Here begins the world of Erâth. Over the following weeks, I will be publishing the detailed history and background of the world in which my book, The Redemption of Erâth, is set.
It should be noted that this history was written long before the story of Brandyé and is fate was well-known, and as it is based on loose information and ill-remembered tales, there may be discrepancies, both within the history itself, and with the story of Brandyé’s life.
These errors may be corrected and updated at a future time; for the moment, I will present these histories as they were originally published, so that you may at least be introduced to this incredible world.
The origins of Erâth are obscure, and little is known of its earliest beginnings. Erâth comprises all of known existence; there is nothing beyond Erâth that can be known. In some respects, Erâth represents the Universe, but is in many regards finite.
Erâth is a flat world. This does not, however, mean it is not round. It has a North, South, East and West, and most parts of it remain unexplored. There are continents, and seas. Some seas are so vast they cannot be crossed, and likely are inhabited by creatures of equal size. There are large tracts of Erâth that are desolate wastelands. Much of Erâth is forested, but there are deserts, also.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of Erâth is that it has an edge. In any particular direction, if you were to journey long enough (although the journey could well be beyond the lifespan of most creatures of Erâth), you would encounter one of two things: either mountains that increase in size and steepness until eventually culminating in an impassable wall; or a plunge, profound beyond depth, where the land or sea drops to oblivion. There are the remnants of at least one notable city on the edge of Erâth.
Despite the finite borders of Erâth, it is possible to journey endlessly within its borders. Like the concept of journeying in an unwavering straight line and ending up back where you began, such is the case of Erâth. However, this is only the case if the traveller is not attentive to the direction in which he is going. Should one be conscious to where they are going, and with a fixed destination in mind (whether they know where there are going or not is not the question, but rather that they know they are going somewhere), they will indeed eventually arrive at the edge of Erâth. Failing this, the landscape would change continuously, as in all general voyaging, and eventually become that in which you began your journey in the first place. It is not certain what would happen should one attempt to travel beyond the edge of Erâth.
Many things are alive in Erâth. The inhabitants of Erâth (of which only a few will be discussed in this work) form a part of this ‘livingness’, but by no means the entirety. The life of Erâth extends beyond consciousness and awareness, and into the roots of the land itself. Although this does not mean the very rocks will move, the mountains, rivers, trees and even the air itself are very much alive. The consequence of affecting one part of Erâth is felt in every other part. The smallest changes, of course – the birth and death of creatures, the eroding of the land by the waters, the pushing of roots and growing of trees, have a great cumulative yet entirely unnoticeable effect. This means that changes in the livingness of Erâth – the slow spread of darkness, the dying of a race – gradually darken the entire world, but in such slow measure that it can only be considered over the course of millennia.
Erâth is indeed a dark world. Most of the land is governed by darkness. The oppressive, dismal and final character of the land can be felt even in the brightest of day. There are many civilizations inhabiting Erâth, all of which are ‘darkened’ to one extent or another. This darkness manifests itself in different ways; one population may take pleasure in battle and death, while another may close itself off to outside influence, ideas and populations, choosing willfully to live in unchanging ignorance. The most vicious of these races are bound by the thinnest of ties, living as near savages and destroying one another as readily as other races. The animals of Erâth are similarly disaffected; while some are dangerous by nature (hunters, scavengers), some are outright savage, attacking without provocation. Many of the trees grow crooked, and often the water is tainted and would make one violently ill if drunk.
This is not to say Erâth is entirely without light. Individuals, and in rarer cases entire populations, exist in peace with Erâth and indeed their surroundings (it is likely, though, that a population of light would dwell in a place of light in the first place). There are entire forests where the trees grow straight and strong, rivers that do not sicken and oceans that do not pull one under. Sadly, this light is growing dim. There are some places where even the sun itself shines not as bright, and the moon rarely shows herself. These places are those most tainted by darkness, and many of the creatures that choose to dwell there are vile beyond description.
The primary race of Erâth is that of men. Long ago, men dominated the land throughout all of Erâth, and very little darkness remained. Gradually, the influence of men diminished, and the influence of darkness was allowed to seep into the land. Several times, the race of men was very nearly extinguished from Erâth entirely, leaving entire civilizations in ruins. Each time the race of men rebuilt itself, it found itself less glorious and less powerful than before. Eventually, the race of men ceased to grow altogether, and lives at odds with the darkness, fending it off as best it can, and slowly ceding to its relentless onslaught. There are several kingdoms of men, each with their own counsels, chief skills and governances. Ties between them are weak, and often they find themselves in battle against each other.
There are also smaller populations of men not within the fiefdom of these kingdoms. Most of these have given themselves to the darkness almost entirely, and will often ally themselves with forces of darkness against the remaining kingdoms of men. There is a resentment deep within these races, a desire to see the last kingdoms of men fall. Very few of the outlying populations live in relative isolation. Perhaps they lie too far from the other realms of men, or perhaps are too small and not yet within the grasp of darkness. They are most often ignored by all other races, and in some places of Erâth their existence has faded from knowledge.
Many other races of creatures share Erâth with the race of men. Many of these will be discussed separately, in Races of Erâth. The vast majority of these races live within the grip of darkness, many so entwined that, were darkness ever to fail, they would surely be destroyed themselves. While some resemble men, most do not, and present an ever-increasing threat to the continuing of the race of men. A very few races are above darkness, and hold themselves separate from all else that lives in Erâth. It is sometimes believed that these races are the direct descendants of the ancients, the most pure form of life in Erâth. It is believed that these races have powers beyond the abilities of men, though such things are rarely proven. These races are seldom encountered, as they live solitarily and do not enter the realms of others. Despite their resistance to darkness, they are not unaffected, and have slowly been dying for many hundreds of years.
(iv) Ancients, Change & Ageless
Threaded throughout all the races of Erâth are a number of key beliefs, forming the foundation of each race’s civilization and philosophy (granted they are not yet descended too far into darkness). These are the belief in Ancients, the belief that all things must return to their beginnings, and the belief in the Ageless (see Legends & Myths of Erâth).
The Ancients were the oldest form of men in Erâth. It is believed that their civilization was lightness beyond compare, and some ways may even have achieved immortality. One postulate is that the Ancients, tired of their living bodies, removed their souls to a higher plane, leaving behind their fleshy shells to descend into savagery and the ruin of their civilization. This would certainly tie into the ideology of the Ageless, though it also quite possible that the Ancients grew their power faster than their responsibility, and ultimately destroyed themselves. What little is known of the Ancients is derived only from legend and oral history, and has almost certainly been gravely distorted by endless years.
The unchanging nature of Erâth is unquestionable (and in fact, is never questioned). All things return to their beginnings; all life ends, all death gives rise to life, all journeys end at home, and all endeavor to make great change results in the reinforced continuation of exactly the same thing as before. Some philosophers have speculated that Erâth was not always this way, as evidenced by the belief that the Ancients had far greater powers than anything known throughout the ages. Whether by influence of the darkness, or even by deliberate design by a higher power (or even the Ancients themselves), it is undeniable now that all things end where they began, and this belief in futility can be seen as chiefly responsible for the continued decline of the race of men. Most races have long since ceased to grow, and are content (or rather, malcontent) to live through the ages as they always have done, keeping themselves and inventing only as needed to ensure the continued survival of their race.
The seven Ageless are considered to be responsible for the powers that govern Erâth. Their nature, the reach of their influence, and even their very existence, is wildly divergent between all the races of Erâth, and indeed the only point of agreement is that they ‘are’ at all. The Ageless are, always have been, and always will be. Within the races of men, it is largely held that the seven Ageless govern the process of Life, Death, Wisdom, Power, Light, Darkness and Eternity. It is likely the Ageless do not exist in mortal form, but permeate all life throughout Erâth and are the influence behind every action and consequence. Some beliefs hold that the Ageless of Death, Power and Darkness are the only Ageless left, and that the Ageless of Life, Wisdom and Light abandoned Erâth in past ages in despair. The Ageless of Eternity is generally considered to be a force of neither good or evil, but rather ensures the continuation of Erâth, whether there be men or demons, life or death.
(v) The Redemption of Erâth
A separate belief, held generally only by the race of men, is the Restoration of Erâth. In the face of the inescapable darkness that is steadily engulfing the remnants of their civilization, a small hope has bloomed in some parts of Erâth that one day, a Descendant of the Ancients would rise to defend the race of men from the onslaught of darkness, and reclaim the land for light. It is paradoxical that in hoping for what could be considered the greatest change in the eternity of Erâth, it is too much for men to hope for the continued ability to grow and change within themselves; that their civilization might one day attain the greatness of the ancients themselves.
The ideology of the Restoration is founded deep within the belief of the Ancients, and the Ageless; it is held that the descendant of the Ancients would seek out and destroy the Ageless of Death, Power and Darkness, and in doing so destroy Darkness itself for ever. It is even considered that, seeing that men had triumphed over darkness, the Ageless of Life, Wisdom and Light might return to Erâth, and bless the race of men with the longest life and greatest wisdom. It is widely believed that the Descendant of the Ancients would be of royal lineage, or at least would rise to become a great leader of the kingdoms of men. Some circles of belief even hope to see the kingdoms united under one flag, conquering the far corners of Erâth in the name of light.
The origins of the Restoration are lost to time; the belief dates back at least to the beginning of the Third Age, and possibly before that, from the rise of the Second Age after the ruin of the Ancients. The basic concept has changed little over the centuries, though the specifics of the Descendant, his origins, and his rise have varied over time and from populace to populace (each kingdom of men, for example, is certain the Descendant will be of their lineage). Most hold the belief that he will be unnaturally wise, with a power beyond that of men; his coming would be evidenced by a lightening of the world even as he arrives into the world.
It is unlikely this faith is founded in any concrete doctrine or evidence; there are no manuscripts which document the coming of the Descendant that predate the original ideology itself. It is not defined how the Descendant will achieve the Restoration of Erâth; wether he will engage in battle with the forces of dark and drive them to the ends of Erâth, or whether he will seek out the Ageless directly and destroy them by force of power. It is even considered by a few that he might, in the very essence of light, conquer the darkness by apostleship, spreading the teachings of light throughout the realms of darkness. The only belief that is commonly held is that, through him, the Ageless, and therefore the darkness, will be destroyed.
No one has ever considered that the Ageless may be fundamental to the nature of Erâth, and without them all of existence would cease.