he only known details of Cervia's life pre-Excilior
are those which she chose to share in her logs
or in personal conversations - and she had a long-standing reputation for saying little about her early years. She almost never discussed anything about her home world, her parents, her extended family, her school years, or her military experiences. Historians have concluded that she wasn't overtly trying to hide any aspect of her past. She had simply come to accept that she, like everybody else on the planet, was stranded here for the rest of her life, and there wasn't much use in dwelling, or even discussing, the past.
She was born and raised on her peoples' home planet of Tallon
. She rarely spoke of it and made little attempt to explain its culture, customs, or even its proximity to her adopted home. In her waning years, while giving a speech to a group of students, one of the youngest asked, "How far is Tallon
from here?" She replied, "Child, there is nothing I can say to you that will allow you to comprehend the distance."
Since Cervia was herself a human, it has always been inferred that Tallon's
was a human civilization. But no one knows the relationship between Tallonai
society, and the presumably-human Absents
that had been conducting excilation
for almost 500 years. Cervia's earliest accounts of her crash indicate that Excilior
was an "uncharted" planet. But surely, it wasn't uncharted to the Absents
- who still jettison people to Excilior
to this very day. This may imply that Tallon's
civilization was far removed from Excilior's
The most obvious aspect of her young life is that of her military service, because it was precisely that service that brought her to Excilior
. She joined the Tallonai
military at 19. It's believed that she spent nearly two years in training as a tactical fighter pilot. The skimmer
she piloted was a light reconnaissance vessel equipped for both gathering intelligence and, when needed, brief dogfights.
ervia crashed on 9 Achiel, 1 AoC
. Her earliest log
speculates this may have been the result of sabotage, and she returned to this narrative several times throughout her life. But when pressed on the matter, she always admitted that she couldn't guess as to the possible culprits of such an action, or their putative motives. Her rationale for this line of reasoning was that, "All four of my spatial thrusters blew out simultaneously. This is something I was never trained for, and some would say, is nearly impossible without outside intervention. Normally, when you lose a thruster - even two of them, in dire circumstances - the nav system will adjust the remaining rigs to compensate. But all four of mine fried out within microseconds. Not only did this cripple my ability to steer, but it presented me with an immediate emergency because the resulting explosive force sent me spiraling into Excilior
's gravity well."
he witnessed the arrival of Theor Mormentroff
, on the southern coast of present-day Vetri on 2 Hielach
, 1 AoC
. He became the first person she encountered on the planet who did not attack her or treat her at all as an adversary. Rather, they worked together over the course of the following year to explore their new environment and fashion cooperative strategies for survival. During this time, they both endured numerous attacks and provocations from the other casterways
struggling for survival, but they were much better equipped to prevent and repel those aggressions while they were working as a team. Her personal experience of having seem him wash ashore in his dropship
, coupled with the insight she gained by asking him extensive questions, helped her to piece together the circumstances behind the planet's current state, and the scattered, combative men who populated it.
Over the course of their year together, they made numerous attempts to extend olive branches to the local casterways
population. They offered gifts, proposed alliances, and tried to foster lasting relationships with a handful of the local groups that seemed, relatively speaking, more reasonable than the other roving bands of marauders. For the most part, these efforts proved fruitless and, whenever one of these nascent relationships led to her and Theor
being attacked yet again, she found herself feeling ever-more despondent at the current situation and their long term prospects for survival.
In the month of Achiel
in 2 AoC
, the two of them came across a young casterway
by a river's edge who had badly broken his ankle. Knowing that the scavenger wouldn't last more than a few days in the wilderness without becoming prey, they set his ankle, affixed a simple-yet-sturdy splint, fed him, and watched over him for several weeks while he healed. He was sullen and didn't speak much, but he was otherwise an unobtrusive member of their tiny camp. They considered offering to take him in, thus growing the size of their "team" by 50%, but after much discussion, they decided that they had done all they could for him and that he'd eventually have to make it on his own. Before the month was finished, and with his ankle still tender, but feeling strong enough to step gingerly on his own, he slipped out of camp one night without a word to either of them.
On the night of 42 Rielel
, 2 AoC
, she awoke to find that Theor's
throat had been cut as they slept. She wrote about the gurgling sounds of his last breaths registering in her still-waking mind before realizing that she was also under attack. What ensued was a vicious melee in which her assailant seemed intent not just to kill her, but to sexually assault her in the process. She foiled his sexual attempts and slayed her attacker, but suffered grievous injury in the process. With her assailant dead, she realized that it was the same young man whom they had nursed to health several months ago.
For the next six weeks, she lay burrowed into the forest floor. Her knee was so badly mangled that she could barely stand, and a life-threatening stab wound in her abdomen rendered her nearly immobile. Knowing that she was in no shape to fend off a second attack, she used what little energy she had to gather her meager rations, wash her wounds, apply primitive poultices to her laceration, and wait until she had enough strength to consider making a more substantial move to a safer location.
Over the coming weeks, she wrote about the indignity of seeing the remains of Theor
and their attacker thoroughly scavenged, first by an assortment of casterways
, and eventually by an array of rain forest fauna. And through the whole process, she lay in fear that she would be discovered from her camouflaged vantage point a mere 50 meters away.
When she had finally recovered somewhat from the stabbing, and had healed sufficiently to hobble to safer ground, she resolved to take an entirely different approach from here forward. She was tired of fighting weekly squabbles with the local scrabble of wild men. Instead, she resolved to go far away, across the sea, to find somewhere that she could truly learn more about the planet's environments and how better to master them.
When I first washed ashore on this vast rain forest, I assumed that my best hope was to find other instances of humanity. After more than a year of violence, violations, and provocations, I can confirm that I have indeed found other humans. But I have seen few glimpses of humanity.
Cervia Polonosa, The First Mother, 2 AoC
he experience with Theor
convinced her that she needed to find more effective ways to survive on this planet. Not only did she want to be better equipped to repel aggressors, but she also desired extensive knowledge on her new world's flora and fauna. The savage casterways
were doing little more than eking the barest of existences off the land. To some extent, she and Theor
had been doing the same thing. But she wanted to achieve a level of native wisdom that would afford her some sense of security - and she wasn't afraid to suffer if that's what it took.
Through scant conversations with the few casterways
that weren't outright hostile, she and Theor
, over the course of the last year, had surmised that the Dropship Seia
was flanked by landmasses other than Islemanoton
, but that the prevailing winds and currents brought most of the casterways
to the shores of present-day Vetri or Catro. This meant that, if she could reach one of those other landmasses, she may have an opportunity to improve her survival skills and planetary knowledge without having to fight for her life every day.
Over a two-week period, she went deep into the island's inner forests. She fashioned a dugout canoe using fire and a large collection of mollusk shells as scrapers. She equipped the vessel with double outriggers because she had observed turbulent chop arising on the sea, sometimes with little or no warning, and she feared that a standalone canoe would be too easily swamped. She also brought two spears, several makeshift paddles that could be stowed right beside her legs, and as many envyranotts
as she could gather and fit in the floor of the tiny boat. She estimated that she had enough nuts to last her nearly three weeks, given the rigorous caloric demands that are created if one is rowing frequently throughout an entire day.
Voyage to Islegantuan
On 7 Zielaph
, 2 AoC
, she dragged her canoe to the shore, scouted extensively to ensure that no stragglers were present anywhere near on the coast in either direction, and she shoved off into the Dropship Seia
on a visual course roughly targeted toward the central zone where dropship
deposit their human cargo.
She knew that if she aimed toward the site of the near-daily excilations
, the prevailing winds and currents would probably still push her southward. So she tried to propel herself on an east-by-northeast azimuth. However, she underestimated the strength of those currents at that time of year and once she'd spent a day at sea, she knew she was hewing much closer to a direction that was south-by-southeast. If she had undertaken the journey a month later, she almost certainly would have been forced almost due south, into the south end of the Sister Seia
. From there, it would have been very likely that she would've ended up washing out to the southern extremities of the Aequin Ocean
followed almost certainly by a withering demise at sea.
Instead she managed, through vigorous and exhausting rowing, to push herself to the Limpalong Peninsula
on the extreme western end of Blepi
. It's believed that she made landfall somewhere near the present-day city of Contedanone.
She found herself in a biome - a temperate seaside rain forest - that was quite similar to the one she'd just left on Islemanoton
. Initially, she seemed determined to press further inland, and she began a journey of 30 kilometers or so toward the broader heart of the continent. But not realizing that she had landed on a peninsula, she soon found herself on the mouth of Hineia Bay that straddles the western borders of present-day Blepi
The bay seemed to immediately suit her. It was sheltered from the prevailing westerlies. A small stream feeding into the sea served as an easy freshwater source. Her initial survey of the bay's offerings indicated that it was rife with fish and other shallow-water food possibilities. And perhaps most importantly, from the time that she made landfall until the time that she'd scouted a potential campground on the inner bay, she hadn't seen another human anywhere. And for the time being, that was exactly what she wanted.
7 Years of Solitude
I don't know when I'm going back to the main island. But I can guarantee this: I am, without a doubt, going back. And when I do, the savages who stalk that land will know that it is their land no longer.
Cervia Polonosa, The First Mother, 3 AoC
ervia's time on Blepi
is one of the more quizzical periods of her time on Excilior
. She kept copious notes in her logs
, but it's still difficult to understand exactly what she did during this period or how she achieved it. In this 7-year span, seemingly with the help of almost no one, she established the techniques of arbyr dancing, discovered the process of curing bloodwood
, maintained contact with some
sort of group that she called the Watchers
, and learned how to tame a bronz horus
and leverage it for flight
. Perhaps more shocking than any of these accomplishments, she also emerged from this period of "solitude" with a daughter
- Hineia the Wonder
Hineia the Wonder
The mere fact that she became pregnant and bore a child may not sound particularly shocking. But given her early history on Islemanoton
and the contents of her logs
, it is borderline illogical. She never makes any
mention of meeting any
men on Blepi
. With that in mind, there is certainly no documentation whatsoever of her pregnancy, delivery, or early life with Hineia
. Throughout her life, Cervia never mentioned - even in passing - Hineia's
father or what became of him. Even more curious, her logs
are filled with minute details of her daily survival on Islegantuan
, and yet she makes no mention whatsoever of Hineia
. In fact, the first account of Hineia
comes from those on Islemanoton
who recorded the astounding, near-magical
experience of seeing Cervia flying
under a bronz horus
, followed by a second horus
carrying her daughter
. Many of those early casterways
believed they were hallucinating.
When Cervia returned to Islemanoton
in 9 AoC
, she did so as a conqueror. She was always confident in her endeavors. But when she returned from Islegantuan
, she was no longer focusing on mere survival
. She was intent on establishing a new society, one that could afford safety to its citizens, and she was willing to take the battle directly to any of the petty warlords who dared to stand in her way.
Setrinano & the Lightriders
rom the moment that she foot back on the shores of Islemanoton
, Cervia's objectives, and her forcefulness in pursuing them, were entirely different than her first stay on the continent. She no longer went out of her way to avoid the other casterways
who scavenged the shore and the Yernwold
for basic sustenance. Instead, she boldly approached them, working to recruit
them. Her intention was to find like-minded men whom she could trust to build an initial force of horus
riders and established a permanent base that could be defended from any of the craven souls who preferred to attack her rather than join her.
Although she still had to carefully protect herself, her newfound stature certainly helped to put more of the casterways
into a listening mood. Here was a woman
woman they had ever encountered on Excilior
), wearing nearly-impervious bloodwood
armor (the likes of which they'd never seen), wielding a deadly bloodwood
spear (far superior to any of their makeshift weapons), and being flown about by a giant bird
. When Cervia approached casterways
under these conditions, the vast majority of them simply fled. But for those who didn't, for those who were bold enough to stay
and investigate this strange fever dream, they were likely to be recruited by Cervia for her new nation. And, if they had the proclivity for it, she trained them to be horus
riders, like herself.
Within two years of her return to Islemanoton
, her growing cadre of allies, including those who formed the first iteration of the Lightriders, were ready to establish a permanent base. The location they chose would become Setrinano
. This strategic location was already occupied by a small band of savage raiders led by Achto Kivelia
and they had already clashed with Cervia on several occasions. So perhaps this is why she chose to capture their specific location and to raid their forces. Setrinano
certainly offered many benefits as a settlement site. But the cognoscenti
are certain that revenge played at least some small role in her decision to attack this location.
Winged Shock Troops
The unseating of Achto Kivelia
, and the routing of his camp, was an efficient operation. He may have had as many as 50 men under his influence. But Cervia had two dozen men riding under giant birds
and sporting superior bloodwood
armor that made them nearly-impervious to the weak counterattacks of Kivelia's
men. In less than 30 minutes of "combat" (which mostly consisted of the Lightriders screeching in on their bronz horuses
, and the men of Kivelia's
camp fleeing in terror), Cervia seized a central base that would eventually become the grand city of Setrinano
, and long after her death would expand into the sprawling nation of Auld Cervia