I: The Age of Elementals
Before the Elementals, there was the Void and it was nothing.
Perhaps out of boredom? Perhaps curiosity or a divine plan? Perhaps for its own reasons, the Void birthed the Elementals–the Lez Enian Vav, in the First Tongue–that formed our world.
The Void’s spark ignited Enian Rem, the Fire Elemental. The Void’s breath blew forth Enian Feva , the Air Elemental. Its body birthed Enian Teroka, the Earth Elemental, and a single tear from its infinite cosmos crashed upon the shores of creation to become Enian Fro, the Water Elemental. But the world was silent and filled only with space and the four elements. Thus, into this static landscape, the Void sang the first song, and the chaotic, unpredictable Life Elemental–the voracious and ever-hungry Enian Zaru–danced into existence.
As something now existed, nothing no longer was here. The Void was no more and, in its place, all of existence was now Lez Enian Vav, the five Elemental Rulers.
Each Elemental forged their part of our world. Laughing with glee, the Air Elemental breathed out the howling, endless sky in a great gust of wind. Roaring with fury, the Fire Elemental ignited the air and cast the Sun into this sky while the creaking Earth Elemental stretched out its deep roots to form the fertile lands that hold us. Finally, the Water Elemental bent down and wept for all of creation, her tears carving through our world as the winding rivers that all seek the comfort of the single, great ocean.
With the world as a stage, the unpredictable Life Elemental danced wildly through its lands. Where the Life Elemental’s toes touched the earth, great trees, plants and flowers sprouted from life and earth. Where its fingers and hair flew, birds and buzzing insects appeared in the skies from life and air. Where she splashed through the water or danced through the rains, fish for the seas and rivers and frogs for the marshes wriggled out from life and water. Mixing with fire, she made the wolves, bears, snakes, falcons, sharks and other predators who, like fire, consume those around them.
Our world was now filled with life but the Life Elemental was not yet done. No, she had one more task. Gathering the Elementals together, the Life Elemental combined each of them and forged the greatest of all life in our world: mankind.
Made of equal parts fire, water, earth and air and bound together with life, mankind was connected to all Lez Enian Vav and, indeed, connected to all of their creations.
The Elementals looked upon their world and smiled. The world was wondrous, peaceful, and held gently in balance with their Covenant. Oceans filled with life crashed on lands teeming with more life overlooked by endless, blue skies filled with wondrous life. And, all was tended to by mankind who, in turn, worshipped the five Elementals jointly and equally.
It was a beautiful age but it would not last.
Perhaps driven by the hunger and selfishness that resides in all life, Enian Zaru looked around and she did not see balance and beauty. Rather she saw a world filled with life. Yet, all her creations were shared equally with the other four Enian.
Why, she wondered, why should life not just worship me? Did I not create all of it? I do not demand the Sun’s praise nor the Wind’s worship, I do not ask the mountains or ocean to bend their knees to me, so why should my brothers and sisters share life’s worship of me?
And so Enian Zaru forged her own life in secret. This was not life balanced and blended with the other elements. No, these creations were purely imbued with raw, ravenous life itself. They would become known as Lez Zaros or Zuzaru–the Undying Ones–and would worship only Enian Zaru first amongst the Elementals.
At first, the Undying Ones were hidden from the other four Elementals. Their tentacles, claws and chaotic forms were buried deep in the dark bowels of a young world. Here the Zuzaru bred and worshipped Enian Zaru in wild, twisted rituals. The other Elementals did not matter to them. Nothing mattered to them but their creator and their hunger.
But, gnawed at the roots of an oblivious, young world, an ever-hungry immortal race could not be hidden forever.
Driven by uncontrollable hunger, the Undying Ones began creeping out across the land under the cover of darkness. Writhing tentacles and razor-sharp teeth that sought sustenance; shifting, horrific forms hunting prey and consuming everything in their path. Life is hunger, and these monsters were filled with an unchecked amount of it.
The first few missing in distant villages were hardly noticed by the other Elementals, lulled into a false sense of security by their positions inside of their own creation. But, as the Undying Ones’ numbers grew and their insatiable hunger drove more and more of them out from the shadows, the missing men, women and children grew in number and the fear and dread spread like a plague through the First Kingdom of Man.
In desperation, the mortal kings of the day cast themselves before Lez Enian Vav and begged for them to save their people from the terrors that hunted them at night. And, despite Enian Zaru’s loud and constant dismissal, when the other four Elementals looked, they easily found the horror that had been created.
“With these abominations,” the raging, fiery Enian Rem roared, speaking as he often did for the others, “you have unbalanced our world and breached our first and most sacred Covenant! We will restore balance to our world before you and your cursed Zuzaro return us to the Void!”
“As always,” Enian Zaru hissed, her form shifting and changing, as Undying Ones crept out from the cracks in the world around her, “You presume to speak for all of us. As always, you presume that whatever favoured you was the correct balance. As always, you elevate matter over life, but was this world not built for life to live in it? We have seen the Age of the Elementals, but perhaps this age should be the age for life? Perhaps it is time that you return to the Void!”
And so began the First War of the Elementals, or Le Melzo Guva: the Violent Dream.
II: The Violent Dream
After Enian Zaru broke the Covenant, the Life Elemental, her nightmarish hordes of Undying Ones and the few men that she had promised immortality to fled the lands that centred around the Elemental Thrones. They fled over the mountains and north into what was then the cold, frozen tundra that would later come to be known as the dark kingdom of Mokodia, or the Land of the Undying Heartbeat.
The Fire Elemental–called the Fire King by man–summoned the other Elementals together and raised the armies of man from their lands. The Earth Elemental was loyal and steadfast to a fault while the Air Elemental howled overhead fanning the flames below. Maybe out of fear or loyalty, or both, all the kings of men and all their followers fell dutifully behind the Fire King. Only the Water Elemental was a quiet dissenting voice, like water trickling down a mountainside she looked for the path of least resistance.
“We all have the power of choice, Brother Rem?” She asked, pleading for flexibility and fluidity rather than war and destruction, “Can we not let Sister Zaru explore her own path as we all explore ours? Even if all rivers end up in the same ocean, is this world not big enough for all types to live in peacefully?”
“If you are not with us, Sister Feva,” the Fire King growled, flames licking the walls as his magma throne crackled under him with the Earth Elemental towering to his right and the Air Elemental howling to his left, “Then you too are at risk of breaking the Covenant and should step aside. The land needs to be under our balance and, if Lez Zuzaru will not surrender to our Covenant, then the demons that she calls children will be cleansed by force and fire from our world.”
Few heard the Water Elemental’s reply about how the balance had been broken a long time ago when the Fire King had begun speaking for everyone. Few heard Enian Feva’s reply because the Elemental Armies had already begun marching to Le Melzo Guva, the Violent Dream.
The First War of the Elementals had begun and its horrors would echo down the ages to come. With vast, mighty armies riding against writhing nightmarish masses, no war before or since has killed so many and changed the course of history so much.
The two great armies fought where the great mountain range–the Garazuzz–divides the land into the lands of man and the wilderness of Mokodia. The armies of wind howled down the mountainside as the armies of earth hurled boulders into swarming, screaming Zuzaro. The troops of fire hurled flame through the sky while the nightmarish, writhing legions of the Undying Ones ran, crawled, slithered, flew and scuttled forwards their numbers seemingly endless as their gnawing, biting teeth and scratching, tearing claws ripping flesh apart…
It was a nightmare. Otherworldly. It was Le Melzo Guva, the Violent Dream that would haunt the world long after it woke up.
In that age, men, beasts and monsters fell in countless numbers. Horror piled high as the blood ran down the mountainside, turning the land’s rivers red. The Sun and Moon each saw so many cycles of death and destruction that even the cosmos had to look away and the skies themselves went dark.
Eventually, though, by scorching a trail through the shrieking mass of limbs, teeth and claws, the Fire King carved his way before the Undying One, Enian Zaru. Her form was shifting and growing, writhing and changing with life’s chaos, but she stood her ground against the Fire King with all the arrogance of life itself.
“Go back, Sister Zaru!” the Fire King bellowed, fire sizzling splattered blood and goo off him as the ground and air grew hotter than the surface of the Sun and the rock below him melting, “Go back to where you crawled out from or I will personally consume you in the very cosmic fires that forged me!”
“Never!” the Undying One screamed, twisted trees and vines with mouths filled with razor-sharp teeth exploded from the earth around her, straining to reach for the Fire King, “Never! This world was built as life’s playground and your time to rule it is over!”
And in the shadow of the Garazuzz Mountains, the world held its breath…
The Void could no longer bear to watch its creations destroy themselves. In the only other action taken since birthing the five Elementals, the Void reached through the cosmos and plucked the Life Elemental out of that battlefield on the slopes of the Garazuzz Mountains.
At that moment, eternity opened up and the wild, writhing form of Enian Zaru and nightmarish forms of most of the Undying Ones were snatched from existence to the dream beyond space and time. The few remaining horrors scuttled, slithered and flew away into the night to hide in the cracks and corners of the world, while those few dark men that had followed the Life Elemental fled back into the harsh, cold of Mokodia.
In the subsequent silence that fell over that battlefield, the remaining four Elementals looked around themselves and saw the death that their dominion has forged. There was no more Covenant and they saw the pain that their pride has brought to this world. They saw only loss and they longed for this to never recur.
“Brothers and Sister,” the Water Elemental whispered as she wept cool, soothing rains over the land to wash the blood and horror away, “We cannot continue like this. It is not the world but ourselves that is out of balance. We all have broken the Covenant. We are all Lez Zuzaru and Lez Zuraru are us. Being equal parts of all of us, the only balance–the only hope for balance–lies within mankind.”
And so began the Le Zarufu, the Age of Men. Or, more accurately, Lez Ná, the Age of Wizards.
III: The Age of Wizards
Before ascending from this world–or, forsaking it, according to some!–the Elemental Rulers passed their Gift onto mankind. Each of them placed their own ná–the essence or magic of the elementals–into a select bloodline, who would become the stewards of their own kind and this world.
They would become the Elemental Wizards and, these wizard families, founded Le Zarufu, the First Kingdom of Mankind. This was a Kingdom that had four kings, one from each elemental line that ruled, initially, together in consensus and harmony. The four kings, Lez Náguvá, built the Rainbow Tower in the centre of the land to train those of their bloodlines that carried the Gift.
Those born as Fire Wizards, Remná, were trained in the art of war and conflict, of ruling and hierarchy, captains and generals of armies that were taught rulership and conquering over all else. Through deeds, duels, and death, the strongest of these Fire Wizards was always the King of the First Kingdom, who, over time, slowly forgot the need for consensus and considered harmony and obedience to be interchangeable.
Below the Fire Wizards, the Earth Wizards--Teroná–were the builders that summoned great structures, built cities, roads, and shaped the world for mankind to live in while filling armies as loyal soldiers. The Air Wizards, Froná, were the musicians and playwrights, scholars and couriers and, indeed, some were also rumoured thieves and assassins of the court. And then, lowest of all, the Water Wizards, Feváná, were the healers, rainmakers and farmers of the First Kingdom and, eventually, nearly forgotten from the structures of power in the First Kingdom as they lived further and further out in the countryside with only agricultural responsibilities.
But amidst the illusion of peace in the First Kingdom lay the seeds that would sprout ages of strife.
Beyond the imposing Garazuzz Mountains, Lez Zuzaru or the Mistaken Ones that had sided with Enian Zaru in the First Elemental War, had survived. Indeed, these men had forged their own kingdom of Mokodia and, unimbued with magic, they had had to invent tools to survive in their harsh, cold land. Need bred mankind’s own creations, and over thousands of years, these crude tools built finer and finer tools; wires that carried life, vast machines powered with fire and water, metals that glowed and floated upon the air, hand-held tubes that roared with sound and fire, and powders and liquids that held all manner of magic.
Indeed, over thousands of years, the forgotten Zuzaru men in their kingdom of Mokodia grew in power and began to cross the Garazuzz Mountains in search of more metals and more resources for their machines. Be it planned or misconstrued, the Zuzaru began to fight the Enians. Small border skirmishes escalated, tension built and old, distrust grew until both Kingdoms raised their respective armies and marched against each other to meet on the old battlefield, in the shadow of the vast Garazuzz Mountains.
Enian legions of fire wizards rained fireballs down as air wizards fanned these flames while sucking the air from Zuzaru lungs. Earth wizards shuddered the ground and hurled boulders around, crushing men on all sides. Yet Zuzaru roaring machines of metal and light, breathing steam, creaked forward crushing Enian wizards and soldiers beneath them. Flying birds of metal dropped explosions of fire that shattered the earth while Zuzaru men carrying strange metal sticks spat loud, fiery death to all before them…
In the end, the Gift–unequally given to the Enian by arbitrary choice thousands of years ago–overcame the metal and light of the Zuzaru, and the Mistaken Ones were forced to flee (again) deep into their cold, harsh land of Mokodia. Yet, the cost was high on the Enian, as their greatest wizards and, indeed, the four Lez Náguvá, Elemental Kings, had all perished in the battle and taken their Gift from this world. Their already weakening bloodlines would never recover from these losses and, herein, lay the seed for the next Age’s conflict.
With both armies having retreated from the dark slopes of the Garazuzz Mountains and both kingdoms rebuilding from the ruins left behind, a fragile peace fell over the lands that could not last.
IV: The Mokodian Perspective
In the Republic of Mokodia, the descendants of the Followers of Enian Zaru, the Life Elemental and Saviour of Mankind, tell a different tale.
Painted in green–lithe and naked–Mokodian priestesses speak of an unbalanced creation against life by a cold and uncaring universe. They speak of vicious, arrogant Old Gods demanding worship and sacrifice from starving, struggling men, women and children, and enforcing this through an old, inhumane Covenant.
These priestesses explain that the blessed Enian Zaru had looked around her and saw her children–life in all its forms–surviving despite the odds. She saw her children surviving despite the Old Gods. Her were children surviving despite the elements. These same elements that gave so little and yet took so much.
She saw this and wept. Unlike cold, unliving elements, life can feel pain and, at this moment, the Saviour’s mind was made up to help her children.
First, she showed mankind the wonders that nature could provide–from hunting to berries, from bees to flowing rivers–before teaching them how to cultivate this consciously from the land as farmers that bend this nature to their will. She showed them how to irrigate fields, store grain and, even, brew alcohols and stronger tinctures for all the ailments that affected them. With nature’s bounty in their warehouses, she began to show them deeper wonders, from biology to the wondrous birthing of life and the river that flows forever in her ná providing endless life that would, eventually, overcome the Old Gods’ oppressive rule.
But the Lez Enian Vav had found out how she had helped mankind and, in jealousy and rage, they had banded together to banish her from the world of men. Uncaring of how many were killed in the ensuing conflict, the Old Gods had fought against the enlightenment of mankind and, ultimately, cast the Saviour from the world before abandoning it themselves.
But the Old Gods could not erase the knowledge that men had gained. Indeed, after handing their absolute power to an arbitrary and unequal few, the Old Gods in their arrogance and casual cruelty had just abandoned this world to its own devices.
Those families that the Old Gods had given their power to had ruled over the rest of men by force in a harsh and cruel monarchy. The common man had no voice in this rule and those without the Gift were considered lesser to those with the Gift. Unable to accept this arbitrary rule, the free men and Followers of Enian Zaru fled into the cold, harsh lands of Mokodia to build their own, fairer and more equal society.
In Mokodia, armed with both the knowledge the Life Elemental had imparted and the freedom to explore it, the Mokodians delved deeper and deeper into the study of life, science and the world. From steam power to electricity, from the science of metals to that of other substances and materials, from guns to aeroplanes… The Mokodians‘ built their kingdom up from the ashes of their defeat–not bowed by the elements but harnessing them–and their lands swelled upon the firm foundation of sciences and progress, under the belief that all men were equal and should not be judged by their birth, but by their words and deeds.
IV: The Age of the Water Wizard
Watered down over thousands of years, the Gift has become rarer and rarer in the Enian elemental bloodlines. While the Fire Wizard descendants still rule, this rule is reinforced more by brutality than legitimacy. Most Gifted bloodlines of the Enian now exist only in name, the elemental powers long having been diluted to nothing while the reliance on these Gifts stunted all other endeavours to find other solutions and progress other knowledge. Indeed, much progress is banned for fear of it challenging or replacing those in power.
Perhaps because of their fringe existence and the rest’s dismissal of them as inferior, only the water wizards retain clear bloodlines and continue the Old Magic as part of their daily feudal farming.
Into this decaying kingdom and in the shadow of the Garazuzz Mountains, a brutal rape of a farmer’s wife–a descendant of a distant water wizard line–by an entitled fire wizard led to the birth of a baby girl. Growing up in obscurity, the girl is taken during a Mokodian-led slaver’s raid across the mountain and forced into slavery in the growing army of Mokodia to maintain their vast metal machines.
Having rebuilt itself stronger, Mokodia’s borders are now pushing over the Garazuzz Mountains seeking greater resources and more fertile lands for building their machines and the swelling numbers of their ranks. Despite its decaying core, the Old Kingdom of Enian pushes back and the inevitable conflict collapses into the Second War of Men.
Mokodia’s vast army rolls over the Garazuzz‘s dark slopes and fills its air, as steam drives their death machines forward to meet the defending ranks of waning Enian wizards. But the Gift has fallen far, its dilution is deep and the wizards can do little to stop these vast machines spouting steam from grinding forward into their feeble ranks.
Amidst this chaos, the girl that is now a young woman–born of fire and water–realizes that her Gift is that of both. A rare mingling of Ná and the combination of the elements water and fire, she can control both.
Yes, she has the Gift of steam.
Pulling on this power, she reaches out and, singlehandedly, takes control of the Mokodian steam-powered machine army. Thousands of vast machines grind to a halt and the world holds its breath… Instead of turning it on its masters or even defeating the last, failing Enian wizards, she forces both sides together to strike peace between the people.
“Stop!” her voice, echoing through all the metal throats of all the machines in the shadow and sky of the Garazuzz Mountains, “Stop! This endless war ends now, either in all your death or in none!”
Having seen how the Enian rule the weak and having been enslaved in Mokodia, she understands the hypocrisy of both people. With the vast army of machines surrounding them, she negotiates the Water Wizards, Feváná, as the bridge between these two kingdoms. She will rule from the peaks of the Garazuzz Mountains, overlooking both kingdoms as provinces of the Water Wizards with her as Empress.
The Age of the Water Wizards has started, and the world and kingdoms and men limp back to their lands to lick their wounds and rebuild themselves.
A fragile peace lies over the lands but it cannot last. It never does, especially not when the old Enian bloodlines are treacherously plotting to regain power and the infuriated Mokodians are delving deeper into their dangerous sciences to find weapons that need no fire, water or steam…
Yet these risks are not the true threat to this age.
Unbeknownst to all and nearly forgotten to history, in the deep shadows and hidden in this world’s ancient cracks, the Undying Ones are starting to reappear. In the millennia since the First War of the Elementals, they have been breeding and their endless hunger is growing. In the darkest hours of the night, horrors are again stalking upon wing and limb in treacherous form; rows of razor-sharp teeth seeking flesh. Shadowy men are gathering in secret to worship these immortal beings and Her, as they seek to insidiously gain their own power over life. Indeed, somewhere just beyond this world in a cosmic prison of space and time, the writhing, screaming Undying One is trying to claw her way back into this world and, perhaps–just perhaps!–cracks are appearing in her cage.