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The Crystal Beckons

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The Crystal Beckons

Post by Celestria on Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:20 pm

Usually a role-playing site is run from some established setting with an established backstory. Not so this one, because it's an original setting without an established setting. I am currently writing the backstory for Spirits of the Crystals and it is incomplete. However, until I find some other means for presenting it, this is where it will go. If you have any comments, please PM me with them.

The Crystal Beckons

Sunlight fell gently on the blue-green waters surrounding Neorah. Far from the tradepaths and very rarely visited by the powerful in the world of Artegal, the island was relatively peaceful and hardly noticed at all except for the quality of her pearls and the matchless beauty of her shells.

Deep in the water, a maiden swam down to the oysterbeds. Long black hair filled the water around her like a halo and her deep violet-purple eyes looked ahead towards her goal. As she reached the oysters she held a hand out over the stubborn sea-creatures and a tendril of delicate magic wove its way from her palm, easing open the shells so that she could extract the precious pearl that was, after all, only an irritant to the oyster without damage to the creature.

Once her pouch had the treasure she sought, then she sent another gentle wave of magic to the oysters, as a form of thanks even though the creatures had no thoughts to speak of, and then kicked her way towards the surface and the bright sunlight there.

She surfaced with a gasp, her brown face raised towards the sky and the birds flying overhead, as she took her first breath of actual air in what had to be close to a quarter of an hour. She leaned back in the water for a moment, glorying in the feeling of the smooth sea against her skin, before pushing her hair back behind her long, delicately pointed ears and began to swim towards the boat she had left waiting for her when she had gone diving for pearls.

Pearls weren't the only treasures in her little pouch, though. She had also picked up bits of stone and small shells. There were even a few wave-polished globes of crystal in her collection. When she returned to her home she planned to carefully drill holes through them and see what she could make of them then.

She had just settled herself back in the coracle when she heard a voice calling towards her and turned her head to look.

"Leia! Lei'Ahree!"

The girl frowned slightly in curiosity at the young man who was standing on the shore of the island and frantically jumping up and down and waving his arms excitedly. His skin was fully as dark as hers was, most of the islanders were some shade of brown or another, but while Lei'Ahree was Elven, the boy was most certainly not. His ears were small and round and his hands had an extra finger on each one, five to Lei'Ahree's four.

She smiled at his antics and pulled her paddle out and began moving the coracle towards the shoreline. "What is it, Coral?" The boy had been orphaned in a storm some years back and Lei'Ahree had taken the human child into her own home because she liked him and because no child, human or otherwise, should be without family.

Those who lived on Neorah, whether human, Elf, Dwarf, or Clansmen, considered themselves to all be family.

Coral pushed dark red hair out of his eyes and jumped in excitement. "There are people here!"

Lei'Ahree had to laugh. "Of course there are people here, silly minnow. You and I are here."

He shook his head and looked at her as if she had lost all sense. He was still a child, even among the short-lived humans, but the magic of the land had blessed him and the village had started seeing to his training in magical ways. One day he would be a powerful Mage, of one school or another. He would choose his path whenever he was ready for it.

"Lei'Ahree, they aren't from Neorah. I don't think they're even from Ula-Ronat. They wear strange clothing and they don't look like you or me. They're pale, like the inside of a coconut, and they were asking about YOU!" His eyes were wide and the barest sign of fear had started to show.

Strangers from beyond the island didn't show up very often at all. That strangers from beyond even the Nation of Ula-Ronat had arrived, looking for Lei'Ahree the diver, meant that something was happening. And something happening always meant that nothing was going to be the same again.

She nodded quickly and paddled the coracle up to the shoreline. Coral helped her pull the small boat out of the sea and then she picked up her pouch and ran her hand through his hair trying to put some order to the deep red curls. "Come on, Coral, let's see what these strangers wish of me."

--- --- ---
The visitors waited in the central hut of the small village of Neorah. It served as both the living quarters of the Elder who led them and as the primary meetingplace in the event that something in Neorah required a gathering. Usually it was joyful matters like life-unions or birth celebrations. On occasion funerals were held there as well, before the wrapped body was put to sea in a coracle made for their journey into the next life.

This day, though, the Elder tried to wait patiently alongside Lei'Ahree's anxious parents for her arrival.

When she arrived, she was greeted first by her mother's overwhelming embrace, but then Serahlani had always been like that. Her emotions always lay on the outermost layer of her skin. Lei'Ahree was more like her father, restrained except when pushed. He waited for Serahlani to back away before meeting his daughter's eyes and nodding in understanding. He wasn't happy, but he was proud.

Lei'Ahree had to wonder what was going on.

There were three strangers. The human wore the most complicated clothing, several layers of it no less, that had to be stiflingly hot in the balmy weather of Neorah and Ula-Ronat in general. His golden-yellow coat went all the way to his throat and down to his knees and even though the coat was sleeveless, he wore a cream-colored blouse under it that had long billowy sleeves that were caught at the wrist by cuffs edged in lace. His breeches were a plain brown color and were tucked into a pair of black boots with thick soles. His hair was brown, though, as brown as Lei'Ahree's skin, even though his skin was almost as pale as his shirt.

What startled Lei'Ahree, though, was that his eyes were a piercingly bright green.

With the human was a Clanswoman with icy-white hair. Her skin was a touch more ivory than the other, but her eyes were pale blue. She wore a skirt and vest in a strange pattern of colored lines – blue, white, and brown – with a blouse of light brown, also with long sleeves caught at the wrist by a cuff. She was the only of the three who was visibly armed, and she carried twin long knives, one on each hip.

The third member of the party was the strangest. The diminutive person was no taller than two feet, and was perhaps a touch shorter than that. She wore a garment that had to be several layers of robes all tied with a wide sash around her waist. Feathered wings in a tan color sprouted from her back and she fluttered almost effortlessly in the air as they waited. Her skin was a pale blue color and her hair was streaked in shades of pink, and pulled up into a knot at the back of her head, with a few tendrils falling down beside her face. She had small horns sprouting from her head and her eyes were a green color like the human man's were.

It took Lei'Ahree a moment to remember what she knew of the Nations and the people beyond Ula-Ronat. The small one was a Petie. It was the first time Lei'Ahree had ever seen one.

The petie woman flew over to look at Lei'Ahree for a moment before flying back to her companions with a nod. "This is the one."

Lei'Ahree took a deep breath. "Why have you come looking for me? I am a diver and sometime maker of jewelry. I am no one important."

The man sighed and met her eyes. "No, Lei'Ahree, you are very important. Two weeks past the Keeper of Astraea fell ill. One week past he succumbed to the illness and died. Astraea is without a Keeper and yesterday the Great Crystal called your name. You, Lei'Ahree, are to be the new Keeper of Astraea."

--- --- ---
Once upon a time, there were only three Races of Men on the face of Artegal and the Nine Nations, in the time before the Crystals stood as an eternal covenant with powers beyond the boundaries of time and space. Humans, Dwarves, and Clansmen walked Artegal and they were only beginning to unravel the secrets of the natural magic that lay within their world.

But then came the day that the skies boiled clouds and the Others descended into Artegal.

They had been traveling for far longer than the Races of Men had wandered Artegal, and they had traveled with the simple goal of seeking experience. Experience, though, and endless travel had lost some of its appeal. The Others were tired and they wanted something more than just the enclosure of their crystalline vessel and the expansion of their magical abilities.

So they landed on the soil of Artegal, transforming their vessel into a shape that would be more appreciable to those who watched them fall so gently from the sky. It was a tense moment for the human, dwarven, and clansmen witnesses who waited for the Others to appear. The alien-looking creatures walked out of the vessel, garbed in flowing garments with huge odd eyes and long pointed ears flowing like wings on the sides of their heads.

The newcomers were the first to offer a hand to the human leader who approached them. It was a hand of friendship, a hand of fellowship. The human man looked at the hand held out towards him for a long moment and then extended his own to accept the offer.

The Others, the strange Elves and the diminutive Petie, entered into an agreement with the Three Races of the Nine Nations. Artegal would be their new home. They would become part of the world, part of the magic there, and in return they would help the other races learn how to harness their own energies for the betterment of all.

As a sign of this hopeful beginning, the vessel that had carried the Others to Artegal was broken into nine pieces and one was carried to each Nation, to stand as the center of power for each Nation. The largest piece was left at the landing site, in the central Nation of Astraea, to always remind the people of the choice which had been made.

--- --- ---
Lei'Ahree knew the story as well as any other child of Neorah, as well as Coral did. It was repeated during festivals, especially the yearly festival where everyone would gather around their families and remember the magic that blessed them all. Astraea was the most important of the Nine Nations, the center of them all.

It was a great honor to even be considered for the position of Keeper for Astraea.

But all Lei'Ahree could think was that it was an honor she didn't want.

She shook her head. "My thanks, but I do not wish to leave my home. I have a child who looks to me as his mother, his only family. I cannot leave him and I will not. Surely there are others far better equipped than me to stand as Keeper of Astraea."

The human smiled softly. The petie fluttered her wings in obvious frustration. The clanswoman laughed out loud. "I like you already. I'm Aileen MacKae. Sweetheart, there is no one else."

The man nodded. "The Crystal needs you, Lei'Ahree. Astraea needs you. All of Artegal needs you."

She shook her head again. "I am a daughter of Neorah, a child of Ula-Ronat. I cannot serve in Astraea."

The petie woman fluttered her wings again. "Do not be a petulant child. You can and you will serve in Astraea. This is your duty, your responsibility. The Great Crystal called your name and so you will go. Your silly complaints have no standing."

Lei'Ahree's eyes went flat with anger as she looked at the petie. "I will not leave Neorah. I care not what the Great Crystal demands, or does not demand. You stand as Keeper if you care so much. I will not." She turned and left the room, her steps gaining speed as she went until she was at a full run by the time she reached the edge of the village.

The man sighed and shook his head. "By the Firstcomers, Mizu, I wish you could learn to hold your tongue. She cannot be driven to this path. She must embrace it, or all will fall to ruin." He turned to look at his companions. "I'll see what I can do to talk to her. Stay here." He followed Lei'Ahree out of the village. More than any of them knew rested on her shoulders.



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