The Age of the God Kings

“Nothing is True that is not written in Stone.”

It is said that once there were many races which walked the earth with Man. Some, such as the Vulfur and the Mur, still do, but most have vanished, fading even from Legend and Story.

In the First Age Man was but one of many races which roamed the world, as did many great and terrible things, great wyrms and terrible beasts of which only the bones remain today.

A race of average height, men possessed poor vision, limited hearing a a laughable sense of smell. They had no sharp claws to defend themselves with and no thick hide or rough scales to turn aside blows. And so in these days man was not the master of his own fate.

It is said there was a race of creatures much like men, yet larger than even a Mur. As strong as ten men, they enslaved many of the tribes of Man, and the tribes of many other races as well. These Gentle Masters, as they were known, had a lust for Gold in the same way a drunk has a lust for his swill. They bid the men to dig into the earth and bring them gold. The men dug ever deeper under the great Mountains of the world, building vast underground cities whose people never saw the light of day, and where they were born, lived, and died digging deeper into the earth, seeking more and more gold.

On the surface of the world others built great temples, pyramids to the glory of the Gentle Masters. Cities grew around them, where the gold was crafted into art and statues the like of which was never to be seen again.

For countless ages the Gentle Masters ruled over the world, and their cities spread over the globe. And as their cities grew vast and great the built great armies of men which they sent against each other in games. They used magic to harness the weather, and ensured great harvests and therefore grand feasts. And as the ages came and went they forgot something. Something that had once been very important to remember.

Under the great mountains at the very north of the world there was a mine so deep that those humans who worked it had not seen the sun for generations. Down and down they went, following an ever richer vein of gold. Until one day they encountered something strange. They broke through into a vast cavern whose ceiling was so high that it could not be seen. In the center of the cavern was a lake, more of a sea really, and in its center a lone island.

And on this isle, deep beneath the world, there was a small temple.

The miners did not know what to make of the temple, but the walls of the cavern contained no veins of gold, and so they left, and in the months and years afterwards they forgot all about the strange temple that stood where logic demanded that no man had before been.

Other tunnels were dug, and other veins chased. And man forgot about the temple. But it did not forget about them.

The last of those who had broken into that strange cavern passed away, as did their children, and their children’s children. And man dug deeper. But dreams began to bother the pale men who dwelt deep within the world. They dreamt of beautiful forests they had never seen, tasted fresh meat or felt the excitement of chasing a lover through a field of tall grass in the morning. Deep within the earth a longing for things their ancestors had given up so long ago they should have been forgotten took hold. And in one of many thousands of mines deep beneath the world men began to long for that which they had lost. And they began to hate those who kept them down in these mines, those who enslaved them and deprived them of the pleasures of the world above. And down there, with these men, was something else that also longed to once more walk on the surface of the world.

They returned to the cavern their ancestors had unearthed, one thousand and one strong. A small number of the miners who lived in the vast underground city. One thousand dreamers and a young girl.

They brought her to the island in the middle of the great lake, and to the temple at its center. There they found a simple stone table upon which lay a long and jagged shank of quartz.

They passed the shank of quartz from man to man, cutting themselves as they had in their dreams. The stone under the men became slick with blood, and some of the men sat down. Finally, when all had made their offering, they brought the girl, bound, to the table. Her eyes blazed with anger and hatred as she struggled against her bonds, but it was no use. Six men held her down as another approached, the quartz dagger held high. And then he plunged the dagger into her heart, and the girl became still. In the darkness the girls father wept.

The men waited, yet nothing happened. Hours passed, and they muttered amongst themselves. And nothing happened. Finally the men dressed their wounds and left the cavern. Some felt foolish, others angry.

They returned to the city, and returned to the mines. Yet as the months passed they began to change. They found they they could move quicker then other men, and were growing stronger by the day. When they sat still and listened they could hear each others thoughts, or even the thoughts and desires of other men and women. And the dreams returned. Yet some among them conspired in secret. A select few that worried that when they had cut themselves in the cavern they had not been letting out their blood, but rather letting something in.

On the world of the Surface the first sign was when the gold stopped coming from several mines in the north. But the Gentle Masters were not worried. Sometimes the earth shook and mines collapsed. On occasion the miners from the buried cities would dig their way out, other times they did not. But there were many thousands of mines, and the Gentle Masters were not worried about one or two.

It was the Paths Between that began the worry. With their magic the Gentle Masters had made a magical land that was a mirror of our own world, if more wild and untamed. This land had many roads, and by entering a gate in our world and walking on such a path you might be able to walk to a distant city in a day that would otherwise be many months away. First there came a fog which began to settle in the Paths, and reports of sightings of strange things in the distance, far off the paths. And then there were the dreams. Those Gentle Masters who slept while traveling the ways dreamt of a girl who stood at the entrance to a cave. A human girl who cast the shadow of a monster with many eyes and many mouths.

The mists spread until the day came when they enveloped all the paths, and the worlds they lead to. Those Gentle Masters who entered the paths did not often return and those who did were mad. And slowly they began to loose their magic.

The first cities that fell were the ones in the North, along the Mountains. Armies of men poured out of the mines and swarmed into the cities of the Gentle Masters. It was in those cities that something new happened. Something that had never happened before. In those cities of the North men killed the Gentle Masters.

In the end it was not with armies and swords that the war was settled, but rather a titanic battle of magical powers between the Gentle Masters and the men who had freed the thing in the shadow. Cities and lands fell beneath the waves, and new lands rose from the sea. The great works of the Gentle Masters fell from the skies. Crops around the world suffered blight, and storms without end battered the coasts. It was in this time that many of the Ancient Races vanished forever.

Yet even as their victory drew near, there were some among the men who questioned the shadow below. Some who wondered if man would trade the Gentle Masters for a monster they could never hope to defeat or seal once more below the world. And so a plan was formed. This small group knew that they could not alone stand against their many brothers, and so they plotted and schemed. And at a great feast to celibate the ever of their victory they poisoned their fellows. 975 of the men and women who had split their blood in that dark cavern perished that night. Twenty four conspirators had succeeded, and congratulated themselves, yet one among those who should have died escaped, and her they never saw again.

The twenty four knew the places that lead to the surface, the places where the shadow could rise, and on these places they built great seal and temples, to seal the way below forever. On top of these temples they each built a city, and called to themselves the many remaining men of the world. They sent out armies from their cities to hunt the land and find the girl who had escaped their purge, and other armies still to slay those who questioned their power. They found that they did not age, not in the way that normal men did, though some changed in appearance, growing larger and mightier.

Years became decades, and decades became centuries. All traces of the Gentle Masters was crushed to ruin or buried under the seas. And the men who once sought to free all men from those ancient titans became, in a way, much like them. They came to see themselves as Gods, and decided their place was above all else. Those races who did not bow to them were hunted by their armies. Distrust and hate fermented in their hearts until the twenty four, once as close as brothers and sisters, came to think of each other as enemies. They aged, their bodies locked in time, but their minds old. The mines were a distant memory and eventually, so was the thing they found down there. They remembered only that they had fought titans and freed the world, only that they were Gods.

In the north was one of their cities, a vast metropolis that held more then six million souls. At its center was a very old temple, and in the temples center an obelisk. Time had warn away the writings, yet the boy who now examined it was not worried, for they had long ago been copied into books at his behest. No more then sixteen by his looks, the boy himself had once carved the Obelisk, many thousands of years before. Looking at it now, he tried to remember what had been so important about it then. The books seemed to just contain stories and laws, nothing that seemed so important that it should be carved into the stone before the first brick of the city was set.

It was along the Obelisks base that he felt them, running his fingers over the old marble. A few runes that had escaped the erosion.

“Nothing is True that is not written in Stone.”

The Age of the God Kings

Memories of Myranthia Das_Sheep