Prologue…“Gods are not truly so different from mortals as they may appear to be at times. True, a wide berth of power separates the one from the other, but when one considers the passing of time, the coming of change, and of age, the two are very much the same. So it is that Kedanna’s time of growth began."
Like most youths, Kedanna lived unaware of a fraction of her potential until she stumbled into love, or something like it. For a time they experienced one another, she and her darkness, Ariana, and perhaps happiness was involved, or joy. Perhaps not. Either way, it could not run eternal. The two were in love at first sight, so the myths say, and their bond was strong enough that it did not waver in the face of adversity when a great power appeared in their home realm to challenge Ariana and the other gods of that place. They fought, indirectly and otherwise, using strength and will and politics; things ended badly - time and life stopped there when the realm imploded. Ariana and Kedanna fled to a new realm, a realm of Darkness over which Ariana would reign supreme, thinking their home realm lost completely…its roots, however, had already spread in various directions. Aside from Kedanna and Ariana, another left before these troubles began, a young spacer named Kyozou. Kyozou’s path between realms took him to a place outside of time, a space between moments in which he was given dominion over time itself. With this power, surely he would be able to undo some of the damage, some of the deaths…There is always a way to save everyone, isn’t there?! The question echoes into darkness unanswered.
Coupled with her partner, Kedanna found her power growing at unexpected speed, and it did not take long for her to figure out the source of this newfound power lay in death; she increased as others died, as though her spirit fed on discord. It was a startling revelation and like any young woman might be in this situation Kedanna was frightened, and her fear removed her from that place of shadows. Darkness did not benefit from the separation. The realm of darkness degraded swiftly and fell into disrepair as Ariana lost her will to maintain it in Kedanna’s absence. What would be the point? At some point, even her Keepers of the Night are unsure of when exactly, Ariana simply disappeared from that place, gone to seek her love wherever she had run.
Another unrelated realm simply ended, consuming itself to take on a crystalline form in the company of a rather confused faerie. It is unclear whether this happened during the trials of darkness or after, or before, and in truth it hardly matters; regardless of when, Melyene came about in this way, the collective essence of a world. It is a powerful legacy, perhaps, but not so much to those unaware of what it is they carry. Childlike she wandered through nothingness seeking answers, hunting for meaning in a plane with no regard for her, searching for a home she did not know and could not describe. When a call rang through the void, a call of herself, of who and what she is, she could not help but go toward it.
Throughout the void, the in between, other entities took note of these myriad shifts in the balance of power and many chose to go themselves to observe, even to take part in whatever changes were occurring. For reasons I will later describe, most of these go unnamed and without honor, forever banished in thought and word from the new world, but it is known that among them came a god of war, a goddess of water, an incarnation of hatred and a demigod of fate, but one of those included in this flux of deities was allowed to remain, if for no other reason than because she felt no need to collect slaves and monuments. This is the goddess Cherady, a faerie known best for her boundless capacity for mischief. The ruling gods of her previous home banished her from their realm for causing too much trouble, finally pestered enough by her constant trickery and games to remove her from their presence and her home. Dissatisfied with the possibilities present in the void, she immediately sought out a new playground, and a brand new realm was too good an opportunity to pass up; in a place like that she’d be able to try out all of her old tricks again, and maybe even make up some new ones!
Beyond all of these in the distance, perhaps a breath away, a new pair of eyes opened.”
--from the records of Temmen, historian and humble follower of she who is life.
“As one may imagine, it is difficult to find a realm absolutely void of life, or even the potential for life, where there has not been death at some point. Such was Kedanna’s obstacle in finding solitude: where does one go to find safety from oneself when all that dies continues to engorge one’s power? Of course no such place exists…so it must be created. It is possible this is the answer Kedanna discovered when at last she came to rest in the void, but then she may have simply grown tired of running from herself, from existence. Whatever her reasons, she dropped to her knees in nothingness and let loose a scream filled with all her uncertainty, frustration, confusion, all her fears, and that terrible sound shook the unformed realm into action. All around her void became substance: stone and soil, seas and rivers and skies. In her desperation for understanding and control, she conjured Tirradyn, a new world untouched by life or death or consciousness other than her own. The action consumed her; as the world grew silent, Kedanna fell lifeless to the ground on her new solitary haven.
A moment later, or a year, or a century, a shadow came to rest over Kedanna’s empty body. New eyes looked down upon her without judgment or accusation, instead holding only interest, understanding, a mother’s love. When the visitor faded, so too did the fallen goddess, and in their wake a rose the first life of the new realm: a single black rose curled around a single white rose, the only color apart from the bleak grey slate that covered the world.
This lonely life struck outward into the void as a beacon of opportunity, drawing from all manner of realms the gods and goddesses seeking more than they had already in their hands. Many of these had no idea how the realm was formed or who was responsible, nor did they care at all about these things; it was ripe for their shaping, who were they to argue? The realm became unstable with the arrival of so many vast powers: the seas rose up and smashed the continents of stone, crushing them beneath waves blackened by the reflections of the abyss and eternal night. So it was the gods were made to reform the world according to their own wishes, this continent bearing hills and fields and forests, this one only wastelands and shadowed valleys, this one stone and lava and mountainous ranges, and diversity came to the land as varied as the gods that walked its surface.
The earliest arrivals were first to form a ‘slave’ race, the giants, to build for them and worship them and follow every divine whim they could think up, for these gods were petty and prideful and basked in the glory of their own magnificence reflected in the eyes of their followers. The dawn of Tirradyn was marked with the construction of immense temples and pedestals, altars and monuments to the various gods. These are things for which it is best known…these, and for war. Only decades after the giants’ creation the gods began to war with one another over whose servants were the greatest, whose land the most fertile, whose oceans the most beautiful, and innumerable other points of argument between deities with too much time on their hands. As often happens in god wars, there could be no clear victor; too many were truly immortal or lacked the power to destroy fully their oppositions. Instead of consuming the realm completely in their useless war, the gods began creation of new races, ones that would be made to blindly worship each god as it saw fit; the majority of these races were based on those the gods had seen and created in their previous realms, either out of affection for these familiar races, or out of fear of the unknown.
For centuries the realm fluctuated this way, with the gods alternating between war with one another and creation of new and more beautiful zealots; such self-destructive behavior could not last forever. Eventually the mortals tired of being made as toys to work tirelessly for years only to be cast away at the next generation’s beginning. They began to create cities and societies of their own without the gods to rule over them, and they burned and looted the temples of the gods, the old giants’ works and others, the holy cities and the monuments to heaven. It is thought that Kyozou arrived near this time, bringing with him a race of feline humanoids, the only survivors he could, or would, draw from his realm to follow him to safer ground, and these mrem quickly took root in Tirradyn to form their own culture as a base of resistance, having no allegiance to any of the proud gods of this new world. Following the lead of these cat people, the ‘slave’ races began to connect with one another in more peaceful ways, trading and conversing, even interbreeding and committing to secure alliances with one another across their nations. Not all followed such social courses, though. Some took to the earth, burrowing deep beneath its surface to find solitude, while others returned to the skies to make their homes, mythical creatures with the bodies of men and the wings of birds that could lie upon the clouds to rest. Thus the reign of the gods ended as the creators were rejected by their creations, beaten back with blasphemy and distrust and, this being the most unthinkable to them, cooperation.
Only two of the largest charted continents seemed capable of sustaining life. Those who left the shelter of these two hospitable continents to search for new lands rarely returned, and those who did survive the horrific journey spoke of ungodly horrors, creatures so large and powerful they made even the giants seem childlike in stature. Others claimed to have fled from creatures that steal the very life from one’s soul during the most intimate of activities, or worse yet, creatures that would drain the blood from one’s body while clouding the mind with pleasure. Succubi, shadows, vampires, banshees, these and worse were first recorded during the recounting of these exploratory trips, though many still considered them myths until victims began appearing on the mainlands, the lands of the living. Rumors of larger and more wicked creatures frightened these mortals, inspiring them to raze their harbors and all but a handful of ships for protection of their lands, hoping to prevent further immigration of demons and the dead…but they could not prevent the spread of those already free in the darkness of men’s cities.
With these, the ‘dark races’ now among the living, the frightened citizens returned to their temples and prayed to their new gods, to Kyozou the Keeper of Time, to Melyene the Spirit of Music, even pleading with the mischievous faerie Cherady and the other, unseen goddess, the one prophets named the realm’s true creator, to Kedanna. Much had changed since she first made this place, but surely, they felt, she would be able to do something to aid her people in their time of need…ah, the deceptive power of hope. She did return when they called, but not at all alone: a walking shadow moved to her right, her lover returned, Ariana at her side once more. A mysterious figure walked behind the joyous couple, her eyes still shining with that ageless light as she returned to the land for the first time since its conception. This, then, was the wanderer who brought Kedanna away to recover while her realm was remade, the lady Death, Vensoma. They gathered together, endless and immortals, meeting with one another for the first time to focus their full attentions once more on the events unfolding in Tirradyn, the rising conflicts between its mortal races and those who feed upon that mortality. This is the age of the Gathering.”
--from the records of Temmen, historian and humble follower of she who is life.