Collected notes on cosmogony and Foundation

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Collected notes on cosmogony and Foundation

The Almas Genara

In the time before the stars, there was darkness, and in the darkness was Chaos. But even within the Chaos, there was thought, and as a pearl grows in an oyster, so the stars coalesced out of Chaos around those first formless thoughts, and shed their light to drive back the darkness. And as the darkness shrank away, the world emerged out of it, like an island out of the fog. And the stars knew then that they were gods, and that this world was their own, and they circled around it like a wheel, to guard it from the Chaos that remained. And they peopled it with creatures of all sorts. At first, humans were like any other beasts, and they walked with the beasts and had no fear of them, nor did the beasts fear them. They had no shame, no dreams, no knowledge of good or evil. There were, at that time, six sisters born of a single father, and each of the sisters joined with their father in turn, and they bore six sons. And the gods decreed that they would take only their own sons to be their mates, never the sons of their sisters. These sons grew to manhood, and wished to challenge the gods themselves. They slew their grandfather, who had become old and feeble, and crafted bows from his bones and his hair. They shot their arrows at the stars, and those they hit fell to the ground like shards of fire, leaving the sky in darkness and allowing Chaos to enter the world. The sons wanted to bring these shards as gifts to their mothers, but when they touched the pieces of fallen gods, their skins were pierced and burned. Wisdom came upon them with their pain, and they were ashamed of what they had done, and they cast aside the star-shards, crying for what was lost. Touched by Chaos, each blamed the others for their evil actions, and they fell to fighting one another, until at last their fear and anger drove them apart. They sought shelter with the beasts who had been their kin, but the beasts fled from them. Even their own mothers did not know them, and fled at their approach, and then they knew that they were truly accursed for what they had done. They lay down to rest, and each dreamed, the first dreams that they had ever known, and in those dreams they found the knowledge of what they had to do. Chastened, they sought once more the star-shards, to beg forgiveness and seek atonement. The fallen gods told them that they could make atonement in time, but that it would take longer than a single lifetime to do so. They pleaded for this chance, and swore that they would return the gods to the heavens. The gods were merciful, and granted to their creations the chance for rebirth before judgment, one lifetime for each god. Then the men fastened the star-shards as points to their arrows, and, going to the highest mountain-top, shot them once more into the heavens. And so the stars were returned to their rightful places, and the world was once more as it should be. But though they were no longer accursed, the men were still marked by their sin, set apart from the beasts by the gifts of thought, of dream, of regret, and of rebirth.

Six Paths to the Centre

"In the long night before the dawn, there were six sisters born of one mother who brought them forth alone. They were alone in the land at the edge of the void and when they grew to reason, there were no mates for them. They asked their mother “How is it that you have children, yet you have no mate?” And their mother said “I am the matter and you are the form, and the second cannot make the first.” And she saw that her daughters were unhappy with this answer. So she told them “If truly your hearts cannot rest without mates and your wombs ache for children, go forth to the border and call your mates unto you and they will answer your call.” So the six daughters went to the edge of the darkness, where they had often seen their mother call being from nothingness. The eldest, a tall, strong woman, stepped to the very brink and called “Send me a mate who is worthy of my strength!” And from the dark nothing there came forth a creature of tremendous size, fierce and strong: a bear. And the eldest sister was pleased. Then the second sister, quick and nimble, stepped forward to the edge and called “Send me a mate who is faster than my eye, slender as a whip!” And from the darkness there came forth a creature both slim and fleet: a lizard. And the second sister was pleased. The third sister, who was stolid and peaceful, stepped forward and called “Send me a mate who will never quarrel, who will help me in everything I do.” And from the blackness there came forth a creature large but calm, helpful but docile: an ox. And the third sister was pleased. The fourth sister, clever and crafty, stepped to the boundary and called “Send me a mate who is swift of mind, swift of foot, and swift of spirit!” And from the nothingness there came forth a creature that seemed made of pure quicksilver, formed into a shape both strong and sharp: a wolf. And the fourth sister was pleased. The fifth sister, quiet and thoughtful, stepped to the border and called “Send me a mate who is wise but does not speak his thoughts too readily.” And from the emptiness there came forth a creature flying on silent wings, with bright eyes to see all: an owl. And the fifth sister was pleased. And lastly there stepped forward the sixth sister, and she was the most beautiful, but also the youngest and most guileless. She thought for a time on what all of her sisters had asked for and what they had received. And then she stepped forward to the rim of darkness and called “Send me a mate who is beautiful and who will love as I love,” for she could think of nothing better than to love and be loved. And from the void there came forth a creature sleek and handsome, amorous but fickle: a cat. And the youngest sister was pleased, though she realized she should have asked for a mate who would love only her. With their mates, the sisters returned to their mother, but they found her missing. They were fearful and searched everywhere, but found her not. And then they heard her voice speak to them. She said “I am not here, but I am near. You will find a part of me in your mates, for I am the matter and only I can call forth the form from the void.” And the sisters were saddened, for they knew then that in bringing forth their mates, they had consumed their mother. And their mother spoke again, saying “You will bear many children. But take care that when your children grow to reason, they do not mate outside their own kind, for that which was sundered may not be joined again, until the great day is at an end.” And her voice fell silent and no matter how her daughters called to her, they had no answer. But for the first time, they saw the sun rise."

"As there are six spokes to the Wheel, there are six paths to the Centre. Six times the Wheel turns for each of us, six times the sun rises and falls, and six lives will we all live before the end of our day. So too are there six Houses, and each shows us another way to journey ever closer to the Centre. From the Bear, we learn of strength and courage. From the Lizard, cunning and stealth. From the Ox, sincerity and fortitude. From the Wolf, creativity and discovery. From the Owl, wisdom and patience. And from the Cat, beauty and love. So it is that we must pass through each of these Houses, as a traveller in a lodging along the path to the Centre. If one should step from this path, which is both narrow and fraught with difficulties, what then will become of them? When they arrive before the final judgement, they will not have learned all that they should have. They will be deemed unworthy and their essence consigned to the Void, unless by some great mercy they may be spared."


The notes of Loch du Champe, Chief Sorceror

- he first describes how they came to be in that situation, and recounts the events as he 'witnessed' them (re-read logs if you need to, he doesn't omit any of it.)

- Then he talks about whether he thinks this was a true past-life memory, a true vision granted by some power of the Arch, or a false vision. He believes, based on corroborating evidence, that it was true, but is unable to determine if it's a past life experience or a vision. He tends to lean towards 'vision' rather than believing that he and his companions were reincarnations of the Founders themselves, basically due to thinking that is a) highly statistically unlikely and b) arrogant. He does provide the info of who was whom, though, in case he's wrong, or in case that information somehow proves relevant, and reports on the general appearance and personalities of the other Founders.

- He spends a fair amount of time trying to reconstruct his 'memories' from being Amhara - things that didn't happen to her during the short span of the vision, but that she knew/remembered from her life up to that point. This sort of stuff, he says, seemed very clear at the time, but faded quickly after they returned, unlike the events they actually witnessed, leaving him unclear on some of their motivations for doing certain things, background relationships between the Founders, etc. He believes that the tribes left... wherever they left... about a generation before the founders were born. Amhara being the eldest, she should have had the longest memory of prior history. He reports vague memories of a town/community which she was born and lived in as a girl, but thinks she spent most of her adolescent and adult life nomadically, in the journey west. She was trained as a spiritual leader of some sort (a shaman? not a priest, anyway), was married, had a number of children, and was a grandmother by the time of the Founding. He believes the Founders had dreams/visions/contact with the gods which marked them out as significant, which may have made them the leaders of their respective tribes (he doesn't think it was a hereditary office, and conjectures that this was key to the way the Aveyrone monarchy eventually developed). He notes general feelings of mistrust among the tribal leaders - foremost loyalty to one's own tribe, the alliance between them being seen as temporary, vague memories of previous fights/disagreements/even actual battles between the tribes.

- he elaborates on the notion that Amhara was not a priest, and states that he doesn't believe the tribes *had* priests as one would recognize them today. He thinks she drew her powers from a spiritual force he can't really define, and draws parallels with pre-emergence Rat religion, which also did not have priests per se. He speculates that it wasn't so much that the Rats were 'cut off' from their god and had to make do with a lesser form of religion, as that perhaps they preserved an older form of divine worship/spellcasting which had died out above-ground. He does not know when present-day style clerics emerged, but thinks it was only after the breaking of the Arch, and ponders whether the two events are connected somehow. He reports a certain tension in his memories over whether the Gods were something like great ancestor-spirits, forces of nature, or what exactly... They thought of them as 'gods' but he feels that this doesn't match up with his present-day conception of what a god is, exactly - they seem to have had a more personal, direct relationship with their totems.

- he goes into some detail about the casting of Legend Lore performed by Lysva on the unbroken Arch, and the results she received: "The Arch of the Shadows contains within it the essence of a god who tests and devours, and can only be vanquished by a great hero. If ever it is uprooted, this god will be trapped, and stars will fall from the sky." First he considers the name "The Arch of the Shadows" - does it refer only to the top part of the Arch, the black half? Is it related somehow to the Shadow Plane? He makes note of the words of the shadar-kai they captured and interrogated, who seemed to fear a place called 'Shadow' which was (possibly?) inside the Arch, and believed his god protected him from it somehow. Loch is uncertain how these things are connected, which obviously frustrates him. He then ponders what precisely constitutes 'the essence' of a god - its divinity, its domains? - not its physical being, presumably, if it has such a thing, but something more nebulous. 'Tests and devours' - not necessarily at the same time, as evidently some people could and did pass through the Arch without being devoured (e.g. Dorea, Tirizhian). He interprets it as 'both tests and devours' rather than 'tests and then devours'. He is uncertain if it is the god that is referred to as being vanquished, or the Arch itself - he leans towards the latter, as what hero, even a great one, can truly be said to vanquish a god? The second half of the LL seems more clear, as that is precisely what happened at the conclusion of their vision.

- he considers the question of 'demons'. The Founders thought of the SK themselves as 'demons' although Loch recognizes that this seems incorrect, or at least vague - extraplanar + evil doesn't necessarily = demon, after all. He notes their control/summoning of shadows and shadow mastiffs, but doesn't report any literal demons, at least not that he recognized as such.

- Dorea's 'deal'. Loch's speculation is that she made contact with her god/totem while she was in the Arch, and that she somehow persuaded or tricked it into remaining there to ... fight? distract? the god already within it while she made her escape. He doesn't know whether she knew, or intended, for it to be trapped within the Arch.

- he also considers Tirizhian. The name is certainly not Aveyronnais, even archaic - it has a foreign sound to it, probably SK or whatever language the humans of those lands spoke. Dorea's account of him is that he was "a holy man of the peasants here." This suggests that the humans had some sort of native religious beliefs, although what those were, Loch cannot reconstruct. This is the man now considered the 'First Patriarch' - how did he come to that role? via his relationship (whatever it was precisely) with Dorea? Was he a cleric, or something else? Loch again has no idea, but thinks it's curious.