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Late Back Today

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Ancient Days


“Did you see those stones on the side of the road just outside? Strange, aren’t they? Seem out of place. Well, that’s cause they are. You couldn’t tell it anymore, but long ago, before the Woe, before the Etherns, before whoever came before them, those stones were a temple and the town that surrounded it. The Halflings built them, can you believe that? They were here in Verdestia before any of the rest of us, and it seems they were more ambitious without taller folk around. You have to go nearly two hundred miles south into Andvalla to find other stones like those; the early Halflings dragged them here with nothing more than ropes and logs. Even if every one of them in Western Verdestia helped haul the things into place, it would have taken many years. When you head out in the morn, take a look at those stones, else you won’t believe what I’m about to tell you. 

You’ll find crude carvings of Buffahn’s goblet and Davodandalus’ pipes, as you’d expect, as well as Taroneus’ claw, the sunrise of Suleos, and many more besides. Even some that would raise eyebrows nowadays, like Mal’uthuk’s skull and Gloome’s mask, but things were different back then amongst gods and mortals alike. There are other symbols as well, pictures of soaring dragons and the gleaming Sul. There are many, deeply-etched lines in a craggy script circling the stones, though I doubt anyone has been able to read their words for a very long time. If you stand in the right position betwixt the rocks on the 21st of Jalu’un at sulset, the Sul, Luneós, Vixen, and many of the stars will still perfectly align. Even now after the days of corruption were added. All of this is quite interesting, or at least it is to an old scholar like me, but none of it is why you should wander amongst the stones.

It may take a few minutes to find them, but you will recognize what you’re looking for immediately. Here and there amongst the stones you will find one that appears, for lack of a better comparison, to have been melted. Bizarre patterns, unlike anything wrought by the diligent Halflings, are graven upon the warped surface of the rock, and if you block all other sources of light, you can see that these markings emit the faintest, flickering blue glow, like the after-image of a bolt of lighting. Others have patches that are soot black, as from an incredible inferno, while still others will be crowned with growths of flowers that shouldn’t be able to root in the bare rock. As a canny observer, I’m sure your first thought will be that these are scars left by the Woe of Ruin, but a careful study of the magicks surrounding them will show you that these are far, far older. 

They are, I believe, some of the only physical traces of a great war, a war that rivalled even the Nether War between the gods themselves, but which has almost been lost to the depths of antiquity. It was the Elves that melted and twisted those stones, but not as you or I know that folk. No, in their earliest days, before they were split into their different kindreds, they were creatures of unmatched splendor, so beautiful and powerful the other mortals could not turn their gaze directly upon them. They strode across Zyathé, reshaping the land according to their whims, driven ever on by manic dreams. It seems they reached as far as Verdestia; the Halflings must have thought the gods themselves had descended to stand before them. However, their deific glory turned to terror as their dreams of beauty turned to nightmares of unbridled madness. Zyathé was nearly unmade, butMorvenea, their mother, asked Decisae, who was known as Cebreen in those days, to bring them to heel.

Cebreen scoured the world at the head of the legions of law, rank after rank of mighty Antrasood wielding crackling lances and galvanic axes astride deadly Vantrasood. Into the chaotic maelstrom they charged, flanked by towering, multi-hued Scandrasood that smashed the mercurial disarray that seized Zyathé back into order and reason with their mighty fists. The strange patterns and charred stones are the wounds left by these weapons of law. It was a battle that raged across every continent, and none can say how long it lasted, for the flow of time itself was bent and twisted while it ravaged the world. But eventually the Elves were subdued, scattered unto the care of many gods to be remade,  the servants of Cebreen returned to the Equis, and the ages turned. Even the descendents of the Halflings who were forced to flee this place in terror eventually forgot the ruin brought by the ancient Elves. In most places the signs of those cataclysmic battles have been worn away, but here, in those sacred stones, the evidence remains. See for yourself when you pass them by tomorrow, before returning to your busy affairs, and know that you are one of only a handful to know of that dark, distant chapter of history.”

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