The Muddled Significance of the Birth of Avalon
By Q.R. Usmyne1
The modern history of the continent of Varia inextricably intertwines with the life and persona of King Avalon of Avon, known later as the God King Avalon for his ascension to deific status during the War of the Scourge.2 Multitudes of scholarly work exist regarding Avalon's exploits from factual perspectives to speculative theories. During his tenure as a royal of Avon, first prince then king, Avalon maintained the structure and military ability of the ancient kingdom amidst the collapse of civilizations at the hands of the monstrous entities known as the Scourge consuming the continent. In combating the devastating phenomenon, Avalon championed the Archmage Vyliar'faeien's efforts to unite the surviving humanoid forces of the continent into the Varian Coalition, the great alliance made to combat the Corruption and the Scourge. The Varian Coalition, perhaps even more so than even his rule of Avon, exemplifies the height of Avalon's leadership prowess, as he acted as the glue that held together the clashing preferences and expectations of the alliance's many constituents. While the War of the Scourge possibly spanned centuries, Avalon played a pivotal part in the war's climax and subsequent denouement with his ascension to godhood, at last, turning the tides wholly in the favor of all mankind. In the aftermath, Avalon became a name known throughout all of Varia that equated, if not upstaged, then worshipped deities in both popularity and followership.
Yet, scholars of the present must not forget that a mortal man preceded the infallible divine legacy of Avalon projected throughout the millennia. The Avonian king came to this world borne of the union between a mortal man and a mortal woman. Complications regarding the absolute dating of Avalon's life do exist, a difficulty that also applies to the overall timeline of the War of the Scourge; however, enough records of Avalon and Avon exist to provide concrete relative sequences of events.3 Knowledge of the past had, by the time of Avalon's era, devolved into little more than scraps to construe a social and cultural overview of history. Therefore, multiple inferences will have to be made to construct a concrete narrative of the kingdom of Avon and its royal family from the time of the war. From this constructed ancient Avon, scholars may analyze Avalon's formative years and the circumstances surrounding the Avonian dynasty during the War of the Scourge. Great significance lies in the oft-overlooked circumstances surrounding Prince Avalon's birth which from the onset indicated the eventual importance that the future king and god would have on the entirety of Varia.
Magic & the Oracles of ZenIn the modern day, the existence and continuous manipulation of magic result in the perpetuation of superstition and mysticism by the general populaces of Varia. However, the reliance and utter belief in magic and its associated elements more than likely peaked during the War of the Scourge.4 During that period, magic served as both savior and destroyer of the realm due to its purported associations with the Scourge and the efforts of the continent’s mages to deter the threat. Furthermore, deities and otherworldly creatures walked amongst mortals with their presence influencing, if not resulting in, varying sects of worship or following throughout Varia’s denizens.
A small fringe group collectively known as the Oracles of Zen remained active during the War of the Scourge with most scholars presuming they had existed in the continent as early as the First Era. The Oracles held a remarkable position of prominence, one composed of both reverence and fear. Despite the difficulty of transcontinental communications during the War of the Scourge, they were acknowledged by most societies and cultures in Varia; by consensus, the Oracles of Zen serve as the group's official designation, though records indicate they have been referred to as the Doomsayers, the Soothsayers of the Horizon, and the Fates, among many monikers. As described by their names, the Oracles possessed extremely potent divining abilities whose prophecies foretold Varia's future as the stuff of legends. They supposedly foretold the coming of the Corruption; though, records indicate that this prediction led to a misconstrued association with the Scourge that resulted in the Oracles' persecution.5 The diviners became the target of formal executions by established nations and the prey of magehunts in less organized areas.6 These events led to the deaths of the majority of the Oracles, and with their numbers dwindled, survivors ultimately went into hiding. Only five known Oracles appeared during the War of the Scourge and even these remnants all but disappeared by the dawn of the Second Era. The most prominent of the surviving Oracles was Halycia, also known as the Oracle of the Dawn and a beneficiary of the kingdom of Avon during the aforementioned conflict.
Halycia became a part of the court of Avon during the reign of King Avericht of Avon, Avalon's father and predecessor. Confirmed accounts from courtiers made during the period indicated heavy controversy over the oracle's presence in Avon. However, King Avericht believed that the divining abilities of the Oracles of Zen could serve greater purpose despite past altercations, and Halycia no doubt felt appreciation towards finding sanctuary in one of the stabler kingdoms with the Scourge abound.7 Halycia remained in the service of King Avericht as a mage and diviner, though her service did not span more than a decade. While she aided in the management of the kingdom, perhaps her most notable contribution involved her telling the Prophecy of the Dawn that predicted the end of the War of the Scourge.
Prophecy of the DawnMultple accounts and transcripts exist of Halycia's only known dictation of a prophecy meted out during her service to King Avericht. This prophecy proved distinct from portents made by standard diviners present in the kingdom. The Prophecy of the Dawn came unexpectedly, as with most foretellings like it, but unfolded in a distinct ritualistic and extraordinary fashion. The standard form remains in records due to similar predictions made by past members of the Oracles of Zen.8 Supposedly, the prophecy came to Halycia while she stayed in meditation within the tallest spire of the royal palace in the ancient Avon capital of Saron; the oracle became a blinding light during its telling. Witnesses believed that she had transcended herself into an otherworldly form though became mortal once more at the conclusion of the ritual. From Halycia's purported appearance during its telling, she garnered the title, the Oracle of the Dawn, and her vision also as the Prophecy of the Dawn.
Historians continue to debate the exact translation of the Prophecy of the Dawn because no two sources have proved identical. Supposedly, only King Avericht, his still unnamed court mage at the time, and his closed clique of advisers directly witnessed the telling. If one were to take this claim for fact, then most accounts of the prophecy more than likely resulted from hearsay. However, cross-references between the most credible sources result in a reliable, and likely truncated, version of the prophecy. Its accuracy has been confirmed mainly due to hindsight regarding its fruition. Furthermore, it is likely that facets of the original prophecy were kept only within King Avericht's inner circle.
The following verses of the Prophecy of the Dawn serve as one of the most well-known and accepted iterations:9
"...Lands consumed by force
Of unending course.
With right of cause,
kingdoms fall, lost.
Mortal aspects muddled,
Eternal darkness fall.
Yet the veil here,
By words of seer,
Be pulled, and dawn
Arise. To spawn
Upon these lands.
In spirit and light,
Of sword and might.
The last prince of Avon
shall wreak salvation,
By blood of sacrifice,
Halycia's prophecy became a source of great hope and premonition. An end to the War of the Scourge seemed woven into the Oracle's words which in itself proved a point of rejoicing. However, the caveat of "the last prince" held foreboding implications to the great kingdom of Avon. The continuation of the kingdom of Avon after Avalon's ascension and the conclusion of the War of the Scourge has also left much to debate regarding the Prophecy of the Dawn's authenticity, in light of the Oracles of Zen's reputation. The main takeaway with the prophecy's importance is that it marked a renewed source of hope amidst a conflict which strained the faith of Varia's remaining civilizations.
FamilyKing Avericht's line, known directly as the Avonian dynasty, had ruled since the First Era and through the kingdom's sheer strength, remained in power even as the War of the Scourge roiled through Varia. Avon became known throughout the conflict for its strong leadership and rulers, so one may sufficiently assume that the Avonian dynasty invested greatly in grooming its heirs. King Avericht proved no exception as Avon thrived under his leadership; meanwhile, the Scourge dominated many other societies. Though in most aspects a standard monarchy by modern day comparisons, King Avericht simultaneously had multiple consorts, a practice that seemed widespread among Varian royalty during the First Era. During that period, each consort formally received the title of "Queen" in the kingdom of Avon. Two queens have been identified by name through ancient records, Erelyn and Marya, though at least another three resided with King Avericht in Saron.
The subject of the identity of Avalon's mother ranges from being a delicate and debated subject to nearly inconsequential past his birth. So then, who was Avalon's mother? Succinctly, the answer remains unknown. Limited as childhood records of Avalon may be, traces to his mother prove even more obscure. Beyond court presences, the activities of Avericht's queens received less documentation. More than likely, Avalon's mother numbered among the unnamed consorts since both Queen Erelyn and Queen Marya failed to bear King Avericht any surviving male heirs.10 More scandalous takes on the matter place a mistress as the true mother, with the most controversial theory being the Oracle Halycia. Though, again, these profferings wholly remain speculative. However, proposals that pin Avalon as a bastard child fail to stand up to records kept by Avon. Ultimately, the mother's identity has left little impact on the popular narrative of Avalon. Chronicles regarding the God King typically exclude the maternal influence on his upbringing, if only due to the lack of substantial evidence regarding her. However, court records remarkably increased in coverage to at least create coherent timelines. As with most documents from the War of the Scourge, much information, such as namings, were lost to deterioration and translation.
Birth & ControversyRecords of Avalon's birth may be among the most complete of their kind during the era of the Scourge. The increase in the breadth of court records resulted from King Avericht's death due to circumstances attributed to an encounter with the Scourge as he made rounds in Avon.11 The ruler's passing led to government restructuring to accommodate an Avonian prince named Avel, the king's only, albeit underage, surviving male issue sired with one of his queens. Meticulous records were thus maintained of these bureaucratic changes which, several months after Avericht's death, eventually included the birth of another prince by an unnamed consort.
The newborn was named Avalon and formally designated a prince of Avon, despite a few claims questioning his lineage.12 Coinciding with the time of his birth, the city of Saron and the surrounding areas experienced a period of ten days where the sun shone unceasingly through night and day. Witnesses described the display described it as nothing less than a divine proclamation. Reports of the birth by attendants to the royal family, and bolstered by external accounts, also noted the death of his mother during the labor. The fact that the child thus survived made the birth seem nothing less of a miracle. These circumstances around Avalon's birth did not escape the Avonian court, particularly those privy to the details of Halycia's revelation which had more than likely been known for years by that point. The final child of King Avericht resonated with the Prophecy of the Dawn.
News of Avalon's birth spread quickly in the capital, eventually rippling throughout the entire kingdom. The death of King Avericht and the installment of a regency impaired the Avonian leadership; the latter notably affected kingdom's grasp over the mages aiding in the defense against the Corruption. These disturbances along with the political and bureaucratic in-fighting caused by the restructuring hampered the morale of the kingdom by extension. However, the coming of the heir of the prophecy reinvigorated the populace. At last, an end to the conflicts with the Scourge and "salvation" seemed within grasp. Despite the Scourge threatening Avon's borders, settlements launched celebrations welcoming another heir of the kingdom. All that was left then was to nurture the young prince so as to fulfill his prophesied destiny. The kingdom of Avon, its people, and its armies became renewed in the fight to defend against and, by the Prophecy's implication, assuredly defeat the Scourge. It was also possible that the Prophecy of the Dawn and then Avalon's birth had spread to other parts of Varia and beyond. Oral tales passed down by the former nomads of Southern Varia spoke of the white pillar which signaled the coming of the champion to quell the restless spirits of the land. Paraphrases regarding the prophecy seemed to have also circulated in the Kingdom of the Evergreens in the Feylands in the pre-period before the Varian Coalition came together. Thus, the Prophecy of the Dawn could have also revitalized spirits even beyond Avon.13
However, along with Avalon's arrival came a great complication regarding the line of succession of the Avonian throne. Avon's regency had taken great measures to ensure Avel remained first in line to become ruler, ahead of at least three other of King Avericht's legal daughters who superseded him in age. Would the birth of Avalon alter generations of Avonian law? Apparently, yes. Within the first month of the infant Avalon's life, camps within the Avonian court put forward motions to adjust the succession to place Avalon at the forefront. The opposition to this movement claimed that a prophecy should not compromise years of Avon's law; furthermore, the premonition did not specify the need for the child of prophecy to occupy the throne nor did it give him the prerogative. Yet, more than just a matter of faith in superstition, Avericht's former advisors predicted, correctly, that his youngest prince's image may very well drive Avon's survival through the War of the Scourge. The prophetic prince of Avon placed upon the throne served as a statement that transcended the semantics of mortal laws; it was a declaration to the world and the Scourge that Varia would be saved at the hands of Avalon and Avon.
LegacyUltimately, Avalon claimed his place at the head of the succession. Raised more by the collectively Avonian court rather than any real parental figures, his road to the throne was more conflicted than popular belief. Admittedly, even hindsight cannot confirm whether the Prophecy of the Dawn had any real bearing on Avalon's tenure as king or vice versa. However, the changes to the structure in Avon in light of Avalon's extraordinary destiny set a precedent which echoes even into the modern day. Aware of his place and during times of strain in his rule, King Avalon of Avon acted with an independence that nearly made the existence of his advising councils defunct. The modern kingdom of Avon, while known for its rigid bureaucracy, became known in the Third Era for making concessions to figures of particularly exceptional personal power, often larger than life Avonian rulers like the King of War Cayrel and the mystical Queen Aridora. Avalon's birth may very well be the earliest application of the concept of Divine Right of Rule, an idea which later reverberated throughout Varia in the late Second Era and the entirety of the Third Era.
Scholars of the War of the Scourge take conflicting camps in the debate over the turning point of the conflict. Some claim that the formation of the Varian Conflict foreshadows humanity's eventual victory while others push that the cinch came only in Avalon's ascension. However, that critical juncture arrived much, much earlier: Avalon's birth. The impact of his arrival relied on pure belief in the words of the Oracles of Zen. The War of the Scourge and the recent death of King Avericht of Avon had done much to quelch the faith of Avon's denizens and beyond. However, Avalon became the beacon the kingdom and the continent needed from his point of birth. Displays of seemingly divine prowess confirmed the truth in the Prophecy of the Dawn. Nothing can take away from Avalon's prowess as both mortal and the God King, though arguably, beyond his tangible prowess, his greatest gift to those around him was hope.
- Q.R. Usmyne, full name Queslin Roferich Usmyntorien, was a human religious historian and theologist active from 2883 3E to 2961 3E. Born in Ederton in 2861 3E, Usmyne spent his formative years in the church of Avalon's orphanage before he began his training to become a clergyman. His plans went to the wayside when he found his calling in scribe work and subsequently scholarly studies of Avalon's history. Beginning with his work on a collaborative anthology on the life of the God King, Usmyne rose to become one of the leading religious historians with a specialty on Avalon's life and exploits.
- The ancient kingdom of Avon is considered by many to be distinct from the kingdom of Avon known in the modern day. It is likely that the Avon ruled by Avalon was located away from central Varia due to evidence that the ancient nation possessed a navy.
- The War of the Scourge has sometimes been referred to as the "Era of Lost Time." For one reason, a majority of the records and archives regarding Varia in the First Era disappeared due to the destruction of many nations and organizations due to the onset of the Corruption. Intranational events, such as a brief coup in Avon, may have also led to the destruction of archival documents. Secondly, the continent seemed inflicted with a temporal haze, a confirmed magical phenomenon sometimes encountered in the continent of the Feylands and select planes. The temporal haze altered perceptions of the passage of time in the continent which has led to confusion in dating if not caused an almost amnesiac effect upon the continent's denizens; the modern kingdom of Avon was also responsible for providing the bulk of remaining Avonian records made during the War of the Scourge. Lastly, the language in which most remaining records from the First Era, known as Ancient, lacks any defined codex, making any definitive translation nearly impossible.
- Somewhat ironically, the presence of Corruption also altered the presence of magic in Varia. It has long been confirmed that the usage of magic became remarkably more difficult and riskier during the period. However, the feats possible with magic remained ever potent and thus its rarity added to perceptions of its power.
- Divination may have been seen as the magic of the gods during the First Era. It became a particularly difficult school of magic to practice during the War of the Scourge compared to other magical schools.
- Magehunts refer to the often unofficial, or not legally sanctioned, organization of a search to find and persecute a mage.
- The Oracles of Zen's capabilities supposedly remained unimpeded during the War of the Scourge which both helped and harmed preconceptions of them. Historians attribute, in part, Avon's prosperity and preparedness under King Avericht during the conflict to Halycia's abilities.
- Beyond formal records or accounts, several myths and legends involving the gods of the Varian pantheon imply the involvement of the Oracles of Zen. However, the exact breadth of the Oracles' impact in Varia remains an estimate until further histories of the First Era are discovered.
- This iteration of the Prophecy of the Dawn is not a translation done by a single individual. The popular rendering served an amalgamation of translations made by a group of scholars around 2000 3E. The choice to make the passages follow the AA/BB/CD pattern of rhyming was derived from the belief that the Oracles of Zen's prophecies typically followed this rhyming scheme; however, the claim remains questionable when compared to known records of the group.
- Avon preserved incomplete diaries claimed to have been written in by Avericht's queens. Much of their contents were anecdotal but provided great insight into the structure and lifestyle of ancient Avonian royalty.
- Resurrection magicks were ineffectual during the War of the Scourge, once again attributed to the influence of Corruption on magic. However, it has been concluded that creatures affected by Corruption also cannot be brought back to life. With either scenario, reviving Avericht would have been impossible.
- Such claims have been construed from the personal correspondences of presumed ancient courtiers. None of such evidence written by the Oracle of Zen Halycia exists for the theory that she had been Avalon's mother, which instead derives from transcribed court rumors.
- The Kingdom of the Evergreens was responsible for providing written personal accounts by members of the expeditionary force sent by the nation to aid the Varian Coalition. In the present, remnants of the Southern Varian nomads also still pass on tales that can be associated with the Prophecy of the Dawn as well as other fortellings made by the Oracles of Zen.