The Celestial Chronicles: Hierophant (Prelude)

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PRELUDE

Long ago the great sundering happened and the world was created. Out of the sundering came the Gods Hope and Despair. Each had their own task with the creation of things. Hope created day and Despair created night, Hope created the waters, the earth, the heavens and the air to which every living being will live from, Despair created death to which to end all that is life. The Gods then named this new landscape Baldura, a huge land mass with lush forests, abundant life giving water and majestic mountain ranges littering its geography. They then together created the beings called the Celestials, beings made out of pure energy. Their one and only task was to fill in the life of what the two higher beings created. The first creation of the Celestials was the Dwarves, Master masons, engineers and lore keepers of the world. Then they created the Drakini or the Dragon kin, a race of Elves that raised and rode dragons to do the task of foreseeing the well being of the creations made by their predecessors. Then the Celestials made the Gandhali or the Guardians, protectors of the Celestials. They were blessed with the gift of anatomical and physical prowess.

   At first, there was harmony amongst the creations, but while the celestials created the three races, from the remnants of the sundering, spawned a being from pure hate, evil and chaos. Feeding on what was left from its birth place. It seemed to be the third child of the sundering, a third God. This God named itself Crios and out of his own flesh he created a cross of the Drakini and Gandhali and called them the Wyrmbrood. A race whose only purpose is to destroy what that has been made by the Celestials. For hundreds of years, the Wyrmbrood laid waste to Baldura. The Drakini gave a valiant fight against them, protecting all that was sacred and good from the invading army. While the war waged on, Crios seduced the Celestials by disguising himself as one of them. He lured them by promising them of great power to mold beings that would help win the war. The Celestials who were lured by his folly, only realized in the end when they transformed into Fiends that served only Crios. His first order for them was to create a plethora of races that would only worship him, hence, it was then the races of Goblins, Trolls, Ogres, Orcs, Abominations, Behemoths and Serpentines were born. He ordered these new races to raid the lands where the Drakini lived. He also sent them to destroy the great libraries of the Dwarves.

  Outnumbered, faltering and fighting on all fronts, the Dragonriders implored the help of the Gandhali against the minions of Crios. At first, they were hesitant to leave the citadel where the celestials lived, having already failed in protecting them when Crios infiltrated and corrupted some of the Celestials. But upon seeing that even their lands and homes were not spared by the war, reluctantly they helped the Dragonriders. This proved to be a major turning tide for the war, as the Gandhali made excellent Field troops while the Drakini attacked with their dragons from the sky. Crios saw this and sought to turn the tide to his side once and for all when he decided to not only command his vast army, but also join the battle and give his followers divine assistance.

  It was then that the Gods Hope and Despair saw that Crios would not only meddle with matters of the mortals but also seek to destroy everything that was created. They then aligned their divinity and stripped him of his Godhood. The Goddess Hope, created the Gentao, the hope bringer in order to fulfill this. After his Godhood was taken from him, since both Gods cannot destroy their own brother, the God Despair sent Crios to the Void and imprisoned him there for all eternity. Thus, ending the war in what was later known as The Great Havoc. Thinking that this may happen again even though they didn’t cause the war, the two Gods left. Since the parting of the two Gods, the remaining Celestials, were left with the huge task of rebuilding and repairing the world again. Though made out of pure energy, the Celestials are unable to replicate and match the level of divine power done by the Goddess Hope when she made Baldura. It was way too much for them to do; it was also draining their life force. They then decided to channel their essence to tarots and they called this divination. By channeling their energies to what the Celestials called the tarot card, it allowed them to summon powers of nature, the spirit world and pandemonium and channel them into restoring the damaged world. After the restoration, the twelve remaining Celestials, then created the last race, the humans. Their gift was that of freedom. They were not bound to any duty. The humans were free to roam the lands, settle and farm and raise cattle to feed their clan.

  Ages have passed and the Great Havoc is but merely a tale told by human bards, passed on from one generation to the next. The Dwarves have constructed magnificent libraries, made out of exquisite minerals mined from the depths of the earth. The Drakini have built their magnificent fortresses on the highlands with the help of the dwarven masonry and ever vigilantly watched over the land with the help of their dragons. The Gandhali have stood strong and guarded the citadel of the celestials. Their tribes have prospered as well on the valley of stars where the citadel sits. The humans have also prospered and have come a long way from farming clans to kingdoms and trading villages. The human villages and kingdoms welcomed trade as well from the Drakini, the Dwarves and The Gandhali. The Dwarves having the keepers of knowledge, in return taught the other races incantation, the power to invoke the arcane energies left behind by the Gods Hope and Despair, and taromancy used originally by the Celestials. The Gandhali have established twelve tribes each to guard one of the remaining Celestials. Each tribe had a Champion who was the best amongst the warriors and these champions participated in games, a test to find the next tribe who would lead their race. This era of momentous prosperity was often referred to by Dwarven historians as the Period of Halcyon.

  But unbeknownst to the inhabitants of Baldura, Crios was scheming to escape from the Void. Even though stripped of his Godhood, he still had enough divine power to fulfill his plans. While his siblings exiled him, his friends were not. He communicated with them and told them in order for him to return, they will need not only their own skills but the help of humans. He implored them to find him a human vessel to which his spirit would reside. During these times, the humans having learned incantations and taromancy, have already been delving into the dark Arcanum, and a number have already been in worship of the dark God, waiting for his return. Hellion Hexus was the first human to master the arts of the Dark Arcane and together with the Fiends, he brought back Crios.

  Revived, Crios was powerful enough to bring back chaos to Baldura. He used Hellion Hexus as his physical anchor to the mortal world hence nullifying what his sister Goddess Hope did when she created the Gentao to defeat him. As a God anchored to a human host, he was free to roam the lands. He marshaled all his minions, his Fiends and now his new human worshippers. He gave his human worshippers the gift of Necromancy, the dark arts and the ability to summon Demonspawns, plagues and pestilence.  It didn’t take long for Crios and his followers to spread war across the land. The human kingdoms were totally surprised and unprepared for the onslaught. Many if not most of the human towns and villages were razed down to the ground. The sight was just horrific, thousands of refugees fled to the mountains. Of all the human kingdoms, only two remained standing but just barely surviving.  The Kingdoms Lysoria and Senegha had withstood sieges mostly thanks to the valiant efforts of its Knights. The Ivory Knights of Lysoria led by General Galam Muir and the Knights of the Lantern Moon of Senegha led by General Deacon Algerus. The Generals fought and led their Knights with passion, their presence on the battlefield inspired their men to give more than what they can. General Erumeluien of the Drakini Dragonriders admired both men and didn’t need to be persuaded to help with his dragons, He provided what his people did best, aerial support. However, this war was different from the last one, for the human worshippers of Crios now calling themselves Necromancers, have summoned from the dead, spectral dragons that now rivaled the elves. It seemed this would be a war that the human kingdoms wouldn’t survive. The Dwarven head of the archives, Scholar Duerrin, requested an audience with Gandhali once more for aid. The Warlord Mogash, leader of all Gandhali tribes, accorded his request. The Dwarf Scholar pleaded that during the last war, the Gandhali warriors were pivotal to the war effort that eventually turned the tide to their favor. As it turned out, the Scholar didn’t need to plead for anything as the warlord was glad to honor an old pact between their races. He has already mobilized an army on their way to the two remaining kingdoms.

  For a while, Crios’ forces started faltering. The Gandhali army proved once again a valuable addition to the unified races. It was short lived. The dark God this time was prepared with this maneuver, he knew that the Gandhali would join the war and so sent his most vicious warriors and monsters from the deep to concentrate their attack upon the villages of the Gandhali. The Gandhali Warlord Mogash didn’t have much choice but to concentrate his main forces into defending their territories. Crios then sent forth the bulk of his armies to finish off the two remaining human kingdoms. His armada of spectral dragons engaged the dragonriders ferociously and has taken its toll.  Though When a Dragon elf dies and is reborn as a dragon, they were nonetheless still outnumbered by endless numbers of wave after wave of spectral dragons sent out by the dark God. He then sent leagues of his Trolls and Ogres to raze the villages of the Dwarves by the mountain side, leaving the Dwarves with no choice but to retreat to the safety of their archives deep beneath the mountains and had their gates sealed from the outside world. It was at this point bleakness overran Baldura. Then one day, an old hermit knocked upon the great doors of the Dwarven archives and asked for an audience with Scholar Duerrin. This nameless hermit proposed to the Scholar how to end the war, he advised Duerrin that all he needs are but a few men. Curious about the suggestion, the Scholar asked the hermit how he would achieve such a feat, to which the only answer given was; with faith.

  Duerrin sent forth word to the Drakini, the Gandhali and the now human refugees taken by Warlord Mogash into their Citadel in the valley of Stars, requesting for their finest warriors. Mogash, trusting the wisdom of Duerrin, chose his twelve champions, one from each tribe. The human refugees sent their two Generals Muir and Algerus along with twenty of their finest Knights and the Dragon Elves sent Erumeluien plus a squadron of their best dragonriders. Duerrin also assembled a handful of his skilled sears, master arcanists and priests. They assembled at the Great Hall of Archives and Duerrin introduced to them the old Hermit and his plan. It was simple and audacious at the same time, he proposed, with the help of the men from the four races, to march towards the stronghold of Crios himself, the Tower of Abysmal Suffering in the forest of Red Oak. He motioned to the Dragonriders to clear their path as much as they can and hold, while the knights and the Gandhali warriors led towards the forest. There, with the two Knight Generals as his stewards, he will face Crios inside his own keep. The plan however, was discredited to be nothing but a folly by most of the men. They argued that the entire plan is but a death march and a waste of good talent amongst the remaining forces by each race.

This however was only answered with a smile on the hermit’s face as he uttered:

For every suffering and evil in the world, there’s always a glimmer of hope.

 Bravely the group set out for the tower. The nearer they got, the more they lost units. Upon reaching the entrance to the Red Oak Forest, the dragonriders sent forth to action. The Drakini used their dragons not as weapons, but rather as utility, they burned through the thick grove of trees making a pathway for their comrades. This however, wasn’t met without heavy resistance from their adversaries, while paving the way for the infantry; the dragons were engaged by the spectral dragons. It was a brutal aerial combat. Through sheer spirit and boldness the drakini riders were able to keep the spectral dragons at bay, giving the gandhali along with the human knights and the old hermit some time to pass through the burnt forest pathway leading to the Tower of Abysmal Suffering. The battle of the dragons had finally taken its toll however, as it had taken the life of General Erumeluien. His dragon was slain by spectral ones and fell down back to earth with him still on the saddle. Their counterparts however, were met with counts of Behemoths and Abominations. The Gandhali warriors stood their ground and gave the knights and the hermit leeway to carry on. The battle from the entrance of the tower to the throne room of Crios was equally arduous, upon reaching Crios it was only the old hermit and the two knight generals left standing in front of the fallen God. The old hermit then showed his true power and form, whatever kind of arcana or necromancy Crios threw at him he was able to match it with his holy magic. The battle between the two destroyed half of the throne room as the two knight generals held tightly on still standing pillars for their lives. Confused and exhausted, The dark God slumped on his knees and surrendered, questioning what kind of a manner is this old man to have such shown true power to overcome even a fallen God like him. It was at this moment, the old hermit revealed that through the boundless benevolence of the goddess Hope, She made the Gentao human incarnate, the Godsent, the hope bringer. The one mortal being who can vanish Crios from the mortal plane back to the Void. The Gentao incarnate did the ultimate sacrifice and vanquished Crios and with it, came the price of his own lifeforce, draining him as he coursed all his energy to fulfill the deed. In his dying breath, he told the knights, as dark as the nights may be, as dismal things may get, if they have faith, there will always be hope.

 The two Generals Muir and Algerus together with the twelve Gandhali warriors and a handful of Drakini elves returned to the dwarven mountain archives victorious but carried with them the burden of the news of the death of their comrades but also of the Gentao. The survivors were hailed as heroes, Both human generals returned to their homelands and each general re-established their kingdoms. To honor their deeds, Lysoria was renamed Muir, and Senegha was renamed Algerus. Scholar Duerrin communed with the Celestials to heal the land once more of the scars left by the war. However, it seems Crios would not go but without one last betrayal. The Celestials revealed to him that when he came back from the Void, Crios placed a curse on the land that would prevent them to heal it as they did before, that whatever kind of arcana, divination or incantation can never heal the land ever again. To heal it, they would have to leave it to the races, to nurture it, care for it and let nature take its course. They also revealed to Duerrin that the future brings bad tidings. One of the races will be seduced by Crios’s influence and will betray the others. This will bring strife and anonymity amongst them and will pave the way for his return. Upon the return of Crios, the Gentao will once more appear to combat his evil. The chosen one will be of royal brooding, as he will be born from a noble bloodline. Deeply afflicted by these prophecies, Duerrin wrote them in a book he called the Tome of Destiny and sealed it with an arcane seal, only a holy priest can open. He then hid it deep in the chambers of the great archives.

Series NavigationThe Celestial Chronicles: Hierophant (Chapter One) – A Shadowdancer Strikes >>
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