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Before the Shattering: Itzal and Astraeva

 

     The following is an account of events in the years leading up to the Great Shattering of Archai. The story was recited by Emissary Ayderias Clarveu of Aerthane from his family’s personal collection. An unexplained disturbance brought the story to an abrupt end, fortunately near its conclusion.

 

Trystan says, "Now it is my honor to introduce Emissary Ayderias Clarveu of the Aerthane temple who will end our night with a story."
Xiija applauds Ayderias.
Rochiriel claps.
Trystan says to Ayderias, "Lord Clarveu."
Ayderias smiles at Trystan.
Ayderias stands up.
Through the opening in the roof of the tent, rapid flapping is heard as a few birds streak by towards the west, chirping anxiously.
Ayderias says to Trystan, "Thank you for everything you've done to bring such a wonderful and talented group together for our stude..."
Etsul glances up.
Faran furrows her brow.
Jerem blinks.
Nikolas tilts his head as he glances through the tent flap.
Trystan nods to Ayderias.
Ayderias coughs politely.
Ayderias says, "As I was saying, thank you for the wonderful evening."
Ayderias approaches the podium and places a golden eagle-embossed leather tome upon it.
Ayderias says, "Tonight, I share with you my family’s account of the time period leading up to the Shattering. It’s important to note that this is the Clarveu family version. I’m sure those of you who can trace your lineage back to or before the Shattering have similar stories with slight variations here or there."
Ayderias says, "Before they became the Gods and Goddesses we refer to them as today, Itzal and Astraeva walked Archai as Elves. Immortal, but nothing divine about either of them beyond their elven gifts."
Ayderias says, "Itzal was the sitting Arch-mage of Pyrous and considered by many of the faith as their highest ranking spiritual leader as well. It was Itzal, not the clergy of the temple who called the congregation together to promote unity. He was not a leader who ruled by kindness. He always demanded more from those of Fire, never satisfied with current progress. There was always more limits to be tested. More parts of the world to spread the word of Pyrous."
Wren smiles at Ayderias slowly as she inclines her chin some.
Ayderias smiles up across the pavilion while turning the page.
Ayderias says, "Astraeva on the other hand was everything Itzal was not. She served as High Khalsat for the religion of Kaleith, a position held by priest or mage in their faith. As a priest, her devotion was without question. Unlike Itzal, she led with compassion, fiercely so at times. She sought to find the best within each of Kaleith's faithful, understanding that not all share the same beliefs or worship in the same fashion. During her reign, the City of Kaleith saw its longest period of peace and prosperity in written history."
Ayderias says, "Most scholars agree it was between five and six years prior to the Shattering when Itzal mysteriously went missing during the middle of a temple sermon. Accounts vary, but I was raised to understand that Itzal asked all to give him their attention and their silence before closing out the meeting with a prayer."
Ayderias says, "Once the room became silent, all eyes intently focused on Itzal as he stretched his arms out and raised his head, presumably to speak with Pyrous on behalf of those in attendance as he often did. Instead his body was engulfed in what most accounts refer to as 'black fire'. We now know this to be the tendrils of shadows he had created. The black fire consumed him from view. Before anyone could react, the shadows dissipated, along with any sign of Itzal."
Xiija gasps.
Havouk grins.
Faran listens.
Ayderias says, "A massive search ensued, continuing for six months before a corpse was found off the northwest coast of Archai, on what is present day the Isle of Aerthane. It was assumed to be the corpse of Itzal, as the remains were cloaked in the purple robes that Itzal wore at every ceremony, including his final sermon. The body itself had been charred beyond recognition except that it was elven."
Ayderias says, "Many never gave up on their search, but after nearly two years had passed, only a few still believed that Itzal was out there, somewhere. Theories ranged of course, but most believe he was summoned by Pyrous for his devotion, or punished by Pyrous for his treatment of His faithful."
Ayderias says, "Life slowly returned to normal until one especially cold winter, about this time of year actually, when the world witnessed an event that had never been known to have occurred before. The Goblin tribes from all over the world, thirteen in total, held a gathering off the western coast of Archai, in an area too rocky to serve as a port, and too barren and distant from the City of Pyrous to support civilization."
Ayderias turns the page over once again, pausing to study the words before speaking.
Ayderias says, "This came during the height of what was known as the Goblin Plague because of how fast and far they had spread across Archai. No one knew why they choose to gather or why they picked that area. Even today only Goblins know the true reason that brought them all together. This gathering quickly turned into permanent residence, with a tower being constructed and an encampment set up securely around it."
Ayderias says, "Less than a year after the Goblins' move, Astraeva without warning to even her closest of friends, stepped down from her position as Khalsat and went into hiding. Her disappearance wasn't as horrific as Itzal's, but the impact it left on the temple of Kaleith was immeasurable."
Ayderias says, "Many Sylves of Kaleith seemingly lost faith, going into seclusion as well, not knowing what to do without their inspirational leader."
Xiija nods softly.
Ayderias takes a sip of water as he turns the page.
Faran furrows her brow.
Ayderias says, "Finally, after three years of unexplained events that left the world frozen in an unbalanced state of confusion, the first piece of the puzzle fell into place."
Ayderias says, "Exactly three years after his mystery disappearance, Itzal appeared in the center of Valar's square in an impressive display of shadowy magic. As quickly as he arrived, he vanished once more into a dark mass of swirling energy. Rumors of his existence spread quickly throughout Archai, and that of his 'dark magic'."
Ayderias glances up from the podium to gauge the expressions on the faces of the crowd.
Wren stares at Ayderias intently, her lips fixed into a pleased smile.
Yiri arrives from the southwest.
Ayderias says, "Following his reappearance, other events involving the much whispered shadow magic began to spread. Reports of Goblins invading small towns, invoking dark magic as their weapon of choice in their conquests. Others reported seeing dragons of a darker shade than ever noticed before, but this was quickly dismissed as gargoyles. Panic was spreading through the lands and no one knew when or where Itzal and his forces might strike up next."
Yiri gasps.
Ayderias says to Yiri, "A rather timely reappearance as well I must say."
Yiri gloats to Ayderias.
Yiri says to Ayderias, "I'z a fash'nubul guy."
Havouk snickers.
Ayderias says, "In a move to stabilize the public, Astraeva returned championing a new form of magic to counter Itzal's Shadows. In a brilliant display of Light, Astraeva managed to teleport an entire army to a small forest community east of Valar where reports of Goblins terrorizing the locals had been coming in. Her ranks consisted largely of elves, humans, and sylves at the time. The Light overpowered the goblins, sending them cowering back to their shadows to regroup."
Ayderias says, "Many of you know this area to be the commune of Stirling."
Garaven raises an eyebrow.
Blink says, "Oh wow, Stirling."
Ayderias inhales and exhales slowly, turning the page once more.
Ayderias says, "The move became the first battle between Shadow and Light and almost immediately saw the different races and religions choosing sides in the fight. It became the driving wedge between Archai, ultimately leading to the Shattered world we call home today."
Ayderias says, "As for the Clarveu family, it was my mother's mother who made the difficult decision to fight alongside Astraeva. A battle-mage of Aerthane already, war was nothing new to her. The difficulty was in what she hoped could be accomplished by choosing a side. Through Astraeva she saw a path to peace, despite the destruction that paved its way. Neither my father or his father fought, choosing diplomacy over violence as the males in our family have always done in service of Aerthane."
Xiija smiles at Ayderias.
A low rumble can be heard approaching from the north, increasing in volume as it quickly draws closer. Fearful cries erupt outside as the ground begins to shake, causing the central poles of the pavilion to sway unsteadily.
Xiija unfolds her legs and bounces to her feet.
Xiija launches into the air with a powerful downward thrust of her wings.
Valesca raises an eyebrow.
Ayderias quickly grabs the tome from the podium.
Wren gasps and grips the edges of her chair, then quickly gets to her feet.
Faran lurches forward, grasping Nikolas' arm to steady herself.
Yiri stares.
Ayderias says, "We'll stop here for now. Each battle thereafter is a story in itself to be told under less troublesome circumstances."
Xiija flails her arms at Ayderias.
Zykiel asks, "Where we going, to the ferry?"
Trystan says, "Out of the tent is recommended I think."
Another violent tremor suddenly strikes the area, bits of debris chipping off of nearby structures. The pavilion tent rocks back and forth until its support gives way, one side collapsing into itself.
Faran grits her teeth as she kneels down to keep from falling.
Etsul barks in surprise, spreading his legs to steady himself.
Wren reaches out instinctively to grasp for something, finding Trystan's shoulder which she quickly releases.
Trystan says, "Was anyone..."
Trystan stares at a collapsed blue and white striped canvas tent.
Faran shakes her head from side to side to Trystan.
Faran says to Trystan, "We were the last to leave."

 



 
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