Stories from the Land ...

Sixty years have passed and I can still remember the sound of His voice - like icebergs colliding a thousand feet deep. It was colossal and cold but still full of a paternal watchfulness that clung to me in the crib like a heavy blanket. It was only a single word, my word, and it defined me. My mother said it meant something in the old words but the language of the Veil is for the unmoving dead, and Gwynn’leith is even less than legend these days. She named me Bronwyn instead and I was raised here in the bleak halls of Tair Mar, two miles east of the Veil and eighteen miles southwest of Tair Glain. We were Wisen - story-keepers and crafters, and it was our duty to keep The Story told and to remind those lost in somber how far we’ve come.

I was six when I began learning the ways of life under the First Lich, and the first lesson was the Laws. Six-and-one laws that we had to adhere to or stray from what little flickering light of hope He gave us. To wander from that light was to put yourself in the hands of the Dark Powers, and they were not amiable to mercy. The Laws were hard and unquestionable, but they are etched into my mind and skin alike.

The Gift of Life Must Be Paid in Blood.

No Animal Will be Made to Walk as The Dead.

The Number of Six-and-one Will Never be Spoken, and Its Groupings Defy Him.

The Name He Speaks to You at Birth is Yours, and Yours alone.

No Life Will be Wagered on a Game of Chance.

A Line of White Sand is His Line, and It Will Not Be Crossed.

None Who Enter His Land Will Leave His Land.

When I was young I liked to think of Him as a shepherd, but as time passed He seemed more like a wolf guarding His meals than a caring hand. Long ago He had come through the Veil and felled the wickedness that overcame us. He taught us the only way to live in this world was to struggle as One, and that our squabbles were overshadowed by the great night that stretched out before us. He divided us in five and gave us Purpose - Five Houses to maintain the order he had brought us. The Straavin to lead and to keep the Peace - to be civil and soft but carry His sentence. The Bathor to follow tasks undone no matter how vile, for purity can only be found in sacrifice. The Borgias to creep and trickle the secrets, home for the alchemists and tinkerers alike. The Alucard to destroy and defend, to venture into darkness with blades drawn and hands aglow. The Drakken to persevere like no other, to remember and memorialize the journeys we’ve taken. The Purpose was simple, and it was the Purpose of all those who lives neared the inky blackness of the Veil: Reap the treasures of the lost lands that trickle out of the billowing Veil.

But memory sours, and the past is sometimes best left there. I believe the Houses have come further than He ever could have expected, and the rot of power struggle fuels their daily lives. What once existed as bannermen of His Ideals have been warped into hoarders and whisperers, and many of us turned out towards other saviors. The Slayers are powerful, but their lust for driving back the flood of horror means few of them reach an age of wisdom. They usually host themselves in the Warded towns, but it's not uncommon to see them hunting the dark in the foothills of Tair Mar. The White Necromancers follow Him, and may be the closest experience many get to His presence after their birth. But they see few things in detail and their humanity is often swept under the rug in the name of the greater good. The Black Necromancers are no better - they offer protection under their immense power but their lives are warped by the Dark and they crave control above all things. Their ability to break the Laws makes many think they are at equal with Him, and I don’t doubt they find a sickening pleasure in the comparison. Whatever life of prosperity He imagined here is overcome by the grim and the defiled, and the grime of misdeed coats every surface this side of the Veil. There are those that worship the filth and find solace in embracing the writhing in the dark. The cults penetrate our society with a visible but silent knife. We see the festering under the surface that they bring and we know hundreds more turn to their ways in the colder nights.

But enough stories for now child. The night grows ever darker and sleep is our only escape left. When you feel brave again, come to me and I can tell you of the eyes that stare back from the dark. It is not your duty to learn, but your burden. You are my child, and you are Wisen.

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