Talanor, the Bright Tower
History - The Story of the Making of the Clans
The Story of the Making of the Clans As told by Niyut, Oracle of the Firebird Clan
I have been thinking of the origins of speaking peoples often since the old man broke the world.
In the badlands beneath the Iron Mountain, we do not worship the great spirits. We do not even teach our children their names. We partner with the spirits bound into the substance of the world of flesh. We remember our ancestors. But we do not worship the great spirits because we remember how the veil between the world of flesh and the world of spirit came to be.
Long, long ago, the world was one. The greater wills ruled the lesser. They said what was and it was until one greater still said it was something else and then it became something else. Some of the lesser spirits, the foremothers and forefathers of speaking peoples — names like Vash of the Blood, Nerat the Twisted Iron, Chana Eye-of-Stars, and Simur the Firebird — did not enjoy their works being undone. So they planned a great rebellion.
Their rebellion was this: they made an agreement that in a certain place what is, is. Energy transformed into substance. This place was the seed of the world of flesh. This agreement is the veil that separated the one into the two-in-one. The spirits found that the longer they stayed in this place the more they became substance though they never quite lost what made them spirits in the first place.
The great spirits could enter the world of flesh but they must tithe a portion of their power as substance in this place. Worse for them they must abide by the compact. Their power can alter things but much, much less than they could in the world of spirit. Their will was not greater than the veil.
Many of the lesser spirits chose to remain in the world of flesh bound by the compact but free of the tyranny of the greater spirits as long as their power remained bound as substance. Free, yet trapped. They noticed that their Holden were less than they. They discovered that time could kill their offspring and release them from the compact. Some of their children could pull power from the world of sprit more easily than others.
The children of Chana Eye-of-Stars are particularly gifted in that regard.
For the most part these mothers and fathers of speaking people were content with their compact. Their freedom was worth the price. All but Simur. Simur wanted both freedom and power.
Simur was a spirit of life-a-new and the kindling flame. Simur was male and female. Simur was the first twins. Simur was also a trickster. Because Simur was two-and-one before the world was two-and-one, it had a keen insight into the nature of the veil. If it was defeated in the world of flesh, its reborn twin would take its place from the world of spirit, flush with new power. If the greater spirits confronted Simur in the world of spirit, then its reborn twin would bring the substance of the world of flesh into the world of spirit. Simur wanted only benefit, but never cost.
Eventually, Simur tried to master both worlds. Its arrogance brought an alliance between the greater spirits in the world of spirit and the primogenitors in the world of flesh. Each half of Simur was bound. In the world of flesh it is bound in an egg of flame and in the world of the spirit in a golden egg. It remains trapped to this day, neither living nor dead. Or at least that is the story passed down in our clan.
This is why we do not worship the primogenitors or the great spirits. All they understand is power. So, I was not surprised when the old man said the tear in the veil was in part caused by a great spirit. How long it must have hungered to put its lessers in their place…
After they finish with dinner, Niyut stands and moves into the dimmer light.
…Before I have spoken of the binding of Simur and why the Firebird trust neither the great spirits or the primogenitors.
As she speaks two great birds of flame become two orbs of gold and fire spinning in the night above Niyut.
Now I would speak of the other great sin of the primogenitors. In the world of spirit they had been the least of the greatest, but after the Compact they were the mightiest who strode the earth. They were mighty because they are the substance of the world. This substance cannot be truly created or destroyed besides by the Compact. It can, however be changed.
Simply because they agreed on the Compact did not mean that they agreed on much else. The primogenitors came to blows when their wills were in conflict.
Behind her a titanic dwarf battles an even larger dragon. The titanic dwarf is horribly burned, while the dragon becomes a statue of gold.
In their struggles they could change each other, sometimes terribly so. The elders of my clan saw that the Mithril Father still keens from the burns Gururth inflicted upon him, causing the mountains beneath where he lies to tremble and smoke. But for all the horrors they could inflict on each other, they could not kill each other until Vash of the Blood slew Zamaz the Unraveler.
Before the Compact, Zamaz had been a spirit of destruction and entropy, a breaker of fate and law alike. In this she was a dark mirror of Simur. Simur brought forth the new, while Zamaz cleared away the old. Change comes in many forms.
After the Compact, Zamaz was the mother of goblins and with Nerat she was the mother of the mother of Argean. Few were willing to cross her for she would unravel their works or curse them with misfortune. If she had few willing enemies, she had fewer willing friends. I think this is what made her a compelling target to Vash.
As she speaks of Zamaz a goblin female of cruelly cunning aspect capers in the shadows where once a dwarf and dragon fought. Niyut pauses and lowers her head momentarily.
It is hard to speak of Vash of the Blood to outsiders. It is not hard to because he is wicked, though he undoubtedly is; it is because they have difficulty understanding his aspect. They believe he is a spirit of wrath and jealousy. In this, they are partly correct for Vash’s wrath burned as bright as the flames of Simur and his envy could put the covetousness of Guruth to shame. But in truth, his aspect is conflict between fundamental forces. He was a vassal of the great spirit of war before he rebelled. He cared for the essence of things and how they could oppose each other.
When the power of the least of the greatest became the substance of the primogenitors, it under went a transformation but it was not lost. Vash remembered that the greatest often vied for the power of their fellows, and he thought that even in the world of flesh that must still be true.
A great orc falls open the capering goblin woman smashing her head to mush before stringing her up and draining her of her blood. He drinks it and smears it all over his body.
Vash drank up all that Zamaz was. Nerat the Twisted Iron was not best pleased by the destruction of one of his lovers. He hates all things beyond his control.
A hobgoblin carved from iron that twists the eye of the viewer, wielding a great sword, comes out of the shadows and decapitates the bloody orc.
Perhaps Zamaz had her vengeance upon her murderer or perhaps in taking in entropy into his very being Vash accidentally broke the law that substance cannot truly be destroyed because, of all the primogenitors, he became the first who could die and leave the Compact.
Though he died, he did not leave the world of flesh. The blood of Vash and Zamaz mingled and became something new. Vash realized that he could possess his own dead flesh reanimating it with his essence.
The decapitated head melts into blood and flows back towards the bloody body of the fallen orc.
Vash violated the Compact. When he died, he was released from it and returned to the world of spirits very much diminished. Likely, he would have been swallowed up by the hunger of one of the great spirits if he had not realized that he could control the blood and work his will upon the world without tithing any of his power as substance.
This was an unfortunate turn of events for many of the primogenitors.
In the shadows behind Niyut a halfling, a gnome, and creatures stranger still fall to the first vampire’s hunger.
A promise broken once can be broken many times. Without Simur, the primogenitors could not kindle new life but through their loins. They could not restore life to the dead. They could, however, die from Vash’s thirst.
Finally, only two remained. The two that Vash had always feared. Nerat who slew him, and Chana Eye-of-Stars whose beauty he desired but whose songs of power he feared. In time, hunger overcame fear; but, he did not find Chana easy meat. She sang a great song, and this song changed the world. In the circle, where he found her, the sun would never set as long as it follows its appointed course. Again Zamaz had her vengeance, for could perpetuity exist in a world where entropy is bound to its very substance.
The bloody orc attacks a dancing elven woman but is driven into a circle of sunlight.
I tell you this story because if the stories of my people are true we have dangers besides the hungers of the dead, gnolls, or even the great spirits. Look to the sky! Where are the moons!? Where is Simur? If the Firebird has hatched, has Vash of the blood escaped his ancient prison? The sun no longer travels its appointed course.
The circle of sunlight flickers and fades. The bloody orc looms behind Niyut before vanishing.
With her tale told, Niyut returns to sit at the fire and opens the book she carries and begins to read.