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MYTHOLOGY OF ELYSIUM

Chapter I:  The Creation of a New World

    Aeons ago, near the beginning of time, when all of the world lay in waste and chaos, a light appeared in the distant horizon, showering down in the form of a vast and mighty goddess.  Vaire, the Child of the Heavens, born of an innocence and purity unheard of and since then never again known, brought with her a vision: peace, prosperity, and overflowing life in a realm of abundance...  a second heaven...   mirroring the realms of the gods, but where mortals could live, grow, and flourish.
     She sent a cry throughout the heavens of her vision, along with a plea for help.  Although she was powerful, she was yet a young goddess, unlearned in the ways of the Mysteries.  Several gods and goddesses heard Vaire's plea and felt her sincere desire for a perfect realm mirroring that of the heavens...  They surrounded her in all their glory, among them: Vinaya, the goddess of light and order, Alamaise, god of fire and renewal, Chronos, bringer of time and passage, and Loki, god of cunning and disguise. Loki named the vision Elysium, a land of idyllic repose and perfection, but he knew that it would not be so...  Peering deeply into the sceptre of Chronos, Loki saw that this vision would fail -- a world of peace and  prosperity would not be born...   but a world of death, destruction, chaos, and defilement such that would appall the gods into turning away...      
     Having this knowledge and knowing the weakness of an untried young goddess, Loki beguiled Vaire, using her innocence to charm her with the immense power of none other than the mighty Alamaise, god of fire and renewal.  This pairing was doomed, as foreseen by the cunning Loki, who wished to bring on the destruction of Elysium for his own personal amusements.  All was observed by Vinaya, who kept quiet, waiting for the right moment to intervene.  Chronos, on the other hand, ignored everything, despite his knowledge of what was to come. The realm of Elysium, under the primary moulding of Vinaya, grew quickly and prosperously, a vision that far outreached that of the original.   The other immortals of heaven peered down into the world borne of Vaire's wish for a mirror to heaven and found one there...  pristine lakes, covered with rolling white mists, unsullied forests green and teeming with the spirits of the fey, snow capped mountains, and mortals that lived alongside each other in peace and prosperity...  all these quickly came to be, lasting for several millenium...

Chapter II:  The Rift in the Heavens

    For a time, Alamaise was content with the pleasures of Vaire, reveling in the stealth of her innocence as well as the rule of her land...  but he was tired of the constancy of peace and prosperity...  He knew that a land such as Elysium would soon grow stagnant and die as the energies of the realm were slowly absorbed away, without a means of renewing itself... Only through sacrifice, blood, and conflict could the realm continue to thrive...

    Alamaise thought to move Elysium into the path of renewal by first creating a war that would tear the realms asunder...  From then, the gods could build anew, and repeat the cycle, destroying and then renewing...  He crafted a weapon of incredible proportions, knowing that whichever mortal should obtain it would become the one true power of the land.  Knowing this, but not intending for any single hand to possess it, he struck his creation into over a dozen pieces and sent them in the furthest directions from each other.  He then appeared in the realms, in mortal guise, speaking of a treasure found, first by one race, then by another, spreading rumors that sowed the seeds of fear and hostility amongst the different mortal tribes.

Vaire, aware of the treachery of Alamaise, attempted to lure him into an entrapment advised by none other than the cunning Loki.  It was a clever trap, incapable of being crafted by anyone but Loki, designed to capture, brand, and even do the unthinkable -- strip away the powers of and destroy all that was of an immortal except eternal life...  the ultimate and cruelest punishment for a divine being...

Feigning ignorance, Vaire called to Alamaise in the heavens, pretending to seek his insight into an unusal phenomenon in her realms...  Casting off her usual timidity, she became glamorous as never before, even rivalling the beauteous but diffident Vinaya, bewitching Alamaise with an aspect of herself never before known.  He descended to the peak of Grimfast Mountain with Vaire, never suspecting in the slightest.  There, Vaire lured Alamaise into the entrapment arranged by Loki, causing the very heavens to darken as the divine powers of Alamaise were slowly siphoned away.  Fire rained from the skies, burning the realms, casting everything into flames, and forming what is now known as the Great Chasm of Doom, a vast crevice of fierce magical energy and flames which no mortal can bypass..Loki laughed, sealing Alamaise's fate by imprisoning him into the very stone of Grimfast... 

Chapter III:  The Fall From Paradise (The Great Rift Wars)

    Meanwhile, frantic and unused to the new threat of slavery and extinction, the different races of Elysium, who had for so long lived peacefully side by side, mobilized, each determined to seek out this treasure for themselves, murdering and laying waste to all else that stood in their paths. 

    The Drow, who had already secured the plains that lay between the foothills and mountains of the south and the forests of the north, savagely toted a new race with them, the Canids, to follow their bidding, destroying a peaceful halfling village, and driving the halflings into the swamps of the northeast.  They razed the jungle homes of the Felis, upturning their temples and complex civilization, reducing it to a mere shadow of its former glory, a hubble of fallen architecture and disbanded tribes.  They proceeded to drive the faeries from their sacred forests, burning groves, tearing wings, and most sadistically, shoving them inside boxes to serve as lanterns for Drow amusement...

The humans, fearing a similar undesirable fate, and not caring that the renegades did not follow the will of the Drow Matriarch retaliated, aligning themselves with the Sylvans of the north who felt uncomfortable with the hostility and seemingly unquenchable blood-lust of the Drow elves.  With unexpected help from the Dwarves, who also feared trespass into their sacred mountain home, the allies seiged the Drow stronghold of Amenta, eventually driving the Drow south.  Weary of a possible retaliation on their vulnerable mountain home, the dwarven warriors of Brockton quickly returned, leaving the Sylvans and the humans to occupy the partial ruins of what was known as Amenta.  In what some cry as unfathomable treachery by the humans (some believe a Drow, wanting to divide the humans and Sylvans), the Sylvan High Priestess was raped and murdered as she was making her rounds alone, tending to the sick and needy.  Infuriated and beyond listening to the excuses of the human warlords, the Sylvan War Council withdrew its forces, retreating into the deep woods of Ur'Sylvanesti.  Before they left however, the Sylvans set fire to the remains of Amenta, not caring that the humans yet remained. Angered and bewildered, the humans stayed in the remains of Amenta, choosing to build a new city over the old rather than start anew.  In their haste, the Drow left behind hordes of Canid and Felis captives,  which the humans quickly utilized -- as slaves in the construction of a new city as well as for barbarous personal amusements. 

The Canids, who had by this time, freed themselves from the weakened Drow, sought a tenuous alliance with the Felis, who having had their town of Tenocatlitan ravaged partly with the Canids in tow, were somewhat wary. However, the Canids sealed an alliance with the Felis, claiming lack of free will under a harsh Drow rule.  The Canids and Felis sought to free the hundreds of captives within the human encampment during the dead of night...  It was a disastrous campaign, even more so as the Felis plotted betrayal and abandoned the campaign halfway through, after having freed their captives, leaving the Canids to be butchered -- were it not for the sudden attack on the human encampment by the infamous Mzak Xvral and his battalion of Elite O.R.C guards from Ancient Gloomhaven. 

The sudden fray between the orcs and the humans allowed the few remaining Canids a chance to escape, their tails tucked between their legs and their shackles raised over the unexpected though understandable betrayal of the Felis.  

As the terrible war in the north began, a council was held amongst the leaders of several races of the long-peaceful lands south of the Grimfast mountains met to discuss what to do in regards to the feisty northern peoples. Notably represented in the council were Vurr Horroneg of the Pangolids, Rekesh T'karn of the Sidhe, and Redbeak Skraaaww of the Rooks.   Until this time, the three major races of the south had lived in what some considered an incredible alliance which had lasted for centuries. All major trade and military functions the south had performed in any races' memory had been as a whole. However, the fighting in the north found its own victims even in the monolithic south.

These three powerhouse politicians disagreed entirely on what to do.Vurr desired a complete lack of involvement, no change of trading or military status with any of the northern powers. On the other side of the table was Redbeak, who wanted his people to fly to the aid of the oppressed Felis and whatever other race the bird-people felt like helping. Rekesh proposed the most loathsome and opportunistic course of all, a game of playing one northern race off of another for maximum profit. Since the three major players in the council could not come to any sort of compromise, many representatives of smaller tribes and city-states were asked for their advice, as was the tradition in the councils. However, it seemed like a fairly even split for all three, although notably few wanted to side with Redbeak, for that would have meant committing their own forces to the north.

At this point things got very ugly, tempers rising until finally a lone sidhe of the deadly Los'Jah assassins took it upon herself to murder a young Rook in the night and spread his remains in a ghastly homage to her god all around the council chamber, the head resting comfortably upon Redbeak's roost. Translated later, runes painted in Rook blood on the central dais of the chamber translated roughly to "The Sidhe go their own way" -- literally "Blood follows its own course down a tree-trunk." Despite apologies and protests from Rekesh, the representatives of the other races quickly reached an accord -- the sidhe were to be banned from the council thenceforth. In disgust, Rekesh returned to the sidhe sanctuary of Laren T'karn and sent a message to the still-convened council: a Pangolid corpse and another Rook corpse.

Redbeak was so angered and distraught by the sidhe's direct retraction of any apology which had been made that he returned that evening to the Rook plateau and organized a massive winged army to assault Laren T^Rkarn. However, the Rooks soon found that it was very difficult to maneuver their massive wings through the dense canopy of the jungle, while the sidhe decimated them almost as an afterthought. It is said that only eighteen Rooks returned to their home, and it is true that a once-magnificent race is now merely a margin-note in anthropological texts.

Vurr returned to Yurhen Morrofed while the fighting was going on, using a network of secret Pangolid tunnels to avoid any confrontations with enraged Rooks or sadistic sidhe.   The sidhe proved out their word and immediately began selling their skills to the highest bidder in the north, a practice which continues to this day.   The most flamboyant and gruesome assassinations in The Great Rift War and its long aftermath have mostly been attributed to sidhe murderers.

The Pangolids sent seven missionary-warriors to the north as medics for the wounded on battlefields, and most races remember the strange, kind creatures with great fondness for their unsolicited acts of kindness during that age of terror and misery.

However, the battles raged on, all across Elysium, in a fierce struggle for which the causes, if there had been true causes, became unclear in the bloodbath.  Clashes occurred whenever any party happened upon another. Roads were no longer safe as bandits and highwaymen laid in ambush.  The forests burned, the acrid columns of smoke reaching even the heavens.

-* Chapter IV:  The Decline of the Heavens

The goddess Vaire watched as her beautiful vision collapsed, torn apart by strife, filled with hatred and distrust, and becoming more and more vile to her at every moment.   The work of Alamaise was bearing fruit, and she knew not if she had the strength to continue...  to rebuild. Loki, on the other hand, was enjoying the turning tides of the realms of Elysium.  He watched with dark satisfaction as the mortals clashed and warred amongst themselves.  Their constant strife fed his amusement, and Vaire's discomfort was but a small consequence...

Troubled, Vinaya consulted Chronos, knowing that Elysium and her beloved, carefully crafted realms, would perish if the mortals were not calmed and peace was brought back to the realms.  She peered deeply into the sceptre of Chronos, looking for the fate of Elysium, if there was one...  Smiling, but not divulging her secret, Vinaya whispered a few words to Chronos, who slowly faded from existence, never to be seen again. Waiting until the moon rose high into the night, during the full tides of the vast seas, when her powers were at their peak, Vinaya sheathed herself in a veil of black mists and proceeded to descend from heaven... Some say that she stole the secret of renewal from Alamaise, others say he guarded it from Loki and gave it to her willingly to exact his revenge, but whatever truly passed that night remains yet another mystery, known only to the goddess...

That night, the heavens were lit up, as if by a million lights, all ablaze and burning with a fierce intensity.  The mortal realms were in awe, breaking their warring briefly, in recognition of the wrath of the gods...   

-* Chapter V:  The Age of Renewal

The following morning, the mortals of Elysium were greeted at dawn by a fiercely burning red sun.   The sight was spectacular, and all those who witnessed it knew that a new era was dawning...

Already, the signs of change were being witnessed throughout the land... The thick columns of black smoke that strove for the heavens became mere tendrils, barely visible in the cloudless skies.  The dark, turmoil filled waters of the oceans were calmed, and tiny pinpricks of light seemed to pierce its dark depths, making it appear golden within the light of the burning sun...

When the new sun rose to the height of its journey in the skies, a great light flooded the realms, blinding yet comforting somehow, lulling the world into a hypnotic state.  In each corner of the realms, a goddess appeared, bestowing her blessing and protection over the realms...  It was the goddess Vinaya, descending in multiple forms...  To the Sylvan elves, she appeared as Alatiel, the goddess with wings the color of the stars. To the Drow, she appeared as Nebthet, dark goddess of shadows.  The humans heralded Vinaya, the orcs Mardeken, the trolls Rath...  In over a dozen aspects she appeared, promising prosperity and protection in return for a pledge of peace and an end to the Rift Wars... 

Addendum:

The fate of the goddess Vaire and the god Loki are unclear.  Some say that the fires of the Great Chasm of Doom grew even higher than before, raging with the divine powers of both Vaire and Loki.  Others claim they can hear a low chuckling issuing forth from Grimfast during the rise of the dark moon, when the tides are at their lowest, followed by a slow, drawn out wail that sends shivers down the spine...  Whatever became of those two immortals, one can only guess as Vinaya graces and holds the heavens supreme.

 


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