~ Esus ~
Excerpts from 'ESUS ASCENDED' by Halfyndwyr
Available from Spellbound Publishing
"Arcane spells and sacred rites
Are learned as the grimoire ignites;
In darkened fires’ fleeting glow,
The high is equal to the low."
- Esusian Chant translated from draconic.
n the Sabani wastelands, there was an expanse of forgotten land that was barely accessible without high magic. A hidden valley, flanked by the enormous skeletal remains of some mighty ancient beast. Its' very existence was only even fathomable through the dangerous use of ancient Netherese scrolls collected by a Solar, and then translated by a dark chanter of wyrmish blood. An eclectic group of souls they were, sorcerors, pirates and treasure hunters risking all in search of an ancient mystery.
he ruins they found there were all but dust, very nearly erased from history and all living memory. But among the fragments lay a chamber, protected by potent magics and kept preserved and protected from the ravages of time. Together they breached the seal, and discovered beyond an unimaginable cache of magical knowledge so ancient and so valuable it would change their lives forever. Among the priceless trove of knowledge, a Netherese mechanism, the likes of which the modern mind struggles even to comprehend. Barely able to contain their excitement, plans were made to move the device to a safe place. However, it swiftly became obvious that it could not be moved, it seemed to be linked to that very location, deep in the desert.
ndaunted, the group would combine powers to activate the ancient Mythallar. The process literally ripped the land from its roots, sending a vast cross section of rocky wasteland soaring into the skies.
he Floating Isle of rock held many mysteries and secrets. It was initially a base of magical study, wizards and mages of all ilks flocked to the floating isle to learn. The cache of knowledge they had uncovered was re-writing many established magical theories, exciting minds and swiftly, the place grew. A 'founding council' was established to keep order, taking their name from a mysterious inscription left by the bones of the mighty beast.
"…Once I set the sea alight
with a single fiery breath
Once I was so mighty
that I thought my name was death
Sing out loud until you’re heard
the song of melancholy bliss,
For the mighty and the middling
all shall come to this…"
- 'The Journey of Esus' Inscription left by the Dragon’s Bones
s Esus swelled in population (both transient and resident), the exploration of this new land continued with fervour. Much of the overland surface area was soon confirmed to be little more than desolate wastelands with no potential for arable purposes. The Esusians soon began to explore downwards, into the foundations of Esus itself.
nfortunately, the Esusian mages and their entourages quickly discovered that they were not the only residents. In fact, races of creatures had lived in the bowels of these lands of many many years, and were not too pleased by the recent upheaval of their world, nor were they inclined to share their home peacefully with these surface 'invaders'.
THE ASABI SKIRMISHES
mong the most numerous of Esusian natives were several tribes of lizardfolk - called Asabi in the common tongue - that lived in the 'Warrens'. They objected to the encroachment into their territory, and started a series of bloody skirmishes which threatened to sink the fledgling Esus before it had even established itself. Mages are powerful wielders of an ancient power, but they have limits. They need rest, they usually number few, and if caught up close, can fall to an Asabi blade as easily as any man would.
ortunately for them, they were still mages. A plan was enacted to protect the security of Esus. 'The Clockwork Principle' was an edict passed soon after the conflict began, which promoted combined resources to build powerful golems to help defend their land and advance their ideals. These golems were perfect in their conception, tireless, strong, obedient.. but they required a great deal of supervision and maintenance. While they could not carry out complex instructions or adapt dynamically to situations, under the command of the Esusian elite they played a pivotal role in stemming the tide of the Asabi incursion and drove them out the Warrens. All but crushed into submission, the surviving remnants of the indigenous tribes were cast out into the blasted wastelands beyond the city limits. To this day, the Asabi remnants eke out a bare existence among the scrublands. Pockets of resistance remain, but the life expectancy of these rebellious exiles is poor to none once they turn to violent protest. Some few individuals have been known to assimilate into the civilized world, but these remain a rare novelty even amongst Esus' varied populace.
- “First of all, choose a material which you want to use.
For the Beginning, you should choose wood, because it is not expensive and easy to work with.
When you have some practice, you can go on with stone and marble. Then imagine what kind of shape your creation should have. A humanoid shape would be the best and it is also very popular.
After you got a vision of it, begin with the rough contour. Now work out the details of your sculpture, for this distinguishes our golems from the war machines. We want to create unique beings capable of multiple tasks, not mass produced soldiers. Be as accurate as possible, make every finger, eye, feather and mouth authentic.
If you are satisfied with the sculpture, the last but most important step follows: The Enchanting. Without magic you would have a beautiful piece of work, but what kind of use do they have if they can’t do anything but stand in one place? So check your sculpture a last time before starting the enchantment ritual, because once they ‘live,’ the body of them cannot be changed anymore.
After you finished, you will feel like a proud father looking at his newborn.”
- Holdin Hammerfist, Master Smith & Golem Sculptor for House Shale
THE CLOCKWORK PRINCIPLE
he edict passed to save the early Esusians was a fortuitous piece of fortune, and strategic thinking. Golems didn't require food or water, or accommodation (scarce on this frontier floating Isle). They were obedient, compliant and loyal. Also, they were as adept at mining as they were at fighting. Pretty soon, the natural resources of Esus Warrens became the property of the founding Council. However, all the gold, gems and ore they found there would pale into insignificance compared to what they would discover next...
"I’m telling you, this is the opportunity we’ve been seeking for decades! Soon, we will be able
to escape the boundaries of the material world. Don’t you see? There is power there, power
beyond your dreams, and that power could be ours, if we were but willing to take the smallest
of risks. Surely the council can approve of my proposition?"
- Arean Sethrail (Former Councillor for House Dell), on discovering the crystal 'Hallex' vein in the Warrens.
THE DISCOVERY OF HALLEX
As the mages spent more and more time there, they would grow in need. Requiring accomodations, merchant services and the like. It wasn't until the discovery of Hallex though, that the place really came to life.
"I remember when we first stumbled upon it. At first I mistook it for silver, but then I let my lantern shine upon it. Never before had I seen such beauty, and I mouthed a silent prayer of thanks to Reorx. I stood there stunned for a moment, not daring to use my pick on this wondrous material. Then a sudden shaft of light illuminated the mine wall, coming from a hole in the ceiling. I then knew I had Reorx's blessing, and with infinite care I began to reap this mythical harvest."
-Osmand Rockspittle, Mining Supervisor, Esus Warrens.
Hallex was a crystalline ore that amplified magical conductivity considerably. It was found imbedded deep in the underground of Esus, the many honeycombed warrens that were discovered when mining for precious gems and items useful in magical practice. It would mean the Mythallar engine (which till this point was still only operating on an unknown reserve of power) could be fuelled to keep the place afloat and the knowledge safe. It was also the most useful component in the 'magineering' of golems. Using the Hallex as a focus crystal, powerful golems were built. These mighty contructs, known as 'Sentinals' were capable of more complex orders (albeit still limited) now patrol the Esus streets, keeping law and order as well as serving in the mines and as some personal guards to some of the elite.
"Yes, I know Gornbad Hurt, look at you, you got really beat up out there."
"Many Asabi hurt Gornbad."
"Asabi? Really, and this finely crafted sword I see lodged in your belly is of Asabi-make is it?"
"Gornbad hit by many Asabi-swords."
"Asabi Don't wield... wait. What is this? Is...Is this a deer antler?"
"Gornbad was hungry"
"Gornbad cant be hungry, Gornbad is a GOLEM!"
"Gornbad thought after battle warriors get hungry, so Gornbad ate"
"By shoving a deer down your gullet? That’s not good for you, which explains the mess in here."
"Every time you wander away from the regiment you get damaged, you must stay with the others"
"Gornbad saw Asabi, has orders to smash Asabi."
"Those were Elves, stay away from them."
"Good point. ..Fine, Stay away from anything with sharp objects unless your with your unit." -- Esusian mage repairing a Sentinal Golem.
Hallex changed everything. Esus became a centre of magical learning and trade, laws were needed.. this was no longer an outpost of study, but people's homes and livelihoods. The Founding Council of Esus was expanded to 'Protect and Further the Ideals of Magical Study.' A true magocracy in effect today.
Most cities in the realms lit their streets with alchemical or magical lamps placed at regular intervals, which not only prevented the stubbing of toes but also hindered criminal activity. Esus in particular was well known for the number and regularity of such lamps, though many visitors simply put this down to their penchant for magical devices. These lights actually served an even greater purpose than usual however, for hidden on the top of each lamp was a small ball of lead in the shape of an eye, with arcane runes scribed on the back. Would-be invaders of Esus would unknowingly dicover the purpose of these little statues in short order, for each golem therein could 'see' through each of the eyes at once, letting them expertly counter each assault at the right place and time.
Today, Esus is a vibrant, thriving hubub of magical activity, trade and learning. A solid merchant class cropped up to supply the mage 'aristocracy' with their components and artifacts. Several airships were constructed to keep supplies plentiful, and Esus is blossoming into a busy sky-port. Those wishing to explore a new frontier are welcome (The mages pay handsomely for accurate maps of caverns, tunnels, dungeons and plains) or those seeking trade, or offering services with their swords. (The Asabi still lurk in the Badlands, and there are other, less common creatures that dwell in the bowels of the floating Isle.)
However, there are dark spots. Blemishes on this frontier success story. The original mining working class humans and dwarves that prospered before the Clockwork Principle was enacted are now redundant. Many are poverty-stricken and the expanded Esus Council seems to have forgotten their earlier service. Some have turned to banditry and piracy, becoming a blight on the Esusian landscape. 'The Forsaken', are a terrorist group according to the Council, that need to be purged and will pay handsomely to those of mercenary disposition.
There are rumbling rumours about a population explosion in the Fields of Perdition, and another Asabi Incursion is imminent. The Council is preparing to shore up it's defences from attack above and below.
Finally, there appears to be a new, invisible threat. Sentinel golems of Esus and have been 'vanishing' from their workstations, never to be seen or heard of again and the situation is deteriorating swiftly. Golems are now in pairs, and some with armed escorts costing the Council a great deal of money and patience.