The Three Universes
The World Stone has been reshaped a total of three times (that are known), and thus three distinct "world-continents" have arisen from the Encircling Sea, each subject to different laws. What passes for "reality" at any given time is the sum of all three metaplanes, as determined by the prism of the World Stone. In the current construction of Tamylt, known to mortals as Edion, there are three spectral planes (positive, time, and negative), four ethereal planes (earth, air, fire, and water), and eight divine planes corresponding to each of the classic D&D alignments (Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and so on). This configuration is best demonstrated by Syngyn's diagram, originally enchased on the floor of the Savant Mosque in druidic characters, but translated here in Common:
In this view, the known planes are perfectly integrated and continuous, such that positive energy is hyperphysically related to the elements Fire and Air and good-aligned outer planes. Negative energy relates to Earth and Water and evil-aligned outer planes. The overlapping region of the central circle, labeled Edion, obscures the Plane of Time (center of the spectral planes), which unites all the planes in a cycle of days and seasons. It is there, in the Plane of Time at a place called Echolost, that the World Stone hovers motionlessly, streaked by the lightnings of Creation. Floating atop the World Stone is the abode of the Artifex, called the Citadel of Eternity.
In Syngyn's view, the entirety of this diagram can be characterized as "Tamylt," the Manifest World (currently Edion). Spectral is synonymous with "energy," ethereal with "element," and astral with "divine."
The previous world-continents of Thariom and Phandiom were differently configured, according to the unique shape of the World Stone at the time of their existence. What realms may have existed in those worlds are purely speculative. When a world-continent is destroyed by the Artifex, it sets to drift and is slowly reconstituted by the universe, abandoned by the governing laws of Tamylt.
|"Amydh is like the silence between notes of music, giving rhythm and shape to the whole."|
|Praxis to Ophelius, “The Curse of Belkuzagan”|
The ethereal nodes anchor the elements to the construction of Tamylt. One of the greatest threats ever faced by the people of Edion was an attempt by the efreet sultan Belkuzagan to extinguish the elemental nodes of fire, sentencing all life to ruin without warmth and fire (COB saga). Belkuzagan was defeated by the heroes of Aenor and all genie-kind were subsequently banished from existence, but many druids died in the long conflict and the old traditions were gradually lost. Today, some rangers and solitary giants continue the practice of venerating and maintaining the elemental nodes, but the ancient network of druidic circles is broken. (This was a system of watching over geographically linked regions, with archaic rules for advancement among druids.)
Although the ethereal nodes are many, the spectral and astral nodes are unique.
Vela-Andúin: Node of Life, manifest in Edion as the Beaked Dragon Lóliévar. This enormous turtle-like creature roams the world's oceans bringing life and renewal to every shore. Upon its back, vast teeming jungles grow in perpetual bloom, and wondrous creatures of every type live in thriving complexity. Lóliévar ferried Grandal and the first elves from Mount Istalion to the Hither Lands at the dawn of Edion, and conveyed the elves retreating to Istalion after the Heretic War (COB 6) . The gnomes of Edion (fey creatures of Solaris) retired to Vela-Andúin in ages past, where they continue to run a hostelry for elven refugees making the long voyage back to Istalion.
Vela-Dur: Node of Time, manifest as the Anvil of Creation. This great object is kept by the mountain dwarves of Karak-Anar, who believe it is used by the Artifex to shape the World Stone. It was recovered from the ruin of Karak-Az many centuries ago, where it it was lost for ages following the cataclysmic destruction of that stronghold by dragonkind (the War of Appetites). The matched "Hammer of Creation" is a distinct object kept by Grima the Dwarf-Father, also believed to be used by the Artifex in world making. The dwarves solemnly wait to present the Anvil to the Artifex when Edion is to be destroyed.
Vela-Shiven: Node of Death, manifest as the Feathered Dragon Samanwë. This immense bird-like creature drifts above the Eastlands, measuring over three miles from tip to tip of its shadowy wings. A dreadful sight to behold (though few Men have), it brings oblivion and death to the world below. The foulness passing beneath its warped wings blemishes the earth and ages all things irrevocably. For ages, Samanwë was unseen by the living races, but it recently emerged from beyond Thard-Harr, taking flight above the advancing orc legions of Tharthammon. Perched atop the Tower during the fateful Siege of Llómydien (SOT 2), the Node of Death oversaw the final moments of that structure, and with its ruin put the Elder Gods into torpor. Following that conflict, the bird moved East beyond the mountains, awaiting the next train of orcs to emerge under Tharthammon's banner.
Following the War of Sundering (fought largely over the issue of worshipping these planes), the victorious elf Caladon removed the nodes from the Tower and hid them in the safest depositories below ground. Caladon banned his kin from such relations with divinity and prophesied that one day a people would come to rightly claim the Doombrammor and remove them from Elfhome. The elder gods responded, and Elai made the Cáladainthe people of Caladon's prophecyto liberate the nodes and seek new glory in Edion.
In the centuries that followed, the astral nodes were taken apart and eight distinct human cultures evolved (the eight tribes of the Cáladain). The tribes grew apart until they fought openly during the cataclysmic Godswar. During this time the Doombrammor were transfigured by the elder gods into devices of war. These shapes are retained in the present day, as follows:
Crucible of Virtue: Node of Anavare (LG). It is said that during the Godswar Virtus purified himself in the Lake of Steam, causing its torment. Virtus then transformed the node of Anavare into a gleaming cup and filled it with the purified liquid thus used. The god's people, the Mulcibim, were baptized in the holy water and grew physically perfect, keen of mind, and tremendous in size. When the warring was over, the Mulcibim were subjugated under King Alirajan (the Fatarim victor) and broken into two people. Prince Shudet was given the Crucible of Virtue and made to take it north beyond the Raurin desert. Prince Fodeda was given stewardship of the Lake of Steam. Alirajan permitted the Mulcibim to practice their customs, and for centuries the people of Shudet observed the holy days by returning every sixth year to the Lake of Steam to perform customary baptisms. In time, however, Shudet's people stopped coming and the Crucible of Virtue was lost. The Mulcibim grew increasingly fractured and degenerate, many groups reduced to banditry and thievery on the high deserts. To this day, the whereabouts of the node are uncertain, though it is presumed held by descendents of Prince Shudet in the lands of Enoreth.
Sword of Elai: Node of Solaris (NG). Liturgical records indicate that the elder god Elai transformed the Node of Solaris into a gleaming sword wrought of pure, beatific light, and gifted the weapon to Alirajan ibn Zeerifah ibn Fabd atop Mount Farastu. Alirajan was a Fatarim soldier with ascetic religious tendencies, who forged the nation of Sol-Fatara upon the blade's edge, culminating in the sack of Barathandurum and the full initiation of the Godswar in 1 A.L. When the warring was done, Alirajan set the sword into a gnome-crafted tower in his capital Fanal-Tîrun (lit., "Final Domain" in Celestial), which for centuries amplified the power of Solaris in Aenor. A Barathrim plot to remove the sword resulted in 891 A.L. with the insidious taking of the weapon by Otra Olgara in search of the efreet Belkuzagan. The weapon was later restored by Otra's companions after the fall of Belkuzagan, only to be seized in recent times by the Azalim administrator of Sol-Fatara, Governor Ovand Nas. The governor later insubordinated the Emperor of Azalan by shifting allegiance to the Cáladain militia in Shevarash, but by then the Sword of Elai had been sent to Torand and put on public display in the Imperial Fane of Elai. Most recently, the Sword was secretly moved from public exhibit and placed in cargo aboard the Imperial skyship Blythe of Dain (see BOD), which crashed mysteriously over the Caldaean Sea. Its fate is unknown.
Feather of Ozian: Node of Hibernus (CG). The spiritual treasury of the Erroim people is the iridescent Ozanii-Tári, or Feather of Ozian. Used by the Erroim hero Lashna-Geng to traverse the clouds in full cavalry during the Godswar, the feather is legendary for summoning and dispersing the winds of Ozian. Despite numerous efforts by the Azalim to seize the feather, it remains in the protective custody of the Erroim Muradi clan. The Muradi warlord Umor-Bey commands the Ozanii-Tári in the Cáladain war of resistance, though its powers have yet to be tested in battle.
Hammer of Decretal: Node of Palatum (LN). The chronology of Azalan is kept by three calendars, each referring to a major event in the religious history of the Azalim tribe. Year 1 of the first calendar (Aetus Mandatum, Age of Decree) honors the foundation of the Empire at Torand by Arcavus. As keeper of the LN Doombrammon, Arcavus installed it at the original Fane of Felish, where it remained for centuries. Year 1 of the second calendar (Aetus Judica, Age of Judgment) honors the transformation of the Node of Palatum by Felish into a magnific, courtly hammer. Emperor Octave I wielded the hammer during the Godswar, primarily in conflict against the Idreshim warlords in the Dalgeland. Despite numerous victories, the Idreshim persevered in taking the Dalgeland and even parts of the northern Mastland and Broakland. These became settled Idreshim territories for nearly ten centuries, until Year 1 of the third and current imperial calendar (Aetus Ordino, Age of Order), when Emperor Toum of Azalan destroyed the Blood Thirster (node of Vastare) and drove the Idreshim out of the Dalgeland, as far north as the Moelt Plain. This event disrupted the balance of the divine planes, banishing the primary source of Chaos from Edion and inadvertently freeing the Archetype Tharthammon from his ancient prison in Carceri. Of all the follies of Men, this shall be counted the worst, though it was recently learned by Dendwaru and others that Toum was coerced by the Travesty Thameera, who holds the emperors, and by extension the Empire, in secret thrall. The Hammer of Decretal remains in the possession of the current emperor, Gento II.
"Node of Cordis Pondus" (True Neutral): The Abnoctim debate the existence of this node. One popular view holds that the node was artificially made during construction of the Tower of Llómydien, and that the node was recently destroyed by the orcs (and Vela-Shiven) at the Siege of Llómydien. Others argue that no such node (or plane of existence) truly exists. The concept of "Concordant Opposition" is more abstract that real. No Abnoctim has ever ventured to this place and returned to speak of it, though many believe that the transcendent farseer Llómydien dwells there. The Node of Cordis Pondus is not counted among the eight true astral nodes.
Crow Father: Node of Vastare (CN). Anticipating the Godswar, the elder god Furis transformed the Node of Vastare into a ravening, ferocious beast, known simply as the Crow Father by Idreshim poets, the Blood Thirster in imperial texts, or just the Beast. Fighting alongside their node, Idreshim hordes conquered much of northern Azalan during the Godswar and retained control of the Dalgeland for nearly a thousand years. As a living, breathing node, the Crow Father called the widely scattered and disorganized Idreshim clans together for the Bloodhunt, a rare event happening once every few decades, but often lasting several years. Assembled hordes would press south into Azalan or north against the frost giants of Ylfhiding, seeking the pleasure of divine battle. Marriages and oaths were taken at the Bloodhunt, and the common language of the Idreshim was kept alive during these campaigns. In the year 1013 A.L. (1 A.O.), the Emperor Toum of Azalan destroyed the Beast in mortal combat using the Hammer of Decretal. Toum claimed the jawbone of the slain node and took it to Azalan, but he unsocketed and distributed the teeth to the Idreshim clans as a token of his deed. Consequent to this, the Idreshim mystics became powerless and Idreshim culture as a whole swiftly eroded. The jaw of the Crow Father remains in effigy at the empty fane of Furis in Torand, but the teeth were later captured by the frost giant King Kjord, whose people suffered greatly under the Bloodhunt. Kjord jealously retains all of these teeth, save one belonging to Yngvarr Yngvildir's Son.
Iron Scepter: Node of Carceri (LE). This instrument was of little avail to the Abishaim, who suffered greatly under King Alirajan during the Godswar. King Aulmpiter of Viscachün wielded the scepter during the war as Nilzabar's chosen, but following his defeat he sent the node to King Aspes of Nemera for hiding. Sol-Fatara occupied the city states of Kubi-Algi from time to time over the next two hundred years, but the scepter eluded them and the Fatarim were eventually expelled in 269 A.L., following a coup orchestrated by Aulmpiter (by then a lich of immortal power). But Aspes refused to surrender the node to Aulmpiter in the aftermath, and the devastating War of Thrones ensued. For another two centuries, the vast undead legions of Nemera and Viscachün clashed openly in Argentaamn, ravaging the land even more than the extremes seen during the Godswar. Aulmpiter ultimately prevailed, seizing the Iron Scepter and destroying Aspes permanently. Aspes lay dead upon his throne, but the undead police state created by him endured for seven centuries before falling to the Abishaim doghas. Aulmpiter enjoyed a brief revival as King of Viscachün, only to be enslaved by his queen and cocubine, the erinyes Dulpae, who ruled in the king's image until her overthrow in 1191 A.L. by Dogha Mabul. The Iron Scepter was then entrusted to the Abnoctim wizard Dasari, who took it to Shevarash where it remains in the care of the Cáladain resistance.
Ark of Eldest Night: Node of Pernoctare (NE). Of all the divine nodes, the Ark of Eldest Night is the most elusive. Instead of being a physical object, it takes the "shape" of a secret passed between vessels, unknowable to all save the current ark-bearer. When it is passed on, all memory of the secret is eradicated. Majubastis first made the node intangible after the sack of Barathandurum by Alirajan, passing it to the Barathrim hero Cyrthom Daromon. Cyrthom led his people below ground, surviving the Godswar and subsequent persecution by the Fatarim using deception and infiltration. He enjoyed unnatural long life, but was eventually driven mad by the node and exposed by Fatarim agents in Khiliji. Cyrthom was executed for heresy in 266 A.L. As he lay affixed to the stake, burning, Cyrthom shared the secret with all those present (at least five hundred Fatarim onlookers). This defiance opened a brief gate to Pernoctare, releasing dozens of predatory rakshasa hungry for vengeance (the First Darkening). Thousands were slaughtered before the demons could be driven off by the Fatarim hero Shivaji. In the end, only one of Cyrthom's onlookers survived, a simple Fatarim scribe named Ammuor Silot. Silot became the Ark of Eldest Night, living peacefully among the Fatarim clergy.
Shivaji soon established an order of inquisitors to root out heretics in Sol-Fatara, pronouncing himself first Lord Inquisitor. Meanwhile, Silot wrote volumes in their midst about his revelations, prophecies, and conversations with Majubastis (the Silot Scrolls are considered by some Barathrim the most sacred of texts, apocryphal by others). His final act was to pen the very secret itself, transferring the node to paper. He died in peace many years later with no memory of his life's work. Numerous madmen claim to have survived Cyrthom's execution as observers, and to know a part of the Ark's secret. These were rooted out by the inquisitors and executed, but not before several saw themselves established as cult figures among the Barathrim. Perhaps some survived persecution.
The Ark lay unread in the library of the Temple of Elai at Khiliji until 451 A.L., when it was discovered by the inquisitor Teideius Quiratis while researching the Enemy. Quiratis was well-disciplined in the fight against heresy and resisted the transference of the node to his mind, for a time. A second gate was opened to Pernoctare in the interval, and a second Darkening unleashed. The Temple of Elai was razed by rakshasa, Quiratis was slain, and soon the entire city of Khiliji was savaged and eaten. Thus began the long history of follies leading to the Curse of Belkuzagan. In desperation, the Fatarim paladin Legil Garion enslaved the efreet Belkuzagan and compelled it to grant three wishes, the first being to revive the dead hero Shivaji in defense of Khiliji. Belkuzagan perverted the wish, returning Shivaji as an undead monster. The mummy lord and his undead army did as requested, banishing the rakshasa, but went on to raze Khiliji and turn on the Fatarim. The Wars of Betrayal followed, ending in the sack of Sarnath (present day Thalpione), and Marathas (Tushirta), and the destruction of Elai's temples in both cities. When the dust settled, Shivaji and Garion were driven back to the Dune Sea and the Ark of Eldest Night was for a time lost. Khiliji was never rebuilt. The inquisitors diverted the River Tharch to cleanse the sacrilege and it was forgotten (its ruin lay west of Isr along the river). The tale of the Curse of Belkuzagan is told elsewhere.
Decades later, an inquisitor eager to understand the crimes at Khiliji interviewed the spirit of Teideius Quiratis from beyond the grave. The inquisitor was Seccergius Vinidius. In his conversations, Seccergius was told the secret by Teideius. Seccergius became the ark-bearer and the Node to Pernoctare was restored in Edion. During the next few centuries, the inquisitors consolidated power in Sol-Fatara, operating under the direct influence of the Ark. The secret passed ritually from inquisitor to inquisitor. Great and labyrinthine plots were hatched, the first being to replace the line of Fatarim kings with simulacra under their direct control. The inquisitors summoned the rakshasa Imul-Ðudin to do the work, imprisoning him within a great installation below ground (the Iceforge). There the rakshasa made perfect copies of the king and his successors, sculpting them out of ice from Pernoctare. The reign of the so-called Vassal Kings ensued, culminating in the removal of the Sword of Elai from Sol-Fatara by the paladin Otra Olgara (under King Ebochar II the Vassal) (COB 1). With the node of Solaris safely gone, the Ark of Eldest Night was entrusted to the captive rakshasa Ashardalon, most ravenous and contempible of Majubastis's servants. Placing the ark inside the mind of a rakshasa greatly amplified and focused its power. The Third Darkening ensued, this time with a zone of impenetrable night spreading outward from the node. Ashardalon was brought above ground and made to vomit forth rakshasa legions. The Stormbringer Ophelius and a train of elves returned to Sol-Fatara (after many travails) with the Sword of Elai and deposed the inquisitors (COB 4). But Ashardalon was safely interred in the Chamber of Contempt (a secret underground prison miles below Fanal-Tîrun) before the field was lost, where it remained for eleven years.
Despite a failed attempt to free Ashardalon by the exiled inquisitor Legis Ardanas (the Heretic War; COB 6), the rakshasa remained secure until 905 A.L., when servants of the Abbot Ilvatot attempted to claim it (Keeper of Secrets campaign). Ilvatot was an exiled Barathrim monk and student of Ammuor Silot's work, who diciphered and acted on key prophecies of the Silot Scrolls. Ilvatot wished to relocate the node to Isle Mornat in Azalan, to claim as his own. Though successful in infiltrating the Chamber of Contempt and winning the node from Ashardalon, one of the men responsible, Threr Rolvir, absconded with the Ark and went into hiding. Threr resurfaced at the first Council of the Cáladain in Shevarash (1191 A.L.) and revealed his desire to reforge all the nodes into Doombrammor lenses (SOT 2). Threr believes that the Godswar cannot truly end until the astral nodes are restored to their original windowlike forms.
Chamber of Unwisdom: Node of Pandesmos (CE). What lore that is known about the Chamber of Unwisdom is confined to rumor and speculation. Yôzar's people, the mysterious Hezroim, vanished from the shores of Edion some time after the Godswar. Legends speak of the Azalim hero Agollos and his victory over the citizens of Oolan, a sunken Hezroim city. According to myth, Agollos lashed the city to the ocean floor using the fabled Chain of Patrius. Whatever form the Chamber of Unwisdom might take, or what powers it might possess, are lost in the gloomy depths of Oolan, or adrift on the Pandesmonic Sea.