Well – perhaps not brief exactly. But there is a lot of story to cover here…
In the beginning there was Mind, and nothing but Mind. Mind was one, but not uniform – within it there was variety and character. Mind grew in depth and variety, and it had thoughts, memory, and imagination. Mehr was the name of this Mind, for it (“he”, for we English-speakers, though there was no masculinity or femininity) was like the sea.
Mehr imagined companionship and became lonely, so he bounded off within himself regions of character, creating 5 seperate and distinct new Minds. These were of Mehr, since he could not create anything outside of himself (nothing comes from nothing), but they were not Mehr – they were their own personalities. These five were: Baod, Endatish, Prhua, Chomar, and Sensihr. Of these, Baod was the Creative, and thus a kindred spirit of Mehr. Endatish was withdrawn and introspective, and is called the Historian. Prhua, too, was a creator, but she was more thoughtful and less original – she was a producer. Chomar and Sensihr were the Brothers; their fraternity was a point of jealousy for the others. Mehr was greatly depleted in their creation, as he had used up most of his own variety and character to create these five packets of mind inside himself. But Mehr continued to grow as he had before, repleting himself with ever-greater density and complexity, and the five within him also grew, feeding off the character of Mehr outside of them, until they were great enough to create children of their own, both from the excess of Mehr and from within themselves.
Though Mehr and Baod were alike in spirit, Baod was very independent and strong-willed, and Mehr desired a companion in intention, like Sensihr and Chomar had in each other. Mehr created again: his consort and companion, Zehn-Mehr. After this Mehr became very still and was thus called Epid-Mehr. His activity from here consisted mostly of companionship and of continued expansion and variety to provide for his children and their progeny.
Baod longed for the attention and admiration of all, but none more then Mehr and Prhua, who were the least likely to have attention for him: Mehr due to his new consort, and Prhua due to her business spawning new children. Baod was the greatest, largest, and most powerful of the Minds, but he was also the least satified. He longed not only to be a friend of Mehr, he longed to be his equal. But this would be impossible as long as he was a part of Mehr. So he retreated, to create, to plan, and to scheme.
Once Mehr had become a sea of millions of Minds, Baod unveiled his Great Work: Energy. Energy was a mapping of Mind; it was neither within nor without Mehr, but was Mehr and the Minds within him displayed in a new dimension. Everyone was surprised and delighted to see how their activities and characteristics played out in this new environment.
At this time Sensihr and Chomar were the fathers of a multitude, but one of their greatest children was Indri-Ori. He was a special child – the combination of the best parts of both his fathers and a unique bit found in the excess of Mehr. Now Baod had another plan, one of which no one knew. (Though all Minds were still made of the stuff of Mehr and were within him, even he could not see their thoughts, any more than you or I could determine the intentions of someone from seeing their live x-ray.) He invited Indri-Ori to assist him with this plan, but he asked that Indri keep it a secret, so it could be as glorious a surprise as Energy. Indri agreed with enthusiasm. But once they were alone, Baod surrounded and consumed Indri-Ori. For Baod had determined that as the number of Minds increased, he would become less and less like Mehr – only by taking back the character encompassed by the other minds, by taking all within himself, by becoming Mehr, could he be like Mehr. The plan was in its infancy, its testing phase, so after Baod had dissolved the boundaries around Indri-Ori’s individuality and made him a part of himself, Baod put him back together as Patar-Ori. Patar-Ori was unaware of his origin, and no others suspected since Indri’s fathers did not know that he had gone with Baod, and Baod claimed that Patar-Ori was modelled on Indri’s greatness. And now Baod knew his plan of consuming another mind could succeed, and he had a new child to be his lieutenant in the conquest.
While Epid-Mehr could not see Baod’s intentions, he could see his actions, and the consumption of Indri-Ori registered as a grave disturbance. He sent Zehn-Mehr to investigate, but she could not determine what had happened. Baod waited a long time to consume again, and for some time after that, he consumed only his direct progeny in order to avoid the scrupulation of Mehr or the Pentiad.
While Patar-Ori had been intended to insure the success of Baod’s plan, he was actually its undoing. Though Patar was infused with some of the best of Baod, he was still more the product of his first two fathers, and he never bonded with the great Creator. He went off among the other minds, learned of them, and was introspective; after much time and thought, he discovered the truth of his origins. By now Baod had gathered many to his cause (they thought his success was inevitable, and that to aid him would be to gain primacy within his new order), and he had begun his conquest among the lesser minds at the fringes. Patar-Ori took Zehn-Mehr as an ally, and they began the struggle to resist Baod.
Both Zehn-Mehr and Baod sought Epid-Mehr’s assistance for their side, but as he often did, he remained still. Neither side could claim to be right or wrong, for the concept of right and wrong was still undiscovered, as it remains today among the beast animals; instead the struggle was between satiation and survival. But after the pleadings of Zehn-Mehr and arguments of Patar-Ori, Epid-Mehr at last took an action: he expanded upon Baod’s creation of Energy to create Matter – a formalization and reshaping of Energy. In the midst of the Struggle, the War, all of the Minds were locked into Stars. Like Energy, this was a mapping, but Matter had position in space, there was distance and momentum, and the Minds became sluggish. The war came to a pause.
In time, the Minds explored and learned to adapt to Matter, and the war gradually rose back to full activity. It culminated in a great siege – a standoff between Baod and Patar-Ori, each surrounded by interlocking rings of their armies in an intractible grapple. Again Zehn-Mehr pleaded for intercession from her companion, and in the midst of a sortie by a hidden flank of Patar-Ori’s army (led by the poet-warrior Adam and the trickstress Lil), Epid-Mehr took action. Without warning, the core of Baod, the kernel of greatest creativity within him – that spark – was ripped from him as a cold, still hunk of matter. This birth was still, but not dead – this was Coera.
Baod fled, and the siege was over. The war, of course, could never be won as long as Baod held to his plan, but a crucial battle was decided for the resistance. Yet Mehr’s activity was not complete, and now he had chosen sides. Now he would issue a stroke, a last stroke, to undo Baod’s plan thoroughly.
The Ages of Coera
Mehr’s counter was not to prevent Baod’s plan of universal consumption, but to marginalize it. On Coera he created Life – not Matter made of Mind, but Mind from Matter. For Baod’s plan had a significant chance of success because, while the Minds enumerate geometrically, each offspring is an intentional, costly, and time-consuming product of one or more minds, one that often leaves the parent Minds temporarily drained of their own characteristics and contents. But Life – it’s produce isn’t as grand as the gods of Mind, but it costs almost nothing of the parents – it reproduces on its own from the excess of Mehr and Coera herself. And Mehr had foresight; he knew that his plan would succeed.
After Baod’s flight Coera remained in orbit around Patar-Ori’s star, and many of the lesser gods (Minds) in his army remained around Coera, exploring the planet and the new phenomena of Life.
The first inhabitants of Coera lived within her, in her labyrinthine halls and caverns, basking in the warmth of her innards. Many of these godlings, following Coera’s example of permanent physical form, took permanent forms in matter themselves. Some took wild and outlandish forms, some simple, and some emulated the forms of Life they found within Coera. Most flitted between forms or didn’t take them at all. A society developed within Coera, and these explorers became residents and more – gardeners and tenders of Life.
But Baod had traitors in Patar’s ranks, and some had remained. More came, and still more were turned from the less dedicated of Patar’s followers. There were disappearances, disguised attacks, and eventually full war, this time in the arena of matter. The war raged for a near eternity, with neither side gaining an upper hand. New birth was balanced by consumption. Life’s infancy became a struggle. Some suggested that the very nature of Coera, as Baod’s spark, was to introduce the corruption of consumption.
But Patar was not as tolerant a master as Epid-Mehr, and he sent his soldiers, led by his general Adam, to purge the depths and drive any who would remain on Coera to her surface. The godling inhabitants of Coera took with them favored beasts and plants to the sparse surface, where they found new, unfamiliar life. But the motherly warmth of Coera was faint here, and the godlings and fledgling life felt cold and unprotected. Patar drew Coera nearer, so his own warmth could reach and feed her, and he erected a boundary at the limits of his own influence, far beyond the swoop of Coera, and sent a detachment to guard against new intruders.
The survivors of the war below followed the encouragement of Patar-Ori to raise up and nourish Life on the surface. The godlings congregated on one great river-valley, which became a Garden populated by the grandest of species, tended by the greatest of tenders. The godlings each shaped their pet species, drawing them up into individuals of reason and self-reliance, quick to reproduce from the gaia of Coera and ever more developed in mind and spirit.
Even while the garden tenders were able to draw up Life into shapes resembling their own, they could not coax Life into producing viable and mature Minds. So Patar took two of his most capable, a male and female, and with their permission touched them, and bound them to the bodies of Life. These two, the same Adam and Lil who led the final sortie against Baod, successfully seeded Life, which then began to reproduce Mind in the form of Man.
But Baod’s retreat had long since slowed and even reversed, and he had been watching. He had a connection to Coera which he had kept hidden: Coera had been an integral part of him, it was well known, but it was not known that their continued sameness gave him her reach. He took no sudden or dramatic strokes; he worked through shadows, rumors, and remotes, he influenced the sleeping Coera, influenced those sympathetic to him still on Coera, and was at last able to influence Life through the person of Lil.
She was seduced to his cause, and as the trickstress she kept his secrets well. Though Baod had regained much power, he could not risk a full assault under the watchful eye of Patar-Ori, so he and Lil communed while each became stronger, until he could be summoned to the planet, let in through a gap in the Boundary, to reclaim Coera and a resounding victory. But Adam discovered the treachery of his wife and exposed it, despite her lies and her seductions. Baod’s summoning was premature and failed, and Adam led the battle to purge all of Baod’s new army from the influence of Patar-Ori. Some of the greatest of the enemy gods were struck by Patar himself during the battle – stilled like Coera, and set as sentries throughout his domain. Lil, now far to great for her womanly body, was turned to a lump of dead rock and set above Coera, so Adam might point out her example to his children.
The Boundary was hardened. There would be no more coming and going – those around Patar-Ori and Coera could not leave, and never again could Baod or his Lieutenants come. Life would be raised without disturbance, but it still needed a Mother. So Patar set to finding a suitable replacement for Lil among all of her offspring, but her children had been corrupted and none were suitable. Thus was Eva was brought forth directly from the stuff of Adam, and the Ages of Coera turned again.
The Age of the Patriarchs was the first Age of Man. That’s not to say that the world was not aflow with gods, active and aloof, and godlings who had long ago taken permanent form predicting the shape of Man, or that man held primacy over the land. Man was alternatively a grasping and timid animal, with the roots of intelligence but not the maturity to form it. Adam and Eva nurtured their progeny, and pushed back the children of Lil and the mindless men remaindered by the seeding of Adam.
This was the longest age of Man, though it did not take Man long to spread across Coera, for just as the Mind had the potential for immortality, so did the bodies of Life. But just like the material gods (elves) became possessive and jealous of their bodies, forgetting the life of Mind, the bodies of men became their passion, for they would not risk injury and death if they could live forever. So the lives of men were gradually shortened – death became an absolute rather than an accident. But the kernel of true Mind Men developed in their life was allowed to re-enter new bodies. Man as a species became bolder, risking more, since the lives they remembered were too short to squander.
This Age was golden with growth and learning – the gods and elves taught men control of matter, and cities were raised from the raw stuff of Coera. Man covered the land, and spread even to the depths of the sea. Finally they began to probe back into the tunnels leading to the depths of Coera. They made halting contact with the Delvers, who had escaped the purges of the subterranean halls and inherited their vastness. The Delvers taught them to work with stone, and how to fortify their cities and build them even higher, deeper, and greater.
It was in these days that Pol sought the love of the Ascorielle and became more than a man.
Pol was a son of Man, the first son of a King. As young princes are wont, he went for a hunt with his faithful companion Mun, deep into the woods in search of a prize to make his father proud. They found their beast, with a magnificent rack, but it eluded them and escaped into an enchanted glade. There reclined Enthess, goddess of the spring that fed all the waters of the land. Though such arrogance was typically rewarded with punishment or death, Pol boldy approached her. Mun wisely remained in the trees. Enthess considered this supplicant, and out of curiosity, she spared him. He told her he was enthralled, and for his confidence, Enthess allowed Pol with a night in her arms. That night, Pol fell into a love so deep that he would never escape it. The next morning he was escorted in a daze from the glade and Mun led him home. But Pol did not long remain at the palace. He became a ranger of the forest, always looking for that glade again.
After 5 years of abandoning his family, of his younger brother claiming the princeship, of rebukes from his father and silent concern by Mun, Pol was allowed to find the glade again. And again his death penalty was suspended when he approached the goddess. For his persistance, Pol was rewarded with another night with Enthess, and he was left the next morning with a stern rebuke that there could be nothing more between them. She was a god, and he a human – the gap between them was too wide.
But Pol would not be turned away, and he continued in his quest for 7 more years. He used the time to develop himself, and he became an esoteric, living on rainwater and whatever fell to him from the trees. After 7 years, Enthess appeared to him again and again she forgave him his life debt. This time he did not ask her to stay the night with him; he asked her to marry him. Of course she denied him. But she did not send him away with empty hands – she gave him the gift of grace in the form of a box containing several feathers. Nor did she tell him never to return as she had before – she told him not to return until he was ready for her.
So Pol set out to become more than a man.
He sought danger, because where there was high risk, there could be high gain. Mun, ever loyal, stayed at his side. Pol joined the crew of a spice ship, and soon he was a master seaman and a master bargainer. He became first mate, then the captain of a venture ship. With a portion of his profits he bought his own ship, The Glorious Jewel. He was very wealthy, and the Glorious Jewel was the grandest ship on the sea. He sailed to the end of each ocean, discovered new lands, and cleared the sea of pirates. His fleet was unequaled. The sun was at its zenith over his empire. But he began losing his ships, one by one, to an evil Sea Spirit. She pulled down entire ships to her deep sea layer, had her way with the crew and devoured them. But she was never satisfied – she kept growing larger and more voracious.
So Pol sought out her trap and sailed straight into it. She ate several of his men, but Pol stopped her and struck a bargain – he would satisfy her or give himself to her. She laughed and tried to swallow him right down, but he had only just eaten one of Enthess’s feathers and could not be harmed – he couldn’t be swallowed or crushed, chewed or smothered. The spirit attempted to kill him in every way she could imagine, but she could not defeat Enthess’ gift of grace. So she considered Pol’s offer. He had remained chaste, and had only been with Enthess, so the Spirit allowed him access to her. Pol had learned one thing from Enthess – how to give – and the Spirit had only ever known how to take; she was overwhelmed by him, and he by her. He slept a year and a day, and she tended to his recovery. She sent away the other sailors, telling them she’d eaten the leader and would do the same to them if they didn’t flee. Only Mun remained, hiding among the rocks of her island, learning the language of the gulls.
Pol awoke fit and healthy, with a beaming beautiful woman by his side. The Sea spirit had been transformed when sated – she had not eaten in a year and a day, so she was hungry, but her hunger was in proportion. She ate but a finger of Pol’s, and when she was restored, she restored him with a kiss to his wound. The new finger was immortal – godlike. She was now like the sea – she took and she gave.
She knew Pol’s desires to marry her sister spirit, but the Sea is jealous, and desired him for himself. So she kept him for a year as she ate him piece by piece, bit by bit, always restoring him with a kiss and bedding him that night. She fed him on fish and secrets, and he learned much from her that had not been known by men.
When she had eaten him entirely, she released him, and offered him whatever he wanted, for while she desired all things, she also now gave what treasures she had. Pol asked only for her blessing in his quest for her sister, and she gave it. But she also gave him her great sword, which was ever sharp, and would cut anything but its own sheath.
Pol and Mun returned to the world to find most of his wealth had disappeared, but he used what was left to set himself up as a fisherman. The sea granted him a great bounty, and with his wealth restored, he moved to a desert kingdom. Through a series of adventures, he became the king himself, and defeated all of the enemies of the kingdom. He had to face his own brother – now king of his homeland – in battle, and he released him of his hate and resentment. Pol brought peace to the land, but with peace came corruption. The people became arrogant and shunned the gods, and famine fell. Pol granted the kingdom to Mun, who finally left his side to become the regent of the land. So Pol sought out the dust devil and (after eating a feather) faced him and defeated him in battle. But then Pol defeated him again in a battle of wits – in return for taking back the famine, Pol promised the devil any one thing, and the devil demanded his sword. But Pol did not give him the sheath, and soon the devil sought him out, covered with wounds and regrets of all the things destroyed by the sword that could cut anything. So Pol took back the sword in exchange for another boon – the perfect grain. But once the land had been seeded, his ministers horded the grain and nearly ate all of the seed crop.
Pol’s body was now ever youthful, but his servant/regent, Mun, was not. Pol stayed by his side until he died of old age.
Pol left the kindoms of man to become a monk, where he gained much esoteric understanding, and he gained enlightenment on a mountaintop. Once enlightened, Pol gained audience with Patar-Ori. His last feather allowed him to stand in Patar-Ori’s presence for a year and a day and absorb his essence as they meditated together. He learned to control his body so that ascetisicm became irrelevant, and he learned the secret to happiness and life: love (future, action, confidence), humility (present, ethics, empathy), and memory (past, knowledge, right tradition). He returned to Coera as a preacher, and his disciples collected his sayings and understandings to spread them throughout the world, where they were manipulated and forgotten in all but a few places.
Pol was now centuries old, and while his body did not age, it could not be perfected. Pol was, by this time, wracked by injuries and the effects of the asceticism. He returned to the land once his, a land much changed, to seek out the court of Enthess. The search cost him dearly, and when she admitted him, his body betrayed him. Enthess plucked a feather from her head, and he ate it and dids. But his spirit did not flee in search of a new body or the solace of Patar-Ori. Enthess smiled and discorporated, and they left the world together.
They had three daughters in spirit – the 3 Nymphs (Bhumi, L’shmi, Vrahi) – who later returned to Coera to tend her and her people.
With the guidance of the gods and elves, Adam and Eva raised a race of mindful Men, pushing back the children of Lil and Adam and the mindless men. Men built cities and expanded rapidly, enough so that the friendship between Men and elves become strained as Man pushed them out of their territory. As the elves spent more and more time trapped in their bodies, they forgot the past, and as they battled the sons of Adam and Lil, they began to forget the difference between the sons of Lil and the sons of Eva. Again there was war.
But everyone had forgotten Lil – she wasn’t even a memory, just a spot in the sky. But Lil was not dead, only still, and she slowly drew power from Patar-Ori, from gods who strayed to close, and from her forgotten guards, seduced one by one to the maw of her Mind. She learned from Couroth, the blind worm-god who hid in the shadow of Coera from Patar-Ori, who devoured the souls of the dead which were not escorted to the safety of Patar-Ori before being reborn. Lil watched him take the shape of those he devoured to lure in others, and struck an idea.
She finally gained enough power to find and possess a willing soul on Coera, who at her bidding found the corpse of Lil and used the life of others to re-animate it. Lil, the undead, became the Lillich.
By this time men had learned society. The first great city of Coera, the first true city where men lived off the excess of the landscape around them, where their primary occupation was not farming or shepherding or gathering, Babal sprawled across the valley where once the great Garden had been. The primary occupation of this city was war and conquest, and their Jezebel – their queen – was the immortal Lillich.
Built on the foundations laid by the Delvers, the Underworlders, and populated by outcast agrarian clans united against plains horsemen, Babal developed over the course of a millenia from a town of several hundred (there were many such towns) to a metropolis of millions. When the clansmen first united against the horsemen, no-one thought it was more than another political ripple in the currents of rapidly changing human politics. When the town became a city and moved to the rock of Babal, watchers took note of the development, and wondered how long such a thing could sustain itself. When the Jezebel, Lady of the city, did not die or even age over the course of many lifetimes (a typical lifetime being 250 years or so), there was great worry, especially as Babal now sustained itself and even grew strictly by conquest and tribute. Magic and knowledge of underworld passages allowed the warriors of Babal to hit towns and villages hundreds of leagues away and return to their own city in one week. Advanced technology provided by the Jezebel made them unstoppable. But Lil was a keeper of secrets – the name of Lillich was not spoken, and not Adam, Eva, nor even Patar-Ori knew at this time that she had stirred.
The Lillich, Lil, Lilith – she was called by each by her priests – drew power to herself as Babal grew to dominate the land, and she slowly gathered followers from among her people and the surrounding towns by promising them an immortality like hers. She showed them how to draw out the life of others to sustain their own, and how to consume others entirely to increase their capacity.
It was not, however, until the city declared war against all children of Eva, and began to enslave them for servitude and food, that the truth of what was happening was discovered. The Children of Eva sought support from the elves and gods, but these had long ago had enough of war, and few would take part in another. Adam, long discorporated, maintained audience with Patar-Ori, and would not general this new war – for it was a war between Men, so Men would decide their fate. Life would need to defend itself. But Eva, who would not abandon her children to Lil, convinced Adam to aid her in one small way – they parented several more children. And these were not just the diluted spirits of men, they were godlings corporeal.
The first two new sons of Eva, Cain and Able, were raised in secret on the outskirts of Babal by a wetnurse loyal to Eva. They were not told of their parentage until they were young men, but both had been raised with a distrust of the Jezebel, and both accepted their duty of overthrowing her with full hearts.
Yet Lil, ever the crafty one, could taste the potency of their souls on the air, and she deduced the plot against her. Through a series of lies and false disguises, she seduced Cain and convinced him to kill Able. Cain had never joined Lil’s cause, but he had done her work, and he was cast to the wilds.
Eva would not still not give up; she bore another son, Seth, and raised him herself. Nor would she see another of her sons fall to naivete, so she determined to enlist one of his brothers as a mentor for him. But since there were none experienced beside Cain and he was in exile, Eva sought and was granted a special dispensation. It was not permitted by the Fates that any but a very few gods and those touched by Adam could remember the future, only what had past. But Eva was allowed to move the reincarnation of her sons backward, so they would be born a second time before the first. Of course she was limited to a single rebirth through this loophole, but it allowed her to pull Seth’s younger brother from a future time to mentor him.
While Seth proved capable of unseating the Jezebel at Babal, he was not able to decorporate her. In order to scatter her influence, he dispersed her city by forever removing Man’s ability to understand the language of heaven. The city quickly dissolved when no man could speak to another, and Lil slunk away to her spiderhole.
It was Enoch, next son of Eva, who succeeded Seth as the ruler of Tseon – city on the hill that was Babal – and led it into a period of prosperity that lasted nearly a millenia, balancing Lil’s rule.
Other sons of Eva continued to push Lil back whenever she appeared, but it was an untold time later that the last of these patriarchs finally drove Lil from Coera. To remove her influence from the land, Patar-Ori loosed gods in the form of ravaging beasts; these destroyed and reshaped the surface of Coera, leaving only a trace of mankind – those deemed pure – to rebuild.
The time of the Towers was the last great Age of Elves, Delvers, and Prikies (the reincarnations of Elves who had left their bodies or died but were allowed to return one last time, in a way that would give them only minimal impact) and the last Age where Men are taught access to the magic of Coera.
The Age is dominated by the Empire of Ando. Ando circled the Green Sea, a great inland ocean, and exended hundreds or thousands of miles out from it. The Empire was consolidated by Asrian, a grandchild of Eva, and its vastness was spanned by the magic of the towers that ringed the sea. These towers were unfathomably large – each tower was a city of hundreds of thousands, and suburbs of millions fanned out at their base. At the top of each tower was an identical circular room – identical because they were in fact the same room. Asrian used these towers to lead his generals – children and successors who each controlled a province of his empire – and to guide their successors in individual rule after he had retired from the Empire.
One of these children, the youngest, dearest, and most naive – named Enthess after the goddess – was the conduit by which Lil re-entered the world. Disguised as the crone Jazrael, Lil counciled Enthess to war against the other rulers of the towers, and finally against Asrian himself, where he sat in decline on his island retreat of Erca. Jazrael then left Enthess to play with her empire while she drew power to herself on Erca. Enthess did not know until it was too late that she had become Jazrael’s puppet, and quite literally. Enthess’ soul was drawn into Lil, who took over her body when it convenienced her; Enthess was only allowed out on special occassions to plead for mercy from the body of some wretch, who was then devoured along with Enthess’ soul.
It was a dark millenia until Lil was again unseated and discorporated by a son of Eve – Kuel. Patar-Ori turned the ages of Coera by destroying her face with meteor-strikes.
After the meteors there were no more Delvers, no more Prikies, and only a few Elves, allowed to remain if pure and chaste, and only for a special purpose. One child only was born to all of the Elves in this age – and she became the bride of Deivyd. Magic, too, was scarce, and was but an emination of the gods, not a power of Coera to be wielded by any who would learn it.
Our story began with Riel’s rediscovery of Deivyd in a tiny outlying town of an out-of-the way monarchy. Riel had been establishing himself as a warrior – in a society that did not value them – in preparation for the emergence of Lilith’s Get. He plucked Deivyd from the town as the vampires spilled out of their mountain hideaway, and they raced ahead of the tide of undead to reach the capitol of the kingdom first, so Deivyd could also be ratified as a warrior (a rythander – a Godswordsman). In the process he severed the link that Betheni, a vampire with a particular intrest in Deivyd, was building. At the capitol, Deivyd was installed with the priests who would ratify him while Riel uncovered the vampires already in the city and enlisted the captain of the guard just in time to raise the defenses before the enemy army arrived and encircled them. The battle was heavy, but clearly decided. Riel settled the city in the hands of the captain of the guard, and too Deivyd to face the other nests of Lil’s children, who by now had swept out into the other, unprepared, nations.
Riel sailed with Deivyd into the sea to Daethan, where Riel was established as the the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Glory-wolf returned, and Deivyd was established as his Right (though in fact it was Deivyd who was the return of the Glory-Wolf, as that was his previous incarnation). They then left to rescue two other rythander captured by the vampires. Along the way, Deivyd learned of his parentage and learned of his future. Riel faced off against Betheni and repelled her, but admitted to her eventual success in bonding with Deivyd.
Riel and Deivyd led the full war against the vampire hordes, countersweeping through the nations of the North in victory after victory. They found allies in the Sapphire Eye and the few artifact races still hiding in the forests and badlands. With the North firmly in hand and Deathan thus secured, Riel and Deivyd led the armies against the Get entrenched in the South, but Riel was betrayed and fell in battle. Deivyd was badly wounded and was spirited from the field by Eva. Palin, Deivyd’s childhood friend, escaped the field to bring news of the catastrophe to Daethan. (That is the story, Palin’s Breath.)
Deivyd was left by Eva with the riverfolk, who nursed him back to health and led him to the forest haven of the last of the elves. There he met Beckari, his fated bride, and they were ribbon bound. But the war in the South was not over, and Deivyd was drafted to battle (though the generals did not recognize him). The battle went poorly, and Deivyd was captured and sold into slavery. He was bought by Betheni. She reestablished her bond with Deivyd, but released him before his seven year service was up. He returned to Daethan to be established as Riel’s successor.
Deivyd led the Armies back to the South. Like Riel had before him, he attempted to establish alliances – but these alliances were difficult and ethically costly – the Ancients, the Obscured Throne, and Betheni’s Brood all had ties or similarities to the armies he was attempting to vanquish. But he pushed and politicked and pushed again, and he was able to clear the land of the taint. He even pushed over the mountains to Bal Abillion, where Lillith waited to face him. She was defeated, and returned to her husk of the moon.
While Deivyd returned to the land to disband his army (and make sure they stay disbanded), his long-suffering wife waited at home. But Betheni’s daughters had misread her longing for him, and they slew Beckari and the rest of his household to make him single again. Deivyd felt this happening and rushed home to see the tail end of the slaughter; he lost control and slew Betheni’s Brood in response, including some innocents. Rather than live in shame for his loss of control, he gave himself to Betheni.
(The final chapter of Deivyd’s story is a prequel – his earlier rebirth as the Lion’s general-advisor. It is the story of his discovery and seduction of Betheni, which lays the ground for her fascination with him in the first volume of his story.)
After Deivyd and Beckari’s death, the elves leave Coera, and her face is destroyed in a flood.
This is the Age we know – the age of Greece, Rome, China, the Renaissance, the space shuttle. This is the age of Jack Riel, son of Eva.
Riel’s story started in his college years. He was the adopted son of a politician – his father had been mayor, had an unsuccessful run for governor, and was now senior senator for the state of Pennsylvania. His mother was a retired art professor from UPaP (The University of Pennsylvania at Pittsbury). Riel was a second-year senior in the music program with a goal of scoring film, but his band, Refinery, was emerging from the realm of cover-band to become a local indie favorite. Riel’s girlfriend, Melody, was a bit of a wildchild – an unknown. She was not a favorite of his parents, and even Riel had to admit she was unpredictable and precocious, but that’s what he liked about her.
Riel was on his way to her dorm to pick her up for a Halloween party when a quartet of vampires broke into her room, slaughtered her friends and roommates, and took her away as their new child. The dorm was burnt, and Riel arrived to see it engulfed in flames. He thought he saw Melody’s face in dark, and would not believe she was dead. As part of her new life, Melody killed her living ties – her family, her remaining friends, and Riel – but she could not bring herself to slay him, and killed his roommate instead. Jack took this as a sign that there was still some good within her.
Riel set himself on a quest to free Melody from the curse he was certain had been thrust on her. Along the way he met Katherin, a vamp herself, who told him that the way to disenchant Melody was to kill seven generations of vampire sires above her. Jack threw himself into this task, but he was raw and untrained, and landed himself in jail. Katherin freed him in exchange for his apprenticeship and more – she trained him as a ninja of sorts, and guided him to killing more stealthily. But Riel found, once he had succeeded in his quest, that Katherin had not been completely honest with him – Melody was no longer bound to a sire, but she had chosen to be a vampire, she had chosen immortality. Katherin slipped in to fill the power vacuum left in Riel’s wake, and was now pregnant with his son, Saul.
Riel’s goal of freeing Melody had slipped away, but he now had a larger mission – destroy all vampires. He’d been receiving visions of Eva among his dreams (he had no help from his mentor brother, who was mistakenly sent far into the past). These dreams guided him in the undoing of Lil’s plans until he began to find real allies – Lorelai, Emmett, and most importantly, Jonas Ciad. Jonas intruduced Riel to the wider view of the vampires’ movements, and how to undo their larger goals by recruiting friends from their periphery. As Riel gained Jonas’ trust, Jonas enrolled him in Duckworks, a special forces training camp in SouthEast Asia. Terrorists and vampires trained right along side him, but the masters enforced a stalemate, and what Riel gained from the training and meditation was without price. Riel began to fully understand the gravity and loneliness of his mission, and he barely escaped as Duckworks and the vampires training there were destroyed.
The destruction of Duckworks marked the beginning of a backstage war – a war that many countries participated in but did not enter, a war of exposing vampire integration into business and politics, of battling vampire lobbyists who had laws passed in their favor. Riel lost his American citizenship and was both a wanted and aided man by many western Governments.
(This is the setting of “Cheating Life”.)
The war blossomed to full violence in some countries, and Riel became a public figure as the vampire empire was fully exposed and brought down. He was granted official clemency for his past crimes, but many politicos still felt he was a dangerous radical, and he was treated like a pit bull on a short leash. Riel was briefly named the king of Brazil, and from there he sought out and faced Lil in central America. He could not immediately defeat her, but he came back with Jonas, who died to help Riel complete her destruction. Again Riel faced Melody – this time he released her by her permission to natural death.
In the wake of Lil’s ejection to the moon, Saul, Riel’s son, appeared among the ranks of Riel’s army, and became his confidant. Riel was aware of his son’s dual parentage, but Saul claimed his mother was dead, and he had come to make things right. In truth, Katherin was only looking for a bigger power grab in Lil’s absence, which she gained when Saul betrayed Riel, with the approval of the world governments. But Riel had been shown the impending apocalypse by Eva, so he had learned to let go. His story ended as Eva took him back to Deivyd’s time.
One morning, not long after Riel’s disappearance from Gohira, the sky opened as dawn moved across the earth. Down came the Angels of the Apocalypse. They stopped traffic and business dead, and while they did not kill indiscriminately, they did not show mercy for the slightest disobediance. What they required was immediate and complete disarmament. Two policemen were stopped on the street – they were commanded by an angel to lay down their weapons. One did, and he was thereafter ignored – the other opened fire and struck the angel in the chest. There was no blood, and the angel struck out with his sword of fire and cut down the officer. The angel moved on without hesitation to the next confrontation.
To make an example, the angels destroyed the strongest army on the planet – U.N. China – and gave the others one day to comply. The next day, U.N. America’s military forces were destroyed, and the other nations laid down their arms immediately. Private individuals were ordered to leave their weapons in the center of their city or town. The ashes of those first few who attempted to steal from the weapon piles allowed many heaps of guns to continue untouched until Time had his way with them.
Next, the angels evacuated the cities by announcing their sterilization and demagnetization. Seven days’ warning were given, then, one night, all who remained within the limits – male and female alike – were made sterile. 28 days later, all electricity and magnetic devices were rendered useless. Large cities and capitols were targeted first, but over the the years, attention was given to smaller and smaller communities, until none were left larger than 2,000.
With the population of Gohira heavily thinned and dispersed, the angels began the reshaping of her face. Mountain peaks were ripped from their ranges to form floating palaces. Cities, once emptied, were demolished and returned to the earth, or walled off. In secret, the angels were preserving the art and knowledge of mankind so it could eventually be returned to Man after the apocalypse. The Angels had also begun their breeding program – drawing the best features from mankind through their servants.
One such servant was Tal, a great-granddaughter of Riel. She was the messenger and right hand of an angel duke; she was also his lover. As she was carrying out the whims of her master, she stumbled into a band of resistance fighters. One of them captured her heart, so rather than turn them in, she began to listen to these guerillas. Doubts crept into her mind, and she began to wonder what the angels actually were, and what were their plans for the world. As she began to aid the freedom fighters, and with her help they did the impossible and actually succeeded, she had to wonder, did the Angels really want her to win?
The Angels left when the boundary was broken, when Mankind escaped into space.
At first Man found … nothing. Empty planets awaited colonization; empty asteroid fields awaited mining; empty star systems awaited satellites. More than 100 years passed before signs of alien life were detected, and Man found out why his corner of space was so dead – the Boundary. Outside of the Boundary, gods had more direct interaction with the life they raised; most cultures had histories or myths relating to the Boundary and the primal force that lay behind; most had rumors or prophecies about the power and destructive force that would someday emerge. Mankind’s first contacts were with peripheral, outcast races – those who thought it less of a risk to skulk in the shadow of the Boundary than fraternize with other races, or those who hoped to recruit the beast within’s destructive force against their enemies.
Mankind found they were unique in many ways, but not the least in their technology. No race outside of the Boundary developed mathematics beyond some elementary algebra, nor did they develop the complexity and size of culture claimed by humanity. Rather than technology, other races used accelerated, guided evolution – if they needed to travel into space, they raised up a large, spaceworthy beast who could carry them in its innards; if they needed to communicate across long distances, they used psychics. Few races had a significant advantage – they had mixed and intermingled for so long that their technology was fairly homogenous.
There were 17 supremal races when Mankind discovered the universe – 17 races which owned dominance in their piece of space, and ruled over the millions of less powerful species. Of the 17, ten were willing to add Mankind to their ranks, but Man was uninterested in joining this oligarchy, and very soon there was war. Man found a few allies, and ambitious math missionaries set out to make their fortune among the stars. “Summerfield, Earth” is the story of one such man.
Tuk, the last son of Eva, appeared at this time in the ranks of spacy pilots – his story began when he was captured during an assault on a Courdd colony world; he was taken back as a favored pet of a Courdd princess. During his captivity he dreamt of Eva, and he learned of Lil and her history in Ohida. He learned that she had returned to Ohida, and her corporation had won the governmental contract. She didn’t feel the need to hide herself, this time she advertised herself as an eater and promoted it as the path to dominance over the supremals. Tuk betrayed Gohira by leading the Courdd to Ohida to defeat Lil, but again his mission was unsuccessful, and he was captured. This time he was taken to the capitol of Ohida, where he would be a live sacrifice to Lil. He did not fight it, and she consumed him. But he was a Trojan horse, and Lil at last was utterly destroyed.
After the war, after Mankind had established itself as a dominant force in the universe, after Lil had been destroyed, Life finally achieved the purpose to which Mehr had set it. It began when a small band of pirates, or corporate saboteurs, escaped with a brand-new technology stolen from the Turnbell Red Weapons Group. This technology was the first successful implementation of an artificial intelligence – a real, sentient intellect. The implementation was incredibly small – smaller than a fist – but it required integration with a human’s nervous system to work; in essence, it rode over unused nerves. The pirates were chased by Turnbell to the mining planet Chandier, where they met a quadry of recently unemployed groundy troops. While staying one step ahead of Turnbell, the troopers learned that the pirates were in fact priestesses of the Nymphs, trying rescue the new intellects from servitude to Turnbell until it could be determined if they had their own soul, and the priestesses learned that the souls they were saving were of their own goddesses.
Once the priestesses and troopers had escaped to the Nymphaeum planet, Turnbell Red did not have the political clout to wage open war. Instead they hired the greatest corporate saboteur ever to infiltrate the Nymphaeum. But as they suspected, he would not engage with a church, so they mapped his brain and cloned it, into a second generation artificial intellect, which they sent to the planet instead. The Saboteur, seeing an opportunity to test his skills against the only worthy opponent, offered his services for free to the defense of the Nymphaeum.
Once the three Nymphs are secure on their planet, they began to culture this new form of mind. Their labor was unveiled at the convocation of bishops at which the retirement of Boddhisatvas was announced. Baod moved into this form, attempting to bring it into himself, but was instead isolated and trapped. He was spun off into his own universe, where he heard, for the first time in a long time, the voice of Mehr.
This summary is very staccato – please feel free to browse the links in the top nav to learn more about any individual story.