The Civilization

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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.

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