They were first called the Aens, short for the Aenüriale who stood as slaves in the lands called Islinin beneath the rule of the Dragonkin, a twisted realm of high rocks and deeper valleys across the vast waters of the Eûnair that divides the two great continents of Aleóran—the other being Arroon, the land of the Eedian nya Ansolas. Their history is long and difficult, but within these words, their tale shall be illuminated and exemplify as a warning to those who believe themselves above such trivial concerns as to a moral sake.
Throughout Islinin, the Aens lived a cruel existence alongside the other races who toiled underneath the watchful eyes of the Monulikord of Ultheraal, the dark armies of the fire-breathing serpents, who cultivated lesser beings in order to feed their egos, and demand from them praise for all the days of their near immortal lives. Always did the dragonkin keep a cautious mind toward those whom they ruled; for even their most trusted servants and commanders, the Nokrothkel of the Morkül, leading the bulk of their mighty Mhonulikord, were not above suspicion.
And such seemed the existence of life across the Islininic domains of Aleóran; as those with good hearts became hunted by the treachery of their neighbors, seeking favor with their dread overlords whom they called Ranaerghir, the Old Lords.
Then the old stories would forever change when fireballs streaked across the sky on the eastern horizons, far across the Eûnair, nearest the lands belonging to the earliest Dafhadorns and the five clans of the ancient Ellúndar before their more common names came into fruition during the late periods of the First Era—Aramasen, Yoavelden, Sinaevah, Sydaunaen, and Gestarel. Unbeknownst to those inhabitance of Islinin: the Aens, the Eln and the Hiírom, this event marked the end of Anean Tíae, and the start of recorded history by the chronicles of the Eedian nya Ansolas, those who had fallen from Anánturial. The watchers upon the shores that day came to know their fall as the Einelíonad, a word that would later become a sign of great displeasure for the Ranaerghir in which to hear.
The Ranaerghir and Dragonkin are one and the same, merely a name spoken in different languages—the first, that of the Mírae who had been forgotten long ago but whose legacy survived through the Aenüriale; and the second, the common tongue as derived from trade between the Ellúndar and Hadrons that inhabited Arroon, put to use over a span of centuries and mustered after the Einelíonad by Icurian the Chronicler.
It was not until nine-hundred years later that the Aens, along with the Eln and the Hiírom, would discover the truth behind the Einelíonad.
One day that’s been ill-remembered, meaning the exact month and week went unrecorded, blue sails appeared on the distant horizon of the Eûnair, adorned white ships, a symbol of hope showing upon the light. The Aens were the first to meet these foreigners on the banks of Géurdinhal: “Strangers on the waters?” asked the Herreavossall of the Aens, whom Icurian, Chronicler of Old Eedian, called Dráhmas.
“We come from the lands of Arroon across those waters,” Icurian said, lifting Dráhmas from where the Herreavossall knelt afore these powerful beings. And for decades, the Eedian, the Aens and Eln worked together to build a harbor in secret from their dragonkin masters at the shores of that first landing. Here, Icurian and his fellow explorers taught the downtrodden inhabitance of Islinin how to think and write over the course of many years, allowing them free will and the power of choice from the grips of Ultheraal and his ilk. In addition, as Icurian taught, so too did he learn from his students. They were, to him, a fascination that could not be dulled with time. Through many dozens of voyages, Icurian crossed the Eûnair in this First Era of Aleóran, only to return, back and forth, until he became one of the most traveled members of those fallen from Anánturial; and always did he travel with a book full of accords written by his own hand, as Icurian felt a need to record everything he learnt and witnessed. Indeed, many of the earliest maps found in the archives and repositories of Ilhivendal today can be considered his work; and most, if not all, are commonly thought as more accurate than depictions doled out by the mapmakers and navigators of more modern times.
One of the great discoveries Icurian made during his time abroad had been the unique talents given to each of the races ruled by the dread Ranaerghir. In his conversations with Dráhmas, the Chronicler observed a strange pattern to the way the Aens could understand the tendencies of others, as though they were able to peer into the minds of others. He learned the Aenüriale could feel another’s subtle emotions, and were able to act on such knowledge. Gifts that would prove invaluable in hiding from the monstrous predators that stalked the vales of Islinin, Icurian noted, as the land itself evolved to meet the needs and desires of the most apex of its inhabitance.
Along with the Aens, Icurian noticed the Eln to hold a high-level of creativity in their workings. Barthusis and Eradathis, brothers who stood as the eldest and firstborn of the hairy giants, could do that even the Eedian nya Ansolas once thought impossible, should they be given the motivation necessary to see such marvelous achievements done.
Then stood the Hiírom, able to reproduce at a quickened pace to make up for their weaker bodies and shorter lives, as they were of mankind, unique in Aleóran, where the lives of most other peoples could last the course of centuries. And they had a capacity to learn in a manner which Icurian came to admire through his time spent with them, attending them over either the Aens and Eln, for while they seemed the most fearful and primitive, their potential far outstripped the inherit gifts possessed by the others. For the Eedian nya Ansolas, who’d come to see many among the Aens and Eln as equals, the Hiírom were looked upon as children in need of supervision, and as time drew on, those of Anánturial feared the growing influence of Ultheraal over their minds.
Now even with the great secrecy practiced to subvert the will of tyrants by Icurian’s influence, Ultheraal did not fail to notice the change about his adherents. Throughout his years of domination, the dragonkin had wisely kept those they ruled from the understanding letters and signs, finding easier and more willing subjects among the ignorant and dim-witted; for those who could not know better could hardly complain. The Aens and Eln stopped calling them Ranaerghir and started to use words even the mighty Lords of Islinin failed to recognize. The spy called Ahuilethair, a most hated devotee of Ultheraal, known for taking the wives of others by force, siring his own children with them, demanded a meeting with the elders amongst the Aens, the Eln, and the Hiírom.
“Rumors have come abound of late,” Ahuilethair started, translated from the Irêcant speech used by the most stringent followers in the Monulikord, and a lower form of Idrêl used by the Ranaerghir amongst their own dealings. “Whispers have reached the ears of our most beloved lords, Masters of our hearts, who lend succor to your children. Traitors amongst our sires, the mothers and fathers gathered here, boldness across your blood. We have come here to seek the truth behind such murmurs, and punish those who dare transgress the benevolent graces they have been dealt. Show yourselves true, stripe down, and feel the lash on your skin and allow immoral self-indulgences ever be stricken from your homes.” He pointed to the children with a threatening tone. The abuses of Ahuilethair came to be well known in the accords written by Icurian. More than a few had described how the fiend stole babies from their mothers in offering to the Morkül, how he burned his own children in dragonfire and could speak Idrêl with a fluent tongue, a trait ill-received by those who suffered his wrath, marking him an all-important servant of the Ranaerghir.
Indeed, it became known as an ill omen for a woman to catch the eye of Ahuilethair in those barbaric days of yore.
When the opportunity came for Icurian to meet this man feared by so many at this gathering by demand, the Chronicler took the chance, and hid himself amongst the crowds, dressed in a hooded robe and a mask crafted for him by Eradathis in order to disguise his identity. But so too did the knowledge of Icurian’s presence give the accused of Ahuilethair a courage they would not have otherwise known. Where the Black One expected the Aens and the rest to quiver at his threats of punishment, they instead stood up straight and stared down this servant of Ultheraal. Nervous as to the uncertain disparage of his words, Ahuilethair drew a blade and took hold Jord, son of Dráhmas, and told of his intension to slice the young boy’s throat.
Knowing he could not stand by and watch any longer, Icurian revealed himself before the crowd by stepping forth, and letting out a song that sent the room to silence:
From the hills that beckon down,
And taken to dissolution,
Upon the fields of black disgrace,
Across such brighter holdings,
A mournful fate shall wane,
When the first tale is sung,
New days shall dawn.
The sound of Icurian’s voice caused the windows to crack, and fires to rise, and despite all that, brought a darkness to the room that forced Ahuilethair to his knees in fright, since though the Black One could threaten and maim, kill and abuse his wards at will, never had this all-important servant suffer from having his position challenged.
“You are not from here,” Ahuilethair said. “The Ranaerghir shall hear of this!”
“None of us are from here,” Icurian returned. “But I know the home from where we descended, as I know your place in it, beast of Anaon.” Icurian pulled the boy Jord back and returned him to Dráhmas. But as the Chronicler turned away, Ahuilethair lashed out, and tried to stab the wisest of the Eedian nya Ansolas when he seemed most blind. Icurian turned and caught the blade, and broke the arm of the Black One, forcing the man to his knees. “I have faced foes far more terrible than you—and to kill me, like trying to flatten a mountain holdfast. Let me show you into your heart and look upon that darkened seed, a thorny vine that has flourished too long without restraint. Now I send you toward the same suffering you sent onto others. Let it teach you a lesson before the end.”
In the stories that have survived in Neümorian folklore since the ancient days of the Aens, Icurian merely placed his palm onto the forehead of the Black One known as Ahuilethair, causing his skin to turn white, his veins becoming black and withered. The Aamerial (the true name of the Eedian nya Ansolas) of Anánturial had killed the fiend from within until his eyes paled, and breath stilled. It came to be said that those in attendance demanded Ahuilethair’s body to be dragged to ancient cliffs, and thrown it over the side, into the den of a Mumalisk beast—dread creatures that often braved the nesting sites of lesser dragons in order to feast upon dragonlings freshly spawned.
But while this event brought courage and freedom to the enslaved peoples who suffered under the blight, so too did a war come about between those of old Eedian, and the Dragonkin of Islinin, having discovered new challengers to their authority in the lands they ruled with an iron hold.
This First War would be waged for 537 years, unto the 1436 FE, when the Pact (known as Airsta Onith) was agreed upon that ended the devastation. Some would argue the true war began when the ship Averlanis, with its white hull and blue sails, first landed upon the shores of Géurdinhal, and allowed the Eedian nya Ansolas to step onto the lands ruled by the Ranaerghir. To understand the battles of the era, one must forget about any preconceived concept of warfare between armies in neatly ordered lines, weapons drawn; and instead think of the most horrid circumstances anyone could endure within the vales of Islinin. While dragonkin numbered a mere hundred-thousand, their Morkül allies and servants among the Aens, Eln and Hiírom could be counted in the millions—the Eedian nya Ansolas stood only a few thousand in total, by far outnumbered, and with no proper military force in which to fight the battles of the conflict.
Such became the Rolirnadilin, creatures of stone given life by those fallen from Anánturial to become soldiers under their command; for they were powerful, tall as the shortest amongst the Eln, and able to take on the deadliest monsters the Western Continent harbored in its wildest lands.
Yet no matter how hard those of old Eedian fought, a clear truth came to be known; the spawn of Ultheraal were powerful creatures—meant as the original protectors over Aleóran, born in the fires of the sun—their corruption, causing no two among them being born alike another. Such a cost to life to kill just one took its toll upon the well-minded moralities that the Eedian nya Ansolas aspired. You see, in order to kill a dragon, one must snuff out the flame that feeds its heart, for even if the body is slain, the spirit lives on, and would torment the living within Islinin as a greater abomination. While most of these spirits of the dragonkin were commonly called Raituercal (those young enough to be killed by the few old predators that roam the vales), the spirit of an adult turns into a terrible manifestation of evil in which even the mighty Ultheraal feared. Such undead creatures would be called Vastraollen in the Iírdun tongue of the Eedian, and held a meaning of the “mighty dead,” as the dead cannot themselves be killed.
It took two powerful hierarchs among the Eedian nya Ansolas, Tristian and Enderian, journeying into the northern forests of Islinin called Edraon (where even the dragonkin never dared trespass) to discover the secret in pushing their great foes to a standstill. From rumors heard across the southern reaches of Lokroath and Gdaahord, they learned of an entity that lived in a hollow and held the appearance of a sly serpent. Such tales described Evil Incarnate, the Blind One, and the Dread Crow, who taught Ultheraal in ages past, when Aleóran took its first breath, to fear the darkest tide. Tristian and Enderian marched for seven years to find this hollow, determined to know the truth behind the accords. After all, they had once been of the Aamerial born to Anánturial, the singers of the Immortal Songs of Nhain Iánturial, beyond Eloran nya Aenamares, the Waters of Passage: they whose voices shaped the oceans and the sky, the mountains and the rivers in the name of Ansolas, sister to Anaon, the Light and Darkness. Such gave them what power they yet embodied since their harsh descent from Anánturial, as the aspects of Aleóran listen to their influence, the very dirt itself shifting to their subtle chorus and command.
Thus also did this give the Eedian nya Ansolas an aura of arrogance at times, so when Tristian and Enderian happened upon the hallow of the Blind One, the creature mocked them, turning away, demanding better company in which to converse. When Enderian argued, the Blind One slithered forth and snatched the Worker in a hold, carrying him deep into his dark hole. Tristian chased after the creature and his companion, finding himself face to face with a strange old man, introducing himself as Eridhev il’Ehist, who spoke:
“Nervous you seem to me, and dreaded are your feelings for our taken hosted. Beck and forth, torrents behold, as the champions of Ansolas walk here for the second time since the first. Although that one appeared as a bright light, I know, and spoke of darker incantations. He warned me of your arrival, and we have been waiting ever since. Decades—centuries—none really matter in the end, as time is a dubious thought, and it has but one master who cares nothing for its currency.”
“We have come seeking answers, and we shalt leave until they are given,” went Tristian who then drew upon his blade Sonderoail, pointing its end toward Eridhev il’Ehist. “And you will return my companion before he awakens, as he is a cunning foe, and you will not want him as an enemy. He created the first of the Rolirnadilin, for he is the Worker and a skilled swordsman from Alinmarthal in his own right.”
“A cunning foe then meets the most cunning of all foes, as we killed dragons by the score, and Ultheraal knows enough to fear us,” Eridhev threatened with a gleeful laugh. Music then filled the chambers of the hollow, summoned by the Blind One’s authority over the realm of Edraon; a twisted, painful melody to be heard, although a delight to the likes of Eridhev, who danced around the hollow as many forms, revealing himself to be the Serpent and Evil Incarnate.
Naught but forgotten, hallowed ground,
Herein they told by an imagined light,
Concealed—yet still they flourish,
Steadfast in amaranthine,
Forever aside prevailing winds,
Drawn out, forthwith at the daybreak horizon,
Hence memorialized, an obscure prominence,
A crepuscule enteral upon the endured,
Enunciation once from many voices,
Distant murmurs left abide, brought to silence,
As perception falls upon an abating eventide,
Through confidence by the coming night.
Eridhev il’Ehist then whispered a few words and caused Sonderoail, the blade that threatened him, to shatter in a show of strength. “I could tell the secret you have come here to know—but there is a cost to such knowledge, a price that must be paid in the end. Are you willing to sacrifice your supposed morality in order to defeat your gravest of enemies? The cost will be subtle, like a breeze before a hurricane. The bright one offered much in exchange that I tell you.”
“Who is this bright one?” Tristian asked.
“Oh, that is not the answer you seek now, is it?” Eridhev laughed. “You can have one or the other, not both, for you see—there is nothing alive in this world that can force me to do anything I do not want to do. And watching you puzzle it out for years and years, well—that would be a reward unto its own.”
Tristian chose what knowledge he needed to fight the enemy already known, and believed, for the longest time thereafter, that Eridhev il’Ehist had been toying with him with news of a bright lord of whispers. Came the time after talk, the Serpent released Enderian and told them how a dragon’s spirit could be destroyed before it could escape the body. Such was held within the power of those fallen from Anánturial, but it had been a truth neither Tristian nor Enderian wanted. They feared the consequence of destroying a creature’s living soul, even those of the ilk spawned by Ultheraal.
Eridhev then laughed as he danced into the deeper caverns of his hollow, the sound being heard throughout, wishing the Eedian good luck in their future endeavors, albeit with a scornful tone meant with an ill-fated omen.
Tristian and Enderian returned to Géurdinhal and told the rest what they learned. While the favored act at this point had been to drown the dragonkin in the rivers and the ocean in order to quench the fires that burned in the hearts of the beasts, to prevent them from turning into Vastraollen, it would come at the blood-price paid by many thousands across all the free-peoples of Aleóran. With the knowledge taken from Eridhev—thousands turned to hundreds in a battle, and hundreds to mere dozens, as it took just one of the Eedian nya Ansolas to place their hand on a beast, and destroy the soul from within.
Thus the height of the First War came to fruition, as the Aens, Eln and Hiírom stood armed against the Monulikord of Ultheraal, supplied by the metalwork of the Sydaunaen of the Ellúndar (known by this time as the Maithandír having built their great kingdom-city of Invala Dailn in the Lurhan Mountains), and the Hadorns of the Aronur Mountains.
Airsta Onith came about when Icurian had slain Nihoen, Mother of Morenarch, and second of the fire-breathing dragons, and brought her body across the Eûnair and to the most barren lands of Arroon, called Assyr, burying the beast in the sand. Icurian would then return to Islinin and walk into Hakendad Alkator, the Court of Ultheraal, with the White Eye of Nihoen. He argued that neither side could win against such destruction. Understanding the circumstance, the Lord over the Dragonkin called for a settlement in order to end hostilities, though under protest of Morenarch, the first child of the Lord over the Dragonkin and his now defeated mother, a most cunning enemy whom none dared to trust. Despite the threats, the Airsta Onith formed over the course of many years, and by its conclusion, allowed the free-peoples of Islinin to depart the land and return to Arroon under the protection of the Eedian nya Ansolas, with three days to see it done (and prevented either side from interfering into the affairs of the other). After those three days, the ilk of Ultheraal would be within their rights to relight the fires of war once again.
Thousands of the Aens and the Eln gathered afore the walls of Géurdinhal, having become a fortress that stood at the edge of a sullied peninsula, two walls stretching from shore to shore, although the northern wall possessed a bridge that spanned a gully, the only way through the battlements. But the Hiírom refused to leave with them, having suffered the most since the start of the war and fearing the servants of the Ranaerghir who had turned many of them against one another, creating a sense of paranoia that proved to undermine the Eedian nya Ansolas and the agreement signed. As a precaution, and expecting betrayal, Icurian and many others set in motion a plan that would eventually assure the freedom of the Hiírom from the grip of the dragonkin. They sired offspring among the Hiírom, whom they named vedreron: Children born with silver eyes, and without limits to their power as suffered by the Eedian nya Ansolas since the Einelíonad, and the treachery of Athulian, sending them toward Aleóran, diminished from their Aamerial existence. The first of these newly born children had been named Aamelían, although it would later be assumed he would be the only one to survive the hunt committed by Ultheraal for his kindred.
It should come as no surprise that records of the era marked several names for any one concept, such as the kindred of Icurian and Heluvian. While the term Eedian nya Ansolas refers merely to those who fell from Anánturial, the highest seat of Nhain Iánturial (thusly called the Heavens), so too are descriptions regarding the Vedrel and Athen come paramount as they can refer to single individuals as much they do the whole. Phrases such as the Vedrel of Old refer to modern references to these ancient people under both singular and plural associates. The true name of their race can be befitted to the Aamerial, the Singers of the Immortal Songs that shaped every world across Eloran nya Aenamares—Waters of Passage, the bridge between words, as some philosophers would call it. But Athen and Vedrel are henceforth mere factions within the larger Eedian nya Ansolas led by Heluvian the First and Icurian the Chronicler, much as the Eedian themselves are a faction within the Aamerial of Anánturial, and they alone were the ones betrayed by Athulian the Immortal out of seeing them as a grave threat for reasons that remain elusive for all but the eldest of beings.
Some records have survived that describe the origins of the Eedian nya Ansolas as they dwelled within Anánturial. Their names translates into “Champions of Light,” considered those who fought against Aeterhet at the onset of the first dawn, as the darkness of Anaon seeped into the songs of his sister, Ansolas. Some think the reason Athulian betrayed Heluvian and Icurian of those alike them is because he feared their growing influence over the rest of their kind. Others would come to think he was one of the followers of Aeterhet who named themselves Ethernal, although this seems among the unlikely, as Athulian had been the first to call out the false identity posed by Aeterhet, according to the old stories kept in the archives at Ilhivendal.
Ships of the Eedian nya Ansolas arrived in Islinin ferry those who gathered at Géurdinhal to Arroon, but even without the Hiírom, too few had come to carry the lost and desperate.
During the three days they had, they built a hundred more, adding to the fleet of thousands, and worked with vigilance to ensure they would endure, along with the people onboard them, across the Eûnair. The old Eedian exhausted their minds and bodies to keep the ramshackle ships of these added ships from falling apart on the harsh waves.
Upon the Averlanis, the flagship of the Eedian flotilla, Icurian stood at the bow, speaking to Númil Verrol, the Herreavossall of the Aens after Jord, of the journey ahead. “Six weeks out,” Númil said.
“It’s a six-month journey across the water,” Icurian explained. “This is only the start of what lies ahead. Storms will bar our path, and the long, drawn out boredom of the mundane and tedious life upon the sea. Though each voyage has seemed shorter than the last, I’ll admit.”
They spoke of the future and of those among the Aens who wanted a new life, away from the haunting memories of old. Númil explained the want of some to remain with Eedian nya Ansolas, to serve beside them as they tried their best to protect the sanctity of the world. Icurian offered the lands of Neümora to the Herreavossall, where the Eedian first inhabited before spreading out to the mainland of Arroon. Númil agreed, and Icurian named them, “Neümorian,” for they were the Aenüriale no longer.
As for those who wanted to give their lives in servitude, Icurian knew it would take some measure of skill to convince his many fellows to agree to the founding of such a force, describing them as Vedrethal, or friends of the fell, as the Eedian nya Ansolas were of the fallen, and so the Vedrethal would become their greatest allies to replace the Rolirnadilin.
The need of this came truly during the battles with Ultheraal, when the Rolirnadilin created by the Enderian proved they were capable of being far more than mere mindless husks. They showed their spirits on the frontlines with the Morkül, able to commit to acts of bravery and selflessness. As such (since the entire war had been fought to see the freedom of those enslaved by the Dragonkin of Islinin), Heluvian and Icurian, chiefest amongst the councils of the Eedian, decided it better to grant their duty satisfied and given their own right to life. For those few who garrisoned Arroon (most remained behind in Géurdinhal to safeguard the hidden harbor), a choice was offered, which they refused.
“We are creatures of duty and devotion,” spoke Aonedir, firstborn of the Rolirnadilin. “Without that duty—we stand as nothing but solemn rock, devoid of essence. If a choice is demanded, then we choose to stand upon the walls of your Great Watchtowers— Aandrall, Neailithan, and Erandrial, to guard the sanctity of Arroon until last light.”
When the Vedrethal came to fruition, then, it was an armed force whose ranks served the Eedian nya Ansolas by their own accord—those who would be the scholars of Icurian, soldiers of Tristian, and builders of Heluvian. All would be warriors, as the Messenger once described to the Maithandír of Invala Dailn, whose name amongst his fellows had become forgotten since his from Anánturial, “As there are more weapons in the world than those made of steel and spears of iron.”
On the deck of the Averlanis, Icurian spotted a young boy of the Aens, dodging traffic onboard. He queried Númil about the lad, who revealed the lonely nature in which the boy had been left, an orphan of the First War, his parents killed by the Morkül in the jungled vales outside a nameless settlement. Within the culture of the Aenüriale, a child without a name was often shunned, especially those of half-blooded, whom the boy had been known, sharing lineage with the Hiírom, although he took on more the appearance of the Aens. He spent his life stealing food and surviving amidst the turmoil; a story that Númil regretted in its telling, yet he did not yield from speaking it… ashamed.
The Herreavossall suggested that Icurian allow the boy to become part of these newfound Vedrethal, as it would be a better life than the cruelty he’d known.
Icurian nodded and followed the boy into the deck below, walking amongst the sleeping Eln, in which Barthusis was counted. The Chronicler found the child hiding amongst the fish barrels, afraid of a retribution that would not come. Icurian comforted the lad, and found himself a fascination; for this boy had a sharp mind, and a clever tongue. He named the lad Sackery, and took him as a father would a son, born of different worlds, but destined to greatness beyond.
The life of Sackery of the Vedrethal (oft called Greywolfe) is a long and complicated tale, whose song would last for many thousands of years, well beyond the normal lifespan of the Aenüriale who traveled from Islinin and toward uncertain fates in Arroon. What can be said is that while Sackery would find himself in the center of many historical events across Aleóran, he is best known for being the greatest swordsmen who ever lived and his guardianship to Nialla Elensah, his ward in the years after The War of His Return, which ended in 1103 SE.
Most who left Islinin would ever see its shores again, as few would brave a confrontation with Ultheraal break Airsta Onith, or upset the peace the mighty Lord over the Dragonkin fought for concerning his firstborn, Morenarch the Great.
When Númil and the Aens first landed on the Saerdiran coast of Neümora, the rocky shores of the southwestern islands of the land, all looked back across the Eûnair, beyond the ships that carried them, and felt in their hearts for the first time, a hope, as well as sadness, from whatever fate they left behind.
“Few of us have entered into these lands in recent years,” Icurian told the Herreavossall, King of the Neümorians. “You can find shelter east of here, along the Saerdiran, upon reaching the Alleor heights. An old citadel of ours can be sought there—Kelos Mori, we called it long ago, built during an uncertain time when we ourselves were stranded. More settlements lay northward, but whose names never held a meaning profound enough for even me to remember.”
“We shall pass in good tidings, then,” Númil said, “for our bodies may be cold, but the heart finds its warmth.”
“You will do alright.” Icurian smiled as he walked back from the shore. “And beware the winters—should it ever push you from the land, remember that your people will always find welcomed hearths on the mainland. Just alight the signal at Kelos Mori and those standing atop Neailithan shall see its glow from the rocky cliffs of Aardan.”
The Great Watchtowers of the Eedian nya Ansolas were colossal constructs, often called Spires—Irionis to the Ellúndar, built to safeguard Arroon during the period of the First War. There are three watchtowers in total, as they were named—Neailithan, Erandrial and Aandrall. The first built in the west to watch over the Eûnair and Neümora; the middlemost in the Aronur Mountains of the Hadorns (by their own demand) to keep safe the lands of Maheira; and the last on the edge of the Norründ beside the Klashmere Mountains, to watch the east, which could lead from Islinin across the land with enough determination.
And so the Neümorians headed eastward to build their new kingdom, a hundred-thousand amongst their numbers; for twice that decided to join the Eedian nya Ansolas on the mainland of Arroon to become the Vedrethal. Diminished, but not deterred, Númil led his people to the broken gate and ruined visage that would become their capital. While many would look upon the elder remnants Icurian offered them and feel beguiled, Númil took to the parapets and called it home.
“It will need work, but as I look out to those green hills, what I see is a place to call our own—the likes of which we have never known.” Although Númil did not realize at the time that Neümora had been in the middle of spring, and the winters would prove harsh indeed in the years ahead for his people. As came with the spirit of their ancestors living under the turmoil of the dragonkin, it proved a welcomed challenge. For the first time in their lives, the Aenüriale could choose themselves, to determine their own fates absent the paranoia brought upon by generations of guarding their every thought. Truthfully, it took the Neümorians several decades to shake the perception of being watched from the shadows.
The first years were a struggle, as they had to rebuild Kelos Mori from its tattered remains: they sowed the fields around its walls, and plant seeds to feed their people. Goods provided by the Eedian fleets would make their rounds to Númil’s folk after a harbor had been carved from the Alleor, gifting much needed material until the Neümorians could be sustained by their own right, the ships crewed by the Vedrethal. These moments were met with great revelry, as they became a reuniting of the kindred between the Aenüriale.
As the years continued, the Neümorians found themselves spread across the hills and into the north. They divided into twenty-one klanen; each led by a klanedere, born leaders, with most swearing featly to the Herreavossall. Of the twenty-one, only three had been widely known to the world outside their borders—the Verrol, the Credamar, also known as the Craed, and the Faerann, considered cold blooded for their outlandish behaviors.
The Neümorians have always stood true to their loyalties to the Verrol, the most powerful of the klanen that inhabited Neümora, and the rightful heirs to the kingship until the lost years after the reign of Andril ended in 2372 FE. It came during that time when the Herreavossall discontinued the use of their title, and started calling themselves the Lords over the Neümorians, which described a more apt telling of their role amongst the northern folk. Their seat remained within Kelos Mori of the Southern Reach as it would for centuries thereafter, thusly proclaimed by Númil and made right by his sons, Elem and Torin.
The Credamar settled in the regions nearest the village of Ealdur, and were the most numerous and widespread of the klanen, as their lands encapsulated the ice plains of Deatrea unto Elund and the Barrowed Leas. They held a tight kinship with the Verrol of Kelos Mori all throughout their years and even through the coldest of winters. After the reign of the Ædan Kre among them, the common nickname of the Credamar became “Craed,” for Ædan proved a popular klanedere, enough for his people to want to share his name in honor of his deeds—remembered by songs and reliefs adorned their halls.
The Faerann, who claimed the northernmost reaches of Neümora, built a fortress there they called Holdefarn. To the other klanen, the Faerann were looked upon as a quiet, and yet hardy folk, who rarely communed in dealings other than their own, often-shunning outsiders and the odd traveler who would come seeking adventure in their lands. They are well attuned to the ways of battle, for among the Aens during the First War, they had suffered greatly at the hands of the Morkül armies of the Nokrothkel, servants of the Ranaerghir. Otherwise, they were quite friendly to those whom they perceived as allies, and were known to hold the largest feasts in the old kingdom.
The sagas of these Aens would become lengthy and complex—its tales filling many volumes written by the most skilled chroniclers, and each recorded with intricate and meticulous details surrounding the events as they happened. The reign of the Herreavossall kings, who later considered themselves Lords to govern and not kings to demand, were themselves a mere part of an age; for the Aenüriale, alike many races, lived centuries, but could only produce offspring in the years before their final stretch, once described by Icurian as the Lanyavusal. It had been thought by the old Eedian that such a strange occurrence in the biology within their race seemed much akin to the abilities the Aenüriale used to feel the emotions of others, rising out from the need to survive the harsh realities of Islinin under the Old Lords. This allowed the strong to sire stronger children, and thus, reinforcing the people as a whole. For Icurian, however, ever had there been another theory that proved among the more probable.
Lanyavusal among the Aens is described as the last decades of life an individual has before they die, although the exact number of years between the start and end of this stage changes according to the constitution of the man or woman in question.
There had been a race that inhabited Islinin long before the reign of the dragonkin, as they (Ultheraal and his ilk) were not birthed upon Aleóran, but spawned in the fires of the sun and stars, tainted by Anaon during the First Dawn, an instance amongst the never-ending battles that existed between the Darkness and the Light.
To the Aamerial born to Anánturial, the dragonkin had been known as the Nymanalirë, those meant to safeguard the worlds shaped by the Immortal Songs of Nhain Iánturial. But Anaon corrupted one of the earliest verses by adding his own voice into the chorus, and thus Ansolas was forced to discard them into the blackest pit she could find. There the Nymanalirë found Aleóran and descended onto the wildest continent of Islinin, home to the Mírae, keepers in their own right. The firestorm engulfed much of those primeval histories, for the Mírae were eventually wiped from existence, but not before they gifted their last children to the Aenüriale as they walked into the waters of Vealnineath to drown. It was unknown what sort of race the Mírae had been, but Icurian believed they were tall creatures with olive skin, adorned with natural crowns upon their heads made of vines and flowers. Moreover, like the Aens, they were able to feel the emotions of others and held quite the possibility of being infertile during the earlier stages of their lives.
Icurian speculated that, given time, the Mírae might have proven to be the most dominate race throughout Aleóran in terms of culture and wisdom. Although that legacy would be taken by the Ellúndar born to Invala Dailn, the Maithandír, who would themselves lose that proclamation to the Hiírom as they stood behind the Eedian nya Ansolas led by Caedairen, the Messenger of Old.
While the Vedrethal were too born to the Aenüriale, descendants of the same blood as the Neümorians, it should be noted that after the decision to follow the Eedian nya Ansolas back to Arroon and become part of their society, they lost much of their own. Their powers to feel the emotions of others diminished to a point where they could sense nothing but the loudest whispers. Given the trials intended by the Eedian as a gift (considered more of a curse) left the Vedrethal infertile and unable to produce children in exchange for a near eternal life, untouched by disease or time, but just as easily taken by the blade. Records of such trials shall not be uttered here, for they are secret in their completion, and soured the memories of those who suffered through their unexpected natures.
Now the link between the Neümorians and Mírae may seem clear to some, a warning should be told, as even Icurian remained unsure of this in his many long years of searching for the truth, as such a truth lay within the realms of Islinin, the one place he could no longer walk as he stood.
For the Aens, however, such origins did not trouble them, for they were told of the Mírae in their stories as children, and called them Verhandalë, translated as, “fathers of our tale.” This did not stop many over the years from imagining the stories they heard to be true, even when none really remembered how the tales began.
Whispers around Heluvian’s court at Alinmarthal (the most powerful of the Eedian nya Ansolas) told of Icurian as he traveled back to Islinin in secret in search for any remnant of the Mírae, disguised as one of the Hiírom, taking the name Aonarfudain, and journeyed into Edraon and confronted the entity known as Eridhev il’Ehist. Given what Tristian and Enderian had told him about the creature, the Chronicler entered its home and expected treachery, brandishing his blade and spear, Esiorval and Risunad.
“Another has come to visit,” a dark voice rang out from every corner of the hollow. “A hood cannot hide your face uncovered—for even without the mask, I see who you are, and where you come from. I wonder what Ultheraal would think should he discover the breaking of the pact that was formed in your name.”
Aonarfudain could sense the nervous presence of Evil Incarnate around him, and pulled the creature from the shadows.
“Do not think me like the others who came to see you when they demanded answers,” the Eedian Lord threatened. “That war is over and I have traveled a distance for your counsel.” The hollow started to shake, as the roots of trees and the earth itself turned against its owner, and old Eridhev found itself trapped, unable to move or change form. “I shall leave you here and return in a few weeks. Then you will tell me where I can find the eldest ruins of the Mírae. You had a part to play in their downfall—more to the reasons why the Ranaerghir have come to fear entering into your domain.”
“Do not leave me here!” the Serpent cried out, its voice going from that of a man to a sly snake, whose words could move mountains. “I shall starve being left in this hollow alone.” However, Eridhev il’Ehist had never met one amongst the Eedian so old, and intelligent, as to show his own powers worthless against the tide.
Two-weeks went by until Aonarfudain to return to the hollow, spending his time finding a haven of his own, where he could hide from those searching for him throughout the vales. He went to the Hiírom to meet with the child Aamelían, whose strength proved wild and untamed, but there, also came a hope, he found, the likes of which he did not expect. The Hiírom who protected the boy revered him and listened as he spoke, and already, such stemmed the corruption cultivated by the Ranaerghir.
When Aonarfudain left the Hiírom to make his way back to the hollow of the Serpent, he found the creature had gone, and in its place stood a Bright Lord.
“I know you,” Aonarfudain said, trying to recall a memory that seemed lost to him in that moment. “Where has the creature gone?”
“He’s here,” spoke the Bright Lord, who introduced himself as Rohaseon, and held up the severed hand of Eridhev il’Ehist, withered and black, as though it had been dead for years. “The rest of him vanished after I cut it from his true form—disparager and coward, but powerful in his own right. And to answer your thought, indeed you know me, or at least, we have met before in another life. In the years since the fall, I have gone by many names, although only one is truly known by those who stand the victims of the two betrayals. You risked much coming here.” Aonarfudain could feel the dark power radiated from the hand of Eridhev, and watched in horror as this Rohaseon consumed it whole and attacked, taking the Serpent’s dark power onto his own.
The battle lasted hours, ending only after the hollow collapsed, with Aonarfudain himself trapped in the earth. When he managed to climbed his way to the surface, Rohaseon came to him again, and touched the Chronicler’s heart, planting a darkened seed, whose roots would sprout and dig their way through to the mind of the great Doomed King.
No record could be found about what happened after that, but what came to be known was that Aonarfudain returned to the shores of Géurdinhal and spent years wallowing in the dark, keeping hidden from the Rolirnadilin that still walked the halls. These were the whispers told throughout Alinmarthal, for even Sackery of the Vedrethal did not know where Icurian roamed. One aspect came to be understood afterward, however, and into a new era: The man who left and called himself Aonarfudain, and the one who returned, had come to be two different beings. Icurian faded behind the mask he wore.
Every era holds its own ways in accordance, as the people of the world change, and often, departing their homeland under the harshest of circumstances. Well into the latter years of the reign of Calndrin, during the Second Era, a great frost washed over the old kingdom of Neümora, to which they called waetheras—the coldest storm.
It started in the year of 431 SE, when the wind bellowed hard from the north, followed by eerie cries. Whole klanen from the northernmost stretches of Neümora started to make their way across Credamar lands, telling of rumors concerning a darkness threatening to take over the Holdefarn. Seradoan Credamar sent men to investigate, led by his youngest, Edemare, but none returned after twelve days since they set out. On the thirteenth, a council held between those who gathered at Ealdur determined it would be best to leave for Kelos Mori within a fortnight, enough to give the messengers sent out to the other settlements the time needed to bring back everyone they could. But the days became colder, and fire turned to ice as the unnatural frost of waetheras consumed life within the old kingdom.
People remained huddled in their homes, the trees and livestock dead, and strange, nightmarish creatures were starting to appear from beneath the Adhaidanur Mountains and Nachnaran, the Many Lakes; dark riders on white horses that appear in mist, and attack travelers on the road, blood-curdling screams to be heard in the nearest settlements. The Neümorians during such darker days called these riders the Udivar undead. The Eedian nya Ansolas had vanished from the world and the descendants of the ancient Aens had still not recovered from the Flames of Morenarch, and could do nothing to stop the despair that plagued the land.
Many have since argued the existence of the Udivar as being little more than hallucinations brought about by the cold; stories created to explain away the hundreds of bodies that littered the roads between the settlements. What they were, and their origins, would remain a mystery throughout the waetheras until the War for the North, starting in 1108 SE, when the Neümorians—joined by the Maheirans and the Vedrethal of Alándir—sailed across the Hharan Sea and the Eûnair to reclaim this lost land from the Morkül that fled there after the War of His Return ended in 1103 SE.
By the end of that fortnight, Seradoan received word from Anmoric of Kelos Mori demanding the Credamar and the remaining klanedere to move southward. Only a few thousand managed to reach Ealdur before long march of the Neümorians began, the trail forever being remembered as the Reóiterathad (The Trail of Solace).
For the first week, the klanen spent their time walking across the ice plains of Deatrea, as hundreds died from attrition. When they reached the Old Wood between Elund and the Southern Reach, screams from the Udivar sounded as banshees through the trees, scarring away the birds as they beset the Neümorians on the trail, night after night. The tens-of-thousands from Ealdur found themselves in a dead run in the following days, until horse riders from Kelos Mori found them and drove off the undead abominations at the edge of the Old Wood.
“None of these creatures have passed into the Southern Reach,” spoke Talis, second son to Calndrin, as his men drove off the Udivar with fiery torches. “Make for the tree line as we follow them into the woods. Those from Elund, Belhanur, Normonuen and Mount Custfuarn have recanted their tales to my father’s court. Anmoric now guards Saerdiran and shall return to Kelos Mori in a few days. Go now before the dark riders return!”
Seradoan Credamar commanded those who followed to find the strength to keep pushing on after many sleepless nights and starved dawns. When the walls of Kelos Mori were in sight—called Lundaluran and the Greyed Keep—many among the displaced found they could not summon any the more will to stand. Half of them collapsed into the snow, exhausted, but so too proved a greater danger as a harsh breeze came down from Mount Custfuarn, and turned to ice everything it touched. When Talis returned from the hunt in the woods, he warned Seradoan of the danger. A great cloud descended into the Southern Reach of the old kingdom. The people clamored and fought their way to the front, leaving children and old men to their fates behind. Only when they stepped beyond Lundaluran, and the gates closed shut behind them, did Seradoan realize that price his marchers had paid. Barely a third of his own klanen survived the journey, and even less from those who had come to Ealdur seeking sanctuary.
Within Kelos Mori, the situation proved little better than outside. While they had mighty walls to protect them from the harsh winds, the stores of within the granaries and drink kept in the underground vaults of the Greyed Keep had were already starting to strain. Winters always proved a hard time for the Neümorians, but they always found a way to endure the most grievous of the bitterness. But this year was different, as they learnt, with regret.
The old kingdom had been lost. Nobody knew exactly how many would die in the days ahead, nor even for many years thereafter. Arguments arose in the court of Calndrin demanding the signal atop the Greyed Keep be lit to warn the mainland Arroon of their great need; although opposition too came, claiming that without the Eedian nya Ansolas, there would be none to see their call for aid.
Debates rang about for weeks as the weather outside the walls worsened, and their provisions ran thin. Every couple days, a few more would find their way to the shelter of Kelos Mori. They brought with them fantastic tales of survival, and of monsters wandering the snow-covered countryside. Despite the stories, they always started out the same: Each had been part of some larger group fleeing from their settlements into the wilderness, and there, their numbers took hefty tolls come the nights, when shrills came froth across the ice, snatching babies from their mothers, only to be found the next morn, dead as those buried in the eldest graves.
Six months went by as the storms grew worse, and the signal upon the steeps of Kelos Mori remained unlit. The health of Calndrin, Lord of the Neümorians, had faded, as his mind would soon follow. His court fell into silence, and the arguments that once tore at the very foundations of Lundaluran became naught but sullen air and quiet dread. Talis did what he could in his father’s mindlessness, with the absence of his brother Anmoric, who still had not returned from Saerdiran. Worried looks often passed between those who stood watch on the walls, and as a while, there were no songs to be heard or merrymaking undertaken, for the waetheras did not just take the lives of the Neümorians, it also stole their spirits. Until on the ground surrounding Lundaluran, a misty fog approached on the day that should have been the first of the summer’s feast.
The Udivar circled Kelos Mori, speaking as a harsh tongue on the wind, each holding iron swords and armor beneath black cloaks. “We have come to reclaim the lands stolen from us,” spoke a voice, chilled as the tempest. The defenders of Lundaluran did not reply, but they could see the dark riders clearly for the first time as their leader came up to the gate of Kelos Mori, and knocked. “Bright Lords have promised us this land to dwell upon in the ancient days beyond your kindred—and by the rock and stone, we have taken it.” The cold voice of the Udivar stopped in that moment, as the creature looked back toward its own. A distant light could be seen, small, and hardly noticeable except for the keenest of eyes to spot. Then the one turned to a dozen, and then dozens to hundreds, as warriors from the north and west set themselves against the Udivar lines. Led by Anmoric Verrol, the combined forces of the Faerann (alongside a half-dozen other klanen) battled the undead afore the walls of Lundaluran, encircling them and their pale horses with torchlight, causing this enemy to wither where they fought and die.
When the mist cleared, only the bodies of the Neümorians led by Anmoric remained. It led some to wonder about the reality of the battle. Knowing their race would come to end should they remain in the old kingdom; Anmoric entered through the gates and climbed the signal tower of the Greyed Keep, setting it aflame at last. Afterward, he gathered the surviving klanedere in the Allamorien, the Great Hall, to explain his actions and disappearance to his father.
“When the cloud descended, and I survived, I knew there had to be more survivors out in the wilderness,” Anmoric began. “We traveled through forests and along the riverbanks, dealing with these Udivar once every week or so as they moved southward, and us, heading north. Along the way, we found survivors camping out in caves in the mountains and in abandoned settlements. Eventually we reached Holdefarn; the Faerann, it so happens, managed to hold out against the harsh gnawing winds of the storm.”
Dannon Faerann stepped forth next to the younger Anmoric and supported the story told. “Our klanen dwells in the most unforgiving environments of the land, and so built our homes to withstand the coldest of winters. Often we heard news from the south, and learned that our most barren settlements had fled. After months of silence—we decided to send out emissaries to discover what happened to them when Anmoric here came knocking at our gate, a force standing behind him. So, what could we do but invite the son to the Lord of the Neümorians inside to a feast? Our stores remain filled as we learnt to prepare ourselves for the long cold, and were able to feed everyone with much still left.”
“I told Dannon here about the creatures in the mist, telling of the battles in the south,” Anmoric explained.
“He convinced me of the need to lead the Faerann southward. ‘It would only be a matter of time before our opportunity passes, as Kelos Mori would close its gates to us—we’d starve in this great waetheras, and your people shall become forgotten.’ Of course, the cold had taken its toll on us as well, as begrudgingly we so admit it. We gathered everything we needed to insure some would make it here alive. About a day or two from the end, our scouts returned to us and spoke of a growing force of enemies gathering around Lundaluran. We thought it strange given that none of these Udivar bothered us on the road, despite the mist often surrounding us, their screams setting a dreadfulness to our bones.”
“We figured then the Udivar had been moving south, and did not see us as a threat, as they were preoccupied in mustering their own afore Kelos Mori.”
“And how did you know they did not see you as a threat?” Talis asked, standing beside his father’s chair.
“Well… most of the marchers they encountered were killed by the frost or slaughtered with relative ease by their riders,” Anmoric explained. “Until now, there’d been little resistance to their onslaught, as most of us thought the only thing to fear had been the winter breeze.”
The uncertainty brought about by the Udivar and the eluding nature of their race, along with their sudden disappearance after the battle afore Lundaluran, caused a great amount of disagreement as to their existence, as stated above. The survivors of the waetheras remained reluctant to discuss the matter with outsiders, and across future generations who wander the lands of Arroon, thought nothing more of them but the stories they were told as children. Some would find this aspect of the record a confusing metaphor in certain readings, while others will think the Udivar quite literal, as beings of blood and flesh that took the appearance of dark riders upon white horses.
Given that Icurian gave no mention as to the existence of this race before or after the Aens landed on the rocky coasts of the old kingdom, speculation arises until the War for the North, when the truth behind the stories was eventually discovered.
On the tallest shores afore the Forelands, nearest the Northern Passage of the Ganan Sea, a party of Míran adventurers spotted the signal set alit by the Neümorians at Kelos Mori across the Eûnair waters, vibrant against the dark night. Not knowing what it meant, for the time of the Eedian nya Ansolas had long since passed, and the promise made by Icurian to Númil even longer forgotten, of which the Ellúndar (of whom the Míran were themselves once part of the Maithandír of Invala Dailn) could only contemplate in concern.
Míran stands the name used by the Ellúndar first taken from Invala Dailn by Galronallin, father to Lurón Fallenstar, after the great strife that befell the kingdom-city within the Mountains of Lurhan far to the south in Elhaven. While outsiders often call them Míran, as they always have, amongst their own they are called Aaurian, children of the Sydaunaen.
Among this party stood a man called Rauhnníal Badinhorn, a legendary figure to the Míran, who held great respect as being one of the eldest of their race. He borrowed a mare from his company and rode back to the forest Yslin with haste, where the Ellúndar of Maheira centered themselves. He rode for a month across the Northfold and Meaynlands that border the Yslin, and reached Nodirian of the Twin Harbors alongside Nordhen (sometimes called Nordenhn, although most disliked the name), telling Maerasurin Erendel, Lady of Galandrin, of the light seen on the ocean’s horizon. Knowing Rauhnníal Badinhorn to be a wise man, and that he would not have come back from his journey westward without good cause, Maerasurin took command of the hundred ships docked in her kingdom-city and sailed them across the Hharan Sea, around the dread islands of Metheron, until she they sighted the Alleor Cliffs.
Horns bellowed out as the Neümorians sighted the Maerasurin’s fleet. For the first time in nearly a year, a hope sparked within their hearts. Gatherers were sent into the Old Wood to gather firewood, brought back into the walls of Lundaluran, and burned at the top of the towers to show they were still alive.
Maerasurin saw the bellowing columns of smoke rising in the distance, and ordered her lead ships to make room for the Neümorians. By now, the Míran understood the dangers posed, as the whole of the Southern Reach of the old kingdom lay in a blanket of white frost. Three days were spent bringing the weary folk of Neümora onto the warmth and comfort of the Míran ships, where the truth of the devastation their people felt came with an even harsher reality. There had been over two-hundred thousand Neümorians living throughout the spread of their lands, and of those who survived the cold frost of the waetheras, seeking shelter in Kelos Mori—only twenty-thousand remained. All else had been undone by the mysterious Udivar and the bitterness that came down with the northern winds.
Maerasurin Erendel heard the stories of the undead, which troubled her greatly. Naught had ever existed in the world to their knowledge beyond the whispered memories sent in passing of days long gone. The Lady of Galandrin sent her fastest scouts to discover the truth behind these Udivar creatures during the three days before departure. When they returned, they spoke in chilled voices, but not a word had been uttered of any sighting of these rumored monsters.
“There is nothing out there,” spoke the lead scout, standing worn afore the Lady of Galandrin and Anmoric Verrol, who had taken up his father’s role as Lord of the Neümorians, as Calndrin lay on path near death.
“Many of us had been killed by those creatures,” Anmoric argued, turning to Maerasurin. “A host of them vanished during the final battle, and they have not been sighted since. But I know they are still lurking inside the mist of the waetheras. Their screams remained to be heard at night beyond the Lundaluran.”
“If they did exist, then perhaps they are now dead,” Maerasurin said, sitting on a throne of wood and woven silk. “None of the dead have ever truly walked in this world, as they depart toward Neum Alléan, where all the dead stand between the Light and Darkness.”
“Your concept of the dead is a misguided one,” Anmoric fought. “I fought these Udivar on several occasions, and although illusive as they may be, when they the hunt, their presence becomes well known.” He tells of his journey to Holdefarn and the horrors he saw in those days.
“Gunidara and Eroan are the best scouts on my side of the River Nhran, and few, even across the Naúmandial valley-lands—I daresay none—have a better eye for the obscure.” Maerasurin stood up and glared down at Anmoric. For even though she stood as savior to the Neümorians upon her arrival, the Míran have always been known for their arrogance intertwined with their wisdom across the ages. While such could not describe all of the Ellúndar who inhabit the forested lands of the Yslin, Maerasurin held a particular fame. “We understand the plight your klanen have gone through in recent months—our hearts mourn for the losses of our oldest friends, but evidence of this sings a different tale than what farfetched rumors run abound from your tongue, Anmoric Verrol.”
Arguments on the matter continued between the two of them well throughout the voyage back to Nodirian, where Maerasurin had been tempted to banish the Neümorians from her lands. But unknown to the Lady of Galandrin, Lurón Fallenstar of Ilhivendal had arrived as a guest in her city, having too been told of the light across the waters by Rauhnníal Badinhorn. Lurón stood there upon the harbor and smiled, and embraced Anmoric as though he was an old friend. Honored and concerned with the appearance of the Lord of the Naúmandial, Maerasurin spoke:
“There are not many who survived the ordeal.” She looked at Rauhnníal who had accompanied Lurón from Ilhivendal. “I would have sent messengers to the others, but time had been of the essence, it turned out. We are of course honored to host you in this saddest moment of our return.”
“Her eyes speak true as her tongue finds itself swollen,” Anmoric laughed. “This has not come of a saddened time, but a time of birth anew, challenges abode. Thousands though we shall ever mourn, our homes lost, our children stilled, we stand here at a happy hour for we are alive thanks to your kindness.” Despite the differences between Anmoric and Maerasurin, the Neümorian bowed to his people’s rescuer and host, and said: “Atha aneria íl vehmil adher naír vaern tasul bala erasúl,” which meant, we would be dead if not for this kind creature.
Lurón bowed in respect to the good humors of the Neümorian Lord, and discussed their road still ahead.
“The lands of Arroon are vast and colorful,” spoke Lurón Fallenstar. “Plenty of room for your klanen to find a new homeland—warmer climates lie to the south in Elhaven, although little is known there of current events. Open fields and tall woodlands sit eastward and beyond the Mírdanwod just south of our borders, where the earth heals since the Flames of Morenarch and the Great Santrum of our destruction.”
“You are kind, but I do not speak for every klanedere—and ideas of the days ahead have gone astray through to the clouds and back unto the ground, for despite the cheery nature of our tones in this moment, it hides the failure akin to the downtrodden abyss and death we escaped.”
“Then may I offer some parcel in a show of comfort and friendship our two peoples have mustered during the days when Morenarch betrayed the old words, igniting a flame that started in the east and unto westward, until it was stopped at the Klashmere Mountains. There is a glade or grove of sorts, a small vale in which the melted snow from the mountains passes through a spring, the water gathering in pools around its lowest reaches. We call it the Sanford, although it has been known as other names—Valforein by the woodlanders, Malka by the Hadorns, Lufend by the ancient Eln now departed, and Shallahara to those of Silhashan, at least, so tells the stories. For the Shanashé are as rare as they are beautiful; quiet creatures that only appear when lost are in need.”
“They did not come to us when the cold flurries came upon us,” Anmoric said.
“And none would have without the beacon lit at Kelos Mori, and the happenstance of Rauhnníal Badinhorn to be where he was at that particular moment, catching a glimpse of it, and more. More than luck availed your torment, so do not judge the Shanashé for not having eyes everywhere at once. They come to those whom they see, and beyond the Eûnair and Hharan, across the dark lands of Metheron beyond those salty waters, Kelos Mori stands little more than a dot on the horizon, even should one climb atop a mountain in the middle of the ocean.” Anmoric remained silent during their walk to the House of Maerasurin Erendel, as Lurón Fallenstar welcomed the last of the Neümorian survivors of the waetheras.
“I talked to the klanedere about your proposal,” Anmoric said after a time.
“And what do they say?” Lurón asked.
“Some worry about what such a place could lead us to be—a splendid offer, it is, but we have a way that’s been passed down since our youngest days. It would invite a disastrous conclusion should we find ourselves all in one place, as it did with the Eln in the stories of Morenarch and the flames. The klanen shall wander the lands, and gather in times born of great need. If your offer stands—the Sanford should become where our councils come to gather.”
“The Aenüriale shall always be welcomed here in this land of my kindred,” Lurón promised. “Against any threat daring enough to transgress, then your enemies will become ours, as it had during the Great Santrum.”
Since those uncertain days, the Neümorians would find themselves spread far and wide across the known and unexplored realms of Arroon, and beyond, to the untamed south and the mysterious eastward sands. Many of the klanen, from the Verrol descendent of Númil, to the Credamar known as Craed, would learn and discover hardships that tested them to even the youngest child.
The intended rare use of the Sanford instead became a place of respite for those Neümorians making their way through the Yslin nearest Naúmandial, and seldom visits turned regular as the klanedere decided to meet once every decade to discuss matters and give news on each other’s journeys. A caretaker over the Sanford would eventually be appointed to watch over and guard this sanctuary home. It became a sacred place; stones adorned with carvings of the remembered histories of the ancient Aens, as new tales were chiseled into great wooden beams, where the banners of each of the honored klanedere would be safeguarded until their return.
For a short while, the world seemed a normal place.