A SUMMONER'S INHERITANCE...
A Summoner's inheritance is a power greater than magic. With rings of channeling, Summoners call forth demons and golems, supernatural servants and elemental creatures. Summoners have toppled empires and challenged gods. They are venerated as saviors and feared as destroyers. The chosen are born with a mark on one hand, but the origins of this gift were forgotten long ago.
Joseph fears his power more than death itself. As a child, Joseph tried to save his village from attackers, but the demon he summoned slaughtered the villagers while Joseph watched in horror, his misguided heroics causing the deaths of those he loved. Exiled and ostracized, Joseph vowed never to summon again.
Over the years, the enigmatic Yago counsels and guides the youth, preparing Joseph to fulfil his prophecy. As the invading armies of Orenia march across the Medevan plain, Yago urges Joseph to quest for the ancient rings. Reluctantly, Joseph agrees.
On his journey, Joseph meets three young adventurers who become his companions-Flece, Jekhar, and Rosalind. Flece is a cunning thief and cynical rogue who grew up on the streets of Lenele. Jekhar's family perished when Joseph summoned a demon long ago, and now the warrior seeks revenge. Begrudgingly, he helps Joseph on his quest. Rosalind is novice of the Order of Iona and yearns to become a mage-priest and guardian of Iona's divine scrolls. The daughter of Yago, Rosalind is jealous of Joseph's power and hates her father for devoting his life to the Summoner’s cause.
Their quest takes them across the world-to the sunken empire of Ikaemos and the rugged wilds of Liangshan, from the stronghold of the Khosani to the Jade River that flows from Heaven. In the ruins of lost civilizations and the temples of Orenia, they seae, but because the fate of this cosmos perpetually changes, the words themselves shift on the page.
THE MYTH OF IONA
The entire island was once an underwater mountain where Iona, daughter of the sea god Amasido, built her citadel. Iona was the lover of Vadagar, god of the earth and her father’s most hated enemy. So that he and Iona might live together without her father’s interference, Vadagar raised Iona’s citadel above the waves. However, Iona could not survive out of water and she perished. In vengeance, Amasido unleashed a great wave that destroyed the cities of the Khosani, a race created by and devoted to Vadagar. Grieving for Iona and the Khosani, Vadagar withdrew to the depths of the earth, never to return.
Since the death of Iona, Amasido sought to destroy the earth dwellers, and the seas of this world turned deadly. The waters around Iona are especially treacherous. Even on days when winds are calm, Iona’s waters are rough and thunder against its rocky coast. Those who sail east beyond the island rarely return. Medevans are terrified of death at sea. A soul lost at sea drowns for an eternity, unless the body can be reclaimed and buried.
Promising aspirants from all over the kingdom are brought to the island monastery of Iona at a young age. The first years of their life on Iona consist of a brutal regimen of hard labor, combat training, and meditation-only by conquering the body will the aspirant learn to discipline the mind. Aspirants give up all worldly possessions. If an aspirant proves worthy enough, he or she becomes a novice. The novice then gains limited access to the texts of the library, under the careful supervision of the monks. The hard labor continues, but study and learning spells becomes part of the regimen. If the novice successfully completes the training, he or she may then take vows to become full a member of the order.
THE CRYPT OF THE MEDEVAN KINGS
Iona is the burial site of the first thirteen Medevan rulers. This number came to the High Priest of Urath in a vision, that the first thirteen sons of Urath must be buried at Iona to appease the gods. (The Medevan sovereigns claim their “divine right” as direct descendants of Urath-the children of a union between the god and his first mortal creation.) The first Medevan king founded the Order of Iona to defend the royal crypt from the minions of Amasido. Thus, the Ionan Order began as a military unit, an honor guard of those who had given the greatest service to the kingdom.
Below the crypt are the ancient catacombs, its portals sealed off. Since the great warrior Carados (builder of the Great Library) ventured down into the catacombs and vanished, no one has dared enter. Thousands of ancients were laid to rest in those catacombs during the Chaos of Ten Thousand Years, long before the Kingdom of Medeva ever existed.
THE GREAT LIBRARY
Centuries ago, Carados, the commander of the Ionan Order and one of the greatest warriors in the kingdom’s history, devoted his life to the study of ancient scrolls, books, and texts. He struggled to decipher the esoteric and shifting language of the gods. Using his wealth, Carados built the Great Library and charged his knights with the task of gathering ancient texts scattered across the world. Their quests became the subject of epic legends, and they amassed an enormous collection of works.
After Carados, the function of the Order gradually shifted from knightly to monastic as its members immersed themselves in the secrets stored in the Great Library. (Combat remains an integral part of the Order’s training but more for the purposes of physical discipline than for practical use.)
Only monks who have taken the vows of the Order of Iona may enter the Great Library. Only those who have dedicated their lives to the rigorous discipline of the Order are able to translate the enigmatic language of the gods. Not only is the language nearly impossible to translate, but because the fate of this cosmos perpetually changes, the words themselves shift on the page.
IONAN MAGIC: THEORY AND PRACTICE
Ionan magic is learned from divine texts such as those stored in the Great Library. However, even the most powerful magic is very limited compared to what some of these divine books and scrolls contain-the secrets to the architecture of the universe itself, knowledge that even a powerful mind can only begin to fathom. Therefore, Ionan magic is a kind of translation of the divine knowledge into a form that can be used by a spell caster. Magic is not that knowledge or power itself, because the nature of the divine language prevents it from being translated directly (the words are always changing and even contradictory). Though mortals might believe magic is powerful and that mages can perform miraculous acts, the craft of spell casters is a second-hand and weak dilution of the force contained in the divine language.
Those who attain the novice level at Iona are taught how to cast spells as part of their training. Spells are considered exercises to train the mind until it is ready to handle the divine language directly. Full monks of the order rarely trouble themselves with spellcasting except as a diversion or a form of mental calisthenics. Many novices do not have the strength to take the vows and become full members of the Order-they may return to Medeva as mages and continue their study of the magical arts. Prince Sornehan, brother of King Bellias VI, followed this path.
Iona is not the only repository for divine texts. Books and scrolls are scattered all over the world, and around these texts other orders, sects, cults, and “schools of magic” have emerged. Furthermore, other forms of magic do exist that do not rely on the translation of divine texts.
LAURENT, ABBOT OF IONA
Only the strongest minds have the discipline to become master of the Order of Iona. The precocious eldest son of a powerful duke and a royal cousin, Laurent surrendered his birthright at the age of seven and traveled alone to the island. He had been summoned there by a vision of a celestial being that guided him to Iona. His training proved him to be a student of unusual talents and power.
Reading the language of the gods exacts a heavy toll, however. If a monk reads a text he or she is not strong enough to handle, the results are disastrous-madness, perhaps, or a sudden death as the words literally consume the lifeforce of the reader, or a profound, catatonic despair from which there is no escape. The monks of Iona die at an early age, decades before their time.
For these reasons, Laurent is blind-the divine words hollowed out his eyes, though he still can still “see” the writing in the texts of the Great Library. His body appears ancient, almost mummified, but he has a tremendous vitality, as if still in the prime of his life.
He is cordial and charming to his guests (he has not forgotten his noble upbringing), but stern and ruthless toward his followers. He is cruel and severe only for their own good-if they do not learn discipline, they will not survive their training.
OF THE PRELATE
[Editor's Note: The following is a passage from a work known commonly as the "Anokhi Lessons." Presumably recorded by the Prelate's disciple Avem of Ekhath, its practical purpose was to instruct initiates commencing study at the High Temple in Lenele. The "Lessons" provide a rudimentary overview of Urathi mythology while introducing the reader to the complexities of deciphering ancient scripture.]
Lesson 1: The Creation
The writings from which we derive our knowledge of the Creation belong to a collection of thirty scrolls attributed to Sivu of the West Tower, who lived during the Second Araenugeth ("War of Gods"). Of these thirty scrolls, only eleven are extant. Four are in the possession of the High Temple of Urath, and seven are stored in the Great Library of the Iona monastery. Significantly, none are written in Aosi, the divine script of wandering glyphs. Rather, these scrolls are transcriptions and commentary from sacred texts presumably destroyed during the Chaos.
The first scroll describes the act of creation by GHUVAL, the Maker of All Things:
From the Tree of Seven Branches, Ghuval carved two lands, Khosos and Urghaal.
In Khosos we lived since the coming of Husaa the First Born. The sea, the mountains, the forests, the fish and the birds, and all peoples and all kingdoms belong to Khosos. In Khosos we live, and in Khosos we shall die.
The spires of Urghaal lie beyond the Vaheomo, where Elaadi keeps watch. The white stones of Urghaal stand beyond the fire that conquers night and winter. In Urghaal, the Maker of All Things built a city of light and joy.
This narrative stands in marked contrast to the Book of Erothi, attributed to Thama of the Drowned City. In this text, the author describes the visitation of a demigod who revealed to the mystic a vision of the Creation. Thama interprets the Creation as an act of purification-the sphere of Light divided from the sphere of Darkness (Khosos and Urghaal, respectively).
In the next lesson, we shall see the consequences of these conflicting views of the Creation. If we chose to believe Sivu of the West Tower, the Urathi rebellion could be interpreted as an act of transcendence as the son claims the birthright Ghuval has denied him. However, if we accept the teachings of the Book of Erothi, the rebellion symbolizes the corruption of light (Ghuval) by the forces of darkness (Urath). Though the latter heresy has long been suppressed, we must appreciate its influence on current theological doctrine and its historical significance during the ancient wars of faith.
End of the Lesson..
TEACHINGS OF THE
[Editor's Note: This is the second of three excerpts from a work known commonly as the "Anokhi Lessons." Presumably recorded by the Prelate's disciple Avem of Ekhath, its practical purpose was to instruct initiates commencing study at the High Temple in Lenele. The "Lessons" provide a rudimentary overview of Urathi doctrine while introducing the reader to the complexities of deciphering ancient scripture.]
Lesson 2: The Tower of Eleh In the first lesson, we learned about GHUVAL, the Maker of All Things, and how he created two spheres: Urghaal the Heavens and Khosos the World. In this lesson, we shall learn about the Four Children of Ghuval and how they usurped the throne of their father.
The four major divinities we know as the "Children of Ghuval" are URATH, God of the Sky; AMASIDO, God of the Sea; VADAGAR, God of the Mountains; and LAHARAH, Goddess of the Flame. According to the scrolls of Sivu of the West Tower, Ghuval banished his children to the realm of Khosos:
From the white stones of his city, the Father of Heaven cast down his children. "Never shall you cross the gates of Urghaal, for here I am lord, and I shall rule so all Creation knows my tyranny! Khosos shall be your kingdom and your prison!"
As we discuss in the first lesson, Thama of the Drowned City provides a different reading of the story in his Book of Erothi, describing Ghuval's purification of the Spheres of Light and Darkness. Thama names the Four not as "Children" but as "Others" and "Shadows."
Regardless of these conflicting views, both authors agree that the Four rebelled against their father and deposed him. According to scripture, the Children built a massive siege tower that reached beyond the celestial sphere. From Sivu of the West Tower:
Stone by stone, the children built the Tower of Eleh ["over Elaadi, or the moon"] to strive beyond the Vaheomo ["sea of stars"], where Elaadi keeps watch. Up the winding stair, their armies marched to Urghaal, the shining city of light and joy. The walls of Heaven fell.
[Editor's Note: In 575 V.M., the Orenian Emperor, Murod the Usurper, declared his immortality and announced his ambition to rebuild the Tower of Eleh to install himself as the Third Emperor of Heaven. The construction, which has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of slave laborers, continues to this day and is expected to take a thousand years.]
In Thama's account, the forces of darkness shattered the sphere that imprisoned them (Khosos) and corrupted the Sphere of Light (Urghaal). Thama's disciple Iohnis the Blind describes the Sun as the breach through which the Four invaded Heaven. Therefore, the light of the Sun is the light of Urghaal shining into the Sphere of Darkness. The Synod of Tolana invalidated the Iohnan Heresy in 13 V.M.
[Editor's Note: Eghane of Iona has recently argued that the rebellion of the Four was not an act of war, but an act of writing. In her letter to Ferenc of Moano, Hierophant of the High Temple, Eghane claims the Aosi, the divine and shifting language of the gods, is Ghuval himself, bound to these pages through the act of writing. Therefore, the sacred scrolls and tomes of the Great Library are nothing less than the prison of Ghuval, the Maker of All Things. Through the power of inscription, the Four mastered the power of Creation. Eghane suggests the Tower of Eleh might have been the site or the instrument of the writing.]
In Lesson 3, we will discuss the birth of the Four Tribes and war between Amasido and Vadagar, prelude to the Araenugeth, the "War of the Gods."
End of the Lesson.
TEACHINGS OF THE
[Editor's Note: This is the last of three excerpts from a work known commonly as the "Anokhi Lessons." Presumably recorded by the Prelate's disciple Avem of Ekhath, its practical purpose was to instruct initiates commencing study at the High Temple in Lenele. The "Lessons" provide a rudimentary overview of Urathi doctrine while introducing the reader to the complexities of deciphering ancient scripture.]
Lesson 3: The Four Tribes of Khosos
In the second lesson, the Prelate Anokh-Naghu taught us how Urath, Vadagar, Amasido, and Laharah rebelled against their father Ghuval and usurped the throne of Heaven.
Now we will learn how the Four Children gave life to the Four Tribes of Khosos. This happened before the building of the Tower of Eleh and the rebellion of the gods.
In the writings of Sivu of the West Tower, the gods built a great city upon the stones of Khosos:
The Four Children gathered at the center of the world, and there built the city named "Ilaosi," for all would know this place as the city of gods. Urath said to them, "Here we shall make a people to serve and worship us. They shall craft armor and weapons and fight for us against Ghuval, the Maker of All Things."
[Editor's Note: The modern Medevan city of Lenele was built upon the original site of Ilaosi, leveled during the Chaos of Ten Thousand Years. Only the Forge of Urath and the "sewers" below the city (both excavated during the Conquest) are extant. The name "Lenele" means "City of Gods" in the Rhunari tongue. On the other hand, the Orenian Emperors have long maintained that the imperial palace and jade temple were built on the site of Ilaosi. Some scholars suggest that both claims may be valid, as the world was split in half during the Third Araenugeth, presumably at the site where the gods built their city.]
In the Forge below Ilaosi, each of the Four created a race to worship and serve them. Vadagar gave life and form to the Khosani; Urath created the Sudani, from whom we are descended; Amasido crafted the Munari who live in deep canyons below the sea; and Laharah birthed the Odoni, beings of pure fire and masters of the imps and salamankas.
The four tribes flourished. The Sudani, our winged ancestors, build magnificent cities of glass high in the clouds. The Khosani carved their vast empires in the plains and hills of the world, where our cities and villages stand today. The mysterious Munari vanished below the oceans, and nothing is known of them but the stories of sailors. And the Odoni of Laharah thrived in the fires that burn beneath the sphere of Khosos.
As established by the Third Synod of Dumari, the birth of the Tribes occurred before the rebellion, when Ghuval confined his children to the sphere of Khosos. The true order of events, however, has been disputed by heretical sects. For example, in the Book of Firhos, the creation of the Four Tribes occurs after the rebellion:
The Four Children bound Ghuval of the Three Eyes, Maker of All Things, within the fires of the Great Forge and from these flames the Four Tribes issued forth, creatures of flesh and blood to praise the gods and serve them.
The Synod denounced the Firhosian heresy and concluded that our ancestors were immortal before the Four Children rebelled against the Ghuval. When the First Emperor of Heaven was overthrown, he set the sphere of Khosos in motion. This final act of the Maker of All Things caused the beginning of time, the turning of the seasons, and the mortality of all creatures of the gods' creation.
[Editor's Note: Avem's lesson continues with a discussion of the war between Vadagar and Amasido, prelude to the Araenugeth. This struggle has been detailed elsewhere on this site.]