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Before Redemption's Eve
For those who waited and believe
Take heart, there comes a time
Take note, behold the sign
Eight infants, borne to reign
Six mothers bear the pain
Four husbands back from dead
Two sisters dark with dread
Two missives,shine instead
Before Redemption's eve.
Harken hope, banish doubt
Horns blare, heralds shout
Beware the coming fight
When minions of th enight
Arrive in unexpected light
Before Redemption's eve
Pride surrendered gets reprive
In the valley mothers walk
Testiment to prophets talk
Where abominations stalk
Before Redemption's Eve
Book one will set up those that follow. There are six mothers who will bear the major characters. Each of these are unremarkable and their attraction is that they rise to the occasion. Rather than a sequential approach ie telling of one and then the next, this story shows them concurrently, caught up in snapshots of events where the chronology of time is the sequence. To the reader things are happening all over the place but being pushed by the momentum of the prophesy.
For the outsider there will be some questions about the biological differences between men, dwarves and elves. There is not much written and what has is vague. Superficially the differences between the three is largely racial. Elves have pointed ears and tend to be tall and thin. Dwarves are squat, and shorter. The three are capable of interbreeding and bearing offspring. There is however a vestigial biological feature that is recessive and continues to crop up. The genome from which the three races evolved is common and still in a stage of evolution. Some males still retain a unique feature, although its becoming less common. Those who have it are generally unaware of its presence. While fading, its workings are viable, understood and culturally important in the higher social classes.
The difference is that some humans, elves and dwarves have a vesicle means of reproducing as well as the more conventional means. With the vesicle system the male draws sperm into the blood steam. These "Hemosperm" originate in the gonads but differentiate, once they get into the circliatory system. An important characteristic is that once they enter the blood stream they live for longer periods. They can be transfered in the manner common to blood borne diseases moving from host to host. When the hemosperm enter a female they leave the bloodstream and attach themselves to the wall of the utereus and can live in their cacoon like vesicle for years. These vesicles sense the passage of the egg, and release the sperm at the appropriate time. Concurrent with the vessicle process, a female can conceive in the conventional manner.
The reproductive system of a female is the same across the genome. What is notworthy is that when she has vesciles, conception can occure independent of sexual intercourse. As a consequence of this feature, the mating process takes on a greater complexity. A blood pregnancy carries with it a significance that has a profound and religious overtone and while not frequent, it is not unhedrd of, nor treated with skepticism. The use of Hemoscrabs to transmit blood sperm is a technique that has a long history and enables sperm to be cached for indefinite periods. For an elf or a dwarf the first union of a virgin male and female is especially important. These marriages are arranged when children are quite young and young women and men are promised to one another by parents in a long and involved social ritual. In the upper classes the transfer of a hemoscrab, well in advance of the physical union, provides an opportunity for a blood pregnancy to occure. However even after consumation, such pregnancies are possible. The transfer of sperm, either by blood or ejactulation leaves the male in a weakened state. Marriages are similar in the social order of the races. They are intended to last for life but for many reasons often fail to do so. Unions that are terminated due to death or divorce, allow males and females to find new partners and have children with new mates. However, it is not only possible but likely that a female that still has viable vessicles can concieve a child from the hemosperm of an earlier husband. There is much that is not clear about about the vessicle process and its machinations. Claims are made that it can be manipulated to extend the life of sperm for extremely long periods.
Another aspect tied indirectly to the reproductive process of elves and dwarves, is the ability to be telepathic. For most, this is a short range capability. It usually has the the same range as voice. In prepuberescent females however the range is much greater. Young girls with the talent can communicate distances claimed in the hundreds of miles. This ability begins to diminish after the onset of menstration and gradually diminishes following marriage and first coupling. There after it falls off into the voice range.
The precursor to the genome were the Simians. Selective breeding suggests that telepathy proceeded voice as a means of communication. The energy required to telepathically communicate, particularly over long distances is much greater than using the vocal mode. As an enhancer energy crystals/gems can extend the range and power of the transmitter. Even at vocal intervals telepathy requires up to ten times the energy and as a consequence telepathic imagery is succinct and unembelished. The mechanism, while not exhaustively understood appears to excite memory nuerons in a sequence common to the sender and receiver. Like verbal language it requires some commonality in the storage locations of symbols and imagery. For example if the image of a cat is sent the recievers vision will be limited to the range of cats they are familiar with. Thus a visual image is often accompained by an emotional/symbolic reference that qualifies specificity. ie size, color / temperament, threat level. There can also be a component of sound to signify mood and emotional characteristics. Telepathy, combined with voice, sign and touch can be blended into a rich array providing a sensory experience that is hard for the unitiated to appreciate.
Morgolic had a father who was Listerian, and a mother that was Cisterian. He carries old school genetics rather than those of an Elvenhume male. It was not uncommon in the times for a widow or divorced mother to return to her home tribe following a disunion. This is the case with Morgolic's mother who returned to Cisteria when he was six and his father's death. In this transition Morgolic falls through the crack with regard to a future wife. He has not been promised a Listerian bride because he was not old enough and does not get a Cisterian because the desirable candidates were already given. When his mother dies he returns to Listeria where, since he is not promised, is allowed to take on some important missions requiring a young man, that he would otherwise be forbidden because he is unbred. Thus while the Witches realize the importance of his legacy, he falls through the cracks of the Elven bureaucracy. When Gabriel and Cateyln realize he his carrying the Scarb of the Cisterian line they panic realizing the implications it has to their plans for the future. Realizing he is in mortal danger she and her daughter go to extreme lengths to keep him alive and recover the scrab. Raising the mists has many effects which include a heightened metabolism, physiological acceleration of glandular function and increase in anxiety and motor function.
Albiana is Morgolic's sister. She is eighteen years old and has been promised to Varnack. She remained in Listeria, when her mother and brother left. There, with her grandfather's family, a suitable marriage was arranged.
The Witches are custodians of the legacy left by their Husbands many hundreds of years earlier. Their goal is to restore the Confederation to the glory of its past and return the rule to the line of men that died to protect it. This is a long term project and many generations of Witches have come and gone working behind the scenes of human struggle to make their dreams a reality. The line of witches is carried on by their interbreeding with selected human males in a program to restore the line of their forefathers, lost earlier. However, they are not just intrested in this alone. They see the diminishment of the Elves and Dwarves and are determined to create in them a more viable and reproductive strain that will reverse the decline of the two races. In order to defeat the Empire they are committed to a strategy of diversity that draws on the talents of all races and species of intelligent life. After the fall, One Witch stayed home, two went to the elves and one to the dwarves.
Elven women at times face an anolomy in pregnancy known as a "Dark Sister." If the pregnancy is not aborted both mother and child die. Little is known about Witches. Outwardly they appear to be homo sapien but inwardly they retain powers and perspectives more akin to their racial counterparts, elves and dwarves. The breeding process, since the fall of the husbands, has been selective and the science of their approach is unknown. How much it is based on geneology and visual observation and to what degree they understand the scientific advances of the Empire is open to speculation.
There is a prophecy regarding the return of the husbands. As speculation regarding it gains acceptance and belief, progeny of the survivors are drawn back to Nirvana (Middle Town) hoping to see the dawn of a new era.
First Book of Troth.
I Fabian Margoles offer the gift of this translation knowing it will go unappreciated as have other gifts I have laid at the feet of unappreciative scholars. I do not blame them, for I was warned in advance by those who indulged my curiousity that such would be the case. If you think that Cassandra's curse was a fanciful curiousity borne of antiquity, do not be so confident in your supposition. There are those who watch and from time to time seek understanding of our bizarre thinking and behavior and for those to whom inquiry is made... rewards are sometimes granted for faithful service. I have seen the ocean of media that makes up their libraries and have sat beneath the crown of inquiry and received answer to questions that took my breath and cracked the portal of my ignorance. Hampered only by framing questions I have received through my poor senses, wisdom that make the understanding of fundamental truths seem but stepping stones across the pathways of the Universe. I have translated excerpts of a spiritual compendium venerated by my benefactors and offer it as a testiment to those with the curiousity of children who can still sense the wonder of truth with minds uncallosed by dogma and naked assumptions.
If you look out on a dark night you will see the Universe. It is a spray of stars, orbs of intense heat, gases and thermonuclear energy. In the space between them is a cold, brittle and inhospitable expanse chilling almost beyond measure. Here the elements wait, floating about in solid state, held in an adhesive web of dark energy. In the space between a star and absolute zero there is a gradient and the closer to the star a point moves the warmer it becomes. In a narrow range beween too much and too little, life has manifested its presence. Life is like an orb, given vacume, through which great energy flows, animating the threads of thin filiments. It is a vessel crafted from the elements that uses energy, to embrighten the inner globe analogous to the spirit of a life form. Thus the spirit ignites at the confluence of both the elements and the energy of the sun and awareness is borne. Metaphorically these are described as the light and the darkness, Further these metaphors suggest that a creator had a hand and that the manifestation was no accident. Truly life is so intertwined with energy and the elements that it cannot be separated. Indeed the very definition of life requires one operating in harmony with the other, orchestrated by the unimaginable. This is to say that individual organisms have a spirit or life force which is part of a greater and collective whole, that reaches out into eternity.
Long after the beginning the unimaginable called together the light and darkness and all their lesser and related minions, proposing the creation of life. All were united and and outspoken in opposition. "Why surrender our freedom," they reasoned, "for an unwelcome servitude?" The unimaginable answered. "My powers are not infinent and to hold together the fabric of an expanding universe requires an expansion beyond the limits of my elasticity. That unless you wish to snap back into unbeing you must surrender a small portion of authority in order to keep command of your domain." Still they hesitated.
"I will give you dominion over their awareness and promise their lives will be the briefiest of interludes," promised the unimjaginable. "They will shine for but an instant before the heat of one of you destroys the brittle chill of the other. Is that such a high price to pay for keeping the vastness of your realms? Would you prefer being drawn back into the excruciating clutch of unbeing into a grain of unspeakable mass and volitility? I will leave to your tending a piece of myself in this thing called life and it will be uncommon and though you search far and wide you will be hard put to even notice its presence. There will be no transparent change to disrupt the violence of your passion or the tranquility of your sleep and indeed unless you search diligent and look close you will hardly notice my presence. And the change it brings will be infintesimal and slow to manifest and surrounding this change you will be free to exercise your will and provide the default to which you have become accostomed. If you wish for me to remain among you this is the price. You must allow me to exist at the confluence of your realms and protect me, for into the vessel of your elements and imbued with the energy of your light my awareness will remain and creation will go on. As I have demonstrated in the past so will I continue into the future and for all the foreseeable time to come.
Book 27 chapter 12 Verses 23-36.
In the domain of life there is a harmony between living things. Nature provides the default....this is to say that if a life form chooses to do nothing than nature will step in and establish the harmony. Nature is the minions of light and darkness at the confluence of survivability. If a life form acts to do something in its self or collective interest then that is "good" and in this way life affects its surrounding environment and is a creativve force in the universe. When life finishes doing its "good" then nature, the natural mean, the eternal default, steps in, fills in the spaces and restores harmony to the natural order of things in the universe.
Since there is this union of energy and matter in all life forms they are a composite of both energy and mass. Into this vessel the unimaginable placed a piece of itself. There can be no such thing as pure good just as there can be no such thing as unmitigated evil. It is possible however to find life forms that are severely skewed in one direction or the other. There are ample examples of instances where life forms have drifted far from the mean either rising above or falling below the criteria of expectation. What this means is that there is no absolute good or absolute evil but rather life forms pulled in both directions by the very components of their being. The dark ones have surrendered to the pull of one extreme and feel no compulsion to follow the attraction of the other. The bright ones reach out in the other direction, seeking to give light dominion over darkness. The dark ones see their attitudes and behavior as conforming to their definition of "good." Both define "Good" as a process of optomization that can be applied to any thought or action. It is defined as a thought or action taken by a life from that improves its situation in the enviromnent over what would have occurred naturally had the life form taken no action at all. Both sides are seeking "Good" but one tends towards the light and the other darkness. For example one uses love as a first recourse and the other uses hate. One uses fear and the other hope. It is the eternal struggle over whether it is better to be loved or feared..... that men love as they choose but fear as they must. This is the fundamental delimma that jerks humanity about and has done so throughout its history.
After the fall of Nirvana, six hundred years ago, the Emporium sent a garrison to the Citadel in order to occupy the fallen city. Most of the inhabitants had been killed or fled and the city fell into a state of neglect and dissrepair. Soon the only commerce that remained were service activities for the occupyintg forces and these centered around the Citadel. So for the first hundred years following the War of Federation the fortress in the middle of the valley was little more than an expensive symbol of Emporium rule. Since there were no subjects to speak of, the point of maintaining the post in this far flung corner of the Empire was frequently questioned. The only reason it remained in place for for so long is a compelling testimony to human greed. It was speculated that the treasure of the Confederation was never found after the war, was hidden somewhere in the valley. Each day a detail moved about in search of it and thhough there were many polotical reasons given for a continued presence they did not stand up to close scrutiny.
Duty at the Citadel was an extreme hardship for the soldiers the soldiers who served there. The underlying cause of this hardship were the mists brewed by the Witches that blew in off the river carrying with it a mantle of oppresson and despair. Suicides were common and the search parties frequently became disoriented. Tales of men lying about grabbing their temples in agony and screaming out in agony were frequently told by relief parties sent out to bring back the survivors. Others who searched for the treasure, were often overcome with tremors of delierm and none that ever dared enter the mines were ever heard from again.
After a hundred years the Emporium had enough and decided to withdraw the garrison. Since there was no threat and little prospect of ever finding the treasure (that most believed was a fairy tale) they packed up one day, headed west, and returned to the more hospitable climate of the plains and a much healthier way of life.
What the Emporium was unaware of, was that the widows of the four great lords of the Confederation, commonly referred to as the Witches of Nirvana, were quite real and still maintained a presence in the valley. It was the Witches who created the mists that waffed down the valley, rising up from the primordial backwarters of the river. The witches brewed the oppressive concoction and dispensed it from Orbs on long chains that they swung while their voices made incantations of haunting magical melody. It was a potent brew that drove the occupiers from the Valley, and it had a powerful effect on everyone who breathed it in any semblance of a concentrated form. Even after the Citadel was abandoned the mists had become so permeated and embued, so soaked into the landscape that the effect was slow to diminish and can be felt even this day.
The witches and their descendents lived up on the claims at the foothills of the mountains where the dwarves had once settled and later the miners who followed in their footsteps. In cabins around the openings of mine shafts, the witches and their families dwelled and when threatened retreated into the labrinth of shafts and tunnels that were interconnected and stretched for miles. It was somewhere deep inside this network that the repository was hidden that contained the wealth of the Confederacy. In the early years the witches consolidated this wealth and began to operate a clandestine banking industry throughout the Emporium. Thus even in the aftermath of defeat, the Confederation continued to exercise enormours financial power throughout the known world. The seed money came from the caverns of Nirvana, that was later to be named Middletown by the Humans that began to move back following the withdrawl of the occupation forces.
At first the witches focused their interest on running the finiancial empire and employed agents, known as Templers to run their finiance enterprises. As time went on however they pined for their husbands and resolved to explore geneology and see if they could at least duplicate the genetic heritage of their husbands and one day restore power to men such as the ones they had lost in the war. In the process of this undertaking they noted the decline of the dwarves and elves as a race and using their expertise in genetics and genealogy resolved to correct this deficiency as well. Once the garrison withdrew, one of the lines remained in the valley, one went to the dwarves, and two went to the Elves. This positioned them to begin reconstituting the former alliance, insure financial viability and build a power base for future operations. Every year, representatives of the Coven would return to the valley and coordinate their efforts to this common purpose.
Before riding off to war the four husbands left a Blood Scarab with each of their wives. The Scrab is generally carried by the male heir to the line but since males were not all that common to Witch unions other means were frequently resorted to. (One in four offspring.) Sometimes it was a favored husband who carried it, a trusted friend, a male heir or for short periods the Witch herself. The scarab fed off the essence of the host and this essence contained the vitality of the host. There were two processes involved. In the first was the maintaining and nurture of the Hemosperm of the Husbands. In addition there was a reconciliation of the essence of the hosts into a refinement that collected and distilled the best qualities the stewards had to offer. These were stored in hemosperm seperate from the originators. At the time of the prophesy the four historical scarabs were distributed as follows. Liope had one from Miranda, patron of the Cisteirian and Miopian Elves, Standaloft had one from Cateyln of the Valley men, Matilda had one destined for Dumar and carried by Lilith , and Rogotelli had one from Olivia destined for Pluto. Liope was never intended to get the one from Miranda. She was intended to get the one from Standaloft, her half brother. When Liope instead got the one from Morgolic it threw the geneology into dissarray. On the one hand it saved the scrab, whose loss would have been an enormous setback. On the other it put the prophesy into question and required some last minute fixes that were less then what the Witches were intending. For their part the Witches were not all that certain of the viability of the Scarabs after all the time that had passed. Their hopes were vested in the geneology process they had long administered. This process was not just selective breeding to encourage physical and mental traits. It also experimented in some of the Empires breakthroughs that had led to "advances." in the breeding of Snagar and Simian Elves. Ironically it was Confederation money that had funded these breakthroughs at the University of Cornith.