Friday, May 3, 2013

Warlords of Lingusia III: The Idean Codices and the Mythic History

The Idean Codices

   The world of Lingusia is ancient, and it’s known recorded history can be found in a series of texts called the Idean Codices, the Sacred Books of History and Theology. These Codices have been carefully tended to by various religious orders over the millennia, and the oldest of these texts is believed to be nearly 40,000 years old, written by prehuman entities. A thousand years ago, during the final era of the ancient Hyrkanian Empire, the cult of the sun god Naril kept 29 such codices as the “official” texts, but since that time the number of Idean texts believed to be “genuine” have swollen to nearly one hundred, including books sacred to the old chaos cults, as well as forgotten tomes that were once hidden in musty libraries and in the collections of studied scholars and sorcerers.

   The agents of the Esoteric Order of Warenos are dedicated to the collection of lost tomes, and in so doing they have managed to assemble the most complete collection yet known of the sacred Idean Codices. It is from this collection, as well as new books written to document more recent events of the world, in which the vast timeline of both man and those who came before, right back to the creation of the first gods, can be found. One such book, called the Calydarin Codex, is believed to tell some of the very oldest tales of creation, and sheds some light on the very origins of the gods themselves, as well as suggesting that the cosmic events of the last few thousand years are merely the latest in a long series of cyclical events involving the rise, fall, and rebirth of the very gods themselves. The fact that the most recent version of this codex to appear was revealed by a disciple of Thaedra, who in turned claimed to have stolen it from the clutches of the slumbering kraken Zyl’Skolidos, only makes the mystery and secrets of the book even more fascinating.

The Cosmic Creation Myth of the Calydarin Codex
   Before the discovery of the Calydarin Codex, most of the mythology of the ancient world was drawn from the known Codices held by the cult of Naril, a once great imperial church that is now primarily worshipped in Enarrion. These books detailed a creation story which was, while similar to the one described in this new book, filled with various inconsistencies, contradictions, and unexplained mysteries. There are still many such mysteries yet to be answered, but the new codex shed much light on exactly what happened at the dawn of creation.

   The world of Lingusia is described in the Calydarin Codex as a world created, although the exact translation uses the word engineered, by an ancient cosmic race of beings, in honor of the first goddess, called Gathika, who is variously described as the daughter of primal creation, usually identified as the first being of chaos, called Malakor. She is also seen as a reverent leader of these so-called first beings. A second entity enters creation at a later date, said by some to have been spawned from Malakor, and by others to have been birthed from Gathika, an entity known to rule over the realm of death called T’Kothos. The newly recovered First Book of the Idean Codices suggests that the entity T’Kothos was created to perfect some sort of balance in the universe, that life and death were necessary components of the cosmic interplay that were missing up to that point.

   The Calydarin Codex essentially outlines the dawn of creation as follows: Malakor, the first entity, formed consciousness from chaos. In an infinity of unknown time Malakor seeded the greater cosmos with countless entities, of which Gathika was the first to manifest order from chaos. Gathika in turn created her own universe, of which she became very possessive. She saw that her creator, as generously as he created whole universes and minds, was equally likely to destroy his creations. Because of this, Gathika decided to protect her creations. It is said she did so by creating the universe as it is known, a region of insidious, pervasive, and ever expanding space which forged order out of chaos. Thus did she protect herself and her creation from destruction, but simultaneously did she draw attention to herself, for her propogating wave of order threatened to destroy the essence of chaos, from which Malakor itself was comprised.

   The Calydarin Codex describes how Malakor drew upon his vast and infinite entropic energies to summon forth the first, most ancient entities to penetrate the universe which Gathika had created and destroy it from within. Unsurprisingly, it names these first destroyers as being twelve ancient titans, demonic entities that later historians would come to call the Krakens, although the original name for them in what is called the Primal Language (the first language ever created) was Skaeddrath. The Skaeddrath were each unkillable, potent beings who in turn bred armies of monsters to literally devour the universe from within.

   According to the text, the Skaeddrath were unstoppable. They were like bubbles of expanding chaos, breeding monsters of chaos that could literally unravel reality. The book speaks of how desperate measures were taken to stop them from undoing the creation Gathika had wrought.
   First, she brought forth an ally. This being, called T’Kothos, was given half of the universe of creation to tend to, and with him came the concept of death. With death a new force in reality, it made it possible to kill and destroy the creations of chaos.

   Despite the creation of death and its overseer, Gathika could not properly squelch the expansion of chaos within her realm, for the twelve Skaeddrath were entities from outside of her domain, and therefore not susceptible to the powers of either Gathika or T’Kothos. To this end, she sought to imprison them, and in turn created her own sentient entities to insure they remain imprisoned.
   Scholars studying the Calydarin Codex are prone to much argument and debate over the translation of the text at this point, for according to most accepted interpretations, the book clearly states that the World of Lingusia was created as a prison, a trap in which the twelve Skaeddrath were locked away, to protect the rest of the universe. In turn, the first gods were the caretakers of this prison, the guards tasked with insuring that the twelve entities would never escape.

   The notion that the entire world is but a prison created to protect the rest of the universe from the destructive power of twelve seeds of chaos is terrible enough. That the gods themselves are nothing more than caretakers is even more challenging to the faith of some dedicates. Still, the Esoteric Order of Warenos has worked long and hard to understand the mysteries of this first book, and to interpret later historical events in terms which would relate to this origin of the world.

   The original gods were twenty four strong, two jailers for each Skaeddrath imprisoned. These gods dwelt in the first city, once called Nekro’Zahn, where the primal energy of the universe itself was used to empower the gods and the prisons of the Skaeddrath.

   None of the original gods listed in this first book are known to exist today, save for the entities called Aurumurvox, Damortus, Eldarath, and Ashuar. Collectively, these four surviving first gods are now called The Mysteries, for it is indeed a mystery as to who and what they really are, as well as what happened to their ancient brethren. The first book mentions the deaths of at least three of these gods within its pages, but there appear to be several tomes written subsequently to it which are missing. Indeed, the next known Idean Codex takes up the story some fifty thousand years later.

    Still, priest-scholars of Warenos have determined that all of the known and recorded history of the ancient world can boil down to a never ending conflict between the realm of order (the universe of Gathika’s and T’Kothos’ creation) and the outer realm, the far realm of chaos and the infinity of the undefined reality beyond, where the entity Malakor lies waiting. In one way or another, all pantheons of the gods and all great cosmic conflicts stem from this great war.

   There are four known and numerous unknown periods of such conflict. To summarize, these events (in order) are known or believed to have happened:

The Prehistory of the Gods and the Imprisonment of the Skaeddrath
   Sometime after the dawn of the world’s creation, the Skaeddrath were imprisoned and the First Gods came to be. An unknown period of time afterwards, the twenty four created the Known Gods, and were in turn destroyed, or left their duty as caretakers and jailers behind. Some scholars think that there was no war of younger and older gods, that in fact the younger gods were created specifically to relieve the first gods of their duties of which they grew weary.

The Lineage of the Old Gods
   There is much evidence from later Codexes that the gods known today are a mixture of these gods who were created by the first gods. Indeed, it is believed that the first mortal beings were created to populate the world specifically so that certain enlightened individuals could be chosen to manifest as demiurges, eventually replacing their tired forebears as part of the new pantheon. Sometime before about 42,000 years ago this transition happened in totality, and a new pantheon of gods had emerged, in which many of the known gods of the world existed today.

The Rise and fall of the Prehunates
   This pantheon, for reasons described in later codices as fear, sought to exterminate a race of mortals called the prehunates. Later interpretations of codices relating the tales of this time suggest that the prehunates challenged the power of the gods. It is now believed that the prehunates sought to usurp the power of the gods, but may have attempted to do so by unleashing the Skaeddrath from their prisons. It is also proposed that these prehunates were unwittingly being manipulated by the Skaeddrath in to bringing about their freedom. In any case, most of the lost documents are believed to have been destroyed in this time, as an ancient period of terrible destruction brought about the destruction of the world as it was known at that time, and all mortal races were plunged in to primitive barbarism.

The Rise of Man
   There is a long gap in the accurate historical record in the Idean Codices, during which it is believed that the mortal races struggled to regain civilization. During this time, man arose to power about twenty thousand years ago in the Middle Kingdoms, forging the ancient Fertile Empire. During this time, there are allusions to the many disputes and curious politics of the known gods, along with the suggestion that some of these gods were born of or seduced by the mysterious power that chaos offered. It was during this time that the forces of chaos began to form a new wave of attack, a way to conquer the world and bring about the release of the Skaeddrath. A few scholars interpret this period of history differently, and question whether the new agents of chaos were really minions sent to free the Skaeddrath, or if they even knew of their existence. Indeed, from reading old tomes of the lost chaos cults, some priest scholars have concluded that the entire war of chaos which culminated 2,500 years ago in the destruction of Corti’Zahn was spawned entirely by the greed of entrepreneurial deities who had tastes the destructive energy of chaos and become addicted to it, and were never aware of the significance of the older conflict.

The War of the Gods
   As mentioned above, the development of a new group of gods who venerated chaos led to their dabbling in the creation of chaotic realms, such as the abyss, which were like blighted, warped bubbles in the otherwise smooth expansion of the universe. In time, these deities came to conflict with their brethren who realized they were corrupted by this dark and destructive force from beyond the walls of the universe, and a great conflict ensued. It culminated in a great invasion of Lingusia itself, in which the demons and their chaos gods assaulted the mortal domain of the world, where the gods dwelt in splendor in the sacred city of Corti’Zahn. This conflict is very detailed in numerous ancient texts, including the Idean Codices, and is said to have lasted a year and a day, after which the forces of the demons were driven back in to the gateways of the abyssal realm they had wrought destruction upon the world. In its wake, though, most all of the gods were said to have been slain in their mortal forms, and only their divine spirits escaped in to the outer realms of the planar universe.

The Era of the Dark War and the Long Night
   The Dark War is described as “the war to end all wars” by those few documents that still exist and record its tragic occurrence. The Dark War happened around approximately 1,960 a.w. and was heralded by the immortal champion of Chaos known under many appellations, though his incarnation in this time was that of Xarion, dark pharaoh of Galonia.

   It is generally agreed upon by most that this era marked the beginning of the Long Night, as it would come to be called in later centuries, during which the empires of old fell in to darkness, while magic and knowledge became a precious commodity. Little of history after the time of the Dark War is recorded, but there are a few known facts:

The Rise of Unarak: During these mysterious years the god of undeath manifested in full, and became a powerful force of evil. Unarak was said to have challenged even Xarion for power in this time.

The Fall of the Empire: sometime before 2,200 it is believed the last living emperor of Hyrkania fell, perhaps during the invasion of the Nordamans. To this day the northern kingdom along the Baldaric is called Nordaman.

The Rise of Golmadras: The Golmadrans rose to power after a schism between the Argoseans in the southern lands of Karaktu. The disenfranchised god-king of Golmadras founded a new empire of his own through conquering the elvish lands of Sylvias.

The Rise of the Mysteries: it is said that the Mysteries were rediscovered during the era of the Long Night and came once more in to worship. Most prominent of them was Eshuar, out of Senempar.

The Hidden History of the Chronomancers of Huuarl: a few scholars in the modern Warlords era know of the so-called “hidden history” of Huuarl, kept by the ancient order of the chronomancers dedicated to the god of time. It is said that the eternal guardian Aeon was positioned by Huuarl to forever protect the ancient entrances to the prison-tombs of the primordial chaos titans called the Skaeddrath, to avert an apocalypse that would have otherwise destroyed the world. The “hidden history” shows a very different series of events after the beginning of the Dark War as a result of the time god’s meddling, though the order justifies this by saying that it was the only way to insure that the very cosmos itself was not destroyed.

The Era of the Long Night
   Fifteen centuries after the Dark War and the Long Night, the world of Lingusia is at last emerging from its own lengthy dark age. The terrifying Plague Years, the great time of global warming, and the catastrophic deluge that followed have all left their mark upon the world.

   The Long Night itself heralded two world-shaping events: first, around a thousand years ago a period of global warming struck, in which the vast blocks of polar ice at the edges of the world melted, causing a global rise in sea levels, inundating much of the coastal lands of the world and flooding some regions such as the Great Basin region of Amech, turning the entire region in to a vast sea. It is believed that this phenomenon has happened many times before, and explains many unusual ruins and remnants that can be found along the coast. Those few scholars who have taken up the antiquarian study of geology feel that this is a natural phenomenon in Lingusia that repeats once every five to ten thousand years, though they do not understand what mechanism causes the melting and later freezing.

   The second event known only as the Plague of Unarak led to a global threat that nearly wiped out all of humanity. The vile demigod Unarak rose to power during the era of the Dark War and was such a threat that he even threatened the power base of Xarion himself, the Immortal Lord of Chaos. The records of that era are largely lost to time, and so little is known of the resolution of this ancient conflict, other than that it heralded the inevitable collapse of the Hyrkanian Empire, leading to a general instability in the civilizations of the time, and the beginning of the Long Night.

   The Plague of Unarak is believed to have begun approximately one thousand years ago. The enigmatic lich Unarak had schemed for centuries to achieve ultimate power, enough to become a god. The mechanism by which he accomplished this is largely unknown, but it is suspected that he found and stole the power from three ancient still-living prehunates, who themselves were like lesser gods. After stealing the power of these three (Diannysos, Eskandar, and  Zelkarod, then using their lost magical lore to grant himself true divinity, Unarak seized the chains of power and became the lord of undeath in the penumbral realm of shadow. With his power achieved, he directly sought to oppose the gods of the dead by usurping their command.

    Unarak had effectively created an entirely new pantheon, which included himself as king of the Shadow Gods, as well as his young bride Phaedra, who herself had stolen power from the old god of shadow Avarath. He restored the three prehunates to unlife, creating the first three vempiric deities in the reanimated bodies of Diannysos, Eskanadar and Zelkarod. Unarak’s final collusion was with three demon gods, being Orcus, Typhon and Balor, all three of whom were elevated to divinity through his gift of power, to become his dark cabinet.

   Unarak had clearly been scheming. It is believed that he may have somehow, like the chronomancers of Huuarl, manipulated the very time stream itself to grant himself an advantage. Alas, how and when he did this deed remains a mystery, but his act of ascencion had terrible repurcusions for the mortal world.

   Unarak, once his newly created divine pantheon was secure, called down a plague of undead on the mortal plane that strengthened as they slew the living, converting all who were killed in to more of their kind. The Plague swept the entire continent, wiping out entire civilizations before a rally in the Middle Kingdoms at last forced the hordes back, led by a handful of new champions, avatars chosen by the gods to once more protect the mortal world from destruction. It was in this time that the likes of Nymrador, Ariskon, Khovaris and Keramak became demiurges themselves as a result of Unarak’s destruction.

   It is said, although the truth has never been determined, that the gods themselves fought a cosmic war in the Celestial Planes against Unarak’s overwhelming plague, and that the Shadow itself engulfed vast territories of the divine realm, absorbing the power of multiple divinities as it did. Many gods are said to have fallen, slain by the power Unarak, before they at last defeated and banished the undead gods of Shadow.

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