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Dragon's Gate

Jacquelin Dupree

Kyshra Sorrowfell
Angelica Takashi
Calondin Flammdwyn


Frontacian/Psycian War pt. 3

[This article was originally presented in the August 15, 1997 Issue of the Dragon Fire Chronicles, entitled "A Brief History of the Frontacian/Psycian War" by Calondin Fflammdwyn.]

A Tale of Two Magi

In the account of the Frontacian Empire and the Fall of Psycia, no two individuals played a greater role than the Frontacian mage Urios Zaarman and the Pentathian mage Hirs T'Varia.  While a great many others played significant parts in the events that shaped this time in the world, had not these two been born, lived, and done the things they had done at this specific time, one cannot imagine what the world would be now.

The story of Hirs T'Varia is a simple one.  Born during the Age of Dominance, he spent his childhood under the rule of the mighty Frontacian Empire.  His father was a Pentathian of little consequence, following one of the more mundane trades.  Hirs, however, had the spark of magery within him, and it was not long before he was enrolled in the area's university of magick.  So it was that one winter evening, returning home for a surprise visit, he found his mother, a local trader, in quiet discussion with a stranger.  Curious, he stayed hidden and watched.  From his account of the evening, as taken from his journal, the stranger gave his mother a collection of small parcels and then, stepping back from the heavily laden woman, the stranger glowed a frightful glow.  The next thing he knew, his mother had vanished.  A moment later, the Psycian, for this stranger could be nothing else, glowed again as he, too, vanished.
Hirs was, as most magi are, an intensely thoughtful individual.  Thus he pondered that strange event.  He had heard the stories of the fantastic traders appearing out of nowhere and bringing life saving goods in times of distress.  Although the Frontacians had done their best to quell such tales, those in the rural areas further from Frontacian dominance tended to believe.  If nothing else, it suggested one's oppressors were fallible.  So it was that Hirs waited where he stood, hoping for his mother's return.  Some few hours later, she did return, with her Psycian companion, laden not with parcels but with gold.

Hirs took this experience back with him to his university, where, in the deepest recesses of the university library, he set to work trying to accomplish this feat of translocation.  Perhaps it is the folly of the magi to believe that anything can be done, given enough research.  Whether this is true or not is best left for philosophical discussion.  In this case, Hirs was, after many years of research, able to accomplish the creation of a new magickal weave.  In the annals of history, Hirs never became a memorable mage.  His gift was not in the invocation of runes, but in their development.  He took his new translocation aura to the Mages' Guild, where the resident Master promptly stole it and killed Hirs.  Only Hirs' journal remained to prove the discovery his.  Nonetheless, the Master of the Guild then spread the knowledge of this rune.  That now any mage of sufficient skill could effectively teleport himself or another of his choosing allowed magi to hire themselves out to traders seeking to compete directly with the Frontacians.  Thus another link in the chain with which the Frontacians held the world was broken.

Unlike the tale of Hirs T'Varia, the tale of Urios Zaarman is far from simple.  The family Zaarman was one of the greater of the lesser houses.  At some time in its past, it had made a bit to become part of the Council.  That bid had failed, the Zaarman family not being able to put sufficient pressure on the Council members to elect their inclusion.  With that loss came a great loss of favor as the cost of putting pressure backfired with the cost of not gaining power.  Even so, the family Zaarman was far from destroyed.  Rather, though they lived in disgrace, they still had sufficient resources to be a greater house, though not one of the elite.

Urios was the first child of the family liege.  That made her next in line to control the family.  Tales from the period talk of the great abuse she suffered in her youth from her peers.  Bearing the name Zaarman proudly, she was disdained by her contemporaries.  This, along with that special core that exists in those destined to change the world, created a hard, chiseled woman.  She vowed to bring the Zaarman name not only out of disgrace but to the very top of the Council.

The fire that burned within Urios' heart made her one of the greatest magi in Frontacian history.  Her father being in good health allowed her to travel the world, delving into the great storehouses of knowledge.  It is said that she took as her personal bodyguard one of the greatest Arachnian minds of her time and together they roamed the lands seeking to create new magicks.  While this last may be difficult to believe, given the nature of the Arachnians, it is said that with her aid, her Arachnian compatriot was able, on occasion, to practice the arts of magick himself.  Perhaps had her life not ended where it had, she may have been the one to undo the great UnMagick.  Of that, the world shall never know.

After many years of travel, Urios was recalled to the Frontacian homeland to assume her rightful position.  Her father had taken ill and was not expected to survive.  Although there is no suggestion of outside influence in his illness, Urios' twisted heart assumed that the Psycians were at fault.  At her father's deathbed, she vowed to remove the Psycian blot from the Frontacian Empire.

It is impossible for a historian to look back on time and know for certain what chain of events created a given circumstance.  However, all evidence suggests that Urios' difficult childhood combined with her legendary power led her to madness.  That she was raised in a household fallen in an Empire dissolute combined to put the focus for her madness on the Psycians.  Whatever the cause, she was the catalyst for the events to come.

When Urios took the seat of control in the family Zaarman, she dedicated all its resources to finding a way to be rid of the Psycians.  As a trading house, the Zaarmans had Psycians in their employ.  She found that unacceptable and devoted her energies to ending that situation.  With her Arachnian aide, she studied the ways of her Psycian underlings.  Perhaps it was her advanced skill in magery that allowed this to happen, perhaps it was her dedication.  Perhaps, it was her madness.  Whatever the cause, she was able, without outside teaching, to awaken her own latent psionics.

As a Psycian, the birth of a latent into the Mind is a joyous event.  Latents are such rarities that they should be cherished and nurtured.  They, alone, have the greatest potential to bring understanding of the Mind to the other races.  Unfortunately, Urios did not share the Psycian mindset regarding latent psionics.  Her discovery of her hidden potential drove her deeper into madness.  To her, she was possessed of the very evil she sought to destroy.  Rather than seek greater understanding of what she had, she sought a way to silence it.

Now, because she was untrained, the only ability that she had was that of telepathy.  Yet even so, the influx of voices into her head filled Urios with great self-loathing.  She put all of her not insignificant magickal knowledge and skill into excising that part of her she so hated.
You, the reader, living in the present with all the knowledge that did not exist in Urios' time may well have already guessed what happened.  Urios did successfully silence the voices unlocked in her head.  She created a new invocation that when cast upon herself, took away her telepathy.  Perhaps it was her joy at silencing her hated mind, perhaps it was something else.  The reason for the next momentous event in history is lost to history.  Whatever the reason, she invoked this new spell on her aide and together they discovered that that same weave that silenced her telepathy would grant it to another.  In that instant of discovery, Urios had the answer to all her needs.  The Psycians had the Frontacians bound in a chain of need.  She would remove that need, thus breaking that chain that bound her race, her rage.  She knew she could leverage house Zaarman to the height of power, for with this weave, the Frontacians would be free of the Psycians forever.

The Price of War

What remains of this history is little enough.  The war between the Frontacian Empire and the Psycians was long and brutal before it started.  However, once the war started, it was over in an instant.  The world has changed much since then.  The changes are so great, it could be said we are still feeling the repercussions of that brief moment of insanity.  The last part of this tale is difficult to tell.  Even though the event is long since past, as a Psycian the mere thought of it is difficult.  Nonetheless, I came here to record what happened, so record I must.

The Rise of the House Zaarman

True to Urios' vision, she was quickly able to leverage herself to the Trade Council.  This she did simply.  First, she did away with all the Psycians in her employ, replacing them with the lesser magi of her house.  The Trade Council heard of this and laughed to themselves at the idiocy of her madness.  To them, Urios had just doomed house Zaarman to poverty.  Apparently, this sentiment was agreed with by some of house Zaarman as well, for many of the house were found dead during those first few weeks, traces of webbing near at hand.

The Trade Council monitored the fall of house Zaarman with some amusement, always ready for amusement in these otherwise distressing times.  What they discovered was that the Zaarmans were not falling into poverty.  In fact, they were prospering, even more so than some of the elite houses.  Eventually, they sent a representative to investigate how this was possible.

Urios received the Council's factor warmly enough and when asked how her house was prospering so, she simply replied that the moneys saved from the Psycian commissions were greater than expected.  Urios knew she could have used her weave to gain a seat on the Council.  However, her memories of abuse made her unwilling to settle for that.  She wanted to remake the Council under her.  Perplexed but unable to gain any more information from her, the Council factor returned to report to the Council.  They, in turn, unable to understand how house Zaarman prospered, opted to wait and watch.

It came to pass that Urios learned of the discovery of the translocation aura.  With that, and her telepathy aura, she knew that magi could rule trade as they had never done before.  With the sure knowledge that Frontacians were the masters of magick, she started plotting the final disposition of the Psycians.  In the meantime, her house continued to prosper, becoming wealthier than nearly all the other houses.  Not only was her house free of the fees paid to the Psycians, but house Zaarman was also free of the misinformation the Psycians had been providing for years.  By having her own people performing the necessary communications, she was able to all but obliterate competition from outside sources.

All this was not lost on the Trade Council.  Eventually, they invited her to join their ranks, an act unheard of without her putting pressure first.  They simply could not ignore what was rapidly becoming such a wealthy household.  In response, she offered them a simple exchange.  She would give the Empire the tools necessary to be free of the Psycians.  In return, they would place her in charge of the Council.  Make her Empress of the Empire and she would end the Psycian meddling once and for all.

Now by its very nature, the Council was made up of the best traders in the Frontacian Empire.  As such, the thought of double-dealing was not completely foreign to them.  After some brief deliberation, the Council agreed to her exchange, fully planning on removing her should the need so arise.

So it was that at the end of the Age of Dominance, Urios Zaarman was named Empress of the Frontacian Empire and in her first, and last, act, she ordered the destruction of the Isle of Psycia.

The Death of Psycia

Magi are powerful.  We all know this.  However, the utter destruction of an island was beyond the capability of even the greatest of magi.  When the Trade Council asked, shocked, how Empress Urios planned to accomplish this unbelievable feat, she told them.  With the delight at seeing an age old blight exterminated, the Council agreed to her plan.  If any had the foresight to question the wisdom of the means, none spoke then.  By the time anyone did speak, it was hindsight speaking.

Common education makes reference to the magickal bridges of the Frontacians.  In this account, I have often cited their use by the Frontacians to further their ends.  Little is known as to how they worked.  The general theory is that they warped the very fabric of the world, bending it so as to allow instantaneous travel from one location to another.  The mechanics of the magickal bridges is not the same as the mechanics of the Psycian teleportation or the translocation aura.  In the case of the Psycian way, our philosophers tell us that we are linking into the Mind of the land and through our will, bringing us to another place.  The theory behind the translocation aura is similar, in that it requires that the person traveling have visited the destination.  The theory of translocation is that the magickal fabric that exists all around us is focused on the visualization of the mage.  Neither of these means, however, has the same capacity as the magickal bridges the Frontacians developed.

Urios' plan was a simple one.  Her research indicated that if a sufficiently large number of magickal bridges were built in sufficiently close proximity, the very bending of space would collapse in on itself.  Historical fact has since, to my great sadness, validated her research.

Records from the Frontacian Empire describe that the creation of a magickal bridge was a three-step process.  First, the anchors at both ends were built and infused with identical magickal resonance.  Second, magickal energies were infused into the corridor created by the magickal harmony between anchors.  Finally, the bridge was opened, creating portals on both sides.  Urios determined that six such bridges would be needed to destroy Psycia.  Five would be put at the extents of the island and the sixth, critical one, would be placed at the center.

The Isle of Psycia, being a client state of the Frontacian Empire, was totally accessible to the Frontacian engineers.  Thus, they were able to build the anchors for the dooming bridges without difficulty.

The Psycians had watched the rise of house Zaarman with growing concern.  They were aware that somehow, a Frontacian house had found a way to trade profitably without the assistance of Psycian communicators.  However, their own arrogance led them to believe that this was some strange coincidence and nothing more.  When Urios was pronounced Empress, the Psycians took note, but otherwise sat silent in the surety that they were too important to the Frontacians to be in any danger.

The sixth and final bridge was built within what was being described as the imperial residence on the Isle.  Urios had let it be known that each client state would have a central location designated as her home for when she was visiting.  She stated that when it was complete, she would hold court for her Psycian subjects.

Thus, the day came when all the bridges were complete and ready to be activated.  Urios traveled to Psycia to hold her court, naming that day an imperial holiday and demanding that all Psycians be in attendance.
There, upon a great and open field, the greater part of the Psycian population before her, Urios stood and gloated about her victory to come.  She planned to activate the final bridge herself, letting it destroy Psycia as she stepped through it.

Of what happened next, there is only one record, for none present to witness it survived, save one.  Urios' Arachnian aide was present on that day.  What he witnessed is lost to time, except for a brief mention in one of the Arachnian histories.

"And so Urios stood before the teeming masses, smiling in the knowledge that they were all doomed.  She said nothing to them.  She merely stood, a malevolent smile behind the mask of their beatific new empress.  Behind her I watched, knowing what was about to happen better than she ever could.  Today was a great day.  Victory was mine.  It was not total, but to catch two flies in one web is a greater victory than just one, and what juicy flies these were.  She stood there, and then, glee filling her voice, proudly screamed, "For all that you have done for us, we, the Frontacians, give our appropriate thanks."  She then turned to me, still smiling, and wove the final runes of the bridge.

"I considered letting her return with me, letting her face the wrath of her kin for what foolishness she had wrought, but some glimmer of kindness must have caught me, for I did not.  Better that she live for a moment, knowing what she had done, than die, torn apart by her council.  So, as we turned to step into the portal, the world around us already collapsing in on itself, I smiled up at her and bound her in my web.  Whether it was a trick of my mind or the warping of space, I do not know, but I heard her screaming my name for a very long second as I stepped through the portal.  She never could pronounce it."

-- from the Codex Kxrxtoxkicalix

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