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History of Artegal

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History of Artegal

Post by Celestria on Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:05 pm

History of Artegal

History books are a strange sort of animal. Usually, they don't tell the half of any story and the half they do tell . . . well, they certainly get points for creativity but their accuracy leaves much to be desired. There are those who, in fits of self-justification I suppose, claim that if complete accuracy were the norm that there would be no wondrous or magical truth left standing.

There are days when I have to laugh or the alternative would be too painful to endure.

There was one masterpiece of Glaisne revisionism that claimed the first mages were nothing but charlatans who repeated words and phrases that had no meaning until Glaisne scholars realized that the idiots were about half-right with concepts but didn't have the background or intelligence to make it work.

The truth of the matter, and the fact as well, is that magic on Artegal was born in Eremaki during a time when Glaisne was doing well to dig sanitation trenches through their so-called cities.

Yes, yes, I am aware of the inherent absurdity in me, of all people, writing a history book. I will swear to you, my reader, though that the history that I will tell is wholly accurate in all the mythical, magical truth and the all-too-mortal tragedies. And upon my immortal soul I vow that the half I do not tell would do no good, give no true insight, or is simply too boring for words.

You see, sometimes the best one to tell a story is not a historian.

---
Each Nation has their own Creation mythos, their own explanation for how Artegal was woven out of the chaos of origin, but this is a historical document, not a religious one and beginnings like that are fundamentally religious in nature.

The truth is that no one knows how Artegal came to be, not for certain, so all we can do is guess and take the world as it offers itself.

What is known for certain is that once upon a time, to borrow a certain overused cliché, Artegal was a single continent that was struck with great force by something descending from the Heavens. The continent was shattered and the pieces drifted apart to create the different landmasses that form the Nations. Those who survived the initial strike, and were not killed by the resulting chaos, found themselves lost in a world that was largely chaotic and uncontrolled, and set sail away from the land of the origin for the outlying lands, which stabilized much more quickly than the center.

Because the people who had once been one were now separated by circumstance and environment, they gradually developed into three distinctly different peoples. Those that settled in Ferris, Raonaid, and drifted up into Vardit on occasion became the Dwemer. Those that sailed to Eremaki and Ula-Ronat changed into the Merrow. The settlers of Glaisne, Fiacre, and Brimlad were the Auren.

Astraea eventually calmed from the flux of the strike, but the result was that the land was perfectly arranged for cultivation and living, but was very nearly uninhabited.

Matters remained like this for untold centuries.

---
For longer than a star's age they had traveled, wandering from place to place. From world to world. They had surpassed even the boundaries of their own shapes, altering themselves at their whim and as camouflage when they would descend to a world to see new things and hear new sounds and smell new fragrances.

In their untold power, their immense magic, there was a strange sort of innocence.

Artegal was, in those days, not as magical as it later became, but magic was there, and that tiny flicker of energy drew these voyagers with their curiosity and, perhaps, their loneliness.

Just as it is pleasant to travel, it is just as pleasant to return home again and they no longer had any home to which they could return. The world which had given them first life had long since faded and died as worlds are wont to do. So they were curious, but they were also tired.

It was at this time that one came to rule in Eremaki, a man who is simply titled the Legendary Emperor. Monks and philosophers had been working with the ambient energies of their native world, making themselves receptive and directive of those elemental powers and were beginning to be capable of some awe-inspiring feats.

Childish and clumsy to the minds of the star-borne observers, but still, for self-taught neophytes they were not unskilled.

The Legendary Emperor was one of those who was very strong, according to the standards of his fellows, in these magical energies. He also had a gift for precognition. He told those who served him that a star would cross the skies at a certain point and he gathered with his courtiers in a large field to watch the path of the star.

Amazingly, just as he predicted, the path of the brightly-lit vessel passed overhead and, as a greeting to the star the Legendary Emperor raised up his hands and offered a show of his own mystical power, launching a burst of holy energy towards the sky.

The star stopped in mid-path and changed direction.

In the sky there was curiosity regarding this strange being who could use some pale imitation of their own strength. On the earth there was fear and shouting as the star descended to be revealed as a crystalline vessel that landed, with a muffled thud that knocked men from their feet, all but the Emperor who remained standing, fearless, as doors opened and strange beings emerged.

The leader of the Circle of Nine approached this mortal Emperor, and regarded him carefully. He was a Dullahan, cloaked in armor that likely looked strange to those watching, but after a moment, he did something astonishing.

He reached out to offer his hand to the Emperor.

---
It was a meeting which should have gone horribly, tragically wrong and marred the face of Artegal forever. Instead, due to a miraculous series of insights I can only believe were the result of some divine intervention, it went impossibly right.

The handclasp is a greeting of equals. It presumes that both parties have equal strength and can begin as such with no ill intent.

There simply is no such greeting in Eremaki culture.

There are no equals in Eremaki. All are judged greater or lesser than each other and the greatest of all is the Emperor. Then, as now, the Emperor is considered divine by his subjects and none are his equals. Moreover, to offer to touch his person is to offer deadly insult because of the possibility of contaminating his person.

He should have struck the Dullahan who so innocently offered friendship and equality. The very concepts did not exist in Eremaki. The Legendary Emperor should, by all rights, have launched the first blow in a generational war that would have laid waste to the whole world.

Instead . . . instead he went beyond the impossible and realized what was being offered and the truth of the situation. If anyone were the equal of the Emperor, it would be the leader of the Crystalborn.

He astonished his disbelieving courtiers by reaching out and taking the hand that was offered to him. A handshake changed everything for Artegal.

He would later explain, with a simplicity that is awe-inspiring for being so straightforward and yet so profound, that the Crystalborn came from beyond the stars, where the Kami are said to dwell. Thus the Crystalborn must be Kami and it would have been impolite for him to greet them as anything less than long-separated kinsmen.

---
Artegal, as it turned out, was not inhospitable to the magical energies of the Crystalborn travelers, but the energies ran weakly, or more accurately, the ability of those who lived there to wield those energies ran weakly.

If they had not arrived, some hundred thousand years later they might have begun to reach the strength of even the least gifted Moogle, but the crystal Vessel had arrived, and that changed much for many people, then and now.

The Crystalborn were tired, and they wished a home. The decision was made to stay on Artegal, to become part of the world and one with the people there. As part of that decision, a gesture was made that set the groundwork for generations of change.

The Circle of Nine shattered their Vessel.

Eight large Crystals and one great Crystal, that was their gift to the world of Artegal. The Circle chose to carry their shards into each of the Nations, one for each land, as an endless symbol of their intention to call the world of Artegal home.

But where to house that greatest Crystal? Where to place the key that would forever link all the Nations together so that they never forgot that all life is truly linked to each other?

That was when forgotten Astraea was discovered again.

As a Nation it was largely ignored. There were almost no inhabitants, of any sort, though the land was idyllic in all honesty, and the native magic of Artegal was strongest there because of the impact which had shattered the primeval continent.

The Great Crystal was taken to Astraea and a ninth Nation, a neutral Nation, was born.

---
The presence of the Crystals meant that the children of those who lived in that time were stronger in magic than their parents, and their children were stronger still. With the arrival of the Crystalborn four new races walked the land, making names and homes for themselves and their descendents. They also brought with them new magics and new abilities.

Foremost among those was the gift of Summoning.

Each of the national Crystals housed a spirit, a being which could be called at the will of one person, for it was the will of the Dullahan that the Circle of Nine continue in some form. That form was of Nine Keepers, each bound to one of the Crystals and one bound to the Great Crystal to be the greatest of all should any dispute arise which required a single voice to render decision.

Any who could call on the energies of Summoning could become a Keeper, but the Great Keeper could only be one especially gifted, one called to the path of Summoning from childhood and what's more, the Great Keeper had to be one that had formed a connection with the spirits of each of the Crystals because of the way the Crystals still communicated with each other.

And thus it continues to this day.

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