The Important Stuff

A Beginning

A story has to begin somewhere. If you've ever played a RPG then you know that many stories start in taverns. How else are you to gather...

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Story Of Creation

The white-haired priest adjusted his robes as he waited for the children to settle onto their mats. Orphans. Abandoned. Unwanted. Exploited by vile men and women. They were the children of a society that could not contain the rot at its core. The most vulnerable. The ones who suffered first and hardest when times were lean. May the eternal virgin, Rachiel, show mercy upon their innocent souls.

“Are we ready young ones?” He tapped the end of his staff against the floor as all eyes turned to him. “Thank you for your attention. Are you ready for a story? A story of life. Of love. Of betrayal. Of war. The first story. Without this story there would be no others. Good. Now listen well.”

“The Sleeping God awoke and thus reality was born. It was not yet as we know it though. There were no trees. No rivers. Not even so much as a pebble. No crawling insect. No flying bird. No dog nor cat. Reality was an empty place and the Sleeping God was lonely. But he was a God, he did not have to be lonely if he did not want to be, thus he created his first children. From the very essence of magic itself he created the Dragons.”

“They were beautiful the Dragons. Their scales twinkled like stars and sparkled like jewels even before such things existed. As bright as the sun, or as dark as the deepest shadow. They came in every color imaginable. There were Dragons beyond count. From ones small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, to mighty beasts larger than the largest mountains we now know. Each Dragon followers of the laws of Order, Neutrality, or Chaos.”

“The Dragons never knew deprivation for if they hungered they simply created something to hunt. If they found their situation dull, they shaped the reality around them to be entertained. If they needed to feel love, they were surrounded by their many brothers and sisters who would take one to the breast of the other.”

“Their Father watched his children grow and multiply. He was pleased with his creation and knew it would continue long after him. So, it was he resumed his long sleep. With their Father once more asleep the Dragons chose the wisest, strongest, and oldest among them to lead as a council. There were 8 Dragons on that ancient council and even you know their names children.”

“The Dragons of Order voted on who was to lead them. The gold Mage, the silver Scholar, and the copper Alchemist were given three seats. It was said the Dragons of Chaos did battle so that only the strongest would lead them. The red Antagonist, the green Leviathan, and the blue Defiler won their seats. No one knows how the Dragons of Neutrality picked who would sit upon the council from among their number. But in the end, it was the black Passionate and the white Stoic who stepped forth to take their reserved places.”

“You may ask how long the Dragons held dominion over all of reality. But what is time to immortal beings created of pure magic? Only know that it was time beyond mortal reckoning. Then, in the blink of an eye, they were no longer alone. They were no longer the only children of the Sleeping God. The Young Gods were born.”

“But how were they born I see the question in your eyes. There are some who say the Sleeping God dreamed them into existence. Others say they simply appeared out of the ether. And then there are some who believe they are all part of the Sleeping God still, only manifested outside of his divine form. The how does not matter children, we’ll save those theological discussions for when you are older, all that matters is that they appeared.”

“At first the Dragons and the Young Gods lived in peace. Some might even say they were friends. Were they not both children of the Sleeping God? But as you may well know, siblings do not always love one another as they should. And as such did the Dragons and the Young Gods grow distant. You see children, the Dragons were made of the very essence of magic. It was in their blood. They created life with just a thought. The Young Gods did not connect with the essence of magic as easily. Of course, they could touch it. They could channel it. They could create great wonders and often did. But they lacked the Mastery of Magic that the Dragons had.”

“In time, much as the Sleeping God, their Father, did. The Young Gods wanted more. The Emperor of the Young Gods, Anael did cleave to his consort Nalerah, and from their union the first humans were born. This is why you must always respect your fellow humans children for we all carry a touch of the divine within us.”

“Now, where was I? Ah yes, the birth of humanity. The Young Gods loved their creations. They each shared some of their divine knowledge with us. They lived among us to protect us, shelter us. Each of the Young Gods influenced and shaped humans in their unique way. In time the Young Gods realized that there were flaws in their creations. While they were immortal, flawless, powerful. We were weak. Our lives were but brief sparks compared to their eternal flames. We were populous, as the Young Gods had given us the gift of creation within ourselves. But just as we achieved wisdom, our lives ended.”

“The Young Gods wanted their children to live as they did. So it was, that they turned to the Dragons. They went to the Council of Dragons as they were the oldest, wisest, and strongest of all. The Young Gods asked of their elder siblings, teach our children magic. Teach our children how to extend their lives so they could live and love as one with their creators.”

“Now the Dragons had watched from afar since the beginning. They found humans intriguing, but were we interesting enough to make immortal? The Council deliberated for generations of the lives of humans. When they returned the Council was split. The Dragons of Order thought the humans could benefit from their gifts. But the Dragons of Chaos did not. To them humans were little better than the creations they themselves brought into existence when they wished to hunt. The Dragons of Neutrality sided with Chaos in this. Humanity was the creation of the Young Gods, if they wanted humans to be immortal, them let them find the way and means to do so.”

“This angered and vexed Anael. But what could he do? Even though by now humans outnumbered Dragons, they could not simply wrest the power away from the Dragons. Such was impossible. As he puzzled over this problem Anael went away. Where he went no one knows for certain. It is believed he went to the very edge of reality and there he gazed into the void which had been all there was before the Sleeping God awoke. What he saw there. What he learned there, we can only guess. For you see children, when Anael returned he was not alone. With him was the first and most powerful of the demons of vice. We shall not speak their names here today children, to do so would be to call their gaze upon your innocence and I will not have you so corrupted.”

“Anael had learned something from his time away. And one by one he took each of his siblings away to teach them as well. And one by one they returned with another demon. Where once there was only good and innocence, now there was the potential for evil and wickedness. But you ask, why did Anael, Emperor of the Young Gods, bring evil into the world? Well children, because only the demons could teach humans the next lesson they needed to learn. From the demons of vice, we learned how to hate. We learned how to make war. We learned how to kill in anger. Thus, did the first war begin.”

“I do not tell you this to frighten you children. We look to the Young Gods for guidance. We, in our innocence, think them infallible. But I tell you today children, even the Gods themselves can make mistakes.”

The Priest fell silent as he let the weight of his words fall heavy upon the shoulders of the children. He smiled when there were no tears or protests to what he said. They were strong these children who had known the evils of the world so well. There were adults who refused to accept that the Young Gods were not perfect. He cleared his throat before he continued.

“The Dragons were completely unprepared for war. In those first days it was a slaughter as the humans attacked many Dragons who had once been their friends. Humanity swarmed like ants armed with weapons crafted by the god Razot himself. Where we went, only death and destruction was left in our wake. But you ask, didn’t the dragons have magic? Didn’t they know how to hunt? Did they not know how to fight?”

He stroked his long beard, “There are differences in how one fights to feed their belly, and how one fights to take a life in anger. There are differences in fighting for dominance when you know one side will yield once they know they are beaten. But in war children, there is no mercy.”

“No mercy. Every Young God, but one, fought by the side of their children and the Demons of Vice. Sweet Rachiel could not watch so much death. So much destruction. She turned her light away from the war her brothers and sisters fought. She wept for every life lost, from human to Dragon.”

“Their bodies, the bodies of the Dragons fell like meteors from the sky. They piled one atop the other until there were so many you could not tell where one began, and the others ended. As their magic was extinguished their scales went dull. Their bodies created the land you see now. As more fell, the violence of their fall rent chasms into the newly made ground. When the largest of the Dragons were thrown down mountains were formed. Each life lost left a tear in the sky, the magical blood spilled the light of the stars we see now. Rachiel’s tears continued to fall like rain to fill the depressions in the newly formed land. Soon there were lakes, rivers, and oceans.”

“While all this death happened, something strange took place. Amid so much tragedy, life was created. As magic ran like blood from the bodies of the Dragons it met with the Divine Tears of the Eternal Virgin. Grass grew. Trees rose into the heavens. Flowers burst into existence. Soon insects crawled, birds flew, and creatures both predator and prey found their homes in the new world created.”

“The war raged for generations. Humans born, lived, and died knowing only eternal war. Yet even war between gods, man, and dragons cannot last forever. In time only the oldest, strongest, and wisest remained. The Council called for a parlay. It was either that, or the last of them would perish, and possibly magic itself, reality itself would be extinguished. They met with the Young Gods and it was a very different meeting since their last. They were forced to agree to the Young God’s demands and give humans magic. They could not give us immortality, but they were able to awaken the spark within humans that we could learn magic. We could harness and channel magic to a degree, of course we will never be as strong as the Dragons or our creators.”

“In exchange for the gifts the Young Gods allowed the last 8 Dragons to live. They were not to interfere in the lives of humans who had moved to the newly created world and claimed it as their own. It is said as the Dragons agreed to the terms of the surrender, somewhere atop the highest peak of the Sky Slicer Mountains, their tears fell until a new river was created. The very river which runs through the city to this day.”

“The Young Gods had won. Their children had the spark of magic within their breasts. A fresh new world to call their own. But there was one problem. The Demons of Vice. Emperor Anael knew he could not allow the Demons of Vice to roam free among his children. Their evil was too great. Their potential to do harm too great a threat. So it was that Anael conspired with his brother Razot and they prepared a trap. A giant maze deep beneath the ground where the fires of the world burn. A maze that no matter how much they tried. The Demons of Vice could not escape, for there was no escape.”

“Anael invited the Demons of Vice to a feast. A victory feast. They gathered at his table in the Emperor of the God’s own hall. They feasted on the delicacies of the gods, foods the Demons were not allowed at any other time. As they feasted Anael left the room and with Razot’s assistance they dropped a trap over the demons. A puzzle trap, for that is how you trap a demon children. Give them a puzzle and they can do no harm until they have solved it.”

“Razot had crafted giants made of metal and stone. Each giant picked up a cage which held one of the Demons of Vice and they were sent down into the depths of the world. When the last Demon was in the maze, Anael himself closed the gate behind them. It is said that even now he carries the key which would unlock it on his person as he trusts no other to keep the world safe from his folly.”

“This is but part of the story children. We all know there is so much more. We know about how the Antagonist chafed under the laws laid down upon them by the Young Gods. We know how he crafted an army bent on destruction of all of humanity and of life itself. We know that the half human child of the Mage brought the three human kingdoms together into one mighty Empire and defeated the Antagonist and his armies.”

“There is so much more story children. Every day a little more is added to it. Why even one of you may play a part in the story someday. But that is enough for one day. I see the Sister is here to take you all to supper and I think I shall join you for my throat is parched and my stomach growls. Off with you now children. You can’t grow to serve the Young Gods if you don’t get enough to eat.”

The Priest watched with a fond smile as the children ran from the room to follow the Sister of Rachiel to their supper. He could still remember his days in an orphanage very like the one he told his stories in. How he had longed to be a hero, so his name might one day be carved in stone, celebrations of his memory nationwide holidays. But that was a long time ago and he was a very old man now. No better time than to pass on his own youthful hopes to the little ones of today.

With a grunt he pushed to his feet and left the small open-air chapel. Just before he passed through the door he looked to the statue of Rachiel as she held out her hands to accept the souls of the innocent into her care. For a moment he thought he saw a tear track down her weathered stone face. But then it was gone. His eyes often did play tricks on him as he aged.

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