's the Hero Shrine, built by Ciandra as the culmination of her long study of the Shrines of Forgetfulness and Transcendence, and completed just before her death as the Hopeslayer approached in the Fifth Sending. Note that Ciandra lived for more than a hundred years (a long time for an Isparian); her longevity may have been the result of her work with the Shrines. The structure atop it is, of course, an orrery, a model of Au's solar system. We don't know anything about the other planet.
Hero Shrine seen from afar


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Such beauty in this land of mystical wonder...
Explanation of the ring & retrograde moon
  

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Tapuaua, my guide on this adventureSeen from afar, it still commands awe
  

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Each step is a moment in historyNight falls on us so quickly, a dark cold final night

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imageNow, let's go inside the Shrine. This, as I said, was Ciandra's last work, based on her long years of study of the Shrines of Forgetfulness and Transcendence.

Ciandra's Tomb

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Entry to the Shrine

Shrine of Transcendence - note the siraluun and gromnie details

See part 2 - Cragstone & Isle of Tears

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