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dgate history and lore
UATANA-AL    ISTORY

Table of Contents
:: Please submit Muatana-al History ::
:: Catalina Llewllyn, Muatana-al of Rinanni ::
:: Ancient History of Muldavia ::
:: Legend of the Muatana-al ::
:: Lilly's Open Letter ::
:: Theories on the relationship between Garnets and Muatana-al ::

MUATANA-AL

Missing Documents ...

We are currently missing sections on Muatana-al History and Lore. If you have submissions please contact the webmaster so they may add them to the library.

The Secian and the Muatana-al ...

I was born many miles from here, in a small town far to the north, a town that was for whatever reason filled with San Elves, Muatana-al and other creatures of Chaos. My father was a runemage; my mother was a fighter by training but a lay healer by trade; and neither one of them embraced the dark ways of Chaos, but rather preferred to keep to themselves, and walk their own path. From them I learned to beware the seductive and treacherous pleasures of Chaos, and to rely upon none, whether god or mortal, only upon my own values and common sense.

I embarked upon the fighter's path; as I came of age I apprenticed myself to the Mercenaries' Guild. I devoted myself to the study of battle, the Way of the Sword, and committed myself to becoming the finest fighter I could possibly be. I advanced rapidly through my training, and gained much respect but little friendship, so singleminded was I in my purpose.

And so, too soon, I became a journeyman and was set upon my mercenary career. My first assignment was (or so I was told, and so it proved to be) to aid an exiled prince in regaining his family hold, claimed by a tyrant warlord. This sounded like a cause fair enough, and my heart was eased; yet at the same time I was troubled by my reaction. For was I not a mercenary? Were not all sides of a dispute the same to me?

No matter. I traveled with many other members of my Guild to the appointed place, and there joined what seemed to me a great and glorious army. My head swam with visions of bloodless battle and of virtue's victory.

But, of course, it was not to be. Mine was an army of hired help and ill-trained men, set against a larger force trained as one unit. I acquitted myself well - but what matter? We were outnumbered and outclassed. All about me my fellows fell, and though I avoided the killing blow, I was slowly worn down. One man I could dispatch to his god easily. Four or five at a time was still beyond me. I gained wounds faster than I could heal them. Finally, exhausted and weak, I saw darkness rise before my eyes, and I embraced the sanctuary of unconsciousness.

I came to at last in a haze of pain. My leg throbbed with each beat of my heart; I knew at once that it had been broken, probably in the battle, and that already it had begun to set poorly. There were voices, speaking in Common, but they sounded rather muffled and far away. I opened my eyes and looked around me. I lay on a pile of blankets in an empty tent lit only by one smoldering torch. My eyes stung from the smoke, but I could see that I was indeed alone. Just outside the tent, I judged, a group of soldiers, perhaps four or five, were debating what to do with me. What they said, I fear, is hardly suitable to speak in Rinanni's temple to a pair of pregnant women. (At this, Catalina smiled even more sadly.) Suffice it to say that these horrid men had heard of the regenerative abilities of my race, and wished to test them to their fullest.

Of course, I sought escape. My sword had been taken from me, and the closest thing to a weapon I could see was the torch. Even so, I probably could have taken the beasts on, were it not for my leg, which hurt more and more with each passing moment. But near me I noticed a small tear in the canvas, and even in my weakened condition I was able to widen the tear and slip out the rear of the tent.

I hobbled through the shadows, all but unnoticed, for the victory celebration had fortunately dimmed the senses of my captors. One soldier noticed me, and nearly sounded the warning cry; I easily captured his will with my own and slew him with his own blade, though even such a simple feat took nearly all of my strength and energy.

As I left the soldiers' encampment and entered the deserted city, a great cry erupted behind me. I judged that my escape had been noticed, and that pursuit was imminent. All the windows about me were dark. I considered beating on a door, begging for sanctuary, but knew that nobody could be so foolish. So I ran through the streets of the strange city - or rather tried to run, for my leg felt as though it were created of pain itself, and it took nearly everything I had to simply stay upright.

I know not how, but I found my way to the city's temple district. In desperation I began to bang on the doors of the temple for sanctuary. Taath would not take me, for my present fate pleased him more. Set would not take me, for I scorned thieves. Sa would not take me, for I scorned magick. Odarous would not take me, for my race is repugnant to him. The Unknown would not take me, for I had scoffed at the Gods far too often. And I knew better than to waste my time beseeching either of the Goddesses.

The sky was lightening. I knew not which would come first, the sun or my pursuers. I collapsed on the steps of one of the temples -- I was so dazed with pain, I did not notice which -- drew my greatsword, and prepared to wait. Were I fortunate, I thought, I would spill the blood of at least one monster before dawn sent me to the Oversoul, and an opportunity to redeem this failed life.

Behind me, the temple door opened and shut. I did not turn around, though I heard footsteps approach. "My lady," said a man behind me, "if you sit here, you will surely die."

I turned around. There stood a dark Elf, his face half-hidden in white robes. With a start I realized that fate - or so I then thought - had brought me to the temple of Rinanni. I nodded to the priest and said, "This failed life quickly draws to a close. May the Lords grant me a more successful next one."

The Fir Elf (for so I assumed he must be) shook his head. "You still live, my lady. Come into the temple, before the Warlord's troops find you here."

I chuckled at him through my pain. "And what use would the Goddess of Peace and Love have with a creature of Chaos?"

At this the Elf laughed out loud. "You need much healing, my lady," he said. "Please, follow me. Rinanni would not wish you to die upon her Temple's steps." I did not believe him, of course; certainly the Goddess would be more than happy to see the world rid of another Muatana-al. Yet I did not wish to die, not by the sun's light, and certainly not by whatever tortures my pursuers could devise. I accepted the priest's arm, and let him half-carry me into the Temple and to a room that was equipped for a healer's work.

Quickly he set up a long table of some sort, and adjusted it so that half of it was propped up at an angle, and the lowest part flat and as high as his waist. Without a word he lifted me up and placed me on the table. I leaned back and shut my eyes; I could feel unconsciousness waiting for me, and fought it off still longer. The priest placed his hands gently on my broken leg. The pressure should have hurt, but did not. After several seconds he frowned and turned away, gathering things from cupboards and shelves. He dropped the cowl from his head, but his face was still turned from me. "Your leg heals crookedly, I fear," he said. "And the war leaves our infirmary poorly stocked; I can find nothing here to ease the pain." He turned back to me. "And yet it must be rebroken, and quickly."

I only stared at him, for I had grown up around San Elves, and knew that this one was not of the forests. "You are a child of Chaos," I whispered. "But --"

"My lady cares not how we came upon this earth," the priest said. "She cares only that we wish to follow Her Path." He smiled briefly at me, then his face became grave again. He handed me a padded stick. "Bite down on this," he instructed me. "There is naught but my skill and my Goddess's blessing to ease the pain."

I did as I was told. The priest placed both hands upon my leg and spoke a Word of power. Looking back, I know the pain was far less than it should have been; had I been in a better state, I could have endured it easily. But in my weakened condition, the pain overwhelmed me; the darkness rose up before my eyes once again, and once again I joined it eagerly.

 

I awoke the next morning in a small white-washed room. Sunlight leaked harmlessly around the tightly-closed drapes. There was a knock on the door, and I called for my visitor to enter. It was the Elf who had given me sanctuary the previous dawn, carrying a tray of food. He placed the food on a side table and smiled apologetically at me. "I am not sure whether you would require this sort of food," he said, "but I thought it wisest to be certain."

I nodded gratefully to him, for this was already during the time of the Bane's Abatement, and I did indeed require what you would consider "real" food. "You are very kind, sir," I said.

 

He shrugged. "Your 'admirers' were just at the Temple steps asking after you. At least, I assume it was you. Asked if I had seen a Muatana-al with a broken leg."

"And?" I could feel my stomach drop. It took a great effort to keep my voice even.

"I lied to them. Quite blatantly, and with greatest pleasure." He smiled widely at me, and sat down beside the bed. "The Warlord will not dare move against Rinanni's Temple. You are quite safe here, for as long as you choose to stay."

And so began my days in the Temple of Rinanni. Long after I had fully healed I remained, partly because I had nowhere else to go, but mostly because I felt as though I had an obligation to the Goddess who had taken in this child of Chaos. I spent much time with Matthias Fairbourne - the San Elf who had saved me - he taught me of the ways of Rinanni, and I told him of my life in the outside world and of the ways of my race. And as time passed, I stopped thinking in terms of debt and obligation; I had been saved by the grace and wisdom of Rinanni, and wished only to serve the Goddess, and live in her service as those around me.

I took an acolyte's vow of service, and devoted myself to the arts of divine service and healing as I had once devoted myself to the arts of war. But this time, it was not so easy. Though on the surface I followed the path of peace perfectly, my heart rebelled and refused to submit. Bitterly I cursed the long years of my warrior's training and tried to force myself to surrender fully to Rinanni's will. I could not. I heard of the brutality and viciousness of the Warlord who ruled the city, and I wished only to take my sword and slay him in his bed. When the prince I had once served returned, this time far better-prepared, I wished to take service at his side, and wreak vengeance on those who had nearly destroyed me. And even after the Warlord fell and something resembling peace returned to the city, still I dreamed of taking up my warrior ways again, and using my blade to remove the last traces of the Warlord's blight.

For ten years and more I served in the Temple of Rinanni as an acolyte, and yet refused to take final orders, because I knew my treacherous heart. Finally I gathered my courage and spoke to Matthias, who had become my closest friend in that place. "My path grows no easier," I told him. "If anything, it grows more difficult. I begin to despair of ever subduing myself properly to Rinanni's service."

Matthias shook his head and looked at me sadly. "Subduing yourself is not what Rinanni would wish, Catalina. Serve her as you best can. Do not try to force yourself into what you think she wishes you to be."

"I am a fighter. How can I serve the goddess of Peace, a creature of Chaos who walks the path of war?" I was nearly in tears out of frustration and despair. "How can you serve Rinanni when I cannot?"

Matthias smiled gently and took my hand in his. "Catalina, yes, we are both children of Chaos, but we are not the same. When the Lords of Chaos created the San Elves, they sought servants. And so, we serve - the Lords, or the Gods of Chaos, or, once in a while, by some glorious accident, the Fair Lady." His smile widened briefly, then vanished. "But when the Lords of Chaos created the Muatana-al, they sought to set upon this earth a race of great glory and beauty and power. A race that needed to serve no one - not even the Lords themselves. That is why your race has the Bane and ours does not. The San serve of their own accord. The Muatana-al must be forced to the yoke."

"I wish to serve Rinanni," I whispered.

"And you do, and you shall, but in your own way, a way that lies within you, and that not even Rinanni Herself can change. And if your way lies along the path of the sword, do not think that means you love Rinanni any less. There have always been warriors of the White Dove. After all, somebody must fight for peace every once in a while."

I opened my mouth, about to point out the contradiction - but my heart told me that Matthias spoke the truth. I thought back to that first great battle, and how relieved I had been to think that perhaps I fought a cause that was just. "For over ten years I have been a fool," I said. "Even for one of my race, that is a very long time."

"No, not a fool. Only one who doubts her true nature too much." And he took me in his arms and hugged me tightly, and I wept openly at last, overwhelmed once again by Rinanni's kindness and wisdom.

Shortly thereafter I approached the Prince's castle and offered him my services. I told him that I had been a mercenary in his service many years ago, in that catastrophic battle. I told him of how I had fallen and escaped, and how I had found refuge in the Temple of Rinanni, and served there for many years. I confessed that my skills as a fighter were no doubt rusty, for I had not lifted a sword in over ten years, and that I was unsure how quickly those skills would return, if ever.

To my surprise, the Prince remembered me, or knew of me, for apparently I had done better in that battle than I had thought, and the Bards of that city still sung of the Demon Daughter of Darkness whose bloody work that night had saved the Prince to return another day. "Even rusty," the Prince told me, "your sword would be ever welcome at my side." And so I joined the Palace Guard, and returned to the work I had neglected for so many years.

And I was rusty, dreadfully so. Even now, over two years later, my skills have yet to return to what they once were. But I devoted myself to regaining what I had lost, sparing time only for Rinanni's service, for, as Matthias had predicted, I had not forgotten her.

Several months passed. I sat alone in the barracks, passing quiet time in meditation with my Goddess, when I heard a familiar voice say, "Forgive me, Catalina, but I must interrupt."

I opened my eyes, saw Matthias, and smiled, though I could tell by his expression he did not bear good news. "Greetings, my friend. What troubles you?"

He sighed and sat down beside me on the cot. "My lady, we have spoken often about the Bane. Does your decision still stand?"

My body became immediately numb and chilled. "It does. Why?"

He did not look at me. His voice was very quiet. "Because the Bane returns."

The coldness around me grew. Understand, the Abatement of the Bane occured shortly after I came of age, so I know what it is like to hunger, and to feed. Back then, it did not seem so terrible. But back then, I did not follow Rinanni.

"Then I shall prepare to take my life," I said without inflection, though within myself I cried with a dozen different voices.

"Catalina, that is not what Rinanni would wish."

"I will take my own life before I drink one drop of somebody else's. I will not serve the whims of the Lords of Chaos."

He knew better than to argue. For several moments, he was silent. "There may be another way," he said at last.

"Matthias, you know if there is another way, I would take it."

"There is nothing I can do, here. But there may be another way... It is said that the High Priestess Aremaia has returned to our realm. Perhaps, if you travel to the Spur, she may find a way to spare you from the Bane. I do not know. I am certain that if there is anything that either Rinanni or Aremaia can do, they shall." He looked at me with an unspeakable sadness. "As would I, if I knew what to do. Whatever happens, know that."

The entire Spur was preparing for the onslaught of the Bane. And, as the Bane had been gone for nearly fifty years, only the eldest residents knew exactly what to expect. Though I kept an eye out for Catalina, I did not see her except in passing after that day. But my friends did, and it was from Hastikhan that I learned that Catalina had befriended Murdain Deepwater, the Muatana-al Barbarian, and that she was now speaking of death much less often. I cheered up a bit at this news; I didn't want to see Catalina die, and Murdain was a cool guy, especially when he wasn't going into his berzerking mode.

And then the Bane came. And it was more terrible than any of us had expected. More terrible than even the eldest residents of Spur remembered. It was said that the Lords of Chaos were making up for lost time in those first few days. I doubted whether even Murdain could keep Catalina alive under such conditions. And when Keridwen told me that Murdain had fallen to the Oog-ra Hellraisin in a mighty battle - I knew what was going to happen, though I prayed mightily that it wouldn't.

So, when I entered the Town Square one night and saw Stumps the Drag-al sitting glumly by the Statue - a Drag-al, glum! - I feared the worst. "Ah, there you are, Maddy," he said, with little enthusiasm. "I've been looking for you. I've got something for you from that MA Catalina."

I know I went white as a sheet. "Oh, no. She didn't."

Stumps nodded sadly. "Yep. Went up to Lord Ferdain and kneeled and begged him to chop off her head." He handed me a small coinpurse. "Here. She told me to make sure you got it."

I didn't want it. But Catalina had wanted me to have it, so I took it. "Where is... is she gone?"

Stumps shook his head. "Lord tried to decap her, but... well, it was the weirdest thing I've ever seen. It was like, the sword went right through her neck and all, but nothing happened."

"She didn't die?"

"Well, she ain't alive, if that's what you mean. But her body's still around, and from what I can tell she's not coming back to it. They took her to the Temple of Rinanni. Maybe somebody there knows what's going on."

"Thank you," I said, trying to control my tears, and hugged him tightly.

Yelling curses at the top of my lungs, I waddled as fast as I could to the Temple. There, in a side room, lay Catalina's body, still and pale. There was no mark on her body, yet she did not move or breathe. Clerics bent over her, trying to restore life to her, but to no avail. One of them noticed me and led me out of the room. "Come, my child," he said. "Such a sight is not good for you, nor your little one, either."

Days passed like that, Catalina's body in the Temple, neither living nor dead, neither breathing nor decaying. Clerics, RuneMages, even Aremaia herself could not sway Catalina one way or the other. Though the clerics of the Temple all but forbade me, I looked after Catalina every chance I had. Her state never changed. I did not know what had happened, but I knew that of all the fates that could have befallen her, this wasnot the one she would have chosen.

It was perhaps two weeks after the Leuian Lord had first attempted to release Catalina from her life. A white-robed San Elf came into the Town Square that morning, where I sat alone, trying to knit a blanket for my hopefully-soon-to-be baby. He wore the robes and the marks of a priest of Rinanni; his eyes were creased with laugh lines, but he was not smiling now. I thought of Catalina's tale - but surely this could not be the same one?

The priest bowed to me. "Greetings, daughter. My name is Matthias Fairbourne, and I serve the White Lady in the town of Palmas-dir, which I suspect nobody has ever heard of. I have traveled entirely too many miles in the past several days, and seek a place to rest. Might you guide me to the Temple of Rinanni here?"

I scrambled to my feet so fast I nearly fell over and curtsied awkwardly. "Of course, sir. It's a great honor. Please, follow me." As I led him to the Temple, I tried to think of a way to make conversation, but failed miserably. I knew why he had to be here. "Catalina spoke of you," I finally said as I led him through the Temple's portal.

He nodded sadly. "It is for her sake that I came here."

"She --"

"She is caught between this realm and the realm of Chaos, and she wishes neither one." He walked into the room where Catalina's body lay, and did not stop me from following him. The one cleric watching over her curtsied to Matthias, then spotted me and prepared to drag me out. Matthias shook his head. "No, let her stay. There should be a Bard here to record what I hope is about to happen." He turned his head and smiled at me. "Especially one as blessed by the Goddess as this one."

I placed my hand on my stomach and shook my head. "If this is a blessing, I'd hate to see Rinanni's curses."

Matthias laughed out loud. "No, that wasn't what I referred to. It is the way the Lady's love shines in your eyes."

"Really?"

He nodded, then turned soberly to Catalina's still body. He knelt beside her, placing one hand on her forehead and another over her heart. "Prayer," he said, "would not hurt at this moment," and he shut his eyes.

p>For a long time, longer than I can calculate now, the room was utterly silent and still. I believe I forgot to breathe, my heart forgot to beat. Everything seemed to shimmer slightly around me. Then there was a great noise like a thunderclap, and the room shuddered. Beside me, the acolyte fell to her knees, praying out loud. I placed my hands protectively over my stomach and muttered whatever prayers I could remember. I tried to move, to shut my eyes, but I could not stop watching Matthias and Catalina, though for all I could tell nothing happened, both were frozen as though caught in a spell.

Then Matthias' hands began glowing with darkness, an aura utterly black, and swirling with darkness. It was something I knew I should not look at, but I could not move my eyes. Slowly the darkness spread, engulfing the two of them, until I could see nothing but a great gaping black space where they had been. From the darkness issued a wailing, groaning noise, like a hundred winds coming in from a hundred directions and beating against each other. I could hear nothing but the noise of Chaos, I could see nothing but Chaos, and I was suddenly certain that Chaos would erupt from that black space and destroy the Temple of Rinanni, and me along with it.

And just as I was certain that I would die, there was a great crash of silence - for that is the only way I can explain it - and a searing white light. For a moment I thought I heard birdsong more beautiful than this earth could hold, and in the light the faintest hint of an unspeakably lovely woman's face, and then it all was gone. The room was ordinary again, with Matthias kneeling still before Catalina, and the acolyte huddled on the floor weeping. Suddenly the room blurred, and I realized I was crying as well - tears not of fear, though that would have been understandable, but tears of joy, for I had seen Rinanni herself.

I wiped away my tears and tried to regain control of myself, and just as I had done so, Matthias spoke in a weak, exhausted voice, "Well, I suspect that was quite a show."

I looked up. Though outwardly Catalina's body had not changed, I knew somehow that the last remnants of life had left her. Matthias was sitting now on the floor, leaning against the cot. He was exhausted, but more than that; he too had changed in some way I could not yet fathom. Weakly I nodded to him, and weakly he smiled. To the young acolyte he said, "Go, and tell the Priestess that we must find a holy place to rest my lady's body." The acolyte stood and hastened to comply. And then  Matthias turned back to me.

"I thought Muatana bodies didn't remain," I said weakly.

"They do not," he said, and leaned back in exhaustion. "You see, though the San Elves - and, for that matter, the Go-blin and Go-blin-al - are creations of the Lords of Chaos, they are governed by the Gods of this realm, and when they die are taken in by their Gods like any other race. But when they created their most magnificent creation, the Muatana-al, they did not wish to surrender this race to the Gods. And so, when the Muatana-al die, they return to Chaos, where they are either returned to this realm or kept in Chaos' embrace, as their fate may be.

"Catalina knew this once, I am certain. But she had forgotten. No doubt she wished to forget. She wished to believe that when she died, she would be claimed not by Chaos but by Rinanni. But even Rinanni does not have that power over the Lords of Chaos, for their power lies even beyond this realm, and they are rather jealous of the souls they lay claim to.

"And so, when the Leuian's blade severed her tie from her body, she found waiting for her not Rinanni but Chaos. And she knew that if she let Chaos claim her, she would be sent back to this realm, and do the things she did not wish to do. So she refused to leave her body. And yet she could not return to it either, for the Thread had been broken. She dwelt in limbo, defying both death and Chaos, though such a thing is painful beyond all believing." He shut his eyes. His entire body sagged with exhaustion, and there was a strange pallor beneath his dark skin.

"And you set her free," I said after a time.

He nodded and opened his eyes. "Aye. As I said, the Lords of Chaos are jealous of the souls they claim for their own. But I offered an... exchange. And, quite fortunately for us both, they accepted." He sighed and glanced at the shuttered window. "You wouldn't happen to know what time it might be, would you?"

I stood up, opened the shutters, and stood on tiptoe to look out. Temple Way was tinged golden with the long light. "I think it is late afternoon, sir," I said, though I had not thought it would be past noon.

Matthias nodded and slowly got to his feet. "I feared as much. I am still uncertain of the exact terms of my... bargain with Chaos, but I suspect my days of walking in sunlight have ended." I looked at him more carefully; he still looked like a San Elf, and yet, somehow, I could sense that he was not. Not entirely. The fear returned, nearly as strong as when I had stared into the darkness - not fear of Matthias, but fear of whatever force had changed him so utterly.

Then he smiled at me, and the terror vanished. "Thank you for observing this, good Bardess. I believe you have witnessed an event unique in history." He smiled wryly. "At least, I hope so. It would not do to have too many people carrying around the immortality of another's soul."

With the Governor's permission, the body of Catalina Llewellyn was buried not in the graveyard, where unspeakable horrors dwell, but in a corner of the Spur Park. The sun shines brightly on her grave, and flowers bloom brightly around it, and there are always bluebirds and doves singing in the trees.

I did not see Matthias Fairbourne again, for he left shortly after Catalina's burial. He could not attend the burial, for it was during the day, and as he had predicted he could not long bear the sun any more. I asked at the Temple after him, and was told that he would still serve as Priest of the White Dove in the city Palmas-dir, although he bore the full force of the Bane as Catalina once had.

I dreamed of Catalina once, shortly before my daughter was born. She was dressed in white, and she wore flowers in her hair, and she handed a flower to me. She was smiling, and she told me that she was at last in peace. And then - I could not help myself, as in dreams sometimes one cannot - I asked of Matthias. "He is well, and he handles his Curse in a way that shames me. But when his time in your realm draws to an end, I will join him in the Oversoul, and we will be a small garden of Rinanni in the midst of Chaos itself, and serve Rinanni through eternity."

The Bane is better now, though I still wish the world were free of it once again. Sometimes I wonder whether Catalina could live happily in this realm now, and whether she should have waited for Chaos' wildness to settle down. But then I remember her as I saw her in that dream, and I know that all is as it should be, and I remind myself that

AUTHOR UNKNOWN

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Ancient History of Muldavia ...

by Archmage Renalk

[The above piece was first published in the Empire News but was brought back for the reader so they may fully enjoy the next part of this Muldavian History]

This is an attempt to illuminate some of the history and culture of the land Muldavia, known as "the Dark Continent" by the more fanciful. It shall focus on my own race, the Sanene, though much about the Muatana-al will unavoidably be discussed. No treatise on Muldavia can begin, however, without acknowledging that there are two competing forces on the island, and two competing versions of history espoused by each. A pure chronology is thus impossible if one seeks an objective account. Instead, I shall proceed by mirroring the experience of the Sanene race, starting from the beliefs that were near universal among them prior to the rebellion, and then presenting a more revisionist account, now a common view in the Clans.

Know then, that there are two distinct groups of San, each seeking to convert or destroy the other. The first, loyally serving the Muatana-al, calls itself "the true San," and the other group "the traitors." The second, engaged in an insurrection against the Muatana-al, think of themselves as "the true San" and call the first group, "the collaborators." The Muatana-al themselves categorize them as "domestic breeds" or "wild breeds"

For objectivity's sake, I shall call the first group "the Loyalists," and the second "the Rebels," so as to neither praise nor insult either.

In addition, as the best way to learn history is from historical documents, passages from some of my sources will be included throughout. Many of these passages, both for the aforementioned imperative of objectivity and to make the account more accessible to Aradathians, are from Aradathian scholars or observers.

We begin our account around the year 3000 BC on the Aradathian calendar. Aradath at this time was firmly under the control of the Frontacian Empire, as were many of the surrounding islands. Icons of the Golden Dragon were everywhere, and the rest of the pantheon was nowhere to be seen. The epoch of Sa-Rinanni, which had just begun, saw a gradual end to the massive wars of conquest which had initially characterized the Empire. The Frontacians turned their attention to mercantile and intellectual matters, and allowed a handful of lands to retain their independence.

~~ Muldavia, the Myth ~~

"From the battle of the Octagon to the Age of Lessons, throughout the birth and growth of their Empire, the Frontacians had avoided Muldavia. While the official reason now found in court documents is that there was little of value to be found in such a dreary place (nothing can be further from the truth), I believe the answer has more to do with the fact that the Dark Continent was an object of fear in Frontacian culture. Children are still told terrible tales of the life-draining Muatana-al, of Dark Elves, and of other monstrosities besides. The only place a Frontacian General would have been more reluctant to invade is Hell itself."

-From "A History of Fear"
by Sage Lanessil of Carthen

Muldavia existed as pure myth for a good thousand years after the end of the war with the Ancient Being. According to some legends, it was the birthplace of this being, the place where the abomination took its first breath, screamed its first scream. Others merely call it a staging ground, a place from which the dark armies launched their campaign of world domination (destruction?). All agree that it was an island somehow touched by a dark force, a place with black clouds that no ray of sunlight ever pierced. All knew that it was the place the Muatana-al who survived the Battle of the Octagon fled to, and none were inclined to pursue.

Over the centuries, many intrepid adventurers attempted expeditions to the Dark Continent, but few returned. Those that did spoke of a Muatana-al Empire, of cities of black onyx, of armies of Dark Elves. It was not until the Frontacian Empire had grown in power, and the need for new trade routes spurred on an age of exploration, that the reports were corroborated.

The Muatana-al seemed largely uninterested in trade and ignored all official envoys as beneath their attention, though slavers soon learned that they had the sole currency the life-drainers were interested in, and made a hefty profit by trading flesh for precious stones and metals.

~~The Muldavian Empire~~

"I had barely gotten myself to a safer spot when the square began to be filled with the Muatana-al's army. The sound of metal sliding against metal, so soft in the sleek armor of these Sanae, was deafening when multiplied by a thousand. All stood at attention before the Palace, where their Executor, on a balcony a hundred feet aloft, looked over the sea of black armor appraisingly. Raising an arm to indicate something behind him, a dark cloak hanging from the arm like a curtain, he spoke in a voice that seemed amplified to cover the square:

"'Kneel before your God, Te'Suvernus, Lord of Muldavia! He who has created you, He who has given you power, He who directs you with purpose, now commands you to visit His wrath upon His unworthy enemies!'

"An image then rippled into existence behind the San, and it was the pale face of a Muatana-al, smiling softly. A deep, booming voice echoed all about the city and made the very walls vibrate. 'Go forth into victory, my children,' it said, and the kneeling San rose to draw their swords and beat them against their shields, raising a clamour that must have been heard as far as the White Forest. At last, with the zeal of holy crusaders, they marched out of the gates, and I pitied their enemies."

- From "Enslaved in Muldavia, an Usil's account," Anonymous

This scene begins to illustrate the makeup of the Muldavian Empire. Perhaps Empire is not the correct word, as there was no Emperor, nor were the Muatana-al interested in conquering other lands, but they certainly had the power of an empire, and firm control of their island. The Muatana-al Lords of Muldavia have always had feudal arrangements amongst themselves, with various Lords commanding various regions, and Greater Lords commanding the loyalty of several lesser vassals. A reclusive group known as the Overlords is also known to exist, with all the rest acting as loosely-affiliated vassals, though their names and number (probably three) remain a mystery.

Throughout the reign of the Empire, up to the third millennium BC, Muldavia was a land of everlasting night, where Muatana-al could walk freely without fear of the sun. There were three main cities where the majority of the Muatana-al population (it is not known even approximately how many that is) lived. Death magick barred all other races from entry, dealing them a permanent death if they tried. The cities were presumed to be ruled over by an Overlord each.

Other Muatana-al Lords set up castles and palaces of their own. Every one of them was a mage of immense power, and, whether by breeding them like cattle or growing them in strange laboratories called "birthing pools," populated their domains with Sanene servants and soldiers. The Muatana-al claim to be the original creators of the San, a view echoed by Fir and Usil Elves, who find their darker brethren too repulsive to be related to them. With the aid of their very godlike magickal powers, they caused the San to think of them as Gods. All Loyalist San believe that the Muatana-al in general are divine beings, and that the one they serve in particular is the most powerful.

The lowest tier in these societies were the slaves, usually consisting of other races that were either unfortunate enough to have ended up on Muldavia, or were captured on an off-shore raid. A slave was not expected to survive long. Field slaves were worked to death. Palace slaves were quite literally eaten by their master at the slightest whim. I fear our Usilin friend from the opening passage is anonymous for this very reason. Sanene females were next. To optimize breeding, they were more numerous than the males. For this reason, also, they were seen as more important to that end than for battle.

The males were invariably warriors, bred and trained to be as strong and fast as possible. Even a common footsoldier was a highly skilled swordsman. With the superior physique of Sanene, advanced training in ancient Muatana-al sword-arts, and staggering numbers, the Hordes were nearly unstoppable. Only a handful of Sanene were given the ability (potential) to use magick, and they were trained as magi. For some reason (theories shall be discussed later), the Muatana-al strictly controlled magick, forbidding its use among common San, and restricting these mages to a very specific set of spells. As for the racial magick of the Muatana-al themselves, such was forbidden to all but Muatana-al, along with the Muatana-al language.

A single San Elf, usually a mage but sometimes a skilled swordsman, was chosen to fill the role of Executor. As the title implies, he commanded all the Sanene forces and carried out the orders of his Lord. Usually, only the Executor was granted the honor of private audience with the Lord, and a single Executor, if he survives, may serve in that role for centuries. Above the Executor were a host of lesser Muatana-al serving various functions, all vassals of the greater Lord. Like the master himself, they were rarely seen unless their presence was specifically required.

The most common enemy any Muatana-al had was another Muatana-al. Various Lords had rivalries that spanned centuries, and their armies clashed again and again. Spilling Muatana-al blood in such conflicts was frowned upon by the Overlords, but the Sanene were considered essentially worthless, and thus proved acceptable chess pieces to determine the outcomes of such conflicts, and increase or decrease their Lords' prestige accordingly.

Before moving on to the next historical period, there are no doubt some surprised reactions at the revelation that assuming the roles of Gods was so common among Muatana-al. Such surprise no doubt stems from assumptions of our pantheon's universal supremacy. This assumption is erroneous, both geographically and chronologically. In fact, just as the majority of Aradath concurrently followed a monotheistic Saian religion, Muldavia did not even have that much. The Muatana-al are not known to have worshipped any gods until centuries later, and the more powerful among them soon made the claim to be gods in their own right. They saw religion, divinity, as the best mechanism by which to rule over the Sanene population, thus they became Gods. Whether they were false gods or true depends on your view of what constitutes divinity. I do not exaggerate when I say that their powers could be truly immense, and the Loyalist Sanene continue to accept this as proof. The Rebels do not. The Rebels were the first to believe in gods of our own pantheon, forcing the Muatana-al to adjust accordingly, but we shall get to that later.

~~The Muldavian/Aradathian War~~

"Your Majesty,

"The invasion shall conclude with glorious victory. The might of the Imperial Navy swiftly crushed the coastal outposts, and the land war commenced ahead of schedule. As Your Majesty has predicted, the barbarians of this continent do not possess anything resembling the sophistication of our war machines, and their warmages, if they even have any, are nowhere to be seen. Not a spark of magick protects this land. Soon it shall be but another jewel in your crown."

-General Kerre's first report to Emperor Ulin VII, start of the Muldavian campaign (from published Imperial Court documents)

"Your Majesty,

"Victory shall be ours. It shall not be long before these demons and their servants fall back before the unstoppable might of Frontacia. We need but another shipment of weapons and supplies, and perhaps an influx of five hundred to one thousand footmen, and my next report shall be that of our final triumph."

-General Kerre's final report, written the day before he and his army were completely destroyed.

The various Muatana-al fiefdoms continued to show no interest in diplomatic discourse, though they did establish lines of trade with slaver groups, purchasing slaves in bulk in exchange for their apparently limitless wealth.

Eventually, this apparent wealth made Muldavia the next land slated for conquest by the Frontacian Empire. The Empire had already captured much of the known world - Psycia was the only major land allowed independence - and it had done so swiftly and easily.

As his predecessors had done a hundred times before, Emperor Ulin VII, who inherited a peaceful and prosperous kingdom, sent an ambassador to the Dark Continent. All previous envoys had been ignored, but this particular one was instructed not to take no for an answer, and he had with him an escort of five hundred Imperial Guardsmen for emphasis.

His mission was simple: Inform the leaders of the land that they were to be annexed by the Frontacian Empire, and help them begin preparations. Frontacian might, after all, was so renowned by this time that they no longer needed to fight wars. All independent rulers knew that once one is noticed by the Frontacians, one does as he is told.

The response this time, however, was quite different. The escort was never heard from again. The ambassador himself did return under mysterious circumstances, unharmed, though without his sanity. For the rest of his life, he would mumble nothing but the response he was made to give his Emperor: "The Overlords do not wish to be annexed."

What followed was an invasion greater in scope than anything the Frontacians had mounted since the early days of empire-building. News of it spread all across Aradath like wildfire, and speculation on what was seen to be the continuation of the war with the Foe became the favorite pastime of all citizens of the Empire. The Emperor was hailed as the leader who would finally bring a decisive end to their ancient enemy's foul progeny. It was a true clash of titans. Rival empires - rival continents - were at war.

Or so it seemed to the uninformed, at least. In reality, the invasion force was a small fraction of the totality of the imperial armies, and on the Muldavian side, only a few coastal fiefdoms were actually involved in the fighting. The Emperor had vastly underestimated the strength of the enemy.

For those that did fight in the war, however, it was a massacre. The Frontacian soldiers were utterly shocked at this new foe they faced, an enemy that had no fear of their neat rows and phalanxes and seas of gleaming armor. It was an enemy that would not scatter, an enemy with tremendous focus, an enemy with a bloodthirst that could not be quenched, not even when their black armor turned crimson with blood. The Sanene warriors seemed stronger and faster than any Elves had a right to be. They would continue to fight even under grievous injury.

The Frontacian Generals quickly realized that they had to keep their troops away from the enemy, as they would lose five to one in every battle of footmen against footmen. Instead, they attempted to dodge around, and to kill as many of the Sanene as they could with catapults and storm spells, hoping to soften them up. While this did kill many Sanene, it did not seem to significantly diminish the strength of the enemy. The expected quick victory never came, only occasional news of the destruction of a Frontacian army, one that had failed to stay ahead of its dogged pursuers.

The war dragged on like this for ten years. Coffers were emptied and lives lost, and nothing at all was gained. At last, a new Emperor ascended to the throne, and he quickly brought a halt to this fruitless conflict. The only explanation for this unprecedented retreat was that the land was too hostile and would take too many resources to tame.

By this time, commoner and nobleman alike had ceased to care about the war, and today it is a mere footnote in official history books.

There is some indication that a few in the Imperial Court voiced concerns that a retaliatory strike from Muldavia might follow, but this only resulted in a few troop movements no one remarked. What no one truly appreciated was that this retaliatory strike was imminent, for the Lords of Muldavia were now making preparations to invade Aradath.

But before the invasion could take place, the Muatana-al Empire would be shaken to its core by an event no one could have anticipated.

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Legend of the Muatana-al ...

29/11/312
Usilin Social Anthropological Project 0058 (Human)
Nomadic Northern Tribes of Escadia
Director Tamsien Rhondrite MA
TO:
The United Usilin Historian Council
Care of Barandar Fahlaren

Most Respected Colleagues,

Wonderful news! The research of Jhadrian Crondolar was not lost as we had feared. Several volumes of notes and scrolls were recovered recently by another field expert upon his visitation to a small Rinannian Temple in the far northern forests of grid area NH3491. The location of the newly discovered temple has been added to the catologue as per proceedure.

It seems he had arranged to keep much of his research with the Prelate, but in the period of unrest in the winter of 293, all items of learning had been carefully hidden to ensure thier safekeeping. As for the final disposition of Jhadrian himself, we still cannot say.

As we had predicted, the Oral tradition of the Barbarians has proven to be a rich source of information of the time before the Conflagration. It is with cautious enthusiasm that we have found many specifics of their lore coincide with what we already know. I have marked a specific scroll for your immediate perusal.

In Enlightnement and Knowledge,
Tamsien Rhondrite, Master Anthropologist
Director of Human Studies
Northern Escadia

*******************************************************

12/12/292
USAP 0058.3 (Human)
Wolf Clan (winter encampment 4) Northern Escadia
Jhadrian Crondolar
Field Entry wc128 Lore of the Mutana'al

I have chosen to record the happenings of this evening in a less typical journal format to better capture what it was I observed and heard. It was a most interesting evening. -JC

********************

The ice thickened wind threw itself endlessly against the outside of the gathering lodge, tooth and claw ineffectual against those gathered in warmth and relaxed kinship inside.

Many had put aside the thick furs and leathers that would protect them from the deadly elements of a Northern winter. The central hearth popped and crackled, sparks dancing upwards through the blackened metal of the lodge's vent hole, while burning logs glowed with radiant coals under a bank of snowy white ash.

The meal had long since been served and cleared, and many lay or sat in the central area speaking in low voices of the past week's hunt and the usual small gossips of a close knit community. As they spoke, weapons were cared for, clothing and furs were dried, and tribal artisans worked at thier crafts with casual skill.

Children sat at the feet of parents, sleepy eyed and attentive in turn depending on age and the words overheard from adults.

A little girl, not more than five lay half asleep in the arms of a tall broad shouldered man. His golden head was bent to the ear of the petite woman beside him, his lips brushing the coppery wisps curling across her cheek as he spoke quiet words for her alone.

A log crashed in the fire, spraying red-gold embers, startling the little girl awake, even as her mother reached out a soothing hand and smoothed back the hair so like her own. The wind outside howled, slamming the shelter with a frustrated gust of icy rage, causing many of the tribe to pause in their occupation to look to the sturdy walls as they shuddered.

A carved mask fell from the rafters to the fur covered floor with a muffled thud, drawing the attention of a spindley limbed, ancient featured old crone. Her sudden sharp hiss drew many eyes, and she was watched as she painfully got to her feet and tottered over to the fallen mask. A young woman dogged her steps, trying to assist her, though her efforts were impatiently waved off. The crone snatched the mask from the floor and stared at it before hunching slowly back to her position by the fire.

The little girl sat up, suddenly looking wide awake, as did the other children. She clambered from her father's lap and moved with several of the smaller children to sit around the wisened one's form. She was respectfully addressed as Haduma, and a hot drink was brought to her by her young caregiver. Activities ceased in the lodge as the humans settled around her quietly.

Boney fingers clutched the smooth, aquiline featured white mask before she held it up for all to see. Something about it was disturbing, and many shifted uneasily as vacant eyeholes stared from the stark mask, seeming to peer at the assembled audience.

The Haduma nodded, cackling a bit before sitting the face shell on her fur wrapped lap, shadow dancing over its surface as the flames of the hearth flared and fell as if in excited breath. "Kazda Eschtheta Zazpiat Amidora."

The ancient pronunciation of a lost language fell from her lips, calling the ancestors to gather and witness the tale, to give her the words dusted by time and rooted in the very begining of the Human race.

Her voice took up the cadence of the Human Tongue once more then, as she began to teach.

"Long, long ago, in the days before the burning sky, back when dragons swarmed in numbers so great, they blocked the sun from the sky and brought the first winter, before we learned to follow the ways of the Wolf, the Lion, the Hawk, the Dolphin or the Horse; Human Kind was one Tribe, greater than any nation that has walked the hunt trails since.

It was a time when the Gods remained hidden from the Created Ones, and they instead watched and waited for thier time to come, observing what They had wrought, and resting from Thier labors.

In their absence, mighty dragons grasped and fought for the power to rule over all races, striving to mold the young world to their desires.

Humankind was closest to the Gods in the Firstdays, and in our ancestors was the power of Creation, and in their minds Knowledge. These things were our gift from Them, and in pursuit of their mastery, our ancestors forgot from whence the gift had come. Our ancestors had mastery of a magic that has long been lost, and with it they took the raw things of the world and molded them into fantastic creations.

And so as our people were turned inward in the pursuit of this magic and our own affairs, their attention away from the world, The Dragons achieved a place of power.

The world suffered under the uncontrolled rampage of dragon vanity, greed and lust. The other children of the Gods turned to the Council of the Human tribe, beseeching them to intercede.

The four Great Chiefs of the four Cardinal Paths, answered the Need, and gathered the powers of the Gift in a labor so great, that even the sleeping Gods stirred and opened thier eyes to watch.

When they were done, they found what they had wrought perfect in every way. With their work, they had wrought beings of energy, radiance and simple purity, capable of great feats. They took their first breath under the eyes of the First Children, and were named Llhumior, becoming grandchildren of the Gods.

In the aspect of the Llhumior, the best of all the races met; the mind magics of the Psycians, the mastery of magic of the Frontacians, the love of all things scholarly from the Usil Elves, and a mastery of nature as keen as that of Fir Elves. More, they had the adaptability and the Gift of Human kind, and the heart of an Imperial dragon.

Here the story fades, the strands of the tapestry snarling and unraveling. Some said one of the Gods was displeased with the creation of Humankind when he looked upon the Llhumior and created in them a flaw. Yet others maintain, that in their creation, the ancestors failed to heed the first law of creation, that for every light in this world there must be a dark, else the weight of the one side could collapse the foundation of Life, and destroy the world.

And so with the first breath of the first Llhumior, something stirred in the afterbirth of God wrought and human wrought life, coalescing and creating itself from the cast off remnants of labor, becoming all that was opposite of the Grandchild race.

The Gods watched as Abomination drew its first breath deep in the bowels of the darkest cave, its first cry of blackest rage, calling to its side the darker children of the Gods. Goblin-al, Oog-ra, Arachnian, and San Elf were drawn to it, and came under its dominion. It's corruption found its like in them and twisted and warped what had been in balance, changing these races forever. And the Gods watched.

Centuries passed in the falling of a star, and the Children of the Gods tamed all the lands of the world. As they had been intended too, but in a way even humankind had not forseen, the Llhumior indeed defeated dragonkind. Something in thier nature calmed the menace of the great beasts, and brought forth in them the nobler qualities that had lain dormant. Yes, even the great Wyrms loved the Llhumior.

Because of the Grandchildren, dragonkind united and the Dragon Imperium was formed and accepted by the peoples of the land.

But in the places beneath the world, away from the light of the sun, another empire grew. Driven by its nature and its innate hatred of the Llhumior, the Abomination built an army the like of which had never been seen. It grew in strength, and bided its time.

When it emerged, dread filled the hearts of the races, for one of its abilities was the Knowing of each opponents greatest fear, and in fighting IT, they faced their own demons.

The battles began and lasted hundreds of years, the Foe poisoning all it touched, the land destroyed beneath its feet. Famine, plague, and pestilence followed in its wake, its corruption twisting all it touched.

The Llhumior fought beside humankind, dragonkind, elvenkind, Frontacian, and Psycian, a beacon of hope and unflagging champions, though always the price they paid in battle was heaviest. As much as the Foe was drawn to them, they were to it, and thier conflicts shook the world.

Weakened by the sickness of the land, the Fir Elves turned from the centuries of battle in a desperate effort to heal the poisoned land.

Those elves of learning, the Usils, were nearly destroyed when the Foe tricked the armies of the Dragonlords, and turned instead on their vast civilization, destroying thier cities and all their institutions of learning and all their great libraries that housed the knowledge of the races.

As the elves left the fight, the Foe pushed its advantage. Rivers flowed with blood and the seas grew red from its taint. Finally, in one tremendous effort, it seemed the Foe was defeated. The cost was dear, for in this conflict thousands of Llhumior were lost, reducing the race to near extinction.

But the centuries had taught the Foe well. For this time, instead of crushing its twin, the Ancient Enemy captured and imprisoned those of the Llhumior it could and returned with them to its lair beneath the earth.

It cannot be said what suffering they endured. But as with all things it touched, the Foe corrupted the incorruptible. It found the single weakness, the one flaw and in doing so at long last saw victory within its grasp.

The Foe made the Llhumior aware of the Gods. It taught them the truth of their creation, and nurtured in them a great sorrow. It told them they were souless, and lifeless, and fostered in them a resentment for their creators, and those that had been wrought by the Gods.

Some, it is said, died of broken hearts. But those that remained, pledged their loyalties to the Foe, for he promised them the secret of Life. Thus were the Betrayers born...the Muatana-al. The Foe gave them command of its armies, and a century after its retreat to its lair they reemerged in renewed strength.

This time there was a systematic destruction that before had been random. The first target, was Human civilization. When the darkness lifted, all that had been made by human hand was lost, save for what remained of the Llhumior.

In a last great effort, the survivors of the races gathered for one final ploy. The Frontacians had spent a century devising a trap of great cunning. As with any trap, bait was needed. Heeding the call once more, the Llhumior answered as one mind and heart, vowing vengance for the destruction wrought on Humankind. They entered the gargantuan structure built by the Frontacians to the last man and woman, and awaited the inevitable appearance of the Foe and its armies.

A festival was announced throughout the lands, whos purpose was to commemorate the victory of a hundred years past. Far and wide tales of the banquet hall were told...a structure shaped like an Octagon. Knowing well the greatest weakness of the Foe, it was also publicized that the Llhumior would be the guests of honor.

The Octagon stood at the bottom of a great valley, surrounded on all sides by sheer unscalable cliffs. Only one way was known into the valley, and it was here the armies gathered for the Final Battle.

Alone in the Octagon waited the Llhumior where the other races thought them safe, only a number of Frontacian mages gathered in hiding around them for protection, waiting to spring the trap. The Foe would be allowed to gain the valley, then be drawn into the Octagon while the Llhumior left it via a portal hidden inside. For within moments of the Foe entering, all other doors on the structure would disappear.

For two days they waited. On a night of no moon, while the armies slept, the Foe came. Its army attacked at the mouth of the canyon and battle raged. Too late, they saw its final cunning, for the valley did indeed have another way in, and it rose from beneath the earth with its dark servants at its side...the Mutana-al marched in its dark calvacade, and the sight broke the hearts of Frontacian and Llhumior alike.

Soundlessly the assasins entered, the Betrayers taking guard outside the entrance while thier Lord gained its prize, howling and capering outside the door. The sound of its voice raised in triumph, reached even those miles away in battle, and desperately the defenders turned to come to the aid of their beloved Llhumior.

The Frontacians blasted the creatures of the Foe with mighty magics, but were filled with dread when the Mutana-al turned upon them. Where before their race had powered magical energies, they now drained life with a touch. Too look into their eyes, once filled with the gentlest of souls, was to find Free Will taken away.

Victory in its grasp, the Foe turned from the waning attack of the Frontacians and entered the Octagon. In the same instant the beat of wings was heard, and a flight of Dragons arrived, carrying troops from the front. With them was the greatest Battlemaster of the Dragon Imperium, a giant gold beast called Reginorak Drakinor. In an instant he saw what had to be done and entered into the Octagon the moment the doors were sealed.

But the combined might of a single dragon and all his magics, and all his terrible claws was not enough to save the fight. In a display of power never before witnessed, the Foe felled all he touched as he realized the Octagon for the trap it was. In a final act of the courage that was an innate part of their makeup, the last band of living Llhumior collapsed the portal that was their escape, locking themselves and the Foe inside.

With heavy heart, High Mage Sinar gave the signal, and incantations were spoken from a hundred Frontacian throats choked with emotion. In a prismatic flash, the Octagon and all inside were gone, a final lingering howl and the roar of a dragon echoing in the void of its existance. The Llhumior, and the Foe, were gone.

All was still in those moment before dawn, centuries of strife come to this final moment. Then from the Human ranks stepped the Keepers of the Four Paths, and from the Mutana-al ranks a tall, pale general who had been known as Parsithanor, and three of his aides.

It is said that between Grandchild and Children, words were spoken, that even then the races sought to save what was left of their beloved Llhumior. But the taint was in them and they rejected those who had loved them, vowing that one day all the Children of the Gods would serve them. As those words were spoken, they struck, turning their twisted powers on the Great Leaders before their allies could act to save them. As the four Keepers died, they pronounced a terrible curse on the Mutana-al. As they chose dark from light, never again would they walk beneath the sun. For the rest of their days they would be cursed as creatures of night.

The Mutana-al broke from the valley and fled, the weight of the curse settling around them as the sun's first rays pierced gray skies. Those who had not been fast enough to regain the darkness of underground caverns burst into pillars of flame, incinerating in white hot agony." The old crone ceased her tale and looked around at her rapt audience, aged fingers tracing the features of the mask, before she stood and carefully replaced it. She then turned and spoke once more, and it seemed even the blizzard outside had quieted to listen.

"Xanacta esqaluna borradoras en vashta. Sasqualah mordredor bayyone."

Translation- 'Remember what is said and give the words to the children. In forgetting is the greatest sin commited.'

* Reference Lilly's Open Letter under Taath.
* Reference The Sanene Rebellion under the San Elves.
* Reference The Secian and the Muatana-al under Secians.

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Lilly's Open Letter ...

[A very telling scroll and two items recently came into my possession, one especially of great importance, and the Tribune newspaper aside, their obvious significance is just too great for me not to publish it here for all to see. It looked at one time that it should have been addressed to the Inquisitor of Taath. So Taathians read this article carefully, I myself was stunned. Down below you will find the complete scroll as I received it.]

On the surface, it might have appeared to others that Seneschal Cynus and I, Baroness Lilly Aenath von Lowengraf apMoldavia were working for the same goals, always cordial and polite, even trusting of one another. But let me tell you that that is not true in the slightest and with how we performed at the City Council meetings and elsewhere no one would have been the wiser.

Seneschal Cynus Dorn of the Spurian City Council was trying to kill me. Granted, many had tried, that fact alone is no secret. Several attempts were made and are being made on my life. At first, I believed it to be Remi, or, as so many know him to be called today, Changeman Shadowlurk. Our great hatred is very well known, once he even accused me of making an attempt on his friend Eligius Mikulas's life. I of course denied that because it simply wasn't true, but he would not take my word for it, and from there our mutual hatred of each other grew, and as it grew it festered.

As time passed I realized that it was not Remi who was trying to end my life, but Cynus himself. As much as it fills me with disgust to pen this here, much less admit it, Remi was and is innocent of the last several attacks on my person, I know that now.

Seneschal Cynus was the one who wished me gone, and silenced, forever. Why some of you may ask? He wished me disposed of because I discovered that it was in fact HE who had ordered the Baron Rehas Othello assassinated on that fateful 17th day of the 2nd month in the year 312 as he stood in his Museum the very day that it was opened.

I also discovered around the same time that it was his goal to slowly manipulate things in a way that, in the not so distant future the great temple of Taath of Spur would be closed and most of its followers would be forced from the City of Spur and though the temple would remain in its present location, its entrances, both the gate and the tunnel would be completely blocked from all Worshippers. He also had a hand in seeing the three paintings stolen from within the temple itself. His original plan I found out was to see all five of the paintings ripped from the walls and stolen, but the [associates] if you will, he hired to do the job for him only had time to make off with three of them.

It is midnight now on the eighth month in the year 312. Cynus's attempts to end my life are continuing. And the last two attacks were very close. So for now I leave only this note for you, if it ever gets found. Do with it as you will.

Lilly Aenath von Lowengraf apMoldavia
Baroness

[[Leyara posted the open letter on 11/15/01]]

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Theories on the relationship between Garnets and Muatana-al ...

There exist numerous unproven theories on the nature of muatana-al and their seeming desire for the otherwise semiprecious gemstone of garnet. Unfortunately, none of the theories can progress beyond speculation as the muatana-al have chosen not to reveal any information on their connection to the gemstone. It is entirely possible the sole reason the connection exists is that it is manufactured by the muatana-al to deepen the air of mystery and uncertainness that the race cloaks themselves in.

The most outlandish theories will not be discussed at length here as they have little merit. The garnets are not used to store the souls of those the muatana-al feeds upon, as we know that the act rarely ends with the death of the one being fed upon. It is even rarer when the act results in the permanent death of the victim.

It is interesting to note that many of the qualities some aboriginal shamans associate with the garnet are similar to the theories behind why the muatana-al seem to prize the stone.

Rijom Shamans believe that certain gemstones have mystical qualities, that they can be used as talismans or to heal. The Rijom's concept of a soul is vastly different from our own; they believe that our bodies contain life energy, and that certain gems and herbs can influence that life energy. That the energy can be manipulated to heal the body or to enhance it's qualities in various ways much as certain runespells can do.

They believe that red garnet, the most common color, can be use to enhance one's life energy, to strengthen it when it is weak. The garnet can act as a filter for the life energy, or even as a lens to focus it. The stone is often used in mating and fertility rituals for this purpose. Rijom hunters are often given garnets as a talisman for survival before they embark upon their year-long oliphaunt hunts.

The shamans hold that green garnets, the second most common color, clear the mind and aids in meditation. Rijom shamans and mystics use this stone in many of their dream rituals. It is said in some Rijom legends that Arioch, Evoloch and Moloch used an unusually large pale green garnet orb as part of their ritual to become undying.

A psycian sage named Gavic put forth a theory that would seem to be tied to the qualities that the Rijom shamans ascribe to red garnets. He postulates that the muatana-al use the garnets as a focus stone. That when a muatana-al feeds, they draw their victim's life force through the garnet to cleanse and transform the life force into energies used by the muatana-al. Gavic's theory further speculates that the garnet is used in this way to further abate some of the ravages of the Bane. Before the Foe's curse altered the lhuminor, there is evidence that being in the presence of one would cause one to begin to heal wounds, both old and new. Their life energy would seep from them into those around them to bring healing and comfort. It is possible that the curse reversed this nature, causing the muatana-al to now need the life energy of others to survive rather than offering their life energy to others for survival.

Gavic believes that the act of feeding brings the muatana-al great pain and distress, as it was a need inflicted upon them as an act of supreme malice. Thus, the garnets can act as a buffer for the muatana-al. The stone enables them to feed without also consuming the taint of their victim's emotions. This is possible as numerous records show that muatana-al speak of victims having a particular 'taste'. However, it must be stated that garnet has not been observed upon all muatana-al and there are reports on record showing muatana-al 'feeding' for the sheer pleasure of it rather than the need.

The lost tribe of the Sseki had similar beliefs to the Rijom, that gemstones had certain mystical qualities that could be used in the practice of magick. The Sseki Dreamwitches, female shamans who worked their magick in their dreams and the dreams of others, revered garnet as one of the spiritstones. The Dreamwitches believed garnet was instrumental in shielding one's dreams. It could be used to prevent a rival dreamwitch from entering your dreams; it could also be used to overcome another's defenses in much the same way.

They also believed that garnet aided in strengthening and channeling the flow of n'daln energy, the substance the dreamwitches believed dreams were formed from. Dreamwitches drew upon this energy and shaped it to change what others saw in dreams. They believed that it was possible to use n'daln to affect the waking world, if the dreamer was sufficiently powerful. Garnets were purported to tap into the depths of one's n'daln energy, drawing out great amounts of the energy to be shaped by the Dreamwitch. There is no valid evidence to support this however as the tribe was reported to have been wiped out by the Rijom over a thousand years ago.

The usilin sage Gydeone offers a theory that is rooted in the practices of the Dreamwitches. The muatana-al are beings shaped by a curse of incredible power, a curse that quite possibly still works to twist them even further from the beings they once were, the lhuminor. The Foe used powers and forces unknown to us, magicks even the Gods and the great Imperials were hard pressed to defend against. The Foe corrupted life, shattered mountains and obliterated entire armies seemingly with little effort on its part. Gydeone's theorem states that the muatana-al use garnets as the Dreamwitches did. The garnets work as shields against the lingering forces of the curse. He speculates that the garnets work to absorb the taint, much as the Dreamwitch would use them to absorb the n'daln directed at them from another Dreamwitch. Thus, the garnets prevent the Bane from corrupting the muatana-al any further.

There is some evidence this could be true, muatana-al have been overheard speaking of their garnets as 'burned out' and needing to find more 'untainted ones' or having the ones they have 'cleansed'. There are also unsubstantiated reports of muatana-al undergoing a ritual to attune the garnets to themselves as a rite of passage from youth to adulthood. Other supporting evidence can be found when examining some of the most evil blackhearts of the muatana-al race. Very, very few of them have been reported to use garnet in any way. If Gydeon's hypothesis is correct, it is possible that the Bane is affecting these individuals and driving them to even more profane acts.

However, as stated earlier, none of these theories can even remotely be proven until the muatana-al allow greater access into their cultures to scholars and sages.

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