Introduction to The Truth about the Blue Sky and the World Before The Trials,
by Scholar Rais Altabah.
The walls from the oldest caves across the world are peppered with paintings showing a radiant, yellow flash on the blue sky. That white flash is often depicted with a Dragon underneath, casting its shadow onto Orcs, Elves or Humans, but never a mix of races. There are however no paintings depicting war against dragons. One must conclude that came after all races had learned enough to leave their caves for homesteads built with their own hands.
Dragons we can see today, and thank Justice we seldom see one, yet how could the sky of years past be so different from what we know since we were born? Our sky is a mantle of thick ash with no flash of white light to be seen, just a tenuous, colorless gleam so weak it casts no shadow, yet is strong enough that we can tell dark from bright.
There are as many theories about the demise of the blue sky as there are Scholars. We are indeed easy prey to conjecture, with so little left of the world before the Trials. Regardless, I have spent the last decade documenting every thought about this mystery. And I have not limited my attention to what only Scholars had to say. My ears have captured the tales of lunatics, children, elven shamans, superstitious orcs and beings of essence so tainted I do not wish to waste ink on naming. It took one hundred and twentyseven oaks to make enough paper to document these ramblings.
I call them ramblings, I must confess, because this quest for knowledge was born out of scorn: my intent was to destroy all theories about the blue sky concocted by my fellow Scholars. I believed their conclussions were but accidents of the mind, vague attempts at grasping the unknowable, sequences of daydreaming with no bearing in the solid world we stand on.
To my surprise, and delight, once I put together my collection of arbitrary facts and beliefs I discovered an incredible order within. Here and there, every detail would support the next one, every story would draw a parallel with the rest. Individually, no one was right. Together, it was a chronicle of a lost era.
The ten volumes that lay in front of you describe the story of our world since the beginning of the blue sky up until the end of the Trials. This is the truth, born from distilled entropy.
If you are reading this, you can only be anxious about finally learning, truly, about our past, but it is not unlikely that the task of devouring the thousands of pages ahead of you may seem daunting, and it may conjure thoughts of resistance. Because of this, I will serve you, eager reader, with a taste of the glory held in these volumes. I will concentrate my ten volumes in just a handful of words, and I know afterwards you will crave to read these pages as much as you crave a new breath every time you exhale:
There was a time where the sky was blue. It was a blue so vibrant and precious, it was easy to decide the world was floating inside a polished orb of topaz. It is said harmony reigned supreme during that time, long before the Drakenlords. Animals were locked in a beautiful circle of life and death. Orcs, Elves and Humans were scattered though the world learning to build fires and creating speech, each race in their own way, at they own pace. Every life was part of the dance of Nature, a dance watched closely by the mightiest of beings, the Dragons.
Dragons were driven by a powerful insctinct to bring balance wherever it was upset. Harmony was restored swiftly and enforced by the power of majesty inherent in all Dragons. They were monarchs caring about every inch of their realm with an intensity only love could grant.
And then the first Dragon fell. It was of course at the hands of a Human hunting party. Humans, Dragons realised, had grown at the same time intelligent enough to take of them down, and at the same time they had grown so stupid they had dared to attack them. For the first time, pride clouded the Dragons’ insctinct, and they sought revenge, not a way back to harmony. Who caused what happened next, the Humans for hunting a Dragon or the Dragons for rejecting harmony for a thirst of revenge, is a debate that will require many forests to compile in paper.
The Dragons began to attack Human settlements, targeting the whole species instead of the singular group that had wronged them. Despite their nearly unstoppable power, Dragons were only as intelligent as their role in the world needed them to be. That is why they didn’t know their blood, flesh and bones was imbued with what the illiterates and superstitious call magic, but we Scholars know as Mana. Humans, on the other side, discovered very quickly, upon feasting on the hunted Dragon, that there was a formidable power to be reaped, and the sudden wave of Dragon attacks gave the original hunters all the reason not only to hunt more Dragons using their newly acquired potency, but also to spread over the world seeking other Humans and teaching them to hunt Dragons.
In the next century, Humans thrived, and became a civilisation. The Dragons forced Human’s creativity in finding solutions to ensure their survival. Military strategy was born. Farming techniques were perfected. Cattle was domesticated. Laws defined right from wrong for everyone. The threat of a common enemy worked in keeping Humanity united, but it also nourished an ever growing thirst for power greater than what Nature had planned: the power within a Dragon.
Dragons became fiercer but unable to deal with Humanity’s progress. Every year more Dragons fell, and less few were being born; keeping harmony didn’t require a vast number of Dragons, and Nature had made it so they couldn’t breed as much as they wished in times of need. Every dragon lost meant more Humans were being imbued with Mana. Mana, as it turned out, made humans more resilient, faster and stronger, although the most desired boon was that of timelessness, by which aging would slow to a crawl and give many decades more to live for those who feasted on a Dragon. Aristocracy didn’t take long to appear, with Humans imbued by Mana naming themselves Nobles as opposed to the lesser majority of ordinary, powerless people. By that time, Dragons had stopped attacking Human cities and were sorely content with taking down travellers and pockets of people beyond the reach of powerful armies or the Nobility. With their pride destroyed and their dream of vengeance long forgotten in a centuriesold bloodlust, most Dragons fled North, where, they hoped, they could rest and breed in peace.
In the time the Dragons had been at war with Humanity, harmony had broken beyond repair. Natural cataclysms had turned once lush jungles into arid deserts, Animals had rearranged their hierachy with the strongest ones destroying all the weak and multiplying into plagues. And the other intelligent races that we know of, the Elves and the Orcs, had been progressing, in their own way, unchecked.
This is why the Dragons seeking refuge in the North didn’t expect to find Orcs there. They didn’t know they had grown to be a species condemned to endless civil war. Over the centuries they had grown bigger, tougher and each one of them a natural soldier. Unlike Humans, whose milotary strategy revolved around a group of small people taking on one or few giant beasts, orcs had perfected the art of war against an enemies of their same size. The Dragon’s abandonment of their prime duty making sure all species were safe and provided for had forced Orc tribes out of their natural habitats, and the lack of suitable farming land and water supplies had launched them into endless civil war.
The Orcs didn’t expect to find Dragons either: by that time, they had become a legend of might passed on each from generation on to the next, so when they saw them coming, they thought they had just found the perfect war machines.
Much like Humans before them, a group of Orcs set out to fight a Dragon. The Orcs, unlike the Humans, wanted to capture it alive and tame it like a war hog. They failed in capturing the Dragon alive, but upon feasting on its body and becoming imbued with Mana, they attempted to capture another one. One brave Orc successfully mounted a Dragon and forced it into submission with his bare hands during this second attempt. The feeling of the Dragon yielding its will to him came with a surge of unlimited power only a few other beings would ever experience.
The first Drakenlord had been born. Orcs thought they had found the formula to become almightly: eating dragon flesh, then capturing another one. Many tribes ended up with two or three Drakenlords in the following years, all of which would become tribe chiefs by virtue of sheer strenght, and this incited new, intribe civil wars that only scourged the few, precious resources left in the North. Never stopping war against one another, Orcs began pouring southwards.
Nobles, that is, the Aristocrary of Humans thad had had a chance to drink Dragon Blood and was using their privilege and seeming immortality to rule with the wisdom of many twisted lifetimes, had become what we know today as Vampires. They had found ways to channel the Mana inside of them into more subtle and yet powerful uses, from bending the will of the living to raising the dead. The use of this hineous power, however, drained their eternal youth, but they didn’t need long to discover that the blood of fellow humans without mana coursing through their veins provided just enough vigor to keep them going. When the time came where Orcs began raiding their lands, Vampires tried their blood powers for war for the first time, and lost to the Orc Drakenlords. The surviving Vampires learned from their mistakes, however, and abandoned their people at the mercy of Orcs to find Dragons to subdue. It took less than ten years, but by the time the Vampire Drakenlords came back, their land, and all human realms, had fallen into chaos. Most orcs had left after depleting all resources to keep their own civil wars going. Half of the population was dead. Those who lived hated their Vampire lords and hated them even further for coming back riding their millenial enemies. Of course, Vampires seized control of the remnants of their realms again anyway, but they new they would never again be respected, only feared.
You may be wondering, eager reader, what about the Elves? Legends tell Elves were the greatest amongst the Drakenlords. The legends, it turns out, are true.
The last remant of Dragons banded together and, humbled by their crushing defeats against Humans and Orcs, agreed that they had to resume their duty as guardians of harmony and restore the world to as close to its former glory as they could to atone for their sins. Given the power of the Vampire and Orc Drakenlords, it was clear to the Dragons they could not do this alone. And so they seeked the third known intelligent race, the Elves. Unlike Orcs and Humans, Elves inhabited Nature, were Orcs and Humans had turned to unnatural architecture to set themselves apart for the animal kingdom. Every Elven enclave was prosper, self sufficient and full of life. Peace rang across the forests they lived in; nothing was disrturbed, and harmony pulsated within their reach. Elves had taken the mantle of Dragons, only in a more local scale.
The surviving Dragons to offered themselves to the Elves and asked to be used on a final assault against Humans and Orcs to restore harmony in the world again, once and for all. This proved that a Drakenlord doesn’t need to consume flesh, bone or blood of a Dragon; one simply needs the will of a Dragon, be it taken by force or by the Dragon’s own wish.
This is sadly where the stories begin to stray away from each other and the details are scarce. We know the Elves began the Trials, a worldwide battle that resulted in the death of most Dragons, the few remaining going mad and wild. We know Demons were unleashed on the world, but not by whom. our sky is ashes and gloom. We know no Human, Orc of Elven structure stood after the battle, and every building we see today was built afterwards. We know all Drakenlords died, or went away never to return. We know the blood of Dragons rained from the skies and that it never dries up, and even today someone finds a pool of Dragon blood and drinks from it and becomes imbued with Mana, and usually ends up trying to become a Drakenlord, for reasons that far too often have nothing to do with keeping harmony.
It is this Scholar’s wish however that a Drakenlord raises again soon. Someone who can tame one of the few, tormented Dragons left in our grim world, and bring us back the blue sky. May the knowledge in these pages inspire all readers to fill their hearts with this pure intent.