"Far, far back, in the Time of Legends, the Osprey folk lived upon Uruk, on the very slopes of Mount Nimrud." Grandar told the circle of younglings.
"How did they live in the fire and smoke, Grandar?!" The ever questioning Spurius demanded.
"Back then, Mount Nimrud was a gentler fire mountain spewing its burning rock slowly and carefully so as not to harm those living upon it." Grandar Amulius told his grandson. "But then, the Firewalkers and their Axis of Skyfire burst their way out of Mount Nimrud, turning it into a roaring beast of a mountain. So began the dark and terrible time that brought about the Everswirling Maw."
Little Pomptina sat with her eyes wide as could be.
"S-so the Axis is behind everything?" Spurius asked, sounding unsure if he wanted the answer.
"Not anymore, Spurius," Grandar answered, soothing the boy. "We broke the Axis of Skyfire before they could destroy the world."
worshiped Caelus, the Sky. They felt trapped and apart from Caelus as they lived upon the Uruk, a great island that was their motherland. Only when they flew were they content, believing themselves to be in the embrace of Caelus. More than just fliers and hunters of sea creatures, Pandions learned the casting of magic. As they learned more and more about magic, each generation of mages looked harder and harder for a way for them to live within Caelus' embrace forever.
Ages passed until Numeris Olcinius Veturius became High Magus of Discovery. He found The Way. This Way would be difficult and dangerous and could possibly ruin the world. Numeris did not have the political clout to get his discovery voted upon so he decided to carry it out himself.
It would take far, far more magic than one mage could do, or even a dozen. He needed a following. For this, he turned to other mages who also were not well-connected. They were many, as the privileged were few and not about to share that privilege with anyone. These fellow mages heard his plan and embraced it with all the fervor he did. If they could bring the Pandions to Caelus, they would be the privileged and powerful! Numeris named his new followers the Order of Skyfire
INTO THE FIRE
"But there aren't enough of us to do this, Master Numeris," Oppius, Adept of Collations pointed out.
"For now." Numeris agreed. "But that will soon change once we get the power of Mount Nimrud under our control."
"B-b-but the Fyrians--"
"The Fyrians will give us more power from Nimrud once they realize they will get all of Nimrud in exchange."
"Time to go, Oppius." Numeris ordered. "Into the belly of Nimrud for a bit of negotiation."
Oppius trembled on his taloned feet. Mount Nimrud was a mountain riddled with tunnels, deadly vapors, heat and the powerful Fyrians. Standing nearly twice as tall as any Pandion, they wielded blades of metal and took joy in hacking others to pieces or roasting them over molten rock. And master Numeris thought they could just walk in for a bit of "negotiations"?!
"Come, Oppius." Numeris ordered in a voice as sharp as his beak. "No time for dithering."
"Y-yes, Master Numeris," Oppius answered. And hurried to follow Master Numeris as he pretended his voice had not just chirped like a chick's.
Numeris went into the tunnels of Mount Nimrud and successfully negotiated with the Fyrian
, who immediately set about fullfilling their part of their bargain. Deep at the root of Mount Nimrud they worked the volcanic streams into rising and pooling higher and higher.
This rising lava caused Mount Nimrud to smoke and tremble with growing power. This trembling shook the great Pandion city, Tarraco. These were mild and harmless but their frequency drew alarm from the populous. The Order of Skyfire churned this alarm into near panic with predictions of a terrible eruption that all Pandions must flee. With the vile Numis lurking in the jungles and mangrove swamps on the island, their only real hope was up into Caelus' Embrace.
Fortunately, the humble Order of Skyfire had been working on a plan that would use the very power of Mount Nimrud to build a new Tarraco in the sky. Join them and save all Pandions.
These rumors grew into such a resounding voice from the populous that the Senate agreed. And so all of Tarraco, home of all Pandions, united to build their haven in Caelus.
To keep the croc-like Numis
, for whom Uruk was also their motherland, away from Mount Nimrud, the Pandions formed a treaty with the Harpiina
, offering them a home in Sky Tarraco in exchange for them keeping the Numis away from Mount Nimrud.
With that threat under the control of the Harpiina, the Senate next went to the Fyrians and, as Numeris had promised the fire giants, the Senate formalized the agreement of giving the Fyrians the slopes of Mount Nimrud as soon as their new Sky Tarraco was made.
The Pandions, the Harpiina, and the Fyrians called their new alliance the Axis of Skyfire.
THE POWER OF NIMRUD
It did not take long for the Numis to discover what was being planned on Mount Nimrud and it terrified them. So much so that, despite being a fiercely independent and self-sufficient race, they did not hesitate to send a delegation to Dauphi
, folks who lived under the sea. Dauphi seers and Aquill scryers quickly realized the truth for themselves. They began to rally their forces, but this took time.
Meanwhile, the Pandions learned that the Numis had gone for help. Time to carry out their desperate plan was growing short. The Fyrians increased the lava flows and the tremors turned into stronger quakes. Smoke from Mount Nimrud thickened and darkened. Heat from below warmed the streets of Tarraco and the sense of imminent doom seeped into every corner of Uruk. Pandion mages scrambled to prepare their rituals.
Then, the Aquill and Dauphi arrived. The Dauphi had fish tails so could not go on land but they could ride water columns they crafted from the sea. Like great arms, these columns reached inland and the Dauphi rained magic and siege coral into the treetops. The Aquill rode hippocampi, seahorses that could change their shapes. They galloped up onto shore shaped like horses with paws suited for running the mangroves and the floor of the jungle. More hippocampi took to the sky to confront the Harpiina with vaguely horse shaped headed bodies. Long tails made for balanced flight and wings where they should have had four legs carried them into the sky. It was too much for the Harpinna to fend off. They sent for aid.
With their part in the magic mostly done, half of the Fyrians eagerly charged into battle. Their arrival blunted the charge of the waterfolk, giving the Harpiina time to rally. As this new turn of the battle raged, the Pandions started their rituals. Mount Nimrud shook and belched out black smoke. Great cracks formed on its peak. Then, the peak burst in a thundering roar, that flattened even the mighty Fyrians along with the trees neartest Mount Nimrud fell, but nothing rained down. Instead, all that rock and earth and lava rained up ... and up. This was not enough for what the Pandions needed but they had already known ... and planned.
Far below the seafloor underneath the deep dark waters Fyrians had followed a most ancient lava way to a slumbering volcano that had not roared in eons. With them had traveled Numeris himself and his strongest followers. Together they waited until these Fyrians set this old volcano to roaring and spewing out the hot, flowing stone. Riding in a magic dome upon a great stone slab just cool enough to not burn them, these Pandions rode the eruption up to Caelus.
THE END OF THE AXIS
While those on the island recovered and tried to rally their forces, some of the Pandion mages converted smoke, ash, and steam into clouds that would forever drift within Caelus. Others, led by Numeris, formed all the rock and debris into great plots of land upon the new clouds. Pandions flew away from Uruk, flying for their new homelands.
Seeing this, the Harpiina began to sing in victory. They flew away from Uruk, following the Pandions to their new promised lands as they outraced the Aquills on their flying hippocampi. The Fyrians poured out of Mount Nimrud to claim all of Uruk.
"Out of the depths, the Everswirling Maw grew and grew until it reached the top of the water and consumed the belching fire rock from below, cooling it forever." Grandar told the children, who all now had eyes as wide as little Pomptina's. Spurius was silent.
"The burning rock never fell, for the Osprey folk used magics to catch it and set it upon the clouds. The Singing Ones fled to the skies, leaving only the hordes of Firewalkers who nearly broke us but we drove them back into Mount Nimrud, defeated," he concluded.
Of course, that was not enough for Spurius.
"B-but where did the Maw come from, Grandar?"
"No one knows, Spurius," Grandar said, then chuckled. "Perhaps you will be the first in all of History to discover that."
Spurius sat up straight and squared his shoulders.
"Perhaps I will."