Earthdawn.pl’s 10th anniversary is being celebrated as you know. Their competition is over now and the winners will be published in regular posts one by one on their page. The following text is part of the 10th anniversary and it was one of the first texts on EARTHDAWN.PL and it is at least as old as the site.
This text gives a great insight into the history of Barsaive, the working of magic and the parties that shape Barsaive until today. It is especially a great work because of the narrative style, it let’s us see the world through the eyes of the long living Obsidimen.
Age of Legends
Translation of the words of Omasu, obsidiman Merchant from Travar addressed to obsidiman Otolk from Ayodhya during his first journey after the Awakening.
- Merrox, Master of the Hall of Records, 1508 TH
The origins of the story you are about to hear go back to thousands of years ago, but let us not dispute about those distant moments, for we will have a lot of time for that in the future. Allow me now to tell you about the events of most importance that had the decisive influence on what the Barsaive and we, its dwellers are now. So listen carefully, because this lesson you should memorize for the rest of your life.
The level of magic in our world has always cycled with time passing by, preventing almost any use of magic, when it was low and allowing mages to create flying castles just by the lift of a finger during its peak. We have known about this for ages, what we did not realize however, was that the increase in the level of magic caused by the astral and physical planes drawing towards one another would also bring something else...
As you know, in the south west Barsaive lies the city of Vivane, ruled by the mighty Theran Empire. This nation was founded by the students of an elven scholar, Elianar Messias, who for his greatest finding paid the ultimate price - he gave away his own life, so that we could have a chance to live. For you should know that their knowledge and power Therans have built on the books found by Elianar, books which he himself named the „Books of Harrow" and although him they led to insanity and death, us gave hope for survival of the most difficult time in our history!
Therans, after they had made their discoveries, came to our province spreading the dreadful word of the impending Scourge - a terrible time of terror, suffering and fear in which the entities living in the astral plane, called the Horrors, would come to our world running wreak and havoc among the Namegivers. At first, nobody believed Therans. However mysteriously missing, overcome by madness or simply brutally murdered in an unknown way people were a clear evidence for the existence of evil, which began to manifest itself in Barsaive with unprecedented strength. To those who would submit to their authority, Therans promised to reveal methods of protection against the approaching Horrors. And although Barsavians were definitely unwilling to put their fate in Theran hands, having no other choice, they began building shelters according to the plans provided by the Empire, in which they were going to wait the coming Scourge through...
You are surely curious what kind of shelters were they? Well... Namegivers were forced to separate themselves from the outside world, hide in built underground kaers or behind thick, covered with runes, walls of citadels. There existed no other way, for the fight against so powerful beings such as Horrors was doomed to failure from the start - nobody, not even the greatest of heroes, was able to withstand a confrontation with these monsters during the Scourge. Therefore mankind was condemned to a more than four hundred years of separation from the sunlight and gusts of wind that you can even feel on your skin at this very moment, forced into isolation and existence in closed societies, forced by a necessity, forced to practice a parody of life in order be able to live in the future...
You probably thought to yourself that the burden of such an existence is impossible to bear, that life conducted this way would only end in a collective madness and bloody carnage, which would occur no matter whether Horrors were involved in it or not. There is much reason in this, however the kaer dwellers had two things that allowed them, at least to some extent, to survive. These two things were hope to see the sunlight, the stars, the vast green leas and the forests of Barsaive and a book called "The Book of Tomorrow", prepared by the dwarfs from Throal, the largest kingdom in our province. What they contained was our history and culture - the heritage of all denizens of Barsaive. Do not be surprised therefore, that in most places in our province you will be able to communicate with strangers in the dwarven language - "The Book of Tomorrow" is an obligatory book for all of us even today.
Residents of Barsaive managed to survive – although many shelters were indeed destroyed and their inhabitants killed or, even worse, transformed into horrible monsters, inspiring fear among the living no lesser than Horrors themselves, nevertheless a large number of Namegivers was saved. However, the survival of the Scourge did not mean the end of all troubles - the world denizens of Barsaive found after leaving their shelters is completely different from the one they remembered from the stories of their ancestors. Once lively forests are full of yet unknown monsters resembling decaying corpses, fertile lands are covered with dust, which makes breathing impossible, not to mention letting the sun rays reach the earth so it could yield fruit! Fortunately, not all places have been corrupted by the Horrors - a large part of the land is in a condition good enough to live on it and cultivate it, or at least, with Passion's blessing, adapt it to the latter. Still, even these areas hold threats, as not all of the Horrors are gone from our world! The level of magic ceased to fall about a hundred years ago, the causes of which could not be determined even by the most prominent scholars, and what powerful Horrors were able to take advantage of and keep searching for the souls of people susceptible to corruption, break their will and inflict as much evil as it is possible!
There are also other enemies which the residents of Barsaive have to cope with - the Theran Empire wanting to regain authority over the province, frightening cultist organizations in the service of Horrors or Mad Passions and last but not least there are Namegivers themselves, whose lust for power pushes them to acts so vile that even the worst Horrors would not be suspected of such behavior!
In this difficult situation you are to live and experience our, nevertheless, beautiful land. Only you can decide which path you will follow, and what you will achieve, however you must know that, as perhaps never before, right now Barsaive needs brave heroes who could lead us in the right direction, towards freedom and happiness. Yes, my dear Otolk, Barsaive has many legends and many heroes - but today, our world is awakening - today is the Age of Legends - legends carved with the greatness of our own hearts!
Author: Andrzej Swędrzyński
Translation: Wojciech "Sethariel" Żółtański