Monday, April 13, 2009

Legends of the Majestic Wilderlands: In the Beginning

The next lands I will be detailing in the Majestic Wilderlands series are the demi-humans realms. However there background you need to know and it takes us to beginning of the Wilderlands

From the void, Veritas came forth and a voice from the void said "Behold". The void was parted to reveal the Wilderlands in all of its glory. Veritas was awed at what the voice had done. The voice spoke again "Go and look after my children for I place them in your care." A golden chime with a silver rod emerged from the void.

Veritas took the chime and rod and struck a single note. Silvanus stepped out of the void, and Veritas said to him "Behold the Wilderlands, go forth and order the earth, the flora, and the fauna for the coming of the children races is soon." Silvanus went forth and labored.

When Silvanus was finished he returned to Veritas, "It is done". While they stood, Veritas stuck another note on the chime. A great rumbling occurred and from the earth; two great multitudes appeared. Then the Voice from the void spoke; "Behold the Elves the glory of the Wilderlands and Man who shall inherit.

Veritas turned to the void and called forth the other Lords. For 40 days and 40 nights the Lords and the children races celebrated in the newborn Wilderlands. On the 41st day they began to build the First City to be their home. After it was finished, the children races sat at the feet of Veritas and the other Lords as their students.

Then after a long life the first of the race of Man died. Shocked the Lords and the two races went to Veritas “A man has died, what wrong occurred that caused this?” Veritas replied “Know that death is part of Man’s inheritance and is a gift given to them by the creator. Beyond death there is a veil which that I cannot see past. Its mysteries have not been revealed.”

This answer did not satisfy all. Many grumbled at this and went to the secret places of the Wilderlands to talk. A group was formed from the Lords, Elves, and Men. They resolved to ask the Creator about the Mysteries of Death. They called themselves the Seekers of Truth. They ventured away from the Wilderlands into the Void itself. When answers were not found they stood at the edge of the void and screamed at the Creator to come and answer them. When no answer came they stood in silence. Then they spoke, “The Creator has abandoned us, Veritas has lied. We must reshape the Wilderlands in our image and defeat death for all.” They returned from the void to the First City and resumed their former roles.

For many months they plotted, delving into terrifying realms of knowledge to augment their natural abilities. Many in the group disagreed. "We have to find ways to create what we want. Not waste time on ways of destruction". Threatened with exposure, those experimenting with destruction agreed to cease their research. However after a few weeks, they restarted their investigations in hidden strongholds away from the eyes of their compatriots.

After ten years the Seekers felt ready to challenge Veritas and his supporters. On the first day of the New Year, they marched to the First City. There were no guards at the gate; puzzled the Seeker moved to the central building of the city, the Hall of Creation. There they saw Veritas and the remaining Lords assembled.

Luceras the leader of the host spoke "We have come to reveal the truth.". Veritas acknowledged her; "We are pleased that you have finally chosen to speak freely". For many hours Luceras and other Seekers laid out their reasons for remaking the Wilderlands. After much consideration Veritas spoke; “You have lived up to the Creator's expectations. Noble are your words, but your requests cannot be granted. For your fates are woven into creation of the Wilderlands. To do what you ask would cause creation to return to the Void and result in the undoing of all that you are. Although the ultimate end cannot be known for Lord, Elf, or Man; we have the Creator’s promise that our rewards will be without measure."

A great shout went throughout the host; here was a fate far more wondrous then they have imagined. But for those who worked at destruction, grumbled. "This is not what we worked for! We wanted dominion, not be the eternal lackeys of the Creator."

There was a great celebration in the First City by the Lords and two races over Veritas' revelation. But the Seekers who practiced destruction left the city and organized their forces. Just before dawn they sneaked back into the First City, using their arts to conceal. At dawn they rose up as one and unleashed their forces on the First City. For seven days there was a slaughter, the first ever seen in the Wilderlands. Many Lords, Elves and Men perished in the fight. When the battle was over First City was burned to the ground and the dead left to the vultures.

The Dark Seekers, gathered the captured Lords and killed them along with the Elves that were taken. They turned men into slaves and used them create great monuments to their victory. There were those who escaped both Elves and Men, along with a few Lords. Veritas survived the downfall of the First City and was able to escape capture. Veritas turned and looked from a distance at the Dark Seekers celebrating in the ruins. “Once you called yourself Seekers of Truth. But the only truth was that you wanted to power and dominion. I name you Demon, for you have rejected creation. All your plans will turn to ashes and the glory of your destiny shall be denied to you.”

The Demons performed horrible experiments on the captive men under their control. Some they stunted their growth, others they made their visage and intellect a horrible parody of their true form. They made weird half-animal forms; horses, birds, goats, and lizard were among the combinations they tried. Meanwhile the rest toiled under the whips of the Demons.

Veritas and remaining Lords organized those of the Elves and Human who remained free. With them they fought the Demons. Over the years progress was slow, a small victory here, suffering a defeat and escape there. But as the conditions worsen the Demon’s slaves, many escaped to join the forces of the free lords.

For a thousand years the Lords waged an Uttermost War against the Demons. The tide turned and the Demons gave up a little each year. Finally the slow retreat turned into a rout and the last forces of the Demons surrendered.

Out of the myriad Lords who celebrated the birth of the Wilderlands only ten survived, Veritas, Silvanus, Dannu, Mitra, Set, Hamakhis, Kalis, Thoth, Nephthys, and Thor. At a great council it was decided that all the surviving Demons were to be imprisoned within an Abyss created from the void. In the middle of the Dawn Ocean a island was created to act as the gateway into the Abyss.

Veritas made the Crystal of the Chromatic Flame and the remaining nine lords created a crystal of their own color from it. (Crimson for Mitra, Ochre for Set, Amber for Nephthys, Emerald for Dannu, Azure for Silvanus, Indigo for Thor, Amethyst for Thoth, Ebony for Kalis, and Ivory for Hamakhis). In each crystal the Lord instilled a part of their essence. About the island they set nine towers and on each of towers, the nine Lords set their crystals. With the Chromatic Crystal, Veritas activated the crystals imprisoning the Demons within the Abyss. The Lords set the Dragons of Set about the Towers to guard them from any whom tried to enter.

The Lords meet in Council again. For ten years they debated over the Wilderlands and the destiny of Elves and Men. They realized that in fighting the war each of them grew to have their own views on the destiny of the Wilderlands and the best ways of preventing demons from regaining a foothold. They agreed that if they remained a new Uttermost War would likely be fought. So they made a covenant, and agreed to withdraw from the world. They would only interact through signs and portents. They would only deal directly those of the races who had faith in the destiny the Lords taught.

Before the council adjourned, Veritas spoke. “The sins of the Demons belong not just to us Lords. Many Elves and Men willingly followed and became Demons themselves. The fate of the two races has now been altered because of this. For the Elves they will endure with the Wilderlands until its uttermost end when the demons are released once more and the void returns. Only after these last days will they finally reach the destiny that been prepared for them. For Man and all the races created from him, the veil is now shut. When they have lived the full measure of their lives, into our care their spirits shall come. When the last days have passed the veil will parted and Man will come into the full measure of his inheritance.”

After speaking this, Veritas turned to Amburien Corlennas the Overlord of the Elves and handed him the Chromatic Crystal. "Keep this as a remembrance of our unity. Let it be an example of what can be accomplished when faith prevails.” Then the Lords departed the Wilderlands to new dwelling along the rim of the Void where to this day they give guidance to the children races.
The first version was written sometime around 1986. It was born out of a notebooks where I went through the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II and categorized all the races. The list of sentient races was very very long.

I wondered "How the hell any fantasy setting can have so many damn races" Combined with my habit of writing long histories, and my love of the epic myths of the Silmarillion, produced In the Beginning.

For a long time I vacillated over who were the Demons. I did not want a repeat of the Bible or the Silmarillion where evil occurs because the equivalent of God's Angles revolted. For a long my notes said that it was the Elves that question the Creator and the Demons. But that explanation gnawed at me as well because I felt it was stretching plausibility for even Elves to challenge the semi-divine Lords.

My solution .. they are all guilty. All three races contributed to the formation of the Demons and suffered the consequences of the Demon's revolt.

One of the elements that was present in all my versions of In the Beginning was the fact that all the other non-Elven races were mutated versions of Man. In my mind this neatly accounts for why all these races look like us and why many of them are inter-fertile. When I get a change to publish this, I can include a Mutant Future style or Encounter Critical style post apocalyptic setting set just after the Demon Revolt.

Some of the elements that were in from the beginning was the Chromatic Crystal, and the Abyss. The Dragon guardians from the start but it wasn't until Update #8 that they were the cool dragon guardians.

After I abandoned AD&D for Fantasy Hero, my first major campaign was steeped in the mythology I created. The players loved it and produced many memorable moments. But that is a story for another time.

Next up is the 2nd part; the story of Amburien Corlennas and the Chromatic Crystal.

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