In fantasy there is no real history, of course, but in order to give things some background to how they came to be the way they are, it is important to create some history. This was important, especially for my second book, as all of Mirrortac’s other lives were as individuals from ancestral races, going back to the original tribal ancestor that he meets in Three Stones of Destiny — the Roznogh. The planet in which all of the first book takes place is Mareos, which has nine orbits of its moon, Mogog, in a single Mareos year. Let us now explore the ancestral history that finally leads to the erfins living in their valley of Eol, effectively isolating them from all their remaining ancestors.
The ROZNOGH we already know in Three Stones of Destiny, live in clans in the tundra lands of Yidrogh in the far north of Mareos. The clans consist of clan elders, maja-taks, who are sacred spell makers, and the hefty hyfnuks who are responsible for collecting the hyfnu weed and killing animals for food. There are also the regular roznogh people.
In the 9000th moon of their history, there is an extremely cold period when the Great Viyu (numbness) brings heavy snow falls. The roznogh survive by living near an area of hot springs.
The Stone Wall of Viyu (Glacier) comes in the 9010th moon, dividing the land of Yidrogh. Some tribes are caught on the southern side of Yidrogh, fleeing to warmer lands to the south.
The glacier retreats on the 11,800th moon, but by this time the southern tribes have formed into the UZDREE.
12,007th moon: The maja-tak seek more freedom to exercise their spellcraft, challenging clan elders. The maja-tak seize power from the clan elders who are exiled along with a group of loyal followers. The power play continues between the maja-tak spell casters, forcing the division into two factions — the URDAN and the MADREE clans. Skirmishes break out between the Urdin and Madree but the Madree gain control, forming a powerful ruling clan that reigns for many moons.
13,851st moon: The Monsters-of-the-Deep-Earth (earthquakes) create great destruction in the land, swallowing villages and spitting fire out of the volcanic mountains. The Madree flee the great under-gods of fire, and escape south across a narrow neck of land which is swallowed up by the angry gods of the Great Waters. Plumer-Ra and the other Islands of the Meretees are formed at this time.
13,860th moon: The Madree have been scattered into groups all over the southern lands and each settles to form new clans — RADREE, HUGHWA, URTAK, MADIN and ERFIN.
13,900th moon: Under the maja-tak spell casters, the clans thrive and expand their territories, exploring lands until clans encounter each other.
14,000th moon: Border skirmishes erupt as the power game begins anew between the five clans. Warriors are trained and their short swords bound by various spells to enhance their power over their enemies. Wooden swords give way to ones of metal with hilts adorned in precious stones.
14,005—16,154th moon: Battles rage between the five clans as each pits its might against each other. Finally, only two clans remain — the Madin and Erfins. The Madin are forced into the mountains where they maintain guerrilla style raids on outlying erfin villages.
16,155—17,000th moon: The Erfin empire reigns with battles continuing against the Madin mountain clans.
17,008: The hero warrior Merftac is born to the erfins of Fot. He grows up to lead a major offensive in the 17,146th moon against Madin mountain clans, forcing them to flee to the end of the earth where they are slaughtered on a precipitous mountain ridge and cast below into oblivion. The valley below the Mountain at the End of the Earth (Mateote) is so beautiful and richly endowed with nif-grass and fote fowl that Merftac convinces his maja-tak ruler to shift the people there in the place they name Eol. Merftac is dubbed Thane of Fotwood at the 17,164th moon for his service as a great warrior chief.
17,170: The erfin warriors grow restless, and many brawls break out. They start to challenge the authority of the maja-tak. Merftac realises that he must find a solution to their idleness.
17,180: Nite-wolves, attracted by the potential prey in the previously empty valley of Eol, grow in numbers in the woods east of Eol. Lorcs predate in the stream and lake to the west and south, resulting in the deaths of erfins. Merftac sets his warriors to work hunting nite-wolves and protecting villagers.
17,188: Alien demi-gods appear from beyond Mateote. They work powerful magic and tell of the wondrous worlds beyond the mountains thought to be the end of the earth. Nite-wolves retreat to deep within the woods while the demi-gods convince Merftac of the benefit of exploring these new worlds. Under their charm, Merftac and his warriors follow them over the mountain, promising to return once these new worlds are scouted. These same aliens also visit the Meretees people during this time period.
17,200: The maja-tak, realising their warriors would never return, seize the opportunity to assume supreme power without fear of challenge by restless warriors and their ‘charmed’ swords. They announce that Mateote is their god and warn erfins never to scale the great peak as oblivion awaits them on the other side. They brand the demi-gods as deceivers from the Netherworld who robbed them of their warriors.
17,210: The maja-tak form the priesthood of Mateote. The spell language of Maja is declared sacred and forbidden among the common erfin folk. In the ensuing years, the High Priests of Mateote establish firm control of Eol which becomes their prison as there are no warriors to kill the nite-wolves and slimy lorcs. The erfins settle into a subsistence lifestyle of harvesting nif-grass and herbs as well as raising the fote fowl for eggs and meat.
Chapter 1: Yidrogh ― land of bogs
The stench was unbearable. Mirrortac’s paws were tied behind his back and he was up to his neck in it – a muddy cold green slime. What a way to treat a distant cousin, although there was the small matter of the theft of these people’s most treasured and sacred object – the Werdstone. But he blamed Phantac for that. It was he who set him on another mission without fully explaining the consequences of such an action. It had all seemed an easy matter from the First Heaven where the hard realities of life in the physical plane were mere abstractions. In the here and now, hardly able to move in a bog hole, and nauseous from inhaling the smell of the putrid plant matter, the First Heaven was fast fading into dreamland.
The First Heaven – the gateway of the river of light. Mirrortac thought he was dead when he saw Phantac amid the mists and changing rainbow of colours that surrounded him. He had only just arrived after leading many souls across from Hopocus where he had triumphed over the sorceress, Helok, and her partner, the sorcerer, Krak. Hopocus was a lower astral realm – closest to all physical worlds. Mirrortac’s people, the erfins – a furry race of cat-like people – knew Hopocus as the Netherworld where demons and all creatures and beings of darkness dwelt. The erfins had believed that this world was beyond the great mountain that guarded their valley. But it took the courage and curiosity of one erfin to prove that they were wrong. Mirrortac never knew then that the journey would eventually lead him through many worlds where he would encounter various races of people and come into contact with beings of both darkness and light. And all the while, he was inevitably drawn towards Hopocus where he completed the prophesy of an ancient legend wherein it said: A great warrior will return from the outer world, bringing with him his sacred silver staff – the Staff of Thaum – which he will use to conquer the dark rulers of Hopocus and lead many out of slavery into a new life.
Phantac had seemed like something out of a dream – his fur was a dazzling white, and yet he was clearly an erfin. His eyes were like brilliant emeralds, glistening. There was an immense air of calm about him as one came to expect of such spiritual beings, but it was no longer just a sense, but a palpable feeling. When he smiled, it lit up his whole being, and his voice was gentle and strangely familiar. Then there was the First Heaven itself.
Mirrortac struggled with the memories of what he had seen. How does anyone describe something that is always changing? Landscapes were in a constant state of flux – transforming themselves from vast fields of yellow flowers to deep valleys dotted with fir trees and populated with herds of strange animals. Feeding into this was an immense river of golden light, glistening with millions of tiny flecks as it tumbled out in a curtain from a gateway above. The river broke up into hundreds of streams that in turn split into hundreds and thousands more. And each one of the streams was tendered by god-like beings who shone with the brilliance of suns, dipping their hands into the golden soup and directing threads of it into the vast reaches of the Greater Sky where suns and worlds bathed in the void.
It was during their discussions surrounded by all this beauty that Phantac revealed this new mission. ‘What? Can I nought stay here?’ Mirrortac had pleaded.
Then Phantac smiled with that peaceful, patient expression. ‘An incarnate being can nought remain in a spiritual domain. This is nought your time to give up the body,’ he explained.
‘I wish to return then to my kin in the Faug Forest. Have I nought done with my mission? Send another!’ Mirrortac retorted.
‘You will have help on this mission, but you are the only one who can begin …’ Phantac cut short what he was about to say. ‘It is your tasking.’
Mirrortac sighed with resignation as he acknowledged the responsibility.
‘Then what task must I do?’
Phantac waved his paws in the air and opened them, revealing three strangely marked stones.
‘These three stones are in the likeness of three stones of great power – one for each of the Greater worlds that are linked in energies and empowered from a fourth stone – the crystal Werdstone.’
Mirrortac’s brows lifted. ‘Werdstone? The Werd has a stone named for it?’
‘Yea, the name of the Werd is lost in your erfin past. You shall soon re-discover this lost past and the great controlling power of this crystal stone. It is filled with the Werd – the secret knowledge of the Ancients. You must take this stone, but you shall face a great enemy who assumes the mask of god to your ancestors. It will be your task to protect the stone and find the other three stones of destiny, and destroy them with the controlling Werdstone. The three stones are each named Oashu – the keeper stone of the Greater world of Mareos; Einuk – keeper of Nerthule; and Darm – keeper of Thenigmas. Only when you have all three and the Werdstone can they be destroyed and the task completed.’
‘And why must these stones be destroyed? What matter to the worlds are such stones?’ Mirrortac queried.
Phantac struggled with the burden of explaining. ‘The secret knowledge of the Ancients includes much of the lesser and higher magics that are dangerous in the hands of the unwise. When the stones are destroyed all the spells shall be broken, and your erfin descendants trapped in the bodies of animals on Nerthule shall be released and allowed to continue their lives in Eol. If the spells are not broken then they will soon be forever trapped in the animal closest to erfin likeness, and many more will be bound from all the worlds.’