Players Guide/Yliakum History
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First Epoch: Laanx and Talad
In the time before Yliakum, there existed two young gods, Laanx and Talad. They were beautiful, harmonious, and curious; always seeking to increase their knowledge and searching out new experiences with which to enrich their eternal lives. Laanx was a tall and perfectly shaped female with long, white hair as silky as the threads of a spider's web. Her lunar skin reflected any light into hypnotic patterns as alluring as her dancing, ruby-coloured eyes. A thin silver band clasped Laanx's left ankle. She was evanescent, cold and yet yielding, light and opalescent like the crystal's dawning.
Talad was like an ebony statue with powerful muscles and long, proportioned bones. Thick black curls cascaded down over his broad shoulders and down his back and a thick gold armlet was clasped around Talad's right bicep. Talad was solid, warm and determined, dense and as impulsive as a river of molten lava.
Guided by an ancient and powerful god, named Vodùl, god of future events, they discovered one quiet world, pierced by a crystal column full of magical power and mystery, quivering with azure energy. Together, they explored the depths of the rock until they came to where the majestic obelisk has its roots, an enormous stalactite of nearly solid rock.
There they discovered a rocky niche near the top of the stalactite that contained the luminous crystal that now gives life and energy to Yliakum. Though they did not understand what it was or how it came into being, Talad and Laanx realised the nature of the crystal and wanted to create a pleasant and harmonious domain filled with people to worship them. Other gods, older and more powerful than they, had warned them about great tasks they would have to perform and duties they would have to fulfill if they were to become worthy of the worship of mortal beings. Blinded by the possibility of creating a new world, the young gods Laanx and Talad did not take heed of the warnings. Instead, they immediately set about using their powers to enlarge the niche to create a huge cave comprised of eight levels.
They diverted the courses of the underground rivers to feed the fertile and rich land that they had placed on the rock to make it suitable for life. They used their powers to create and sustain an even air volume and pressure across all levels. Everything was made to host the people that Talad and Laanx wished to create, but the land was still empty. They became so absorbed in the creation of their world that at the time they were completely unaware of a huge maze of tunnels present in the crust of the world, later to be called the Stone Labyrinths, where other creatures were already lurking in the dark.
Second Epoch: The Division
Talad and Laanx beseeched Vodùl to lure worshipers from other gods and to bring them to Yliakum. Vodùl agreed to their requests, but in exchange wished for Talad to become one of his servants and Laanx to become one of his consorts. Laanx and Talad accepted the exchange without question, because Vodùl was a kind master and a pleasant consort. They traveled to his great palace to reside there until Vodùl could achieve his promise. Vodùl informed the two gods that the task had begun, but it would take many centuries to realize.
Time passed and the years flowed by. Laanx and Talad learned from Vodùl's teaching, preparing themselves for the time ahead. One day, the two young gods awoke to find the palace empty. Vodùl had vanished and a strange feeling filled the air. Talad told Laanx to remain in the palace while he conducted a search, but was stopped by Vodùl's tremendous voice pounding in his mind. "STOP! Obey me once more. Go directly to the world you have created. Remain there and build your civilisation. Do not speak to, nor attempt to contact any beings outside your world. Forces are at work which you will not be prepared to face for centuries to come. Obey me and wait." The voice vanished as quickly as it came. Talad realised it was a magical echo, not the voice of Vodùl himself. Given little choice in the matter and thinking this to be a final test, Talad and Laanx left the palace to return to the cavern they had made.
A long time had yet to elapse before the promised people would reach Yliakum, and Talad began to grow impatient. Laanx, young and very pretty, had fascinated the ancient Vodùl and she had learned from him how the energy of the Crystal could be used to create life. She wanted to make Talad happy, for he was more restless and found the wait more unbearable than she did. To surprise and amaze him, she drew the incommensurable power of the azure crystal as much as she could and, in secret, mimicked the rituals Vodùl had taught her. Working carefully, she formed creatures in her image and gave life to them. The new people were good-looking and had a quiet behaviour like their creator. Having been given full self-awareness, intelligence, and understanding of language by Laanx, they called themselves 'Lemurs'.
When Talad discovered Laanx's creation, he was surprised and astonished. Even though he was happy for Laanx and proud of her achievement, he was also saddened. Laanx had her people and he did not, even though she insisted she had created the Lemurs for the both of them and they worshiped both gods as equals. After ten years of watching the Lemurs grow and thrive, Talad could take it no longer. Before a great gathering of Lemurs, he harnessed the power of the Crystal as Laanx had before, but going even farther than she had dared. She thought that Vodùl had also taught Talad the secret of the energy and let him work, trusting him and wanting to alleviate his sadness. But she was wrong. When Talad, imbued with the crystal's power, came close to her to create the first creature of his people, an uncontrolled tempest of chaos burst forth from the god's hands and hit Laanx full on her face, penetrating deeply into her body and forever disfiguring her. The scream of her pain deafened the gathered Lemurs for the rest of their lives. Despite the terrible accident, a new people were born from the rocks. Though they were simpler in mind than the Lemur, they were also given the same language skills and called themselves 'Kran'.
Laanx was no longer beautiful and fell down into a deep depression that shattered her heart like a mirror. After a time wandering aimlessly through Yliakum, she retired to wander in the Stone Labyrinths. Unknown to her, the deafened Lemurs left their kin in Yliakum to follow her. Mindless of Talad's pain in causing her harm, she denied her being, her femininity, her people, and drove away the harmony from her heart. In the darkness, the female Laanx of the past was erased, and the new male Laanx came into existence. He dressed himself in a thick red tunic and shaped a mask without features to hide his face. In his exile, he began creating the Book of Names, for even if he was confused and his mind distraught; he did not forget his desire to be worshiped by the people. Hence Laanx, the Masquerade God, wild and inflexible, began to brood over what happened.
Third Epoch: The Realm of Laanx
Laanx spent a very long time in the Stone Labyrinths trying to bring serenity back to his heart. Then Talad tried to approach him, trying to recognise in the red-dressed figure what remained of the beautiful goddess he had once known. But he saw nothing but an empty dress, and this disturbed him.
-There must be a remedy. Come back and we will be One again.-
Laanx spoke with a cold, male voice:
-You do not know what you did, Talad. It is no longer possible to be One. I do not know you, and you do not know me. Leave me and do not disturb me again.-
Many other times Laanx rejected Talad's entreaties to reconcile with him. Talad's insistence insulted Laanx, who wanted nothing more than to be left alone in his painful isolation. Laanx forgot the millenia of friendship with Talad and sought the loneliness even more deeply in the bowels of the Stone Labyrinths, heedless of the large number of Lemurs that followed him. The Lemurs continued in their fervent worshiping and offering gifts to him as they learned a harsher way of life. As time went on, they began to absorb Laanx's hatred of Talad into their own hearts.
Talad gave up any hope of reconciliation with his old friend and, now alone, he turned his thoughts to the Kran and Lemur left in the small towns they had begun creating together. Nearly three centuries after the Lemur had been created, he named one of the towns "Hydlaa", the name of the powerful ritual that Vodùl had revealed to Laanx and that led Talad to ignore prudence to satisfy his pride and impatience. He wished for a permanent reminder of his foolish mistake. Waiting for the day when the other peoples would come, he carefully forged the magical power of the Crystal into many shapes and set them to appear across the realm for the Lemur and Kran to find. He had created the first Glyphs. These magical symbols appeared seemingly at random on all forms of material, from rocks and tree bark to animal hides, and were suitable to be used by the mortals to practice the art of magic.
After two hundred harsh years, many short-lived generations of the Lemurs had passed in the inhospitable Stone Labyrinths. Laanx wandered into a cave that was hundreds of times larger than the one he created with Talad in the stalactite. With his godly vision, he spied a huge stalactite jutting down from the cavern roof and occupying one-third of the vault. Some say it was the conic block of rock that held what would become known as Yliakum.
Centered in the cavern, he saw a deep, life-filled lake which was continually filled by a thin rain of clear water from the tip of the stalactite. The lake shore was covered by a thick mat of brightly glowing moss growing in the fertile soil. The Lemurs believed that their god had led them to a new home. Their praises and thanks to Laanx echoed in the cavern and many sacrifices were made. In that moment, Laanx became aware of the presence of his followers and was stricken by their faith and ingenuity. His heart became a little softer, and he gave his people many powerful and useful things to brighten the cave and make the lake and its shores a good place to live. The Lemurs multiplied rapidly, built the ten towns of Kadaikos, and quickly became a prosperous and numerous nation.
For a period of about one hundred years, Laanx ruled Kadaikos harshly, giving the Lemurs inflexible laws and a strict hierarchy. After discovering the delight of ruling his people, the Masked God became greedy for more power. He remembered the promise made by Vodùl to send people to Yliakum. They were supposed to arrive in a few decades, and so he decided to take them all and lead them to Kadaikos so that they might worship him alone alongside the Lemurs. Thus, he journeyed back to the Stone Labyrinths near Yliakum to await the arrival of the first settlers. He did not tell the Lemurs of Kadaikos why he left, causing strife and a great debate among them. Some claimed that it was a sign and it was time to return to their home of legend. Others thought it was a test, and they should stay in Kadaikos. The debate escalated almost culminating in warfare, and caused the Lemurs to split, some leaving to search for Laanx, others staying in Kadaikos.
After the Lemurs left Kadaikos to find Laanx, a strange black fog began to follow them up through the Stone Labyrinths. An aura of fear surrounded the fog, eliminating any thought of returning to Kadaikos. They became lost in their haste to flee the unknown darkness and wandered the Stone Labyrinths for years. To this day, it is uncertain what became of the great cities. It is whispered that even the gods will not cross into the black fog.
Fourth Epoch: The Civilization
Taking care not to reveal his presence to Talad, Laanx observed Yliakum and saw with disappointment that some people had already arrived. Three hundred years after the creation of the Lemurs, Vodùl had finally kept his word and other races were beginning to arrive. Talad was now more cautious and his restlessness had subsided after the catastrophic incident that had driven him and Laanx apart. Under his guidance the cavern filled quickly. Besides the strong presence of Lemurs and Kran, Ylians and Enkidukai arrived from the Stone Labyrinths, speaking of magical portals deep in the caves. Being a proud race, the Ylians gave the cavern a name for the first time, calling it Yliakum; a name derived from the only inscription they found in the Stone Labyrinths that the colonizers were able to translate and vainly taking it as their own. Talad sent his incarnations in material form to spread magic and laws amongst them. Thanks to this, many altars made of precious metals were dedicated to him and the numbers of those worshiping him increased daily.
Seeing this, Laanx became jealous of his old friend. Talad had obtained some of the harmony that he had lost. At times, Laanx felt the need to have it back also. Observing Talad's regular and quiet face, Laanx remembered with tainted nostalgia the time when he had been female and a beautiful lunar goddess. He became enraged at his loss, cursing Talad and all of Yliakum. He swore that since Talad had made him an unhappy and jealous being, he must suffer the consequences. During his dull waiting, Laanx investigated the column of blue crystal above Yliakum, trying to find a way to increase his power by using its seemingly infinite source of magic. Since Talad wanted to have the mastery of glyphs and the people, Laanx would control the pure and violent power of the Crystal itself.
While investigating, he became aware of two remarkable spells that were cast near enough that he could sense them. Coming closer, he realized he had never sensed anything like them; these seemed to tear holes in and twist the fabric of the universe, creating portals leading to remote and unknown places. The first was inside Yliakum, so Talad surely had already noticed it, but the second was located in the Stone Labyrinths. Laanx decided to study the unknown phenomenon and, after seeking the portal, he found himself in front of a wall of shimmering liquid akin to a rippling mirror that radiated blue light; an irregular and rippling mercury bubble, thin and vertical, surrounded by a powerful aura of magic. The god remained there for many years to observe and study the portal's energy. In time, the Masked God realized that the two portals had been created by Vodùl's magical powers, though the god himself had never reappeared. Laanx asked himself if in the future he would be powerful enough to create something similar, and ambition and greed persuaded him to study the magic even more deeply.
At the same time, Talad looked through the eyes of one of his avatars and saw that a curious being was emerging from the second portal inside Yliakum, followed by dozens of creatures of the same race. Its appearance was close to that of a Human or a Lemur, but the creature had horns, a tail, and gleaming oil-black skin. The avatar realized that those beings seemed to be civilized, although their behaviour was strange. After they passed through the portal, they were heard to shout about finally reaching the "promised land" and began to celebrate in a boisterous way, eating and drinking abundantly. They became known as 'Diaboli'.
The Diaboli were lively and intelligent, but they were seen as meddlers by the other races as they possessed no concept of "ownership", being from a communal society where everything belonged to everyone. They would eventually integrate themselves with the rising society of Yliakum after discovering common interests with Lemurs in their thirst for new aesthetic experiences, and with the Enkidukai who were wild and instinctive. All of Talad's efforts to make the Diaboli his followers failed. The Diaboli were inclined to disappear whenever someone began to discuss religion, though most do loosely follow one of the four religions today. Some say they do this more for the benefits of the religion than actual devotion to the deity.
At the same time, another race was arriving in the Stone Labyrinths through a portal hidden far from Yliakum. These people possessed copper skin, almond-shaped eyes and pointed ears. They were refugees from a land they called Dermoria, driven out by a murderous horde of barbaric knights of a similar race. They carried with them water, seeds and livestock, as they had been a semi-nomadic plains-people until they found the magic portal that allowed them to escape the slaughter dealt to them by the knights. To prevent them from reaching Yliakum, Laanx sent one of his avatars to lead them into a cave full of water, deep beds of nutritious, glowing moss and plentiful game. He returned to study the portal, close to understanding its principle.
Time passed, and two large clans of short, stout beings arrived in the Stone Labyrinths. Though relatively dissimilar in looks and behaviour, they both were solid, tireless workers and their men folk sported long beards. The larger and somewhat taller of the two groups called itself "Hammerwielders", the other "Stonebreakers". They decided to settle down and build a city inside the Stone Labyrinths, but discovered Yliakum within a few years of further exploring. Later in the year of that discovery, all the Stonebreakers abandoned their home with the Hammerwielders and moved into Yliakum to live on the second level where the light of the sun was not as intense. These short people - or dwarves as the other races have come to call them - told stories about a group of tall strangers who dwelt in the Labyrinths, but could not be reached because of a deep chasm.
Laanx decided to seek the Lemurs who had followed Laanx out of Kadaikos; Laanx saw they created a city called Xant Laan, which was deep into the rock. Laanx helped them silently, by making the area rich of food and water. The Lemurs living there followed Laanx without exception, casting away all their old religions and becoming completely devoted to their new god. They were feeling the presence of Laanx somehow, and they knew they had passed Laanx's test.
Laanx returned to the portal he had been studying and was meditating intensely when he witnessed its surface tremble for the first time. He watched as a winged creature slowly emerged from the portal. This creature was emaciated and translucent like a ghost, but seemed to solidify progressively. It appeared to suffer from passing through the portal, and it didn't seem to have noticed Laanx. The being was bent by a spasm when it finally noticed the red-dressed person that was observing it from a shadow. After the spasm it stayed motionless, silently regarding Laanx without fear. Laanx finally spoke, showing completely his true essence.
- I am Laanx - he said - and I am your god.-
The creature gazed resentfully and silently at Laanx, then sat on a rock with its chin in its clawed hands. Seeing that the creature refused to follow his orders, Laanx became enraged and destroyed the creature by whispering a single word. During the following days, many other Klyros passed through the portal. Each time, Laanx tried to impose his will with temptation, threats or torture, but none of them yielded to the god's will. It seemed their pride did not allow them to bend to any god. Laanx saw inside them a splinter of the delirium that had taken possession of him and, even though he hated them for their indifference, he did not utterly destroy their race. He taught them the way to Yliakum before leaving them to their destiny, sure that they would create some troubles for Talad, whom he now considered an enemy. Despite his intentions, the Klyros did not cause the trouble he had wished for. Instead, they avoided the other races for the most part and made their way to the lower levels of Yliakum by gliding, something no other race had the ability to do.
A few years after the Dermorians fled their homeland, another race of elves emerged from the same portal, the Nolthrir. The Nolthrir were a more aquatic race than the Dermorians, tending to floating crops of seaweed as their way of life. They were on relatively good terms with the other race of elves and found themselves victimized by the same rampaging barbaric knights. The Nolthrir were forced to abandon their seaweed bogs and escape through the Dermorians' portal, which closed immediately after the last of their people came through. After entering the Stone Labyrinths, they quickly found the Dermorian camp. Understanding the Nolthrir's plight as inhabitants of wetlands trapped in stone caves, they took pity on them and provided food and shelter for a time. Eventually, though, the call of a larger mass of water drew the Nolthrir away. After a long journey following the smell of water, the elves finally found Yliakum and allied with the Stonebreakers in an effort to build ramps all the way down to the lake. Liaisons with the charismatic Diaboli soon brought the first Ynnwn into existence.
By the next century, all races moved entirely into Yliakum, integrating well with the Kran and Lemurs, though races such as the Enkidukai and the Ylians began to develop hostile feelings towards one another. Most Hammerwielders and Dermorians chose to remain in their Stone Labyrinth settlements, thriving in the towns they built. Though a great Redstone Bridge was built by the dwarves to span the great chasm that had prevented the Lemurs from reaching Yliakum, most Lemurs decided to remain in the city blessed by Laanx.
In Yliakum, the people prospered and multiplied under Talad's silent guidance as the end of the century approached. Many of them slowly gave up the faith in their previous gods to worship the god of the glyphs. The Diaboli were the exception since they did not have any previous god to put aside. There were already many people settling in four of the eight levels as the Stonebreaker clan had finished ramps to make the lower levels easier to access. The increasing population soon began to cause problems for the people of Yliakum. Food began to run short as any existing game in the cavern was hunted to near extinction. The first two levels were worked intensely to grow food, but the native plants of Yliakum were slow-growing and contained few essential nutrients. The Dermorians flourished thanks to their expert knowledge of raising livestock and grain in harsh conditions. Yet some of them lived deep in the Stone Labyrinths, limiting their contact and hindering trade with the other races. Many hunters were forced to venture into the Stone Labyrinths to look for new sources of food; somewhat satiating the growing population's worsening hunger.
On the first level, the stolid Ylians, using their Tome of Woes as a guide, claimed absolute ownership of the ground they were farming, refusing to share with the other races. They built walls and fences and began to train ever-harder in the art of war, in preparation to assume control of more farmland. The Enkidukai that lived in the same area were driven away from their hunting grounds and began making plans of their own. The tension between the two races increased but Talad was able to control their anger and to bring back stability.
Fifth Epoch: The Two Temples
While the remaining elves and dwarves resettled in Yliakum shortly after the year 400AY and began the construction of the Bronze Doors, the Lemurs slowly but steadily increased their numbers and integrated into Yliakum's society over the next few hundred years while still keeping a permanent and stable population in their religious city of Xant Laan in the Stone Labyrinths. The Ylian abandoned their city of Ylon Donari after a great fire reduced it to rubble and ruin, and the refugees moved to the small Lemur and Kran town of Hydlaa, which would eventually become the primarily Ylian city it is today. The great library in Ylon Donari was completely lost, along with the vast records of past events which it held. A new government ruled by eight Octarchs was created to bring all races under one system of law. The government was seen as fair and just, causing the races to quickly accept its rule. The new system ensured that no one person could abuse his power over the people, as had happened in the past. The Octarchy decided to adopt a common language. Unified, the people of Yliakum began to prosper as never before. The Dermorians had brought viable seeds and livestock as well as their knowledge of farming to the cavern, providing enough food for everyone. Aside from the occasional raid from creatures in the Stone Labyrinths, Yliakum soon settled into a relatively stable society that has lasted to this day, ruled by the watchful and just eye of the new government.
For many years, Laanx observed in a subdued way what the Lemur were doing. Some of them went back to their ancient traditions, while the others continued their devotion to Laanx. The head of this second group was a handsome young man named Galeran Tarbius, endowed with endless charisma and an overwhelming power of will. Laanx was immediately interested in him and one day he appeared before him. When Laanx left Galeran, his eyes sparkled with a mystical fury, and his body glittered with the chaotic power of raw magic. In his hands he held the Book of Names Laanx had spent a hundred years writing, yet had kept hidden until this time. Laanx also observed with interest what was happening in Yliakum and decided that the time was right to present himself again. He was sure that Talad would receive him warmly and he would be able to take advantage of this. Under Laanx's command, Galeran led the Lemur of Xant Laan into Yliakum. They settled on the Dome in and around the small city of Hydlaa, where Galeran's powerful and charismatic leadership soon gathered a great mass of followers among the other races of Yliakum. In their opinion, Laanx was the god that had given new life to their race and therefore had the right to claim their lives whenever it was necessary. Soon after they were settled, the Lemur began to use their ancient knowledge to design an iron temple consecrated to Laanx in Hydlaa, and enlisted workers from the new Laanx worshippers in all races to build the structure. The Iron Temple was finished in the year 440AY, twenty years after its first foundations were laid. Galeran himself gave his life to the Temple and Laanx, literally, by becoming a permanent living statue within its walls. This action only served to further the advance of Laanx worship among the people of Yliakum.
Despite the increase in Laanx's following, Talad was still worshipped and welcomed in the whole of Yliakum. There were statues, representations and places consecrated to him everywhere, but Talad had never thought to have a temple built in his name. When the Lemur finished Laanx's Iron Temple, Talad felt control of his people's hearts slipping away. Many of his people, curious and charmed by Galeran's power, had begun to worship Laanx and to forget what Talad had made for them. Talad retired to meditate, and with the power of his glyphs, to plan the most majestic fortress ever built, a building that would show the power of the glyphs and the strength of the stone. After years of meditation, Talad created a tremendous wave of heat that melted the rock of the walls of the first level and moulded this rock in the name of his worshippers. As it cooled, the wall formed a plethora of drawings and arabesques interspersed with shimmering crystals. These crystals still glow, illuminating the temple with their light, showing the power of Talad.
Around year 450AY all priests of Laanx and Talad agree something major happened, and the two gods have been recalled by Vodùl. Their presence is still felt, but lot more distant than before. Also thanks to that two new deities have made themselves known to the people: the young and fierce nature goddess, Xiosia and the ancient yet stunning death goddess, Dakkru.
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