Aperçu de l'histoire
"Peu de gens connaissent les récits des temps sombres, encore moins ce qui s'est passé avant. Depuis le grand cataclysme, il y a 400 ans, le monde a repris lentement mais beaucoup a été perdu ... " - Arabella
Où commencer, dans le récit d'une histoire? Nous aimerions bien sûr commencer par le commencement, mais une grande partie de ces jours furent perdus. Nous pouvons voir les fragments du monde qui existait avant tout ce qu’il y a autour de nous; sous une colline près d'un village calme il pourrait y avoir les ruines d’un bâtiment, d'albâtre et marbre, parlant tranquillement des jours passés et les gloires perdues. Parfois, une inscription peut être vue sculptée dans un mur, un fragment dans une langue semblable à la nôtre, pourtant trop différent pour être compréhensible.
Les ruines du monde du passé nous révèlent peu, donc nous nous tournons vers les mythes, prophéties et légendes racontées. Ils parlent d'un cataclysme il y a longtemps, quand le ciel brûlait et le sol se déchirait, et de longues années après, le froid, la famine sombre. Les pierres du passé ne racontent que peu qui survécu et comment. Seules les légendes nous disent que certains y arrivèrent.
Nous en savons un peu plus de leurs enfants, les hommes et les femmes qui reconstruisirent le monde de notre passé endommagé. Ils furent un peuple pratique, qui vécurent bien plus que nous pouvons imaginer. Ils laissèrent derrière eux plusieurs monuments; mais on peut dire que leur plus grand exploit fur leur propre survie.
Et de leurs enfants à eux, nous en savons un peu davantage. Le désir de pouvoir et de contrôle refit surface, comme il le fait toujours, pour consommer faibles et forts. Des guerres furent menées, parmi les villes en ruines de leurs ancêtres. Une nouvelle magie vint au monde, alors que les seigneurs de guerre se disputèrent le pouvoir cherchant un avantage l’un sur l'autre. De nouveaux monstres sortis de terribles légendes firent leur apparition sur nos terres, servant leurs propres fins dans ce conflit interminable, leurs fins en question n’étant que chaos.
Et leurs enfants comprirent que ça ne pouvait plus durer, et s’unirent pour se défendre contre les seigneurs de guerre et les sorciers. Les Villes-Etats émergèrent en cette période, et nous apprîmes que, ensemble, nous pourrions nous défendre. Mais malgré cela, l'obscurité et le chaos avancèrent encore vers à nous.
Nous sommes encore toujours un peuple pratique, voyageur. Nous ne pensons pas beaucoup au pourquoi, seulement au comment. Nous sommes jeunes, après tout, et il n'y a pas si longtemps que nous avons enfin le loisir de respirer. Nous reconstruisons toujours notre monde pour revenir au point où nous pouvons façonner nos propres monuments d'albâtre et marbre.
Les légendes et les mythes nous en disent souvent peu, voyageur, mais ils sont très spécifiques par moment, et ces moments sont ceux où les légendes peuvent nous effrayer. Je vous dis cela, parce qu'il y a une légende en particulier qui devrait vous intéresser. Elle dit que le monde commencera son prochain cycle, dirigé par pouvoir immense et horrible. Elle est très spécifique à l'année, voyageur. Et je pense que vous pouvez deviner quelle année est prédite.
Voilà, voyageur, la raison pour laquelle nous vous craignons...
Aperçu de l'histoire "... Quatre Siècles aspire passeront Après la chute Il viendra d'Au-delà des cercles de la lune fragmentée Verser lier ensemble le monde Une Fois de plus les De de pierre brisée et les mers bouillies ... "
- Les Terribles Prophéties
Salutations, voyageur. Je suis Arabella, et j'ai été envoyée afin de vous trouver. Certains pensent que vous êtes celui dont parlent les prophéties. Un lourd fardeau, et un grand destin, si, toutefois, vous êtes la bonne personne...
Dans cette heure, nous avons appris à espérer un monde différent, éloigné du nôtre dans le temps et dans l'espace... le monde de la Terre, de Lord British. Oui, il reste avec nous, et si tout va bien, il espère vous rencontrer lors de vos voyages ...
Cependant, il y a des routes que vous devrez prendre, comme les prophéties l’ont prédit. Nombreux sont ceux qui remettraient en cause votre place ici, dans les terres de New Britannia. Nombreux sont ceux qui ont abandonné les vertus, et adopté un monde en déséquilibre. Cela, aussi, a été prédit.
Toutefois, ce que vous devrez toujours vous rappeler, voyageur, c’est que la prophétie n’est qu’un guide. Votre destination peut devenir claire, mais ce que vous en faites, et comment vous façonnerez le monde dans votre sillage, est votre décision. Je vous en supplie, souvenez-vous en toujours... et laissez-vous guider. Rester toujours fidèle à vous-même, et aux vertus. Pour le bien de New Britannia, c’est ce que vous devez faire.
Où commencerez-vous donc, voyageur?
Parmi les chercheurs de vérité, le peuple des elfes de légende, perdus dans les brumes de leurs propres illusions? Pourrez-vous trouver votre chemin, le chemin de la Vérité, parmi tant d'autres qui ont perdu le leur?
Ou parmi les boucliers de courage, les vaillants seigneurs des terres du nord-ouest qui agissent comme des remparts, combattant dans la guerre sans fin contre les kobolds qui créent la technologie et la magie afin de contrer la domination de l'homme? Aurez-vous le Courage de comprendre pourquoi ils se battent encore, et le feront-ils?
Peut-être votre chemin repart là où les morts ressuscitent dans le tourment, les armées de morts-vivants du Dépit, qui volèrent la compassion elle-même dans une colère froide adressée à tous ceux encore en vie? Pouvez-vous trouver l'amour dans un pays frappé par tant de haine?
La carte est ouverte devant vous, voyageur. C'est à vous seul de choisir le chemin de votre destin. Car à la fin de votre chemin, tel que les prophéties ont l’ont prédit, vous devrez faire face au dirigeant caché de ce monde, et vous aurez besoin de toute la sagesse de notre monde ne peut vous apprendre...
Et à ce moment-là, seul le destin peut savoir ce qui nous est réservé. Pour nous tous.
Il est temps de choisir, voyageur ...
Welcome again, traveller. I am Arabella, and I have been sent to guide you…
Earlier, I described to you the choice you face initially; which path to take in your journey into the lands of New Britannia. Now, I will endeavor to shine some light on those choices, and the impact upon you and those you will meet. The first, your possible pathways among the seekers of Truth.
Among the truths you will learn is that much of our knowledge of the land of New Britannia is lost to the ages. The survivors of the Cataclysm four centuries past have settled in the land we call “Novia”, a large island which, while bearing the scars of that time, still harbors enough life to support our people. And others, as well… many of which you will meet on your travels. The Vertas people that live in the Forsaken Vale, for example, a new race borne of the Cataclysm which we have grown to call “elves”; Lord British has told me this may be reference to a long-distant legend that the people of Novia have since forgotten. The Vertas elves for their part are like men, but different… different enough. They struggle to live alongside the rest of us, but where a man might burn with emotional fire, an elf will be cold, distant. They worship history, knowledge and truth, and those who wish to learn the wisdom they hold would do well to discover the ways of these people. It is certain you will encounter them on your way.
The elves are not the only new race you may encounter, traveller. The lands of the southwest are rich and full of life, and that is rare in Novia. Men and mythical creatures mix throughout, and that brings conflict, as it always does. As our numbers recover from the Cataclysm, the settlements of various races meet, and begin to argue about land and water and right and wrong and truth and lies. Peace lies on a fine edge; it is an edge you may have to walk along. And always the Fomorians, remnants from the Dark Armies of wars past threaten; from their strongholds in Blackblade Pass they often strike looking for prey.
You will see many wonders on your path, traveler; the fauns of Midmaer and the barrens of Quel, the sailors who brave the Bay of Storms (whose name is well earned) seeking to take travellers to the legendary lands of Elysium, where lies the halls of Artifice. There, your destiny will take you, traveller, though it will challenge you in ways you do not yet expect.
This, then, will be one of the challenges facing you as prophesied – the journey of Truth. Will it be the Truth you wish to find? Or will it be the Truth that you wish would be? Or, will you see the Truth as it truly is? The choice will be yours…
When last we spoke, I talked to you of the seekers of Truth and your journey among them. Now let us turn east, to the lands of the Perennial Coast.
The Perennial Coast is a land split by ties of history, family, love, and malice. Ardoris lie split by a bay and by far more. In their twin citadels to the east and west of the bay, the King of the Loving Earth and the Queen of the Compassionate Winds remain cleaved in twain, literally and figuratively. The void between the two was once bridged by the spirit of Love, which has been missing from the land. In its absence, the people grow fearful and distant; many have tried to bridge that gap but without empathy and compassion, how can those who grow apart come to any agreement?
Yet the land faces more challenges than these. The dead, never truly at peace since the Cataclysm, have risen in numbers far larger than ever before. From the Grunvald clear to the Drachvald, entire legions of the walking dead march, implacable and unforgiving. They are led by a dread lord who, furious over a defeat centuries old, is bent on restoring a long dead empire on the bones of those who dare to live. From the dead halls of Necropolis they march, unfeeling, uncaring, and unstoppable. The Perennial Coast is wounded in so many ways and perhaps this is the final expression of a land whose heart has been turned to ashen dust. For the land to be saved, you must stop the army of the dead; yet you cannot kill all that are dead, traveler. The prophecy demands a hero and the land demands wisdom. You must bridge the void of compassion and restore the ability to feel, even if only sorrow, to hearts burnt ashen cold. To do that, you will have to walk among the dead themselves, into the very heart of the pits of Malice, and into the long forgotten empires of the dead. You must become a light among the cold and desolate, where the only warmth is the fires of centuries of vengeance.
Traveler, you must bring the warmth of compassion to a people who have forgotten, else they be consumed by death itself. The choices you make will be hard and you will have only your heart to guide you. Yet, if you fail, the people of this land will fall, consumed by death itself…
We have spoken of Truth and Love; there is one virtue left that will guide your travels in the lands of Novia. That virtue being the virtue of Courage.
There are many paths of courage. Some courage is quite easy to come by – after all, if you live in a land where daily survival is a struggle, standing against your foes becomes a habit almost reassuring. Such are the defenders of the Norguard, the knights of Valhold who have made a valiant stand for generations now, defending the lands to their south from terrors below the earth. When you are expected to man the battlements no matter what wizard-spawned abomination appears below, knowing that the survival of your family and your people depend on your will, courage becomes quite easy to find. Such were the Formorian wars, and the survival of the North.
Of all the creatures that were discovered in the Formorian era, none are more challenging, more fascinating and more terrible than the Kobold. Named, like the elves to the south, after a legend long forgotten, the Norguard at first thought them oafish and weak. They were not huge of stature, nor were they particularly savage in their first combats. Yet, the kobolds, like the men they fight, are far more than an initial glance would suggest. They are far from stupid; in fact they may be among the cleverest of mankind’s foes. They form armies, fight with tactics learned from hundreds of battles, and use unique weapons forged with their own knowledge of metal and steel. In fact, the few who have survived the kobold warrens report a level of industry in many ways beyond that of man.
The kobolds are not stupid, traveller, oh no. They know that the first, instinctive reaction of men to their appearance is that of scorn and laughter at their dimunitive size. It has, in fact, shaped much of their culture – and yes, the kobolds have their own culture, tales and loves. They have a sense of honor, in many ways more than those men they fight – and this irony, they too are well aware of. They know we men scorn them, and it drives them into an even more furious hatred of us. They call us weak, traveller, and honorless, and craven and corrupt, and worse yet. And from their viewpoint, they are not wrong. You will discover that, too, traveller, if you have the courage to see.
They consider it their duty, their own courage, to cast down the defenders of Valhold from their base in the Thrones of Skrekk. The few prisoners that have been taken have one, only one message, full of scorn and hatred returned for the race of man. That message is simple: they will never stop.
There is so much we could learn from kobolds, traveller, if we had the courage to. But courage can be very difficult to find, especially in the midst of a war of generations, a struggle of peoples. King Granus, from his throne in Valhold, has the courage of armies, and of warriors, and of a guard never lifted, a shield grown heavy from being borne so very long. It remains for you to deliver the courage of wisdom, and to see if that message can still be heard.
For if you cannot, it may be that man is no longer the master of Novia…
We have talked earlier of the pathways that you are destined to walk, mirroring the virtues that our land has forsaken… truth, love, and courage… yet once you unwind those threads, all the strands of your destiny will lead you inexorably to the city of Brittany. Brittany, the City State of the Oracle, is the crown jewel of Novia, its largest city by far. While much of Novia still struggles to survive each day, Brittany is a land of majesty, truly a city apart. Surrounded by farms sufficient to feed its large number of inhabitants, with water flowing easily through a wondrous array of aqueducts, canals and reservoirs. The Dam of Regalis, one of the wonders of this world, can be found here as well, harnessing the elemental power of the dammed up river into etheric energy, used by the city for so much. The people of Brittany walk at night under lights man-made, brighter than the moon. A large central energy tower is here as well, using an immense etheric surge to protect the people of Brittany invisibly from the forces ravaging much of Novia.
At the center of Brittany, its keystone; the Great Hall of the Oracle. What lies within its gates and barriers, few know. The Eyes patrol the perimeter, and they do not speak, only watch. Yet here you must go, traveller; the prophecies have foreseen the path and its destination. The Oracle herself no one has spoken to directly, outside the Affirmation Chambers, yet she is the one you must meet. No one has entered the Oracle’s domain in many generations, yet you must. And what lies beyond that meeting, the prophecy is silent on, save that the world will be forever changed.
Lord British is known to the people of Brittany, though his influence has not been felt outside its gates for many an age. Though of late he is more often to be found in the lands beyond Novia, elsewhere in this sundered world in lands still suffering from the Cataclysm’s fall, still his words and advice ring true to many. Though the virtues may be foreign to many, they do know of the traveller beyond this world, and you may find, paradoxically, an easier passage here than elsewhere because of it. Yet the virtues he espouse… those, I fear, have been forsaken of late.
You may ask what relationship Lord British has with the Oracle. It is one many ask, and this is one question I cannot answer for you. Surely it is no coincidence that the rule of the Oracle, indirect as it may be, has brought peace, of a sort, to much of Novia. Yet, Novia’s peace is fraying at the edges, and soon the chaos may envelop even fair Brittany. And if Brittany’s light goes out, there is little hope for anyone here in Novia.
As for me, my name is Arabella, and if you come to Brittany, you may see me again. But for now, I must prepare you for your first destination…
Greetings, traveller, and thank you for listening to my tales…
Before you depart, I would like to talk about a land you are likely to encounter on your way to Novia.
The Hidden Vale has been a land apart from Novia for generations now. The Oracle still seems to be aware of events there, as much as anyone can tell, but the people there hold no love for her. Most have migrated to the lands of the Vale because of their status outside the Oracle’s dominion over the years, and the affirmation chambers, so much a part of Brittany’s landscape, are absent here, though you still might be able to find a ruined one from the last time the Oracle’s servants attempted to build such. The people of the Vale believe themselves to be free, and they are quietly proud of this.
Until recently, trade ships from Brittany and Port Graff sailed the route to the Vale’s town of Kingsport regularly, if fairly infrequently. But within the past year, they have stopped completely, and no one can say why. Was it the Oracle, asserting control over her wayward flock once again? Or does it have to do with the prophecies, drawing ever closer to their appointed hour? It is the time of portents, after all, and this portent specifically bears ill for the people of the Vale. As little as they would care to admit, they became dependent on the goods from the trading ships, and Kingsport especially has fallen upon hard times. Bandits can be found in dark alleys plotting the disposition of what little wealth remains, and good people have fled.
Most of those refugees eventually find themselves in the bustling town of Owl’s Head. Owl’s Head has no King or Baron; the people have not nearly the patience for that. If anyone could be said to rule Owl’s Head, it is the captain of the local guard, Lord Delbart Enmar (the Lord in this case being more of an honorific, and a signifier that Enmar’s family has been guard-commanders for generations). Enmar has many concerns of late; the chaos beginning to consume Kingsport not least among them. But outside the walls of Owl’s Head there lie many dangers. Wolves prowl the farmlands in packs, threatening what little of the economy remains, and to the south past Kingsport the walking dead have just within the past few weeks emerged from a hidden fortress, to what end no one can say. And some even say a dragon is loose in the hills.
The Vale values its freedom, traveller, but its challenges are many, and its survival is uncertain. And your imminent arrival is not unknown to forces that mean you harm, traveller. For they know the prophecy as well as I, and your place in it. And they are not as concerned with your welfare as I…
Blade of the Avatar
Prologue: the destiny pool
The End is the Beginning of us all.
Hear the soundless lamentation of the ages lost! The past is hidden from the eyes of the weary, blanketed beneath ash and tears. The old world is passed away, its mountains shaken, its rivers torn from its courses, its plains rent with fire and the shining towers of man tumbled to ruin. The orb of night is broken, its black shards falling from the dome of night to fall as judgment’s cruel, black rain. The music of daughters fails to resound, the proud boasts of men are as dust in their mouths and fear reigns in the dark silence that follows. The flesh is turned to dust and all that we once were is forgotten and lost in the shuttered past.
Where now are the virtues of the world now fallen? Were they taken from us or were we taken from them? Were they abandoned or were we orphaned by them? Was this not the blade of too fine an edge that cut between the light and night; between me and thee? Avatars of our dreams or nightmares, did you steal away from us in the night or…