The Splintering

From the pages of Kerenyi, Resistance scholar—

I can’t remember a time when we had peace. My parent’s grandparent’s told them stories they had heard of a time long past, and that’s the story I am going to recount to you now. It is said (in a hushed tone reserved for these types of stories) that at one time our kingdom was whole. That the world was not broken, that everyone lived in relative comfort and prosperity.

The world, at that time, was expansive with horizons stretching far in every direction. Bellerophon, it was known as, and the people there knew many things of art, magic, and science. Their numbers grew great, and they formed many shining cities. The people there grew so many that they pushed against the Veil itself.

You don’t know of the Veil? Well, allow me to explain. Bellerophon was expansive compared to the realms of today, but it was not infinite. It is said that the kingdom was ringed by a wall of mist and smoke. Those who entered never returned. This curtain was known as the Veil. Sometimes the Veil was eerily silent; other times making noises unheard before by human ears. The Veil was mostly stable, rarely changing shape from year to year. And so people grew confidant in the Veil’s calm, and settled right on its border.

However Bellerophon-that-was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many. Our scientists and our magicians looked for ways to push back the Veil, to extend our world. Some constructed mirrors that let them peer into other worlds “beyond-the-Veil”, others built vehicles of metal and wood and tried to pierce the Veil. Scholars and prophets wrote books telling of all that lay beyond the Veil, but all the attempts were hopeless. Nothing, it seemed, could break our great kingdom from the Veil.

Years passed, and the greatest minds that ever were discovered wonders, crafted fantastic artifacts, and slayed many diseases forever. Their fame grew, and all felt the benefit of their works. One magician, whose name will never be forgotten – Aleion, discovered what he believed to be the home of the gods. He saw a new world, perfect and infinite, rich and fertile. As he peered beyond-the-Veil in one of his mirrors, a figure appeared in the image. This was a first, as never before had a creature been seen in, let alone acknowledge the presence of, a mirror. This figure – and tales of his appearance vary widely – appeared to Aleion and told him how to build a portal to this perfect world. The figure told Aleion that this was the realm of heaven, where all good souls go to rest, and that it could belong to him.

Construction began immediately of this portal, a great stone gate, set with jewels and adornments, set squarely in the center of the capital city. Priests came and blessed it for a dozen dozen days. Only one voice dissented. One lone voice said that this was a mistake, a trick, the end of days. That opening this portal would sunder our world and scatter our people. One lone voice protested. Later, this one voice would be known as The Prophet.

One lone voice was right.

The whole kingdom of Bellerophon-that-was worked together to realize this portal. Farmers sent their crops to the capital, so that laborers would not want for food. Everyone who could contribute to the effort gave all they had. It seemed the world stopped while they built this portal. They certainly stopped watching the world around them. The Veil had been steadily marching toward the walls of the capital – slowly at first, and then with a great rush that could be heard miles away. It scoured everything away from the once great kingdom. On the day the portal was to open, the Veil lapped at the city walls, silently breathing with the city. It anticipated the opening of the portal as much as the citizens of Bellerophon-that-was.

The city was quiet that day – no pomp, no circumstance – just a quiet speech by Aleion. People were almost, but not quite, aware of what was happening outside the walls. They were too captivated by the portal to care about the poor souls beyond the walls. They raised their weary, dirty, and exhausted heads to the portal – convinced they would soon be walking in the fields and forests of heaven.

The portal opened, as planned, but it was not what the people had expected. One figure stepped out from the shimmering light of the portal. Some say he stood hundreds of feet tall, wreathed in cold green fire. Others say he was nothing more than an aged man. Behind him marched his followers, who were legion. Many of them so awful to see that men went mad, women wept, and children fell dead to the streets in fright. By far, the most numerous of his followers were the Iorqindi. Twisted and vicious, these “orcs” were.

The portal did not bring the plains of heaven, but rather a conquering army. Within minutes, the city surrendered to, and were enslaved by The Adversary, as he is commonly known (although not publicly.) After that day, the Veil was pushed back, revealing not the pastoral countryside, forests, and mountains that used to be, but rather a cratered grey wasteland.

The Adversary renamed this horrid world Belleros, and made it the capital of his realm. It is said that The Adversary never leaves this place, Belleros, and has taken that name for himself – although most would never speak his name aloud, for fear of drawing his ire.

But what of those unfortunates caught in the Veil when it pushed to the city walls? Some consider them lucky, for they escaped the immediate fate of those in the capital. Places lost to the Veil aren’t destroyed, like many used to believe, but rather they are… displaced. They become tiny microcosms – worlds often as small few miles square (and most are not much larger) – where normal rules and reasons no longer apply. Some are verdant, full of life, others become fiery hot, or icy cold. Others had even stranger things happen. These ‘realms’ as they have become known, each seem to follow their own rules. The Adversary developed a means to transfer things between these realms, and began to connect them to his new capital, Belleros. He controlled, entirely, the means of transport between these realms, and thus was able to cement his rule. The places closest to his rule quickly established themselves as fortress-realms, a defensive perimeter around his rule. The realms bordering those became the core worlds of his rule. These central realms were ruled by feudal vassals set in place by the Adversary. Each was free to rule as they pleased, so long as they paid a heavy tribute to Belleros.

The more people of the more distant and savage outer realms resisted Belleros’ control. The war was devastating. But Belleros’ eventual victory ensured a safer civilization.

Or so schoolchildren are taught. Truth is the outer worlds are basically lawless, and the rule of The Adversary is only enforced when his agents are around. A sizable resistance still fights the forces of The Adversary wherever it can. It is even said that the resistance has discovered alternate methods to traveling between realms. The frontier realms, as they are known, are almost entirely unexplored, and many artifacts from days long past are still waiting to be found.

—Resistance Scholar Kerenyi Year 987 Aleion Age.

The Splintering

Bellerophon Pfhreak