Saturday, March 9, 2013

HUSK: History of a Hollow World Part VI

There's a whole bunch of references here to races and whatnot. I'm sure not all of it will make sense (I mean it does to me, but I wrote the thing) but check out the previous entries on the people of Husk over here (Part I) and here (Part II).

And for the previous posts on the History,

RECLAIMING THE LITTLE WORLDS (this should have been in yesterday's post but anyway)
How Queen Gharda convinced a crew of Guruun stoneshapers to work for her has always remained a mystery, but it is clear that they were more than willing to create a new Mogramid on Mephiyeh despite the old memories of betrayal. It had been nearly two thousand years since the last Mogramid was constructed, but the plans and knowledge to do so had not been lost. The dreaded Warck capabilities of the ancient Mogramids was disabled to allay the fears of the other Queens, and with its completion Gharda relocated her courts to her new domain. Her namesake lands she kept for herself, but as a token of apology for the inadvertent ruination of Karjnivarj she handed over control of Djunat and Benopoca to Queen Harioc. It appeared that Gharda was intent on claiming all of the planets for herself, and the pride and envy of the other Queens could not allow this to happen. Yet Gharda was content with controlling only Mephiyeh and its moons ­­­– instead she assisted the others in laying claim to the inner planets by granting use of the new Mephiyeh Mogramid to transport armadas of colonists. Gharda’s Guruun also assisted by building Mogramids and Lighthouses on each planet and their moons. Only the innermost planet of Pheocudi lay beyond the reach of the Narghwans, for it orbited too close too the Heartsun and was bathed each day in its fiery brilliance. In every inhabitable corner of the Orb the Narghwans now ruled.

c 2,100 YEARS AGO

With total dominance of the Orb it was only natural for the Queens of the Viperium to turn their lust for complete control to what lies Beyon. Viperium records indicate a number of Narghwan philosophers concentrated much of their time on the Beyon, the mythical realm that lay outside the surface of the Orb. Many theories were postulated and eventually, as each Narghwan Queen sought to gain more power over each other, they individually began sponsoring a number of expeditions down into the Suntunnels. At first these were secret missions, none of which claimed any success. Then the Narghwan Queen Gharda publicly announced her grand vision: to harness one of the planets and hurl it down into a Suntunnel. All her resources were focused on flying Guruun stoneshapers, millions of Viethie slaves, and the greatest Imajioneers at her disposal to the small planet of Cusht. Eventually they were able to carve out of the planet itself a number of great engines that tapped the latent power within the planet. However great disaster struck during the construction, and the planet ripped itself apart, destroying the millions who were on the planet at the time. It was suspected but never confirmed that the Fael were responsible – it is not hard to imagine that another Queen may have had some influence in the tragedy. Gharda was not to be put off by this sudden setback, particularly as Queen Harioc had begun a similar operation on one of the moons of Volperqu. Perhaps it was this imitation, or the speculation of sabotage, that galvanised the Ghardan project. The second attempt was a race from start to finish, using lessons learnt from the first disaster, and much to the surprise of her other Sister Queens the planet Mephiyeh suddenly shifted out of orbit one day. On board were Queen Gharda, her greatest captains and scientists, a million Viethie warriors and the best navigators and astronomers.

The problems faced by the Beyon Expedition were immense. The planetship had to avoid a collision with the numerous other bodies that share the skies; it had to be aimed perfectly to enter a Suntunnel at the right angle or it would smash into the side upon entry; and it had to find its way through the Suntunnel to its unknown destination before the Sun entered the Tunnel and caught up with it. It is amazing to think that it even managed to enter the Suntunnel, but it was at least successful in this endeavour, entering the Suntunnel hot on the tail of Verliha, the thirteenth sun.

c 2020 YEARS AGO

The rest of the Viperium watched and waited with wonder and fear. Two days later Verliha emerged, but its coming was heralded with great destruction and flame. The Sun burst forth in a swathe of apocalyptic fire that scorched the surrounding seas, and Viperium astronomers quickly realised that the Sun was off course and unlikely to pass back into its Suntunnel when it set. Sadly little preparation could be made and by Dimdusk Verliha, the thirteenth sun, collided with the continent Vinvasleen, effectively destroying it and life on the continent. The Narghwan Queen Vinvasleen escaped with her retinue via the Mogramid to Serpentia, but she never returned to her old realm. Verliha was shattered open in the cataclysm spilling forth its energies over the land. The planet Mephiyeh, Queen Gharda and over one million servants were never seen again.

The collision of the thirteenth sun into Vinvasleen sent a literal shockwave across the Orb. Vinvasleen was shattered into the broken continent we know today. Giant waves swept across the surrounding lands, drowning millions in Behkatar, Culchiss and Avrusheen; the ground was permanently maimed, its fiery blood seeped out across the remains of the devastated land from gaping cracks that ripped across the surface of the Orb. Huge storms swiftly followed, engulfing Vinvalseen for more than a century – even today remnants of the disaster can still be seen, in the Ruined Lands and the Huajyji Hunterstorms. With the amount of destruction caused by the collision it is surprising that the Viperium survived the Orbshock Cataclysm. However it is not the Orbshock that finally cast down the Viperium, but the work of one single creature.

c 2010 YEARS AGO

No one knows where the Mocker came from, although legend tells that he came from the lands of Vinvasleen. His origins remain unclear, but there are no records of his name prior to the Orbshock catastrophe. The Mocker first came to attention of the Viperium several years after the Orbshock, when the Viperium was busy repairing its devastated empire and mourning the loss of Queen Gharda. The sheer vastness of the Viperium’s wealth and resources enabled it to weather the Orbshock’s devastation, and after several years of chaos it appeared that Narghwan control was being restored. Then in the lands of Bekhatar the Viperium suffered its first open rebellions. Through some Imajion power an agitator was freeing the Children of the Narghwa from their millennia of slavedom. The Hapi Hara Rebellion spread from Bekhatar to neighbouring Chanka Chee, and the mysterious Mocker was always at the head of the uprisings. It seemed he was immune to the controlling powers of the Narghwans, and they could not send their vassals to attack him, for he would simply free them as they approached - the phrase ‘Hapi Hara Haru Harumpa’ held a great power over those controlled by the Narghwans, freeing their minds from their masters’ control. Eventually the Narghwans were forced to call on their enemies the Bhulkulbs to deal with the matter, and their brutal repression of the Rebellions has not been forgotten - but by this time the Mocker was on the other side of the Orb, causing havoc throughout the Viperium. His main weapons appeared to be wit, humour, and his grasp of Imajion. There are many tales of his exploits during this time and these shall not be detailed here, suffice to say that eventually the Mocker found his way to the heart of the Viperium - The Court of the Narghwan Queens.

c 2,000 YEARS AGO

The greatest mystery ever known will always be the conversation that took place between the Mocker and the Narghwan Queens. All that can be deduced from records of that time is that The Mocker was invited to the Courts in Serpentia, where he held private audience with the five remaining Queens for a day and a night. The following dawn a great shockwave of emotion suddenly rippled out from the Court itself, piercing the heart and mind of every Narghwan, every subject and every slave. The wave rolled out across the city of Serpentia, and continued out across the continent of Djakarshi and up into the aether to the planets, til every single sentient creature in the Orb realised that a great doom had befallen – The Narghwan Queens had vanished.

The shockwave penetrated even the minds of the Sevenbred, who rose in unison from the hidden lairs and made their way to Serpentia. The Bhulkulbs felt it also, and immediately emerged from their hidden cities to lay claim to the lands they had once controlled. Chaos descended upon the Viperium, and it was plunged into turmoil. All eyes were turned to Serpentia as none knew what had befallen. The Viperium lay on the edge of destruction, and when The Mocker emerged alone from the Court he was greeted with amazement by the millions who had gathered outside. They pressed The Mocker for an answer, but he gave little insight, saying: “I have given you your freedom, does it matter what manner I give it, or what price is paid? Go now and soar with the desires of your heart and the yearnings of your soul.”

The piercing presence in the mind of every one of the Narghwans had been taken from them, and a great keening went up from the fanged mouth of every Narghwan, but the Wailing Day was drowned out by the Nights of Joy, when every subject and slave of the Viperium realised that for the first time in over three thousand years that freedom was theirs. Their immediate response was to proclaim The Mocker their new ruler, but he turned on those who would make him King, cursing them for learning nothing from his efforts. He had fought to give them freedom, not to rule them. Yet even the Sevenbred knelt before The Mocker at the gates of Serpentia, before returning to their slumber without a single act of violence. Eventually the people demanded that he lead them through this time of uncertainty, but he withdrew to the vast palace of Serpentia and hid for a time.

With the power of the Viperium so firmly invested in Narghwan Queens, their unexpected departure left the vast Viperium without any leadership. So greedy were they with their power, and so long had they been in control, that there were none with the ability to replace them. The Viperium command structure quickly fell apart without the guidance of their Queens, and with the spreading Hapi Hara Rebellion the Viperium soon collapsed. The world-spanning control held by the Viperium was shattered into thousands of tiny regions. The Narghwans were so overcome by their loss that they could do nothing but grieve, and it fell upon the freed Children of the Narghwa to take control. Yet they had never been in control of their own destinies, and many failed at the first opportunity, preferring to return responsibility for their lives to those willing to lead them. In some areas this command was thrust upon the unwilling but very able; in others despots rose to power. The Bhulkulbs attempted to seize power in some regions, and for a time were successful, but the Mocker appeared in these lands to fight against such tyranny.

Yet for all The Mocker’s efforts there was naught he could do to stem the growing anger and violence that was hurled upon the now powerless Narghwans. So great was their grieving that they offered no resistance to the rage that fell upon them, and across the Orb their golden blood was spilled. They did nothing to hide or flee, and when their former subjects came to wreak their vengeance upon them the Nargwhans chose death to a life without their Queens. Great mobs of deathsquads ruled the cities of the Viperium, and as the chain of command of the Narghwan caste system was destroyed it severed the mental link that the Narghwans shared with one another. It was realised only too late that this sudden separation from their brethren cut the links of their group mind intellect, and with each death of their kindred the Narghwans descended into a stupor of apathy and loss. The Narghwans had finally been overthrown. Only in the realm of Gharda and did the Nargwhans continue to hold sway; with their Queen already taken from them during the Beyon Expedition they had already adapted to life without a ruler. The Six-by-Six, as the ruling council of Gharda was known, closed the borders to all save the few of their kind who sought refuge.  They refused to have any dealings with outsiders and the Ghardan peninsula became a forbidden land.

c 2,000-1,600 YEARS AGO

The end result was the breakdown of social systems provided by the Viperium. The Orb was plunged into an new era of isolation and separation, but from this shattered empire arose may new and varied societies. Some good, some bad, but all free to choose the world in which they lived. For the first time in their history, as told to them by their former slave masters, The Children of the Narghwa were free. Once this realisation had sunken in, the Children began to express this freedom.

(Part VII tomorrow!)

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