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Alden's Folly

Hear ye, hear ye! A tale as old
as time that still rings true.
Of a Lord whose zeal had grown too bold
hear the tale of Amaranth'n Dreams.

His house stood proud on the mountain high
when the mage wars did ensue.
The mage's passage he did deny
thus earning Amaranth'n Streams.
The first verses of Amaranthen Streams, the most popular take on the story
  Alden's Folly is one of the core legends in the Council of Archmages, serving as a cautionary tale. There are several versions sung by traveling bards, some of them so old that no one knows who wrote them. "Amaranthen Streams" is the most well-known and popular version. Children's rhymes all over the Council lands warn of arrogance using Count Alden as an example.   The legend is so well-known, it is often used as a practice matter for fledgling poets and bards to spin their own tale about it. Any library that is worth to be called one will probably have a few takes on the story, though only the important ones do have copies of actual literary value. As for art, the most well-known piece is probably a stained-glass window above the entrance of the Congress Hall of the Council. It has several panels depicting the story, serving as the entertainment of people waiting to pay their taxes or do other business with the clerks.   Other than that, there's countless depiction and imaginations both of Count Alden as well as of different parts of the story. It is probably the most popular subject for any piece of art in the Council lands and therefore quite easy to find customers to buy it.  

Amaranthen Streams

Back in the day when the scholars of the Eye were just starting to uncover the secrets of magic, the lands of the Council were ruled by several noble houses. Their power usually came from the resources they controlled, and none of them was as blessed in that regard as House Amaranthen.  
First part: Characterization
Alden of House Amaranthen knew this, and he grew more and more cocky with age. No one was his equal in terms of wealth and power, and he demanded this chasm to be recognized. Amaranthen Streams has quite a few examples of this, some more popular than others, and they can be sung or left out as the singer pleases.  
At this point, it is unclear which of those were originally included and which were made up. Sometimes verses will suddenly be sung that sound suspiciously similar to something that happened recently that invoke the ire of the common people, but since it is attributed to Count Alden, it can't really be persecuted since it is known that he was the epitome of depravity. Following are two popular examples of his character.
  People not belonging to any noble house were dust under his feet, while other noble houses at least deserved to admire House Amaranthen and were allowed to bask in their presence. Even the side-branches of his own family felt the sting of his disrespect, especially House Amaranthen-Dusk, whom he called the dirty grubs of his line, since their wealth came from coal mining, and a fine layer of coal dust often coated their house.   Servants were expendable and frequently mistreated. One example of this was when his son Nout molested a young servant girl, her mother, an old servant of the house, went to Alden and demanded things be righted. At first, Alden just laughed into her face, but when the mother insisted and pointed to her daughters suffering, he drew his blade and cut the daughter down. "There. It has been righted. She's not suffering anymore."  
Second Part: Moral Conflict
The mages of the Eye entered his audience hall and demanded to be let through the gate to pursue Dimitroux. He laughed in their faces again, asking what makes them think they can demand something of him. Assuming he hadn't been filled in on what happened at the Eye, the mages then relayed how Dimitroux has always been a madman and, in revenge for people not taking him seriously with his lightning magic, ended up killing the academic elite.  
In some versions, Alden smirked at the mages and asks how he could be a madman falsely claiming to know lightning magic when he is actually able to use it to kill people? This seems to be a relatively recent addition though, as it questions the mage's crusade.
  When it became apparent that he was still not willing to let them through, the mages argued with morality and justice, and he answered with honor and family. He reminded them that Dimitroux was a distant relative of himself. The mages in return warned him of the consequences of his injustice, but again he just laughed at them, feeling safe in his mountain fortress.  
If his disdain of Amaranthen-Dusk and the other noble house was introduced before, his argument usually gets dissected with pleasure to point out how it is just a pretend argument to justify his refusal. Other than that, the song usually focuses on how the belief in bloodlines skewed justice in the powerful's favor.
Third Part: Alden's Demise
When the mages returned with their army, they magicked their way into the wings of his estate and fought their way through to Alden. His troops soon fled or surrendered, but this only drove him in a white-hot rage. When the mages approached him to accept his surrender, he went into a berserker rage and started slaughtering them. The pursuit raged through the whole estate, which started crumbling piece by piece from the magic wrought inside.   Alden got severely injured over the course, but only when the last mages were cornered at the other end of the estate did desperation inspire Dominic of the Flame, and he managed to bring Alden down with a never-before-seen spell. The remnant of the mages that went in just barely managed to escape the collapsing building. Alden's body never got recovered, as well as most of his family who got buried in the dramatic final fight.  

Other Versions

The legend is so well-known that everybody and their mother knows a different set of details about it. Some people say his boldness came from having struck a deal with dark forces originating in the Dark Mountains, but the mages heroically overcame those and decided to keep quiet about it as to protect the people. Others attribute it to stupidity and not realizing how powerful magic could be. Others again claim his wealth had driven him crazy and he believed himself above all others.   While the last idea is a common string in all versions, not everyone chalks it up to him being crazy. Most people rightfully point out that indeed no one was his equal in terms of land and riches. No other noble house had this kind of dominance and access to goods, and even the side branches of the Amaranthen House were as powerful and rich as the smaller noble houses. The craziness in some of the stories paints him as seeing himself as a god-like figure, untouchable by lower beings not of his rank.   The most vicious depictions, however, are found in the north around the Timber Keep, traditionally Balthenaire territory. Remarkably, they have introduced Vernetta, Alden's Wife, as a major player working on his downfall, which is mostly absent from other regional varieties.   The general consensus, though, is that House Amaranthen was wiped out completely as a consequence of Alden's Folly, and to this day the ruins of his estate line the last meters to the Amaranth Gate, now open for anyone to freely pass through.  
Alden of House Amaranthen considered the wealth and influence of his house so great that he didn't see any superior or even equal in the lands of the Council. With the rise of the mages and their furious demands to let their army pass through the Amaranth Gate so they could take revenge on Dimitroux, Alden viewed his distant relationship with Dimitroux as a suitable reason to rebuff their demands. He greatly underestimated what the mages were capable of and as a result, the wings of the Amaranth Gate Estate were reduced to rubble and all of his family who had sought refuge there when the conflict started to brew were killed alongside him. Only the gate still remains, still the only access point to the White Mesa.

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Cover image: by Vertixico
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Elias Redclaw
24 Mar, 2019 13:31

Now that was a beautiful article! Though it’s a bit dark, I have to say that you made beautiful use of quotes in this article and managed to capture my attention from the very beginning First of all, the quotes really helped in setting the mood of this story. You manage to keep the readers interest up by creating an amazing story which feels almost like reading a book and less of a wikepedia article to me. The story was definitely an interesting read and probably the favourite part in my opinion of this article. The use of headers and sidebar were also useful in getting myself familiarised with some terms that I previously didn’t know. Definitely deserved my like. Congratulations and keep up the great work!

2 Apr, 2019 00:19

Very well done Imoen! You made fantastic use of the quotes through out to paint a scholarly overtone over the entire retelling of the story. Your inclusion of varients and the songs sung was also a fantastic touch! I would love to see you use the side bar a bit more, perhaps the song and a few other smaller tidbits would have made this a more balanced piece! The content is stellar, well done.

Check out my worldbuilding in the Ethnis Universe!
2 Apr, 2019 18:27

Thank you <3 This one was a really tough article for me, and I kind of gave up halfway through. I wanted to go on with the song, but couldn't focus anymore so in the end decided to stop caring about the sidebar and jsut submit, especially since I couldn't use the last three days before the deadline due to RL :/   I'm glad you still liked it! The more I think about it, the more central it becomes to the history of Yvari, and I really like the subject matter by now. If I ever make Yvari into an RPG, this will probably spawn an adventure storyline :D