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The Great Calamities

We look at mountains and call them eternal, and to most, they do seem...but those who know the past know that nothing is eternal. And even mountains can turn to dust in but the blink of an eye.
— Archivar Maeonius warning Emperor Marcian of Rhomeia
  A simple truth about life is that it is often short and ends abruptly. Be it by Man's hand or the lethal whims of nature, the ways in which existence can be extinguished are many. And a select few manage to not only scar those that survive them but echo in the souls of their descendants for millennia to come.  

Describing Death

  The Great Calamities are, in the simplest of words, the disasters among catastrophes. Events so gargantuan that they not only affect the area in which they occur but the world in its entirety. In but the blink of an eye, they can change the lives of millions. Their names usually consist of their most striking characteristic combined with the word hour.  

In the Blink of an Eye

  In total, there have been five catastrophes deemed sufficiently powerful enough to be called Great Calamity:  
  • the Brightflame Hour 3199 DA.
    Youngest of the calamities, it shook the southern continent of Anidara, tearing a hole several hundred kilometers wide into the land and spreading poisonous ash across most of the world. Its name is derived from the bright green torrent of flame that signaled the disaster in every corner of the Great Divide.
 
  • the Hour of the Ashen Skies ca. 2000 DA.
    An until recently unknown event that occured in the far north of the world. The disaster, according to Mykonian myth caused by the descend of a star, unleashed an age of winter upon the world that lasted nearly a thousand years.
 
  • the Hour of the Voidscream 793/794 DA.
    A night of chaos and madness. Strange lights danced in the skies, in many cities the people tore themselves apart and in northern Vardania an entire civilisation disappeared without a trace. Illigaran poet Rana Arasatra claimed to have heared the screams of the damned echoing in the dark, an utterance which would eventually give the calamity its name.
 
  • the Infernal Hour ca. 172 DA.
    Perhaps the longest-lasting of the great calamities, the "Year of Fire" showed mankind that the Walls of Dusk and Dawn were not the mass of dead rock they thought them to be. While not the most destructive in terms of lives lost, it nevertheless burned itself into the memory of many a people around the world.
 

Oblivion - Year 0

  Over 4000 years ago, the ancient world vanished in a storm of fire and ash. A new one was born in its stead, carved from the carcass of a broken earth. Never before or after was humanity closer to extinction and those few that did survive endured an age of darkness that lasted over seven centuries.   Most obvious of the scars left behind is the Great Divide itself. Others are less visible but in no way less severe. All of the Great Calamities are known and remembered throughout the world, in song and myth and dream. But the Oblivion Hour has become part of man's very soul. It is a festering wound that will never truly heal.  
Why we remember them so vividly? Quite simple really. The living are always drawn to death, be it in fear or fascination.
— Rana Arasatra, Illigaran Poet, to one of his students
Memory   There are many ways in which the Great Five have influenced human cultures over the millennia, their presence in myths and faith being the most apparent.   Another example is that of Vardanian Apostasy, the renouncement of religion in any form by a majority of Vardanian people.   Other faiths, such as Vashanism, have developed around the Calamities themselves as punishment for mankind's sins. Especially Oblivion is seen as a cleansing of the world in that sense.   A Final Hour?   The fact that these catastrophes occur repeatedly, even if millennia separate them, has led many to believe that there may come a Calamity that humanity will not survive.   Known by many names, this disaster is often referred to as the Final Hour and how it occurs changes depending on culture and faith.   Several religions depict it as a grand battle for the fate of humanity, a showdown between the great evil and those trying to preserve mankind's soul.  

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Cover image: by Dominik Mayer

Comments

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10 Jun, 2021 22:38

Damn, that's some rad stuff.

12 Jun, 2021 19:59

The Hour of the Voidscream sounds... absolutely terrifying. I love the quote at the beginning - really evocative. I like the looming threat of a 'final hour', though there's no way of knowing when or if it will come. Great job!

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
17 Jun, 2021 05:03

You know, I was just thinking to myself, I could really go for a good ol Darkseid disaster article. And then you come along with this fantastic outline of 5 of em! I remember reading about the infernal hour, it's awesome to see more of these too. Great stuff!

Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.