The Keeper's Great Betrayal in Arclands | World Anvil

The Keeper's Great Betrayal

 

Introduction

  At the climax of the Devourer War, the Keeper, armed with a weapon that the Athervannir and Lotharvannir had crafted in the great forge, The Wheel of Fire, dealt the Devourer a mortal blow. The Keeper had entered the Devourer's very form previously and learned the creature's origin and its secrets. Armed with Comayres, a spear made from ores known only to Olbrathan, the lord of the Lotharvannir, he plunged it deep into the burning, pulsating heart of the beast. In its moment of torment the Keeper and his armies forced the Devourer and the many hideous beings that poured forth from its body back towards a doorway created by the Lotharvannir to a new reality that was made to act as their prison. The beast battled to remain free, drawn to the order that the Keeper had created. Finally, the great armies of both Celestium and Damnation flung the creature deep into the void and, before they closed the portal, were able to witness its absorbtion into the matter of the new universe (which would eventually be known as the Mortal Realm). Some of the Thaladic Graces who had rebelled against the Keeper just prior to the advent of the Devourer had misgivings about how they might be treated after the conflict had ended, and had already made contingency plans but a majority believed that the Keeper would honour his promises and preserve their lives. None of these Thaladics had expected to be standing on the plain of Locaris in Damnation when the enemy was defeated.    Before the Thaladics were able to react, the Keeper's trap was sprung, the great marshals of the Phanlanx Graces, the Keeper's most loyal lieutenants, marched their armies towards a portal created by the Keeper, while the Thaladics were surrounded by the armies of the Legion, who swarmed forth and overwhelmed Thaladican and his comrades. Thaladican himself fell under a seething mass of the Oeloke, the shock troops of Damnation. His fate is unknown and the survivors of Locaris were never able to locate his remains, leaving hope amongst some of them that he survived. The Grace Y’Vestan, was used as a burning torch high above the citadel Orog Ka-Rul, his agonising screams piercing the dark of Damnation for thousands of years, and the light from his eternanlly burning form shining across the dark waters of the realm for many hundreds of miles.  

The Purging of the Thaladics

    Most of the Graces were slain but some of the Graces who were taken captive in despair turned on their comrades and agreed to serve the lords of the Legion, the Five Pillars of Damnation. These Graces became known as the Maskanathar and the hatred and rage they naturally felt to their master transformed them in the dark ash of Damnation into cruel and ruthless servants of darkness. Others still were imprisoned in the dark fortresses of the Legion and subject to terrible torments, driven mad by the pain and suffering. A small number were helped by the Lotharvannir, particularly Nulantarran, the grieving daughter or Olbrathan, whose existence had also been kept secret from the Keeper. She stole back into Damnation and showed the remaining Thaladics a hidden doorway to the Vestenard, the great maze between worlds. Thaladics crossed the silent and seemingly empty network of stairs, bridges, portals and tunnels which had been partly created by the Lotharvannir as the architecture that held the dimensions together. It had been adapted by the Legion, who, in their secret deal with the Keeper, had been given access to it as their reward, and a map of how to cross it to the Mortal Realm and the newly ruined realm of the Grey Kingdom. The Thaladics learned that the Vestenard was not quite as empty as they had believed as the Legion crossed it to find new realms to conquer. Eventually, after many  bloody battles with the Legion (who, for their own reasons chose to keep the existence of surviving Thaladics a secret from the Keeper), the Graces found a doorway into the Mortal Realm.  

Yaran: The Sanctuary

  The Thaladic Graces arrived in a world they called Yaran, meaning 'Sanctuary' (later to be known by humans as Hermia ). It was a spherical, cold stone orb adrift in the heavens of the new Mortal Realm (though this was not the name the Keeper gave it, he simply called in Eshavon, or 'Prison'). When the Graces looked into the dark skies above them and saw the stars, they discovered the brilliance of the Lotharvannirs' smithing. They realised that every star, every nebula, every galaxy above them was a link in the great chain that bound the Devourer, and they in every fragment of rock, part of the being's soul lay dormant.    What the Thaladics did not know was that the Mortal Realm pulsed with extraordinary energies that resulted from the capturing and channelling of the Devourer’s essence. As they walked across the cold, barren world they sensed change beneath their feet as the core of the planet warmed and the crust of the planet began to shake and shift. They saw the first mountains rise, the first rains fall and the first life take root. Many could not endure the emptiness of Yaran and build great chambers deep beneath the earth where they lay in a sleep of the eons, hoping to re-awaken when life teemed across the world in all its variety and diversity. The Thaladics who chose to remain awakened grew attuned to the Mortal Realm and to the world of Yaran, seeing the birth of its two moons and every sunrise and sunset since the planet’s earliest days. They also learned that the Lotharvannir had left them one final gift, the gift of song. The great engineers of the Mortal Realm had hidden within the weave of reality a song that the Mortal Realm itself could sing, a song that only the keenest of ears could be attuned to. When the Thaladics learned the song it transformed them into beings called the Syadthe, creatures of immense power who left their corporeal Grace forms and became part of the magic weave of the universe itself. This was part of the Lotharvannir’s plan, as the role of the Syadthe was to welcome to the world the Fey.   

The Syadthe and the Fey

    When the Lotharvannir understood what kind of prison the Keeper had wanted them to create, they understood that the dimension in question could not fail to produce life. The question for the Lotharvannir was what form that life would take. Some of the great crafters demanded that the new universe create life in their image, but Ekyres, the leader of the Lotharvannir believed that it was not for their kind to recreate the same mistakes that the Keeper had and try to be gods themselves. Instead, they accepted that the new universe was a living being in its own right and could produce life without their interference. When the Thaladics became the Syadthe, they entered the magical weave itself and it was there, in their own pocket reality called Hyamasus, that they saw the arrival from the mists of the first Fey. They recognised that these beings, both fair and beast like, were the spontaneous products of the universe that they dwelt in, just as the first Tralanvannir had been many eons ago in the Celestial Realm. Determined not to repeat the Keeper’s mistakes, the Syadthe embraced the new life that had emerged and told them the full truth of their creation. They Syadthe cautioned the Fey that they were not gods and should not be worshipped, instead telling the first lords of the Fey that the Syadthe were simply wise friends who were old in the ways of the world already.  

The Eye of the Keeper

  Because of the weaknesses woven into the Mortal Realm by the Lotharvannir, the Keeper could not set foot there personally without his power fracturing it and setting the Devourer free. However, as life developed across the prison he head created for his mortal enemy, the Keeper began to wonder whether some of the rebel graces might have made their home there. He did not realise that the Athervannir, now descending into insanity, were keeping the Syadthe and the entombed Graces safe by preventing the Keeper's gaze from penetrating Yaran and other worlds the Thaladics had arrived at. The Keeper sent his most ruthless and loyal servants, the Shuravai, to search the Mortal worlds where life had originated. They hunted tirelessly for their master's enemies, slowly finding clues that the Thaladics had survived. When the Shuravai found the first Fey, they guessed at a connection to the Thaladics and as they persecuted the Fey, forcing them to flee they forced the hand of the Syadthe, and the first wars of the Fey began.

A Fire in the Heart of Knowing

  Our debut Arclands novel is available here. Read A Fire In the Heart of Knowing, a story of desperate power struggles and a battle for survival in the dark lands of Mordikhaan.

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