There came a noise from the south like a thousand wails of agony. Like the earth itself was howling. There came thundering a gale against which nothing could stand firm. There came a curtain of black nothingness, as if for a moment the sky had been flayed clean from the surface of the planet, and nothing stood between mankind and the void of the noctisphere. Gahls opened their mouths to cry out, but not a ripple left their breathless lungs. It was the earth's turn to be heard.
There came a light from the north. It exploded bright and red like the exit wound of a bullet, or a bloody pneumonic cough. A wave of black ash spread outwards from a mountain that appeared where none had been before. The earth trembled like an ocean. The oceans frothed like clouds. The clouds vanished like a dream. The continents shattered, and fled to the hungering maw that had opened in the south.
Theory and Myth
legends say a great wyrm wrapped itself around the equator to stop the land from getting washed away into the pit. Others believe it was Galatea, the last worldbird, who sacrificed her eggs to build the dam from the sticks of her nest. Another theory suggests it was the work of dryads
who remain alive, deep within the mists of the Kalyptian
jungles, guarding it against intrusion. In any case, conjecture falls short of the truth. We know only that the ayrlands
come from beyond the Veil
, and rise from Kalyptia's muddy alluvial swamps.
What precisely the world looked like before the Scream, or what caused it, remains just as shrouded by the fog of millennia. The Drakkengard Compact
depicts the fall of man as resulting from the development of a great weapon that violated natural laws. The Aurosian Apostlery
blames sin itself, and sees the catastrophe as mankind's fitting punishment for tolerating those among them with dark intent. The Mor'Rahans
point to the Deepsea Leviathan
, calling them the otherworldly interloper whose reinforcements we would be wise to expect. The Sayr'Rahans
shrug off the question entirely, as the Abyss
does not conflict with their philosophy, which embraces Gahla's cyclical nature, and leaves room for darkness amidst the light.
As for the Reflectory
they imagine this world as little more than a temporary prison. They write of a past in which humanity once dominated the farsea, having traveled in voidships to other worlds before being betrayed by a rival force.
An Apocalypse Deferred
To call the Age of Gales a post-apocalyptic era ignores the reality that this new equilibrium has successfully maintained itself for longer than humanity has chronicled it. All that is known is that the Age of Earth is far in the past. Thousands of species have adapted to life in the skies, even if many still carry the vestigial markers of anatomy designed for traversing solid ground.
Yet man remains nostalgic for a past it has never known, and might never again relive. We speak of the "end of the days" as an event that is in our past, present, and future, all at once. We contrive reasons to blame one another's behaviors and philosophies, or even our private thoughts, for the occurrence of the Abyss. Some factions will blame technology and war for the destruction of the planet, while the others chide their cowardice, and their reluctance to embrace innovation as the only possible solution to the blight upon our home.
But who can be rightly cast as the hard-headed traditionalist between the gahl who seeks to return man to a life on solid ground, or the one who prefers to live in harmony with the skies they have always known?