There never really was a beginning. The start to this world was simply the end of another. Noiro was the last remaining star from her world. She had seen the birth of hundreds of planets, and she bore witness as they and their moons crumbled to lifeless rock and dust. All of her brother and sister stars had long since passed into shadow. Noiro lived alone in the darkness for many ages, growing older and weaker with each millennium. Her own light flickering, she sat in the silence and waited for her end. But one day, something stirred within Noiro’s soul. As her light became weaker, memories of life and beauty, and of her brothers and sisters came flooding back to her. She felt a great warmth swelling inside herself, and she gave birth to two spirits. Noiro named them Exo and Kem.
Exo was full of life and energy. She dearly loved the light and warmth radiating from her mother, and never strayed far from Noiro’s side. Kem preferred to spend his time among the asteroids. He delighted in shaping new planets from the floating bits of rock and earth that were scattered throughout the dark space. He was forever fitting together new shapes and carving patterns into his creations. Many eons passed this way, and it filled Noiro’s heart with great joy to see these spirits filled with such life.
After many ages, as Noiro was dying, she took one final look at her children and with the last of her children and with what remained of her strength she created one last spirit. It was a small thing with many faces, and she named them Motio Mentis. “Be kind to each other,” she said. Her words rang through the endless space as her light went out and left the three spirits in darkness.
The spirits were devastated with the loss of Noiro, but none more so than Exo. She cried for centuries, wrapping herself around the dust that used to be her mother. Motio Mentis tried to comfort their sister, but Exo in her grief lashed out at the little spirit, shoving all her anger and hatred onto her youngest sibling. Kem too, wept for his mother, and spent an eternity alone, his planets silently orbiting his form. Motio Mentis was left all alone, and out of the darkness the little spirit created a small flame and placed it in the sky. Exo, wrapped tight in her misery, was blind to the light, but Kem was drawn to the new light. He grabbed a handful of sparks from the flames and warmed them between his hands. Kem carefully blew on the sparks and his exhalation caused them to grow into a great ball of fire which he wrapped around his sister. Startled with this unexpected warmth, Exo ceased her crying. As she started in wonder through the light, Kem collected Exo’s fallen tears and gently deposited them onto a planet. He called the planet Nomia and placed it in his sister’s hands. Exo ran her fingers across its surface and their wake, plants and animals emerged and grew. Delighted, Exo placed Nomia in close orbit to her light and warmth, and spent all her time gazing upon the face of her new creation.
Motio Mentis was the most curious and playful of the three, but the little spirit was always somewhat shunned by Exo and Kem. Motio Mentis longed to play with the animals that inhabited Nomia, but Exo wouldn’t allow her youngest sibling anywhere near the new planet. One day, Motio Mentis snuck past Exo and landed on the dark side of Nomia, where they could explore and wander unnoticed. Motio Mentis tried talking to the animals, but was frustrated to find that the beasts were without language, and had no means of speech. As there were no other conscious beings in existence, Motio Mentis gathered together three beasts, in the sand by the ocean. They were an elk, a falcon and a whale. The spirit put the animals into a deep slumber and then reached into each creature’s breast and extracted its soul. The spirit then kissed each soul on the mouth, and that kiss planted within their minds the seeds of cognizant thought and reason. The souls formed new flesh, and they became the first women. Motio Mentis named them Saphena, Sarpa and Siir, and clothed the girls in the skins of their former manifestations.
Motio Mentis spent all of their time with Saphena, Sarpa and Siir, teaching them the language of the spirits and engaging the sisters in lively conversation. Motio Mentis educated their daughters and taught them the medicinal properties of plants, the ways of agriculture and constructing shelter. The four of them lived together in peace for a time, but one day, Kem spotted the daughters of Motio Mentis as they played in a stream. When he alerted Exo of the youngest spirit’s creation, his sister was filled with rage. She rushed to where the three girls stood, and tried to strike them down. Motio Mentis stood in her way, and so Exo caught her little sibling and with the help of Kem, they buried Motio Mentis deep within the earth.
In the years that followed the burial of Motio Mentis, Exo continued to haunt Saphena, Sarpa and Siir. She walked among them unseen, and whispered horrible things in each girl’s ear. She planted fear, anger, and doubt in the three sisters, causing them to distrust one another. The girls began to fight among themselves. Saphena wished to live in the forests, but Sarpa wanted to travel to the highest alpine mountains, and Siir desired nothing more than to return to the ocean. They could never come to an agreement over anything, and so the three sisters went their separate ways. Saphena and Sarpa returned to live with their original animal families. Siir traveled to the edge of the ocean, but found she could no longer live underwater with her kin. She longed for her old life. Her new human form was unable to dive as deep nor hold its breath for as long as was needed to travel with her whale kin. She remained by the shore and taught herself how to build small boats and rafts, but still couldn’t return to live with her family. She spent many days and nights in her boat, staring into the watery depths and pining for her past life.
One night, a silver fish approached Siir’s boat. After gazing at the fish for several moments, she gently lifted the slippery creature out of the water, and pressed its scaly form against her own. Her legs merged together with the fish and her skin turned to scales. In her surprise, Siir fell out of the boat and found she could breathe beneath the water. She swam into the depths of the ocean, and was never again seen by her sisters.
After leaving Sarpa and Siir, Saphena returned to her homeland to live with her elk kin. Although she spent most of her time with the elk as they grazed and roamed the land, Saphena felt a strange disconnect from her family. Their company no longer satisfied her they way it used to and Saphena pined for the company of her sisters and Motio Mentis. But in time, she took a stag as her lover, and Saphena raised half-elk, half-human children. Her firstborn was a beautiful baby girl, who came into the world wrapped in a tiny elk skin, screaming and clutching at the edges of her animal hide. Two years past and Saphena gave birth to twins; a boy and a girl, and named them Minthro and Mino. Saphena took care to teach her children the language of the spirits and the wisdom of Motio Mentis. As her children learned the language of the spirits, they found they could change forms between human to elk.
The twins quickly picked up the spirit language and spoke with such natural fluency it was as though they were spirits themselves. But Mendiros found the speech tiresome, and preferred to spend her time running through the forest, exploring the woods and climbing trees. One day, Mendiros wandered too far from home and was unable to find her way back to her mother and family. Tired and filthy, Mendiros removed her elk hid and waded into the river to bathe her human form. While she was submerged in the water, Exo, who had been silently watching the child, stole Mendiros’ animal skin and disappeared. Without her hide, the girl was unable to shift to elk form, and Mendiros spent days wandering alone, cold and hungry. After a while, Mendiros came across a young she-wolf, and the two became fast friends. The wolf caught squirrels and rabbits for them to share, and introduced Mendiros to her pack. The wolves quickly welcomed the girl into their family.
After many weeks of living with the pack, Mendiros and the she-wolf were hunting in the forest when they came across a young elk. Before Mendiros had a chance to stop her companion, the wolf took off after the elk. Mendiros sprinted after the two animals, but the chase was abruptly cut short by a great stag. He killed the she-wolf and fled with the young elk, leaving Mendiros alone with the bleeding corpse of her friend. That night the pack found Mendiros curled up next to the dead wolf, her arms wrapped around the cold and stiffening body. Mendiros skinned the carcass, and took her friend’s hide to wear as her own. Together, Mendiros and the wolves hunted down the stag, and for the first time, Mendiros ate the flesh of an elk.
Years past, and Mendiros took a wolf as her mate. She gave birth to many children, each infant born wrapped in the skin of a wolf. By then, Mendiros only remembered just enough of the spirit language to teach her children the art of shifting forms. Her bloodline created a great nation of fearsome warriors, who waged and won many wars. With each new generation, Mendiros’ descendents knew less and less of the spirit language, until finally, the art of shape-shifting was lostto her people, and they were forced to remain in human form.
Endes and Nato
Several generations past, and the human race had grown into numbers too great to count. The children of Mendiros hunted their elk cousins nearly to extinction, and the children of Sarpa disappeared into the mountains. The art of shape-shifting was lost to humanity, and the memory of such times faded to legend. The humans built magnificent cities, clearing forests and repurposing the land for their own needs. They captured and bred many species of animals and plants, and raised them away from their homes in the wilderness. As Exo watched the growth of the humans and the changes they brought to Nomia, she grew very angry. In her rage, Exo gave birth to a creature to plague the human race. At a glance, one might have thought this beast was a great black wolf, but her skin was covered with hundreds of eyes. Exo named the beast Moratassen, and released her onto the mountains during the night.
Moratassen, the first watcher, arrived on Nomia with infant watchers already growing inside her womb. She gave birth to several children, each bearing five eyes, all of whom wandered their separate ways into the forest. Moratassen roamed the wilderness for many years. She found she was a skilled illusionist and could cause temporary blindness and inflict nightmarish visions on whomever she liked. Moratassed enjoyed picking out lone humans or animals and stalking them, causing great paranoia, and slowly driving her victims insane. Once her prey had succumbed to madness, Moratassen would remove their eyes and implant them into her own skin. With every eye Moratassen embedded into her skin, her psychic abilities grew more powerful. She teased and played with human souls, and eventually learned how to remove the human spirit and keep it imprisoned in limbo while the body slowly decayed as an empty shell. Moratassen lived in the northern Dekassen mountain range, not too far from the thriving city of Vadessa. She spent her time tormenting lone humans she found travelling through the mountains and carving new eyes into the other animals that inhabited the mountains. Those who lived in the Dekassen region knew of the nightmarish shadows that dwelled in the mountains, but the people of Vadessa had not yet experienced the terror of the watchers.
Vadessa was expanding the trade routes with neighboring citites. The people there lived in a time of prosperity and growth, blissfully unaware of the eyes that watched them. One summer, it was announced that the queen of Vadessa was expecting an heir. Moratassen heard the news, and watched and waited. As the people were gathered together in celebration, Moratassen and her watchers entered the city. Every man, woman and child was struck blind, their minds incased in a terrible darkness. Their queen had just gone into labor when Moratassen snatched the woman out of her bed and spirited her away. The citizens of Vadessa were driven to madness while the agonizing screams of their beloved queen faded into the distance. As the queen was driven to insanity by the watchers, she gave birth to twin boys. Moratassen left the woman in the forest to die, named the newborns Endes and Nato, and raised them as her own children. As the boys grew, Moratassen found Endes was more suited to learning the ways of the watchers. He always followed close as Moratassen haunted the humans. In time, Endes became exceptionally skilled in the practice of corrupting souls and he embedded many eyes into his own skin. Endes loved the feeling of new energy that would rush through his body with every new eye he collected, and he was always on the prowl through the dark woods of Dekassen, searching for new eyes to harvest.
At the age of fourteen, Nato had but three eyes. Two were his own, and the third had been planted into his skin by Moratassen before he could even remember. Nato spent much of his time exploring the mountains alone. Every day he wandered father and farther from his home until one day he stumbled across the small village of Owan. Nato was amazed at what he found there, for he had only ever seen humans travelling alone in the mountains, never so many of them gathered in one place. Like animals, these people communicated with one another in loud and exuberant chirping and barking sounds. Wrapping himself in invisibility, Nato crept among the humans, fascinated with their strange and unfamiliar patterns of life. He watched as a group of laughing children ran past him. He saw an old woman holding a crying infant, cooing and bouncing the small wailing child. Nato thought of his own family, of Endes and Moratassen. The boys had never learned to play, and had never known the warm touch of affection. Nato knew that he and Endes weren’t like Moratassen, and full of doubt and confusion, the boy wandered away into the woods.
Issal lived with her parents and little sister at the edge of Owan. She was often helping her father and mother around the house, but Issal loved nothing more than exploring the forests bordering her village. One evening, as Issal was on her way home, she caught sight of an unfamiliar boy among the trees. He hadn’t yet spotted Issal, and so she crept closer to get a better look. Quite suddenly, the boy spun around, his gaze transfixed upon Issal. The boy had three eyes. Her vision began to darken, and she let out a sharp cry. The boy looked startled, and Issal’s vision snapped back to clarity. The boy said nothing, but Issal could hear unintelligible whispers in her mind, thoughts that weren’t her own that carried doubt and curiousity.
Many months had passed since Endes last saw Nato. Irritated and slightly concerned that his brother had been gone for so long, Endes released his mind from his body and allowed his spirit to extend out in all directions, searching for traces of his brother. Once Endes picked up Nato’s trail, he snapped his spirit back into his body and took off down the mountainside. When Endes finally arrived in Owan, he shrouded himself in darkness, wondering why his brother would come to such a place. Although the villagers couldn’t see the strange boy with hundreds of eyes, they could feel a cold and piercing darkness permeating the air and blackening the corners of their vision. Fear spread through the village. When Endes finally found Nato, his brother was using the mortal language to speak with a human girl. Endes demanded that Nato return with him to Dekassen, but Nato refused. He wished to stay in Owan with these humans. Nato reached behind him to touch the girl’s hand, and asked Endes to leave without him. Endes snatched the girl’s soul from her body, and she crumpled into a lifeless heap on the ground. Nato, enraged beyond any state Endes had seen him in before, hit his brother across the face, demanding that Endes release Issal. Nato released his spirit from his body and latched onto Endes’ spirit, dragging it into limbo. Endes was forced to let go of Issal, but the two brothers remained in the nightmarish and ghostly realm, forever fighting. When Issal woke up, she found the two brothers collapsed on the ground, their bodies empty shells.
The watchers caused an immeasurable amount of chaos and disorder after Exo released them into Nomia. They drove countless great leaders to insanity, and the watchers planted suspicion and distrust between the many neighboring cities. Although Motio Mentis couldn’t see what was happening on the surface of Nomia, the spirit could feel the suffering in the earth as the humans struggled to live in a world now full of watchers. Motio Mentis stretched as far up through the layers of earth as they could reach, and from the there spirit planted three seeds. After many years, they emerged from the ground and grew into three magnificent trees, each bearing blue-flamed fruit.
The first tree grew in the summery climate of Anthos, and one night it was found by a woman named P’liir. She spotted the blue flames from far away and was drawn to their wondrous light. P’liir ate the fruit of the tree, and many months later she gave birth to a baby boy. He was born with the mark of a flaming blue hand on his forehead, and his mother named him Paika. He grew to be a strange child. Paika preferred to spend his time talking to the plants and animals, and usually avoided contact with other humans. He left his mother’s home at the age of fifteen, and spent many years wandering through the wilderness on his own. The second tree took root on the cold island of Seleiir, where it created a small oasis of warmth in the snowy region. The tree remained undiscovered for many years until a woman named Tika stumbled across it whil leading her family’s herd of snow-bison. She rested beneath the tree and ate one of its lower hanging fruits. Nine months later she gave birth to a daughter bearing the mark of a blue flamed hand on her forehead, and she named her Míkken.
Many years past, and Paika was interrupted from his wandering by an overwhelming urge to travel to Seleiir. There Paika found Míkken and for the first time in his life, he spoke to another human. Although Paika didn’t use any of the common tongues known to man, Míkken could hear his whisper inside her head. She joined him on his travels and together they reinvented a form of the lost spirit language. Paika and Míkken continued travelling together, and with every new village and city they visited, they found people who lived in constant fear of the watchers. Children disappeared from their beds at night, never to be seen again. Those who tried to travel through the forests often returned home plagued with insanity. Paika and Míkken found their way through the Dekassen mountains to the home of the first watchers, and using the spirit language, they were the first humans who were able to speak with these creatures. Paika and Míkken remained in the mountains and lived among the watchers for seven years, learning everything there was to know about them and their lifestyle. At the end of her stay, Míkken emerged from the mountains with only three additional eyes, and her mind in once piece. No one ever heard of or saw Paika again.
Míkken travelled for many more years, teaching the spirit language to anyone who was willing to learn. Eventually she settled down on the island of Salím and began a school of the spirit language. A tentative peace was made between the students of Míkken and the watchers. Many of the mountain-dwelling people fully adopted the spirit language into their culture to better communicate with the watchers. Attacks on the humans became fewer in number, though they never died out completely. Exo witnessed how humanity adapted to continue living in a world with watchers, and she saw that the watchers had failed her. And so she gave birth to the raapan.
Long before the raapan existed in this world, the men and women of Tebria lived in relative peace. They were expert fishermen and sailors, and many lived in travelling communities of ships based in the Laurian gulf. But their way of life was quickly destroyed with the coming of the raapan.
Labáta, a beloved healer and council leader of Tebria, was gathering oysters with her child off the eastern coast when they were attacked by Kaarathk, the first raapan. Kaarathk devoured her children, but left Labáta on the shore, bleeding from the inside, her flesh shredded and her body broken. Her people tried their hardest to nurse her back to health, but nothing they did could heal her wounds. For thirteen days, Labáta suffered terrible pains from her injuries. On the fourteenth day, her spirit left her body, and hundreds upon hundreds of raapan larvae burst from her flesh. The infant raapan made their way back to the water, and so began the age of the raapan.