Barren Realms-Beginnings by Criterion (Quest Entry)

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Barren Realms-Beginnings by Criterion (Quest Entry)

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Barren Realms - Beginnings

The Creator was before time, and the Creator saw that all was not well. There was nothing, for the Universe had not yet been made, and all was empty. And so the Creator said, “Let there be light!” And from the Creator’s mind - structure was made manifest, and the laws that would govern the Real were devised and then imposed on Creation. As the Creation expanded and the Laws of Mind were imposed on the all that was Real, Purpose became manifest, for the Creation must fulfill the Creator’s desire, and that Purpose became a God, and that God called himself Oakley.

A barren world, devoid of life, circled a small sun in a corner of Creation. Oakley spoke to himself and said, and this is good. Here I shall begin to explore my Purpose, to fulfill the Creator’s desire, I must also create. And Oakley parted the seas from the earth, and a great continent arose from the watery depths. He commanded the seas to become populated with fish, the skies to be filled with birds, and the land to become lush with greenery. He created a garden, a paradise, but still his Purpose not fulfilled, for the world felt empty of Mind. At first Oakley made creatures of many sizes and kinds, yet still none had a true Mind to equal his own. At last, he commanded an area of lush forest to clear away to the barren earth beneath and he rested there, and he dreamed. While he rested, eons passed and creatures came to rest around his body. First came the birds, and as they lived among his great form, a Change came to pass, and from these Changed, the Avians came to be. Intelligent of Mind, curious of soul, and industrious and strong of body. Next came a profusion of flowers, carried there by the multitude of birds as seeds from all across creation. The flowers, as one body, though – how great is our Maker, let us imitate his form, and thus were the elves born from the natural earth and plants. Cousin to all of creation, and the product of Mother Nature’s own magic, Elves feel an intense connection to magic and nature, and became the second race of the realm. Drawn by curiosity, and the ever increasing number of fruiting trees near Oakley’s resting form, the primates came and lived amongst the new forest, and played amidst the shadows he cast. And as time passed again, these primates began to diverge and multiply. Some left as monkeys, others became apes, and one group, the oddest group of all the new primates began to play with Fire. And this is how Man become the third race of the realm. Still Oakley slept on. As mankind began to build their homes in Oakley’s shadow, their town attracted other creatures, rodents and all manner of parasitic insects. Ages passed and the town became a city, and the city was named Midgaard, for it was considered to be the center of all things, and the home of the sleeping God. In the dark alleys the rodents and insects festered and grew. The magic that permeated the land, the water, and the air began to change them too and the rodents began to grow and become more dexterous. Soon enough, as Gods may count the years, the race descended from rodents began to creep about the city and they became more manlike in appearance as they strove to imitate the form of the sleeping God. Thus were Kenders brought into the world.

From the deep depths, in the bowels of the World, a single hive of squid-like creatures lived, grew and prospered in isolation. In this isolation, did the Illithid race come into being, for the waters of their hidden world was laden with the magic of Creation, distilled and purified by the clays and stones of earth. So the Illithid did rise from their lakes and did explore and establish themselves well, and many did make their way to the surface. And they emerged from a pond to the north of Midgaard, and joined the races. And the Illithid were shamed for they were unpleased with their appearances and endeavored to change themselves. Never satisfied with their physical aspect, their magic was focused on mental manipulations, and by art of Mind they were able to transform themselves by magical force and by illusion.

At long last, the races were all about the world, growing and building in peace and harmony, when Oakley woke from his eon long slumber and found the world full of creatures of Mind, and he found it pleasing and wonderful. As he stood up to view his creation, he spanned the heavens and the earth in a single sweeping glance. Alas, for Midgaard was destroyed by his movement and mankind was scattered. Seeing what he had done, Oakley was remorse and he transferred himself to a mount called Olympus and he contemplated. Whilst within the mountain, he began to hear the stones whispering to him and he was intrigued. From the stones and steel of the mountains heart, he made one more creature, and it was to be known as a Dwarf. Short and stout, but of hearty constitution, this last race of the land was formed from the land and would last so long as the rocks of the earth still stood. Taking his newest creation to the place where he had slept and where the city of mankind had once stood, Oakley placed the dwarf and its kin on the earth and decreed that all creatures of all races should come to him and hear his laws. Once all the creatures of Mind and intelligence had gathered to hear the Law, all trembled, for here was their God.

Once more looking out upon his creation, Oakley said, “Let there be now, on this site a new city. Let it be known as the Midgaard of old.” He paused and observed the new city as it emerged from the stones of the earth. “Now let there be peace always among my creation for all are favored in my eyes.” And all of the creatures of the realm, Avian, Elf, Human, Kender, Illithid, and Dwarf eyed one another with curiosity but little interest. And God continued, “And while all of the world is of mortal kind, and ephemeral, there shall come from amongst you champions, and from these heroes I shall choose those most worthy to share my power.” And in a blink, he was gone. For Oakley had retired now to watch his creation and he was appalled, for no sooner had he gone that all of his creations began to argue. And the City of Midgaard shone and glittered under the sun.

The eldest Elf stood amongst the elves, “We are the most favored of all creatures, for we alone are made of the Life which covers the World. Of all that is natural and good, as we are Elves, this new City of Midgaard, is ours.” And all the elves nodded in agreement.

The Avians shrieked their displeasure, and stated their case, “As we are the first of the children to share with the Mind of God, thus it is our place to lead all the races to glory!” And the flapping of their wings set about a storm of wind that lasted forty days and forty nights. Amidst their shrieks, slurs and curses of elves could be heard, with scatterings including other races.

As the mighty winds subsided, it became evident that during the storm all the races had attacked one another, for the ground of the city was soaked red with blood, and the races were decimated. Oakley looked on, saddened, but unmoved and unwilling to interfere. Of those who survived the massacre, Illithids had suffered the worst, for the storm clouded all vision and illusion was no help to them. Weakened severely by injuries they took, they disappeared from the field, magically transporting themselves faraway, not to be seen again for many years.

The shock of the deaths and decimation of their numbers brought the leaders to Temple in the center of the City. Yet, no resolution could be made. “The Maker, who made us all, has forsaken us!” argued one group of humans against everyone else. “We must make peace and make amends. We must!” Their leader was a human woman named Kiri, and after days and then weeks of argument, she won to her side many elves, but no Avians, Kenders, or Dwarves. The last straw was drawn when, in anger the human named, Beelz struck dead an elf woman for resisting his advances. Kiri gathered her followers and cursed the lot of who remained with a plague, and quit the City of Midgaard. The Elves, fled before the humans to the East, and builth themselves a city known as Malacandra. The Kenders, ever thieves at heart followed wherever there was a city. Beelz took any of those from all the races who believed in the right of strength of arm and his own amoral philosophy and founded the city of Alandra, far to the south of Midgaard. Yet, even amongst his following there were those who thought his way too harsh and unforgiving… almost evil, and left him to return north to found the city of Perelandra. And all of the races fled Midgaard and the plague that followed haunted it. The dwarves founded the city of Moria, and the Illithids, hid away in their underground caverns.

Oakley looked on and was saddened, so he withdrew from the world and watched the only group who seemed to have listened. The group that followed Kiri into the wilderness, for they were of elves and of human kind, yet they lived in peace. Through his will, Oakley extended Kiri’s life and made her immortal, unknowing to her, and he watched as they practiced and learned the artful skills of healing using magic and natural skills. And all seemed to be good amongst these, his children. Yet, as they grew and learned more of healing, even as they mixed and mingled, elves and humans together, the world around them was in Chaos. Outside of the bastions that are the new cities, raised by the other races, the world was dangerous and malicious. Dark creatures seemed to walk the night, killing travelers and wanderers alike, regardless of race. Where were these dark creations coming from? Who was making them? Was Oakley finally willing to be rid of those he created? These questions and more echoed in the thoughts of all who lived during the Age known as the Chaos Years.

A Summary of the Chaos Years

It came to pass in the years when Chaos reigned supreme over the land, and race was pitted against race, and the cities rose and fell as advantage swung one way and then the next. Yet, deep in the forests, sheltered by Oakley the druids lived with moderate peace and prospered. As the great magics cast by the races swept the world, changes were wrought and the Land was changed. Great tracts were often changed overnight and time flowed differently throughout the realm. Elves, trapped in the underground passages the Illithids claimed, were bred to evil purposes and were named the Drow. Off-spring of kender and dwarven kind, trapped in mines and changed by the Chaos magic became the hobgoblin race and they lived their lives in their mines, but their lust for gold and kinder-like acquisitiveness led to frequent wars with their neighbors for they were warlike and evil in nature, and all were wary of this new breed to walk the land, for unlike the drow, the hobgoblin race did not fear the light.

In other places, the magics transformed forests into living monsters that spanned for miles and trapped the unwary traveler. Seas and rivers were dried and became desert, and mountains became great plains and expanses of forest overnight. This was the Chaos that rolled through the world like a thunder.

Through all the chaos those who followed Kiri were Changed, by virtue of their isolation and adherence to order and fellowship, with time they became the Druids, and their souls were intertwined with the life force of the land, and healing and protection magic was born into their flesh. Oakley watched the Changes roll through the land and at last he could allow it no longer. Appearing in a vision before all the best souls of all the races in the lands, he commanded them to gather the good and the willing and to bring them to Midgaard. In a separate vision to Kiri and the Druidic Council, Oakley issued forth these instructions, “Gather up all the creatures of the land, seven pairs of every kind, and guide them into the lands without the walls of Midgaard. Give shelter to all those who come to Midgaard, for I shall cleanse the World of the great wickedness that has befallen the land and none beyond the lands of Midgaard shall live. Seven years, shall I allot you for your tasks before the Heavens shall rain down death.” So, the druids set forth from their forests and their hidden villages and went out into the world and many died, for none knew the arts of battle. As the years passed and the druids gathered the races to Midgaard, and the best of those races joined in their mission to save as many of the beasts of the land from the coming destruction. Of the races gathered, only the Illithid refused to come. At first, those who chose to accept the druid mission, to save the remnants of Creation, went out into the world alone, but before long parties, mixed in nature and number began to set out, and the races of the realm began to learn the intricacies of working with one another and learned that the power of their combined strength was greater than the strength of one race alone. As the city filled, and the surrounding lands were built up to accomodate the great numbers of animals and creatures, Oakley appeared in the Temple of Midgaard and he decreed that the time had come. Yet even as he spoke, the Illithids had yet to be gathered, and the druids came together to discuss their options, and they gathered their power for a great summoning. The Temple courtyard was cleared by the other races, and a swirling mist formed. When the mist cleared, the remnants of the Illithid race, those that survived the Chaos, were in the center of city, and there were many of them, stunned and near death, for they had been pulled out by the druids, moments before the death field cast by Oakley on the lands had finished draining their energy.

In the days that followed the Great Summoning, the druids enlisted the aid of the other races and taught them minor healing spells, and they worked to restore the Illithids to health. But the last great change brought by the Chaos, and the earliest version of the summoning spell, was that the spell that almost ended the Illithid’s as a race was ingrained in their bones. And the Illithid’s awoke in a new realm, a crowded City full of the races of the world and they were afraid. For the last time all the races were gathered, the deaths that resulted had haunted the city for generations. And the Chaos that raged without the city’s limits began to recede, and Oakley appeared once again and spoke, “My children! The world returns at last to its natural state, yet their remains much work to be done. The beasts of the land must be returned to their homes, and the lands created by the Chaos must be tamed. From this City of Midgaard, shall all the races set forth to set aright what they set askew.” And turning to the Illithids, he spoke to their hearts and their hearts only, “Children of the deep lakes! You created many of the monsters that walked the land. In moving through the land, I found your hidden caverns, and I am displeased with your abuse of the powers, yet also I am saddened by the yearning that caused your creations. Be it known in your hearts that I do not find displeasure with your form, for all of the races are beautiful in their own right. Set right what you have done, and be well with your brethren races.” And Oakley spoke as such to all the races, and charged them all with the restoration and building of the realm.

And the races lived and prospered in Midgaard, but time and proximity soon drove the races apart, though not to war. The dwarves sought out new lodes to mine, and new cities to build. The Illithids wandered the realm hunting down their creations who escaped the death field, and sought to tame them. The avians returned to their rookeries and cliffside nests. And the humans and elves returned to their cities, and also remained to share Midgaard. In the long passage of time, the elves and humans once again came to blows when generations of bigotry resulted in the forbidding of the mixing between human and elven blood. And Oakley returned to set things aright, after the razing of Midgaard, and he raised Calathar in its place. And he charged the city guard with the task of preventing such violence from rising again. And Oakley returned to the hidden City of Heroes, Valence, and was met there by Kiri and all of the heroes who distinguished themselves amidst the Chaos years, and the years that followed throughout the reconstruction.

From the streets of Valence, the heroes and immortals of the realm watch over the world, and Oakley slumbers.

~Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.~

-Ralph Waldo Emerson-
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