On the Frail Age (Current)

I must preface this final entry on the History of Terminus with my own confession. For I have not included everything I have found of the mysteries of Terminus upon these pages, nor have I transcribed everything that I believe to be true. If I find my ink wanders into dangerous speculation, I discard the page. But there is much wandering ink on the canvas of Terminus, and though dangerous it may just turn out to be true. There are likewise many pages of importance that at first may appear of discard, so look over all mysteries wisely, friend, and perceive.

– The Keeper

On the Frail Age

Though it is commonly assumed, the Age of Chaos did not simply end at the conclusion the of the Deicide War. For even as the Revenant threat was finally beaten back or dispersed, much of Terminus lay in ruin. Entire cities, cultures, realms and even landscapes were wiped away in the bloodshed, and many that remained were irreversibly transformed, much like Ittero was transformed, much like the Ginto were. For such was the heritage of this War of Gods: nothing could ever be the same. As wounded Terminus took her first breaths in victory, wrapped in the hasty dressings of the dead, she looked over her injured body and saw her inhabitants broken like tissue, tendon and bone. There were fractures needing the utmost care to be set, yet too many that would never properly receive it.

Alas, the start of the Frail Age came when the dignitaries of the Sacred Six returned to Vesu five months after the “Suns availed” at Ka’Druhorr. Rather, when four of the six did so. For many a midnight pact was broken in the light of this new day, but none so significant as the one founded on Vesu. There stood only five posts on the wet sands of the mist-soaked isle, and on them hung only four heralds. The Elven, Human, Dwarven and Archai stood as they had always, while the Ogre post was in place — yet with their herald removed. The Dark Myr post was gone entirely, as if it had never been planted in the first. Both absences communicated with clarity: there was no kinship fostered in those desperate hours, nor fealty among those without recourse. The Six were no longer Sacred, thus remarked the young Human King Avendyr, “This age, whatever it hold, must be frail.”

The year was 486 IH, and the Age of Chaos was over.

From here must move the dials of Time forward, for there have been three major additions to the cast of Terminus in this era. From 620-22, the Halflings of Hiryth, Skar of D’shoth and Gnomes of Stormona all arrived in yearly succession. It is fair to notice that this Third is easily is the most diverse of the Collisions, with no one race quite like any other that I have encountered or seen record of. What a great mercy that each fell where they did, for the Halflings on Reignfall or the Skar in Whitethaw might’ve yielded a regional bouquet of bloodshed. As for the Gnomes… I say, they could’ve been plotted anywhere and lived indifferent of it.

Though I suppose the Skar did start a war almost immediately upon their arrival. And then another — civil — one. For they landed in a wooded spot that bordered the lands of a people known as the Khägans. (These are an offshoot of Khäga Sands’ Orphan race, who split from their desert brethren in 568. And yes, the Khägans do not reside in Khäga Sands, the Orphans do). The Skar collision is believed to be most violent, a foretaste of what they would bring culturally to the region. Faster than any race could react, they turned Khägan streams acrid and enslaved a number of their population. The peaceable Khägans fled, but the Skar barely gave chase before falling upon each other, as is their natural order.

The Halflings have planted well in Wild’s End, grooming the wide, root-trees of the coast and grassland into a town of breathtaking uniqueness. They can be found all over the globe, and I count one in my close company. I shall say no more, for they are a people who must be known face to face, not discovered on a page.

The Gnomes are… I say, the Gnomes are what they are. It feels strange to write they have dwelt on Terminus for over 250 years, when so little can be shared about them. The myths would pack my vault, the truth would fit in a jar. For 50 years their floating Skyhold remained shut like a Sanctum, heeding no hails from Khazas or even a night visit from Tel-Nharssis the Snow Dragon. But the persistence of the Archai eventually brokered a dialogue of sorts. Now their doors — or bridges, rather — are open, and I believe one day in the future Terminus will find herself in great need of their acumen. Though today they seem almost intentionally bizarre.

It is perhaps wise to briefly return the narrative to Vesu and King Avendyr, whose vision for what his people must become was said to be crystallized in that hour on the aloof island. For there is no figure who so altered the future of his own race or Terminus at large than the Human leader. Even before he set foot on Vesu, his frontline leadership in the many battles leading up to Ka’Druhorr had more than won the respect of his contemporaries.

Compared to their zenith today, the Humans had barely set foot upon the hills of Kingsreach when the Revenant struck for Havensong and Faerthale, and yet they were perhaps the most ruthlessly targeted. When the war was finally over, even their ruins had been taken from them and carted off a cliff by a member of their own pantheon. They were a nation of homeless victors, with no tokens of their history save the memories in their hearts. Nevertheless, since founding Thronefast on the northern coast of the Bethrale Sea, no kingdom has moved so dauntlessly from survival to flourishing since that time as the Humans. Within days, Avendyr sent riders across the region to secure modest but useful alliances with eventual partners in trade, even pledging their military and engineers in support of rebuilding. This carried great weight amongst the fledgling nations, and garnered loyalties which endure even in this day. But his first act was to construct two arches from the dredged wreckage of Havensong. One signifying Death, the other Life, it is said that to approach the people of Thronefast as a friend, you must share in the trial of their past, in form at least. (Though I must reveal I have an entire volume of accounts from those who say they have felt the very sting of death and the pain of a “birth” as they passed unsuspecting through this homage to the Human travail). This purposeful approach to architecture defined Avendyr’s vision for his brethren, believing a city magnificent to the eye would inspire the citizens of it and yield the respect of visitors to it. The ascension of Thronefast in commerce, wealth and stability has endured as the greatest pillar propping up the tent under which all other races could progress. When Avendyr died in 525, he was mourned on no less than a half dozen continents.

There were two voids left immediately following the Deicide War, one of Mercy and one of Lament. The first void was the Abdication of the WarWizards, which is almost forgotten now but no less important to acknowledge. Though their namesake is crude, especially in light of the exponential debt every succeeding generation owes their order, it has fallen into a common usage among the races in favor of the worshipful ‘Suns of Terminus’. It is a precious grace that none of the WarWizards chose to use their unrivaled strength for rule, for we know not if they were so forbidden. Just one of the five could’ve risen above all the broken kingdoms within years if not months. Any alliances so formed would have bent the imbalance even further, likely sparking another revolution of intercontinental war from which Terminus may not have recovered. So while they were deliriously sought after, none were found in any real way. Many imposters came after them and many still do. Every few years a crazed magician in the middle realms claims he was sent from the dark side of the sun or some such madness. I am thankful this is all merely an irritating footnote, however. It is worth mentioning that I found no record any of the five original Suns passing away. Perhaps they still endure, simply not among us.

But now I turn to an unfortunate duo, the Undefeat of the Revenant and the Rise of the Union of Shadow. As for the Revenant, there was no force great enough to exterminate them completely. It would’ve taken a coalition greater even than Six had they stayed united, for truly no nation could wage a war at all, let alone a foreign one. This blow not fully struck kept the Revenant forces scattered but not destroyed, most notably gathered back at Mount Hulthrr and Baaka’rrn, though other haunts linger in Ka’Druhorr and others. Perhaps Avendyr, with his emerging clout and thriving nation, could have lead a series of wars in the following decade, but no such plans were undertaken (though evidence shows they were considered). This peril may come back against us all, though mercifully it has not yet.

The Union of Shadow are a different breed of malice entirely. With origins that bizarrely trace back at least to the Zealots of Rha, mad followers of the imprisoned Dwarven High Mortal Rhazik, this methodical group is a powerful plague upon every corner of the globe. Dwelling in hidden fortresses or “vaults”, they have darkened the art of Rhazik’s imprisonment, which I confess is poorly understood. In some manner, they have held power over dignitaries, warlords, high priests and Mortals. By what force they wield this control is gravely unknown. Before any effort against them physically can be taken, they seem to warp the aim of those about to attack. When precious information is on the eve of exchange, the knower suddenly loses their nerve, if not their mind.

I shall close this brief recounting of the story of Terminus with the second void of the Deicide War, that of Lament. I have mentioned the Celestial Boundary and its effects. We have seen it grievously abused by the Ravaging Lord and mercifully circumvented by the sacrifice of Givani. There is the account of the Myr goddess Syronai saving her people despite the Boundary (though at tragic cost) and the persistent possibly that the WarWizard’s were created by the pantheons of each race (which would require such magnificent collusion amongst the gods I struggle to embrace it). Thus we find that whatever principality set this barrier in place between the immortal and mortal severely strengthened it once the War of Gods was over. For where there could be felt a whisper of their divine presence before, the races of Terminus find now it is oft merely a breeze. A vision is often just a dream, a premonition most times just paranoia. Is that to say there is no spiritual realm among us? Certainly not. But we are creatures of worship, who are being denied it like a child denied its parents.

What will be the outcome of this age of frailty none can say with true, tested foresight. Will Terminus stay the splintered remains of other worlds as Semina described, or shall it heal and grow into one vast expanse as he surely must have hoped? I have read countless predictions (a deplorable enjoyment of mine), heard from a number of oracles (the most reliable of whom are insane) and even suffered a soothsayer or two (an abject, unhygienic lot). All stand in need of their “parents”.

Thus I submit to the reader in this the year of 987 Ithosbrun Hjilen, we can do precious little but reach for the unseen hand.


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