A Note from the Falconcrest Sage: The following is a tale presented by the famous Bard known as Markov Talespinner. While many of these events may be discovered to be rooted in truth, it is suspected that the Bard may have taken a fair bit of creative license in fashioning this particular story. The intriguing tale which follows is by no means accepted as a true history among the scholarly circles of Cyrillia.
The Birth of Cyrillia – by Marakov Talespinner
Salutations Ladies and Gentlemen.
Many have speculated on how our world came about. The Fey have stories that it was born of stardust and light. There are groups in Hadrianus that believe it was born on the back of a great and ancient beast (not unlike a turtle) and it simply dislodged itself once it became large enough. Some believe there was no beginning, that it has always been and will always be.
I propose however, a different story.
A tale similar to what I have written below has been hinted at in various myths for centuries. Those who enter the Avothian Forest have occasionally claimed to be struck by momentary visions of small details that seem to be part of a great, endless battle. The full accounting which you find here, or something quite like it, was seen as a vision by a group of adventurers in the fall of 213 PB while they were traveling through the Avothian Forest. It has been recorded and rewritten in the form of how the vision might have been experienced, written from the perspective of an ancient and powerful creature of unknown name and origin who witnessed the events described below.
Bard, Historian, and Story Seeker
You see the ground far below you, with one large army arrayed before your sight. It is a fearsome display indeed; composed of creatures from every part of the Abyss. Demons of Fire, Ice, Shadow, Pain and Terror. Imps and Fiends, Hounds and Rots.
Impressive, you think, though you note the absence of the Shadow King and the Blood Council. Odd, you think, normally Kaer’Thus keeps a tighter leash on them. Though this thought leaves your mind almost as soon as it enters, as there are more important things to consider. The Abyss has claimed a new world. A bright world. A feast for the demons; a great victory for the Blood Eyes. And yet it has not been fully consumed, you realize, its loss could be a great blow to his power. You wonder if you should interfere. Even if the Blood Eyes was laid low, there is always the risk of a new Prince being more difficult to manipulate.
The moments tick by as you ponder a decision, choosing to dedicate enough of your mental prowess to consider thousands of possible outcomes in mere moments. You release an internal sigh as you decide; waiting is the best action at this point. You have learned to be patient, though you have always hated waiting. Looking back at the massing troops, you begin to consider leaving. You know that a great battle will occur in this place. A fight that will likely warp the fabric of the realm, and skew the very threads of time in this place. Perhaps you could Shift away, and then return a moment later and view the outcome without waiting to witness the battle unfold.
Then you feel it, the Abyss being torn and twisted. Your curiosity piqued, What is this? you think. You turn toward the source, and see a massive portal opening before the demonic horde. As the portal forms, you find that you are surprised at the creatures that step through it. Avothians. Why? you wonder. They always seemed to be a faily intelligent race, and strong in their own way. Mighty enough that their world bore their name, before it fell. Would they truly come here without the proper preparations? What would be their purpose? Vengeance? They know what happens when their kind cross into the Abyss, and yet… You examine the portal, and in a moment, its magiks unravel before your eyes.
Interesting, they created a World Bridge. Anchored to what? You ponder, surprised that there is still a fragment of their world strong enough to hold at the other end. You turn back to the battle with renewed interest; a World Bridge of this level has only been created a handful of times. You wonder, how long will it take Blood Eyes to realize what this means? As you watch, the lesser creatures start to fall back and regroup, the more powerful Greaters and Lords moving into battle. Not long at all, this battle has just become worth observing.
As the Avothians move through the portal, they unleash their fury and power without hesitation or mercy. The Demons start to fall back before the onslaught. As the battle continues, the Bridge seems to bend and twist, then snaps back into place. You turn toward the source of the attack, the Blood Council has arrived, and have wisely decided to attack the Bridge. The Avothians though, appear to have been waiting for this. With a surge of power the Bridge widens and in a flash, the full host has moved through.
You briefly consider Time Locking yourself, but decide against it. Removing a Lock takes longer than creating it, and you have a feeling you may need to be able to move about freely. You learned long ago to trust those instincts. The battle rages, and though the Council’s Magiks are formidable, they do little more than fend off the Avothian attacks.
The battle rages, and the fabric of the realm twists and warps around you. With the time distortion, it’s impossible to say for how long the fighting continues. Spells are in place which remove any need of sleep, of drink, or of sustenance. As you watch the battle, you notice the World Bridge has become considerably smaller. They have reduced its size to make it more defensible, but now it’s too small to use as a portal. At this point, it is just maintaining the connection. They’re not planning on surviving, you realize, they came with the intent to die, and do as much damage as they can. It seems that you are not the only one to realize this though – Blood Eyes has joined the fight. Your gaze encompasses the whole battle, and you see the Demon Prince begin the attack. Its power is not inconsiderable. You find yourself musing curiously. I wonder how a true Demon Prince, within its own territory, would serve as a challenge to my strength. A part of you wants to fight, to find an opponent capable of standing against you. Sparing with Xen’Actyl provides good exercise, but there is no real threat, no intent to kill.
You dismiss the urge, not interested in distractions. The Blood Eyes. Your thoughts drift back to old times, when the Demon Kaer’Thus took that title, and rose to the place of Prince. A part of your mind considers whether or not orchestrating the fall of its predecessor was wise. Kear’Thus proved to be more power hungry than his master, and has conquered many worlds. Perhaps… You dismiss the thought. What’s done is done, and now is not the time to dwell upon the past. Changing history often creates a new set of problems anyway, although the look on the Council of Guardian’s collective faces would be quite amusing.
The battle seems to have shifted and is now divided into smaller struggles. The decimation is immense, even by your standards. Now that Blood Eyes has joined the fight the Avothians are on the defensive, even with their considerable power, fighting a Demon Prince at his full strength is tantamount to suicide for their kind, without certain preparations. A flash of light catches your eye, as you notice a being wreathed in light charging within the fray, cutting a swath right to the Blood Eyes. Ah, as I thought, he’s finally decided to commit himself. You intently watch as the last King of Avothia, the Keeper of the Frozen Flame, Champion of the Arena and Lord of the Dawn begins to duel with the Blood Eyes, Prince of the Western Abyss.
Now this, you think, is worth my attention.
The battle rages on, it seems that many of the smaller battles ebb and flow, following the duel of their leaders. As the Demon Prince presses, so do his forces. When the Avothian king counters, so do his troops. You watch as the Abyssal force, once a mighty host, begins to dwindle. The Avothians, though taking heavy losses themselves, are wreaking havoc upon their enemies. Blood Eyes has lost many of his lieutenants and generals, and a majority of the Blood Council has been routed. The landscape of the battlefield is soaked in blood and scarred by the Magiks which have been unleashed. The Demon army is being crushed now with surprising speed.
Where is the Shadow King? you wonder. What tricks are you planning Kaer’Thus, that you have not called upon the most powerful of your minions? You watch one of the Demon Lords as he fights, and you measure, in terms of shear strength, that Gabroloch is likely stronger than most. And yet the Shadow King is a different type of dangerous altogether. A type that even I would not recklessly challenge. Your attention is drawn back to the battle. Once, twice, thrice – the Avothian King attacks and each time he strikes true.
Blood Eyes falls back and Gabroloch moves between the Demon Prince and the Avothian King. The Avothian King moves as if to end the Demon Lord swiftly, and to your surprise, he falters. You’re not sure if it’s due to fatigue or if Gabroloch is even stronger than you assumed. I will have to keep an eye on this one. Though the Demon Lord is fierce, it is not long before it is apparent he is no match for the power currently held by The Avothian King. Yet he has bought his master the precious few seconds he needed. Drawing on a great Well of Souls, the Demon Prince fully recovers and resumes the fight. Gabroloch falls back and does the same then returns to the battle, though he keeps close to the Demon Prince. Ah, so this is their plan. They intend to try and see who has the greater reserve of strength. Costly, though effective.
As the battle progresses, Blood Eyes and Gabroloch repeat the trick, though after the second time a group of Avothians make it their sole cause to keep Gabroloch occupied as much as they can, making it much more difficult for them. Once again, the Avothian king strikes out and wounds the Demon Prince. You watch the struggle, seeing that Gabroloch has been kept occupied too long, and is now too far away to support the Prince. Blood Eyes won’t have time to draw on his Well.
As the King moves in for the kill, everything goes black.
At least, you assume that’s what happens from the perspective of those involved in the fighting. The illusion of darkness was not strong enough to affect you. The demons of Shadow seem to undeterred by the illusion, and it seems that the Avothian King fights it off as well. Yet the illusory cloud of shadow is pervasive enough to serve as a distraction. Through the sensory cloud you can feel something approaching, multiple beacons of immense power. So, this is what he was up to. An Ally? you wonder This…was not what I anticipated. As the darkness fades, both forces can see new challengers upon the field. To the east of the battlefield is a massive demon, a creature of writhing shadow and nightmare. Behind him, marches a horde larger than the first. A line of Demon Lords stands behind the horde, making their presence clear. And yet it is not only the new demons below you which have appeared, but something else as well. Another World Bridge? No… What you see is something similar to a World Bridge, though. Something new. Somehow, this new army of demons have fused this battlefield to another Abyssal realm. The power necessary for such a fusion would be immense you realize, and yet this new army would be able to access their Wells with great ease.
There is a surge of power at the head of the horde, and with a terrible roar, the Soul Reaver appears. So that is what Shadow King was doing, he brought the Prince of the Eastern Abyss. For a moment, you chide yourself for not being as informed about the Eastern Abyss, though realistically this was one of the least likely outcomes. What could Soul Reaver hope to gain by helping Blood Eyes? And why would Blood Eyes risk bringing Soul Reaver into his domain while weakened? Troubling, certainly, but trouble is at least interesting.
The battle begins anew, the Abyssal forces charging toward the Avothians. As you watch, you know there can be no contest. The might of both Princes is too great, even for the Avothians. You turn to leave, already playing out the thousand most likely outcomes of the fight in your mind. And then you stop, realization coming upon you. There is one outcome you hadn’t bothered to consider, but now you do. You play it out; once. Twice. A thousand times. Divination magic flows through you, and a hundred new prophecies spiral through you mind. You look down as the two forces rush toward each other, moments away from clashing. And you roar.
It is beyond deafening. Nearly half of the abyssal army collapses as the lesser creatures are driven mad and fall to the ground, twitching feebly. The greater Demons cover their ears futilely trying to block out the sound, blood streaming between fingers. The ground shakes, the very air vibrates. The Princes and their great Lords of The Abyss glare up into the sky. Every eye looks to you, and time stands still.
“Hear me Avothian King!” you say, your voice still seeming to shake the world. “I make with you a bargain this day. I will lend you my strength, my power, my aid. In exchange, you will give me your world. You surrender all claim to it, and never seek to conquer what will be mine. What say you?”
To your amusement, the shining King looks up at you, and smiles knowingly. “Avothia died when the Abyss claimed it. We are not so foolish to think that we could rescue it. Even if we pulled it back, it has not been merely claimed by the Abyss. It has been slain. Avothia is dead. Whatever world it is when this battle is over, is yours.” He breathes in slowly, as his gaze passes over the abyssal horde, and then speaks. “I accept your terms.”
Soul Reaver. His title floats in your thoughts. Finally, a chance to test my strength.
You imagine that Soul Reaver was not expecting to fight a Guardian, but sometimes even Princes of The Abyss don’t get what they want . He is a fierce opponent, and holds nothing back. He knows that he will have to unleash everything he has if he hopes to survive this fight. Unlike the battles which you witnessed before, there is no semblance of a Duel. Soul Reaver isn’t so foolish. The might of the Eastern Abyss falls upon you. Ants. No; roaches. Filthy roaches. And then you smile inwardly as eldritch power falls upon them. Filthy roaches on fire. Now that’s better. Your every step crushes the insects. Reaver and his lords though, less so. Still, the challenge of the battle makes you feel alive, and you find your humor rising within as the weakest of the abyssal forces press to the attack.
Demons. They are like stones. They can be useful. They can be shaped and carved, used to form tools or sharpened into weapons. But they are awfully bothersome when trying to take a morning stroll. You sigh in annoyance, and the demons burn.
Your attention is brought back as you feel a series of spells being cast. Weaves of complex magik summoning some kind of fog. An illusion? A strange form of Time Lock? No. Though the spells don’t seem to do much individually, you sense that there is more to this magik than meets the eye. You put it in the back of your mind and let it sit there for a bit as you work it out, and return your attention to the battle. Soul Reaver goes on the offensive and brings his Demon Lords with him. Shadow King stands at the rear, unleashing his power as he tries to attack your mind.
THIS is a fight! A furious clashing of great power ensues. Though their attack fails, the demons manage to draw blood. You very nearly chuckle with a amusement at the sight of it, and are mildly surprised at your own lack of rage. It has been a very long time since an enemy has dared to even attempt to see your blood. And rather than terrible fury at the audacity, you find yourself roaring with intense exhilaration. It has been too long since you have seen real combat. Your time on Sanctuary, while pleasant, has made you forget how much you enjoy battle. And how good at it you are.
As The Enemy strikes, you counter their attacks and unleash one of your own. A Demon Lord falls, but you can feel its essence slipping toward a Well of Souls. Quickly, you utter words of True Magik and the Demon burns in white flame, never to rise again. You turn your attention back to Soul Reaver, and tilt your head as you begin to unravel the purpose behind the weaves of Magik. You act fast, casting a series of your own spells so that a great shield wards off the sudden burst of transcendent fog. Clever. Had you not countered it, it is likely you would have been Shifted to the Void. And you hate being Shifted. How much time would that have bought them, in this place where time is still twisting from moment to moment?Perhaps enough time they could win the battle.
You scan the field and see that the Avothians have charged the abyssal lines and the Western demons have broken rank. You witness the Avothian King as he fights Blood Eyes. With every blow the Demon Prince falters and is pushed back. Your sight falls upon Reaver and you decide that it is time to unleash your might. You begin to draw on the very powers that shape eternity. You bend creation to your will. Two more Lords fall to the White Flame. Power flows through you as you rewrite reality around you, exerting your Will. You spin the threads of creation, and bend the paths of destiny and fate. The Abyss seems to shake, ever so slightly. Soul Reaver does his best to ward off your efforts, but he is too slow. One of his arms is torn from his body and instantly disintegrates, having been unwritten.
In that moment, you see the great shadowy minion of the Blood Eyes falter, his strength seeming to fade. And so the Blood Eyes siphons power from The Shadow King. Indeed, you can see that the Blood Eyes has been mortally wounded. The Avothian King has weakened him enough that the Prince has begun pulling strength from his minions, and will soon finish the Prince. You consider taking advantage of this weakness and ending The Shadow King right then and there. But you also notice that Gabroloch is still holding strong against The Avothians, and ready to flee in an instant should the tide turn against him. And so you spare The Shadow King. With luck, he and Gabroloch will spend the next thousand years or so fighting for dominance, once the Blood Eyes is laid low.
Reaver has begun to draw on his Well of Souls, his wounds healing and strength returning. You Expend. It feels costly. You are not certain of the number of years. Is anyone certain of the number, when they do this? you wonder as you disregard the expense. What’s a few years, after all? Inhaling deeply, you breathe out the White Flame and encompass The Prince of The East. The white flames are not sufficient to kill a demon prince, but it is enough to press one, hard. The power is unleashed like a bursting star, snuffing out a score of Demon Lords and severing Reaver from his Well. He is in the Abyss, and it would not take him long to rebuild the link, but you do not give him the time. While he is severed, your mind forms a simple spell, summoning a wickedly sharp blade which falls upon Soul Reaver like an avalanche. You hesitate for only a brief moment, and then Expend once more. The staggering Prince of The Eastern Abyss is bathed in the White Flame. The fire consumes the Prince’s body and turns the bones of the fallen into wet ash. The fields of blood boil, and the crimson pools are left rippling in the wake of your power. No reason to leave anything to chance. With sudden shock written clearly upon their features, the remaining forces of the Eastern Abyss tear holes in space and time, fleeing with The Shadow King in their company. The fusion between the two Abyssal realms begins to fall apart, transforming the battlefield into a chaotic plain of destruction and blood.
You swivel your head to catch sight of another flaring light as the Blood Eyes is impaled upon the Avothian King’s weapon. The Prince of the West staggers and turns, the blade still deep as he struggles and fails to pull the weapon from his body. Abyssal power flows around the fleeing Prince,as he voraciously consumes the essence of his Well in order to survive.
The Avothians look as if they will pursue, but the King holds up a single hand and speaks. “The Prince is as good as dead. His army has been shattered, his Well consumed, and his surviving lieutenants will feast upon him at the soonest opportunity.”
You consider for a moment, and then your voice rumbles over the fields of blood. “And your part, Avothian King?”
The Keeper of the Frozen Flame raises his head, and there is both pride and surrender in his eyes. “The Prince’s chains are broken. The rest is in your hands.” His voice is a whisper. “Our part in this, in all of this, is done.” He says it with such a finality in his tone, that for a moment, you consider letting them claim their deaths in this place, as they so clearly wish. You recall the last time you stopped a race from going extinct. They were less than grateful. It seems that these Avothians were so set on their own course of finality, they were now uncertain of what they would do if given a second chance.
“Not quite done.” You rumble.
You turn to the World Bridge, barley a spec of light at this point. The spell casters on the other side witnessed the victory, and have no strength left. You reach out with your Magik and touch the Bridge. World Bridges, while complicated and very difficult to open, are not that hard to maintain. You flood the ritual with your power (not even needing to Expend) and the portal flares to life.
“Go,” you say.
“Return to your world and see it to its end. What you chose to do after that, is your decision.”
The Avothian King hesitates for a moment, then heads toward the portal. The few survivors of the battle, perhaps a thousand, move through. Once they are gone, you alter the Bridge. You call upon the powers inherited from your predecessor, and roar again. The air itself shatters.
At this point, all accounts of the story seem to falter. No one can quite recall the how, but they all agree on the what. Time shifts and moves and a world once consumed by the Abyss, is being torn free.
As you gaze upon the dying world, you feel a pang of regret. Avothia was a beautiful place, and its people were not as common as on other worlds. Once, you had even hoped one of their number would rise to the point where they would be eligible to become a Guardian. Impossible though, now.
The surviving Avothians spread out, and waited for their world to die. The Abyss had tainted this world, and bound itself so tightly that cleansing it wasn’t an option, it had to die. This world though, was in a unique position. The Avothians kept the Abyss at bay enough that not all life had been consumed, enough had survived to accomplish your goal.
You watch in silence as the sun sets for the last time. It was dark. Not for you, you could see as well in darkness as you could in light.
Could the Avothians?
You don’t think they could, but it was never important enough to find out. You look to the Avothian King, and he still stares at the sky where the sun set. Hours pass, and you turn to the east. This world’s time in the Abyss had made it so like in the Abyss, time is malleable. What only seemed a few hours was considerably longer, and your rituals and High Magiks have run their course. The sun rises, and the world explodes with light and Magik.
It’s always a sight, watching a world be reborn. You imagine that the Avothians (even as skilled and powerful as they are) are not able to see all of the forces at work, but it’s still enough to impress them. Only a few moments have passed, but the impact left on the world is significant. The sun rises to a clear, blue sky. A gentle breeze moves across the land, and sways the now living trees.
The Avothian King, turns to you. “Beautiful, and amazing.”
“Your world has been restored.” you say, watching him closely.
“No,” he says shaking his head. “This world is new. There is something of our world in it, something of Avothia, but it isn’t ours. Nor will it be. Our world died, and we thought to die with it. Now we have the burden of living.”
“You are not the only survivors of your world.” you say.
“No,” he agrees. “Some of us, most of us probably will go and find those who evacuated before Avothia was consumed. They are likely scattered now, not wanting to overburden any single world. Though, I don’t know how long that will be a concern. Our power is fading, our Magik is gone now. It was tied to our world. The magic of this world is different, some of it was born of our power, but it will not sustain us.”
“So you will leave?” you ask.
“I will stay, I will honor our bargain.” He adds quickly, “but I have no place, so this world will do as well as any other.”
You nod slowly, thinking. “What will you call it? This world. I give you the right of Naming.”
The Avothian King paused, understanding the significance of that right.
When he speaks, it is barley a whisper, “Cyrillia.”
As he speaks the name, a sudden gust of wind picks up and for a moment, the Avothians panicked, acting as if they would be blown away. You realize that while he may have known what the Right entailed, the others likely didn’t. After all, it isn’tsomething that is commonly shared.
“An appropriate choice.” you say, nodding to him.
You turn to where the World Bridge was and flare it to life again. This time though, instead of opening, the magiks swirled inside, waiting to be shaped.
“You have strength enough left to use this, I think. Those who wish to leave, to search for your scattered people, use the World Bridge. It will take you where you want to go. I would begin your search on Valnor, I recently encountered a group of your kin there.”
You turn back to the King.
“One last question, Avothian King. The Demon that led the assault against your world, who did Blood Eyes send to lead the attack? In the beginning, when they first began those many years ago.”
The Avothian King stopped for a moment and considered. “The first of his Lords we faced was Cinder Thorn, but he never fought us directly. The Shadow King and the Blood Council played a role as well, but they never seemed to be very invested in the fight. I’m not sure, but I believe it was Gabroloch. I remember a report, when the war was young, saying that he was the newest of Blood Eyes’ Lords and was sent to prove himself. Though for being the newest of his Lords, Gabroloch was no weakling.”
He touches his shoulder as he speaks, remembering a wound he received in the fight no doubt.
“Why do you ask Guardian?”
Looking around, you see most of the Avothians have begun to pass through the World Bridge, and the rest, are heading off to explore this new world. You lean down close, and speak softly enough that no one else can overhear. The Kings eyes go wide, and he becomes unsteady on his feet.
“How?” He asks, voice hoarse.
“I don’t know.” You reply while turning away. And you have always hated not knowing.
“I am returning to Sanctuary. I will speak with Xen’Actyl and the other guardians. I think I may ask a dear friend for a favor. Cureanon has become board of late, and would enjoy a change of scenery I think.”
“But Guardian,” the King starts.
You cut him off. “There is nothing to be done now, nor for many of your years to come. Gabroloch and Shadow King will spend the next thousand years fighting to take Blood Eyes place. The same will happen in the Eastern Abyss. I made sure to leave enough of Soul Reavers Lords alive that there will be some contention. Enjoy the respite, though it is bittersweet, it is still a victory.”
“This is a new world. Let it have its innocence while it can. Be wary though, the magiks that gave new life to this world are still acting, I don’t know how they will react to your people. You still have much power, despite your concerns of it fading. I would ask you tread lightly for a decade or two.” The King nods.
“A World Bridge being opened here means this place will be a target. I will protect it Guardian.”
You nod absently, already thinking of the tasks ahead.
Xen’Actyl and the Council of Guardians won’t be pleased to learn what I have discovered. Less pleased with my interference, the loss of Avothia was tragic, but such an upheaval in the Abyss means that no one will have reliable information until new spies can be found. And tearing the world from the Abyss has made it unstable, the combination of that and the death of Soul Reaver could destabilize the Abyss for millennia.
You shake your head. No reason to dwell on it now. Even if you tried (and you wouldn’t) events have played out in such a way time has been imprinted, it likely is impossible to change at this point.
Which fits perfectly with what they want, you think sourly.
You begin to head to the World Bridge and stop when your stomach rumbles. You look around for a moment, searching the magic of this new world, and find what you are looking for. Luckily, Doors tend to form quickly and it isn’t long before you open one to the Hall. You need a good drink and hot meal while you think things over, and know just where to get them.