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702 A.E

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When did time begin? None know truly except for two, a gardener and a mighty lord. Twins of eternity, life, and death, they circle one another, creation and destruction not far behind. Their world is ours, ours to live and breathe in, to enjoy the running of water to our ear and sit beneath forest groves and tell one another the greatest of stories. I tell you a story now, a story with all the pieces, a beginning, a going, and an ending, as all things must.

For the tale begins in absolute darkness, in times beyond old, when creation itself lay deep within the womb of time. A different cosmos dwelled, and beyond lay all manner of horror, writhing and shaking with indescribable filth and screeching terror. The Gehn, the cosmic monsters, festering in an eternal sea of their own, biting, clawing, and scratching. Among their number were two, placid and peaceful in contrast, a gardener and a mighty lord. So waged was the eternal war, the twins faced a challenge unlike any other, and for eons, they battled the Gehn as they fought to rid the cosmos of their demonic kin. Finally, after so many lifetimes had passed like a ripple in a great sea, the work was done, and for the first time, silence came upon existence and it was good. But idleness was not the nature of the twins, one a rabid creator with thought occupied with naught but molding, crafting, and extemporaneous in speech. The gardener mold, from specks of the Gehn, the skeleton of the world was made. So sprang Jord, mother of us all, the great earth mother, primordial and ancient, lesser than the twins but beyond comprehension. Yet Jord was a failed first attempt at life, so it was that the gardener set about a new being to pour energy and life into. The new world shook and rattled, nature came to change, and soon, the first mortal awoke from a long sleep.

So awoke Aurelmir, first mortal and first giant, yet the giant's life was sullen, quiet, and without joy. Wandering afar in the young world, only the twinkling of stars was a solace to such a lonely life. Jord took pity on the sweet giant, each night, the world sang beautiful songs to Aurelmir, telling long tales of stories yet to come. Stories rang in Aurelmir's ear, of valiant heroes, great kings, and queens, of romance and tragedy, revenge, forgiveness, and deeds honored. Aurelmir found sleep come easier and the giant's heart was softened and eased. However, sacrifice was to be made, like cattle to slaughter, Aurelmir was primed to bring further life to the world for the gardener dug a great pit and planted a little seed from the core of the first star. Thus grew the Muhhaitza, the World Tree to which all life, fate, and destiny became tethered. From the great pit, the gardener poured waters and with fashioning, lifted from the pit a little boy, an immortal being bound to the fate of the world and inheritor of all the deeds of the twins. Called Weda by his kin, from the first swirling pool of the great tree, Ranir came thrust into the world, destiny calling his name. Destiny was a sacrificial tool, Ranir understood his destiny well and he came upon Aurelmir with a great rod of iron. The boy, no taller than a lash from the giant's eye, punctured the heart of the sleeping giant and a great roar of pain emerged from the lungs of Aurelmir. In moments it ceased, and the giant lay dead, yet in dying Aurelmir's last tears, life of a new kind emerged. Life not from the gardener, but from Aurelmir, and thus began the race of the giants, children of tears, the Jotnar.

After the culling, Ranir fashioned the new sun and early moon from the giant's eyes, from giant veins came the bedrock of rivers and from giant blood, the roaring and turbulent sea was fertilized and all manner of life came to swim in the great oceans. Ranir skinned the giant and laid it like a blanket over the cold and hard earth, thus came soil and the means for life to sustain itself. Molded in clay, heated and tempered in billowing fire, and knit together by the sinews of the World Tree, Ranir gifted the first animals. Ranir then came to a new task, remorseful at the murder of Auremir, Ranir sought to bring life to the world. He reckoned the world needed caretakers and stewards, and so in the manner before, he produced the first men. Yet these men came to be rough, quick to anger, and violent in their rage. The first men were cruel, heartless, and animals in all but name. Ranir was not satisfied and so he destroyed them. The next were simpler, forged of stone and mineral but they proved ill-suited to life. These second men were cold beings, prizing only rationality, prone to selfishness and isolation. They did not enjoy life, they resented their creator and their fellow kin and for this, they were also destroyed. The last group of men were even simpler, little more than rack and clay, washed over with the waters of life. These men, however, while violent, petulant, and prone to self-destruction, were moderate and temperate in behavior. Very sociable, they formed families and lived in harmony with their kin. Thus, the third group of men came to be the chosen people of the gods and were set upon the world in great numbers to safeguard life.

Time dragged on, and the giants sprung from the tears of Aurelmir gathered together and anointed their first leader. The Dögun or Dawn King Krónaðr built the majestic city of Mikilhuld, a realm of security for the suffering children of Aurelmir. Krónaðr's two brothers came to rule after him and they made a marvel of Mikilhuld and the new Dawn Kingdom of the Jotnar. Yet in their jealousy and need for vengeance, the giants crafted the Kunkal, wrapped in burning terror, the towering calamities were set upon the land. From the Kunkal's fiery gaze, these soulless hunters scorched the world in their hunt for men, their prey could run, their prey could hide, yet with eyes gleaming in a white-hot fire, the Kunkal spied prey and unflinching in thought dispatched all they found. Thus began Ar an Draoidh, the Age of Fear, so-called for the great hunting of men in their caves and hiding places, always vigilant and fearful of the bright death of the terrible Kunkal. However, as men hid, the last Dögun king, Hrunir the Vain dug deep into the mines and tunnels of Mikilhuld, there he unearthed a most terrible discovery, wrapped in rock and forgotten by all, surviving the culling of the twins, the Gehn remained and sprung free, they rampaged throughout the city of the giants. In absolute desperation, Hrunir set the Kunkal upon his own city, led by the towering doom of men, Táramaðurinn, all the Kunkal descended upon the city of majesty. The Nine Nights of Fire utterly destroyed the giant city and killed all inside. Wisdom replaced greed, and vain Hrunir laid low Táramaðurinn and all its kin beneath blankets of rock and soil, tucked beneath billowing waves and tied down with mighty forged links of chain. The Age of Fear came to pass and now too did the giants find themselves without a home and their greatest weapons in the fight against men.

As this happened, a sight was seen in the west, fifty white ships came upon the shores there and a new song began to be sung. Away from even the eyes of the twins, calamity came upon a distant world, and from a gate cloaked in shadow to a new land came a people unknown. Captained by two brothers, the strangers came upon the shore, and there, in the east, they discovered in a damp cave, men. Taking some back with them to their settlement, men and these strangers shared many things with each other and man came to call them the Folk, or Fae. The two captains split their new land, one north and the other south, Tirmagall, and Ydalvi. Fae and men would go on to unite, in an alliance of blood and tears as they fought the giants of the East for centuries and centuries, in a bitter struggle for survival and dominance in a world ripe for the picking. Heroes and villains rose to the challenge, Faen kings crafted all manner of beauties and instruments of death. Eastern giant kings rallied and set their people upon the Westerners. In the shadow of a man wielding a golden horn, mankind united and came to ascend to their divine mission as the chosen people once more.

Yet sacrifice and betrayal prevailed for a time, the Géadine men divided, their lands ruled by chieftains and lords as the Fae fell to infighting after the murder of their last High King. The east rallied, yet in their separation, men became stronger, they built great citadels of their own and beat back the giants. Heroic warrior kings of men waged war on the East, some won and some lost but soon, the old alliances secured a lasting peace, and a long silence came upon the East. Rising once more, the last King of the Giants rose to challenge the world. The last alliance of men rose too, behind a legendary dragon-helmed man of two worlds, wielding the greatest sword ever forged. In a rolling field, they fought and the world trembled. The Kunkal arose and marched with the giants but they were brought low by the gods themselves and finally, the giants were defeated and man ascended as masters of the world. Jotnar bones littered the world, whether felled by men or by the wrath of the high one, the Jotnar retreated to the far north. Battlefields came to be graveyards, and all around, the horrors of centuries of war laid bare. Yet in time, mankind forgot its battles, peace hummed with delight, valor, and heroism forgotten and replaced with the warmth of family and the pouring of wealth. Graveyards became farmlands, the magic bones of the giants wetting the crops and producing abundant food for the growing population of mankind.

Farmlands and pastures became cities and cities propelled the world forward as the world of man came to greet each other again, ships and caravans bound with wealth and stories connected the world once more and prosperity and peace returned. People became tribes and tribes clashed against one another to become Kingdoms and states, soon some dominated others and each vied for glory. Nations rose and fell and mankind knew the names of conquerors, statesmen, politicians, revolutionaries, heroes, and tales of greatness. A lone city beside a sacred river rallied to conquer the world and a time came when the continent was united beneath the eagle banner of the Empire of the Rasenna. However, the allure of power brought challengers and when the Rasenna became old and sick, vultures came and picked at the old predator until the Empire fell and shattered, turning the world to fire once more. Again, mankind knew nothing but fire, fear, and confusion once more as the world trembled, great conquerors rode and ran through the world at spearpoint, carving away ruins of the world for themselves and damning the rest. However, like it always does, the world moved on as the cycle started once again and a third age came and conquerors, statesmen, politicians, revolutionaries, and heroes bid their time for their moment once again.

We find unlikely heroes living to survive in this harsh world, in the old capital of the Rasenna, wanders a boy sleeping high above the blood and mud washing through the streets. Here is discovered a great artifact in a shrine to all gods, a key to saving or dooming the world sought out by an old enemy who will rise with it. Tossed headfirst into destiny, Marius of Rasca must gather friends and allies as he ventures to the old north to save the dying world from the entropy slowly gnawing at its heels.