The Kesich Inlay
Don't forget to check out the layers and zoom functions to view points of interest.
History 101: Merun's Lesson
Elaín and I are sitting in the library at home joking around waiting to join history class. We grew up living right next to each other and have always shared a fondness for getting into trouble. I look out the window at the Ashlan Woods just beyond the property line of my parent’s house. That’s our favorite place to explore. I still remember the time when I had just turned fifteen a few years ago and we got lost looking for poppleberries. We spent the whole night in the woods keeping each other warm. Our parents were so mad the next day they grounded us each for a week. Of course, we still chatted everyday on our stacks. He told me after that night, “If you were a boy, I’d have asked you out.” I responded, with a laugh, “If I were a boy, I’d STILL be out of your league,” Truth is, if I were a boy, now I’d say yes. Both of our stacks chime letting us know it’s time to join the stackroom. Senior history has been my favorite class this year. Sig Altell is the best instructor I’ve ever had. He knows just how to make the stories come alive. The Planar Pirate Wars. The Singularity of Magic. Sure, we have all heard these stories our whole lives. Everyone has. Millions died! We all know about the impact these events had on the geography of Cybl, creating the deadlands throughout the world. We all know that’s why the Cuom Council controls all the production and use of magic. Last week, Sig Altell made an announcement saying that we would have a very special guest speaker today. When he said it would be a surprise, everyone groaned. “We’re too impatient for that kind of a secret, Sig Altell,” Elaín had said. Sig Altell laughed, “With your ability to keep secrets, the whole school would know in ten minutes, Elaín.” Everyone laughed. Elaín Oathkeeper often failed to live up to his family name. A knock on the door to the stackroom brings me out of my reverie. Sig Altell finishes flashing a map on a stackscreen, and walks over to the door, opening it. Everyone in class looks toward the door, expectantly. Before our eyes, the virtual stackroom door expands, rising three times its height and twice its width. “A giant!” I hear Elaín exclaim beside me. “You owe me 10 creds Genjan!” A giant of a man strides through the entry and into the stackroom. The guest is by far the largest person I have ever seen in my life. Standing straight up, he is easily twice the height of Sig Altell, and twice as wide. Sig Altell looks at the class, coughs to catch our attention, and says, ”Class, this is my good friend Gormund Granwiler. You may know him as Gormund the Great.” Gormund the Great! Wow! He’s only the most famous arcadia hunter in all of Nantoor, I think to myself. He grew up here, but lives in Kesich and plays on Kesich Kraw against all the best arcadia teams in the world. He’s dressed in a fine navy-colored magcloth sport coat, unbuttoned at the waist, an untucked light-pink button-down shirt, and a pair of tan loose-fit magcloth slacks.
“ARCA!” he yells, proclaiming his popular battle cry. His magclothes briefly flash the word “ARCA!!!” in gold lettering against a blue-backdrop, scrolling horizontally, before slowly fading. “I ‘ear you was to be study’n’ the Kesich Inlay today, an’ ol’ Alt ‘ere tells me that I can ‘elp you yondlin learn it better. ‘Fores I start, do we ‘ave any questions?” he says with his broken giant-speak accent.Everyone raises their hand immediately, almost in unison.
“What’s your best game?” I hear Elaín say excitedly. Elaín has been following Kesich Kraw his entire life. His parents moved from Yoffa, just outside Kesich, before he was born and Elaín’s father is a huge fan.The other kids start talking all at once. Gormund lifts his enormous hands to quiet everyone.
“Ok, ok. There’ll be time for questions ‘bout my person after the lesson. Now less get started.” Gormund walks over to the stackscreen where Sig Altell put the image of the map earlier.
“Alt’n I go wayz back. I use’ to watch ‘im in the Frentel ‘B’ league ‘fore ‘e got ‘urt. ‘E was the best ‘lier I’d ever seen back in those days. Coulda been the best ‘lier ever, me thinks, if it weren’t for the accident. Took me und’iz wing when I’z comin’ up.” He points to Frentel on the map.
Wait a minute, I think to myself, as Gormund begins talking about the Frentel Free Cities. Sig Altell played arcadia? He was a cavalier? And he was good?? My thoughts drift to the Frentel Freemen. They’re actually my favorite arcadia team. Arcadia is the best known sport in the world. The objective is simple: get the Everbean into the cup. The cavaliers and builders help the hunter defend the bean and move it around the field in order to get it into the cup. However, actually accomplishing this task is far from easy.
“Yur’n right again, yondl,” Gormund responds to something Genjan said. “The Frentel Free Cities gov’n theyselves in a reg’n'l council. All peoples are welcome in the FFC.”
I start to think about my Uncle Bendal in Frenich, one of the Frentel Free Cities. Uncle B, my dad’s younger brother, left Nantoor before I was born to work in the factories. He’d always been mechanically talented. He always jokes that he built the first autopod, but autopods came about long before he was born. Uncle B never tells us what he actually does, but I know it’s not autopods. His stack once flashed a message from his boss and it showed the company name as Xylix Heavy Industry. I looked them up on the datasphere and found that they made magitch vehicles for the military. Uncle B says he’s been up and down the Midway, the speedway running the length of Kesich from north to south, hundreds of times and been in every major dwarven underground city from Hendahl to Hendamm. He “claims” he even stayed the night in Beteng Beku in an all-night bibehaus, drinking with clients until dawn. I think some of his tales are taller than Gormund. No one stays in Beteng Beku unless they absolutely have to.“‘Nd’ what’s the major industry in Frentel?” Gormund asks.
This time, Gormund calls on Elaín. “Yondl?”
“The Frentel Free Cities supply machines to export, being close to the mineral mines run by the dwarves,” Elaín replies.
“And Secret Sentients,” Verl pipes in.
“No one believes that, Verl,” Absny chides.
“My dad says it’s true!” Verl says, looking hurt.
Here we go again, I think to myself. Verl always talks about the conspiracies her father reads on the datasphere. Military magitech is one thing. We all know that gets made. But no one has ever seen a class 3 sentient - what Verl calls a Secret Sentient. Not that anyone would be able to even tell the difference. Sentients are a race of artificially intelligent robots, typically made in humanoid forms, that were created as a result of the Singularity of Magic. Most sentients are considered class 2. Class 3 sentients are supposedly indiscernible from whatever race they mimic. Whether it’s human, dwarf, gnome, octerran, merfōk, or whatever. They breathe air. They perform normal bodily functions. Their eyes water with dust. The “hair” on their head grows, even falls out. Verl says they can even give birth! Ha! Verl saying they exist is like someone saying they’ve been to Valhomme or seen the Swamp of Graves in the Forest of Decay.
And then there’s what my Uncle B claims. He said he’d met a female niner once. That’s a class 3 sentient. I’d asked him why they were called niners. He’d said it’s because 99% of people will never see one in their lifetime. So they’re called ninety-niners, or niners, for short. He had thought she might’ve even been a class X. “What’s that?” I’d asked. Lowering his voice, in mock-seriousness, he had said, “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” I remember cooly responding, “Whatever.” He’d laughed, then continued, “A class X is a class 3 sentient built for military purposes.” He had been in Poleart for business after taking a windflyer over from Cartherite. From there he’d taken a special autopod designed for underwater travel called a …metskoloi? I think that’s what he’d said the merfōk called it. Anyway, it’d been in the city under the sea, Lahlehil, where the merfōk live, where he met her. “Arin,” he’d said. I’d asked him how he knew she was a sentient. He’d said, “She showed me.” “Showed you?” I’d asked. Uncle B had smirked, looked at me and said, “Ask your parents about the ittles and the fowen.” “Gross Uncle B!” I had shouted. She’d had business in the sentient city of Nocobi and they’d shared a metskoloi. He’d said it was the best 15 hours of his life. Ew!“Kesich is where the Fhench be,” Gormund says.
I struggle to catch up with the rest of the class listening intently to his lesson, which has moved on from Frentel, to Kesich, on the map.
“Naw ‘oo can tell me what Fhench stands for?” he says, as he looks down at the amulet on his wrist. Elaín raises his hand immediately, but Gormund sees Absny’s hand first.
“Lass,” Gormund says to Absny.
“The Foundation for Human Enchantment,” Absny says proudly.
“Yur’n right,” Gormund says. “D’ju know what the Fhench is known for?”
“You mean, other than stupid everwrite pens?” Elaín says. Everyone laughs, even Gormund, a bellow from nearly 5 meters above our heads.
“They gave us Arcadia,” says Genjan.
Iacto’s ghosts! I’d totally forgotten about that! The Fhench was started by Frentel Kesich himself. He was a half-elf that helped rebuild the inlay during the Age of Renewal. He’d been spurned by the elves of Elaria for being a half-breed and a bastard. Across the sea from the city of Ekcle, Kesich’ birthplace, Kesich found that the inlay had been scorched during the Planar Pirate Wars and was still struggling to rebuild. His innate ability to work with animals and the land allowed him to travel far and wide as an adventurer. He soon realized that other countries had built magical foundations for themselves. That’s when he decided to create the Fhench for all human-kind.
Ultimately, Kesich also fathered many children of various races which he left as bastards. That’s why those of us born on the inlay say, always with a half-smile, “Kessian by birth… and blood.” As it turns out, one of Kesich’ actual bloodkin, Faril Kesich, became a member of the Fhench about 130 years ago. Remembering Kesich’ love of sports, he created Arcadia as a form of entertainment to ease tensions coming from overpopulation, to bring people together through sport, and to distract people from their day to day lives.“Thaz right, yondl,” Gormund says. “The greatest game in all Cybl!”
I look out the window of my house, just over Elaín’s shoulder. Through the image of the stackroom, I can see the leaves from the Aferra trees shimmering hues of blue, green, and silver as the wind blows. The woods around Nantoor are excruciatingly gorgeous this time of year. Further off in the distance I can see the never-ceasing smoke billowing from Mons Aska, beyond the peaks of the Juon Mountains.“With minerals b’long’n to the dwarfs, Kesich exports what? Lass?” Gormund asks.
Elaín coughs what sounds like my name under his breath. I look up. Gormund and everyone in the class is looking at me. Immediately my face reddens.“Uh…. Kesich? Export?” I stammer. My mind races. Then an answer comes to me. “Kesich exports magic.”
Gormund nods, and I let out a sigh of relief.
“‘Ow’zo?” he asks.
“Uh…,” I stammer again. “Well, Ezziks Tower conducts magical research and shares their findings with the Fhench. And the Fhench uses that information to create new products that we all use in our daily lives. Like the amulet on your wrist right now - the one you wear during arcadia battles.”“Yur’n right, Merun,” Gormund says as he winks at me.
As I let out my breath, I look over at Elaín, wide-eyed.
How does Gormund the Great know my name?
Kessian by birth... and blood.- Inlay-born
- Beteng Beku
Points of Interest
- Frentel Free Cities
- Ezziks Tower
- Xylix Heavy Industry
- Kesich Kraw Arcadium
- Frentel Freemen Arcadium
- Ashlan Woods
- Swamp of Graves
- Forest of Decay
- Mons Aska
- Juon Mountains
- Aferra trees
- Frentel Kesich
- Faril Kesich
- Gormund Granwiler
- Musán Egan
- The Foundation for Human Enchantment
- Kesich Council
- Frentel Free City Council