The Birth of Lake Ransa in Costrus | World Anvil

The Birth of Lake Ransa

King Azarel had recently conquered Hiberton, the young man was widely known for his prowess on the battlefield, but Anita knew that he was as smart as his sword was sharp. She had been working behind the scenes for years now to help assure his victories. The pay was good, and the work was satisfying; Anita was sure that she was on the brink of a new discovery that could give humans the advantage over the Yildae once and for all.

Long had their mysterious power been out of reach. Still, with an entire castle at her disposal and room for experiments, Anita was in her glory. Magic was finally in her grasp. Her light brown skirts skimmed the cobbled stone floor, and the hems were all frayed. Fixing them seemed a waste of money, and the documents, books, and ingredients she needed were not cheap to find or transport. Just last month, a cart carrying a particularly volatile plant extract had burst into flames. The loss was a small price to pay, in her view. Of course, she had already proven her worth with new magics that Azarel had used to secure his victory and solidify his rule over his new country.

“Not enough. We need to go bigger!” She threw her arms wide and turned to a gargoyle face carved into one of the walls. “Don’t you agree?”

She wrinkled her nose to mock the stone face. “By the Gods, they did make you ugly, didn’t they? The Hiberton royals really had no appreciation for beauty.”

The cold eyes stared back, and the carving didn’t respond, but Anita nodded and frowned. “It’s not your fault, you can’t help the way you were made, and now you can rejoice! You’ll get to see new discoveries, and I’m telling you I have something big planned.”

She pulled her long black hair up into a bun and secured it with a long steel pin adorned with a bird decorated with precious stones in a rainbow of colours. Shuffling through the scrolls on her workbench Anita continued her one-sided conversation.

“You see, Azarel has a dream for this country. Beauty, art, culture, and best of all,” Anita hugged a large scroll to her chest and spun on her toes over to lean against the wall, “magic!”

The gargoyle seemed unimpressed, but Anita didn’t take it personally. Not many appreciated the nuance of her work. Azarel did. She sighed dreamily, “He’s a lovely king, you know. If I weren’t so low born, I might have dreamed of marrying him, but he will have a princess for a wife, and she will become a queen.”

Reaching up, Anita patted the gargoyle’s cheek, “So you, my ugly companion, will have to be my new lover. I will see about a makeover for you in the future, and I will transform you into a work of art.”

“Mistress, a missive from the Dahreel palace.” The guard held the message out as Anita slunk across the room and took the parchment. He quickly turned and left, closing the thick oak door behind him.

Anita unrolled the message, smiling at Azarel’s familiar handwriting. Her smile faded, and her brow furrowed as she made her way down the page. Her dark brown eyes scanned it, again and again, her hands shaking as tears welled up in her eyes. She crumpled the message and threw it into the fireplace. Her slippered feet slapped against the stones as she paced the room, her mumblings growing louder occasionally.

“Cutting back on research!” She ran her arm across a table full of glass instruments and they burst into shards on the floor and sparkled in the firelight. “Unethical, he says! Too many lost investments!”

The gargoyle was unsympathetic, and Anita panted as rage boiled within her. She leaned over the table and screamed down at it. “He’s just saying that to make others happy. His advisors just don’t understand, and he’s just trying to keep them on his side!”

Anita wiped tears off her cheeks and walked over to the gargoyle, and tapped him gently on the cheek. “We’ll show them how important we are, darling.”

She spent the night pouring over her books, sifting through the meanings to the strange symbols she and her contemporaries had been working on. It might not have been too far off the mark to say her work was unethical. There was an unwritten rule among those working with magic and alchemy to share their knowledge and discoveries. This meant that coded messages were passing between nations that would normally never speak to each other. A secret network, they all believed the same thing, that magic would be the key to making sure humans were safe from the threat of the demons in the south who had a natural affinity for it.

“This is going to be big, my friend. I need more room,” the table legs screeched their protest as they were dragged to the edges of the room. “If I can cut their costs on frivolous things, like redecorating, I can convince Azarel that we can keep our budget.”

Anita opened a box of chalk and pushed her sleeves up as she began drawing on the floor. The symbols were rough on the stones, and she was working quickly.

“Normally, I might start smaller, but I think we need to make a big impression.” Her hair hung in disarray around her face as she quickly used up almost every piece of chalk to draw her circles. The lines intersected, and the circles overlapped around sections of symbols. “You see that! Runes, my friend, each one corresponds to a different part of this palace.”

She pointed to one in the middle, “That one is you. You’ll be more beautiful than you could have ever hoped.”

It was the least she could do for him. He had been subjected to her ramblings and screaming. Anita made her way to the alchemy bench and put together a foul-smelling brew that she placed on a piece of parchment with another runic circle on it before slicing into her hand and letting it drip on the ink and then directing the flow into the bottle. The runes glowed gently and lifted off the page, and wrapped around the bottle before disappearing into the liquid.

“You see, the alchemy we were using before wasn’t nearly as effective,” she explained to her stony friend, “the runes direct the energy that’s collected in all living things. Humans don’t have much as a rule, I’m lucky to have a bit more than the average human, but that runic circle concentrates it.”

“Large circles need more magic, and I think I’ll need ten of these at least,” she explained as she prepped the next bottle. Her head was swimming by the tenth bottle, sweat beaded on her forehead as she plowed on. Emptying the smaller bottles into one large vase, she stood at the edge of her chalk circles. “The trick is to provide the right amount of magic to activate the runes, but not so much as to overwhelm them.”

 

With those last words, she tipped the vase on the outermost line, and the glow began to radiate, and the liquid seemed to disappear into the chalk. Anita wobbled and lost her balance, landing on the vase and her hastily drawn runes. The last thing she saw was a bright flash of light.

The explosion was heard across the continent, and when the dust settled the Hiberton summer palace, along with the town of Ransa, were not much more than a smoking crater. At its center, a tall pillar stood with a princely figure atop it. His doublet was coloured with shimmering emeralds, and his eyes were faceted sapphire stones. Delicately carved gold adorned his head, and his skin shone silver in the sunlight. Despite the beauty of the statue, his head was tipped down, and his face was crumpled in pain.

“I would rather be ugly and able to speak to you, Anita, than be beautiful and alone. You were foolish, but I grew to love you.” His pouting mouth didn’t move as he spoke, but diamonds fell like tears into a small pile at his feet.

The gargoyle prince mourned the loss of his mistress upon his pillar. Ghost stories and cautionary tales warned of a terrible monster and ancient ruins at the center of the lake. No one from nearby towns dared approach the statue, and fishing boats stayed close to shore to avoid the ruins. Records of the old palace and village were destroyed. Eventually, Lake Ransa’s origin was lost to time for all but that lonely gargoyle.

From its western shore, Lake Ransa looks out to the Hiberton mountain range. Fishing and mining provide work for the people and the villages of Eeldry and Harron Hold grew into towns and then cities following the formation of the lake.


One should never row to the middle of the lake, only ruin awaits.
— Eeldry Warning

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