WHEN COMES THE FIRETIDE | PART TWO: EMERGENTS
Chapter Eleven: A World Beyond Negotiations
The Kestrel Purlieu, Southern border of the Kestrel Pine Barrens
morning, 2nd Set Duty, month of Foundations 8178
Seated about the table, the gathering was not necessarily the best selection of representatives for the whole of the Shae empire, but it was what was available. Commander Kreios, Lt. Commander Váleo, Captain Belks, the Lamane Stavros, only a very low level member of the Deignier, and of course, Lt. Commander Hereth. Were Zakeriel still with them, the Jaed Knighthood would be represented as well, but the young man was still missing, soon to be counted lost.
Beside these Shae were Lalsamraat Paoel Gyreck, the Venerate J’reth Onr, his Elihaet, Calihl, and from the Erahs’Calhalla, Nelah tu’Aadar and Pelleas het’Satin. Lingering in the shadows stood Atirian Vaeth. Less interested in talking, his expression made his intention to observe quite clear. This was only more notable when Bazl began with an explanation of the very first translation he and Khes delivered from the Weyd Journal, both also still missing.
As Hereth read off the notes, meticulously taken by Nelah, Bazl followed with short, simple meanings.
“Seek truth before firetide’s light, or all is lost.”
“-learn the true history before Firetide or die.”
“Seek the meta before harvest or death will feast.”
“-Uvall will be free before Autumnfæll or the deaths continue.”
“The meta is many. The meta are here and far.”
“-The Meta is not one person, but many people spread throughout Tybraes.”
“The truth begins by shedding darkness.”
“-One must deny the lies one has been taught.”
“From darkness Quirifen’s power born.”
“-Quirifen was corrupt. One used manipulations to gain power.”
“In darkness, bloodlust birthed and sighed.”
“-Quirifen used dark magic, very addicting. Power very addicting.”
“Bound twins, life and death, under yolk of scorn.”
“-The will of Nel and Ndor was manipulated, their power used as a weapon.”
“Dredged deep the trenches for fever’s pitch.”
“-The “old gods” are of an old time, so time must be torn assunder to be free of them.”
“To light cleansing flame when comes the firetide.”
“-As the first Firetide was set, so a new Rogalian will burn upon the next Firetide.”
“Seek the truth or all is lost when comes the firetide.”
“-Once again, learn your true history or die come Firetide.”
Hereth set the paper down upon the table with a weary hand then regarded the faces before them. Striding past behind them, Bazl seemed far less concerned with how the information was received. The Saltigue took a seat upon a tall stool and folded one’s hands. Gesturing to indicate now was the time to speak questions or challenge them, Hereth blinked in anticipation.
“Why is it, exactly,” the Lamane folded his hands across his stomach, “that we are sitting here listening to a lesson in leaf-eater occult fictions when we should be preparing for this… diplomatic talk with the ramskulls?”
“Say that word again and the empire will be refreshingly short one more self-indulgent Deignier prig.”
Eyes shifted to Atirian in the corner. Both arms were still crossed, one foot still braced on the wall, but his eyes burned with hatred. Although none present save Pelleas knew the full truth of his past, of the Jaedbloods he slaughtered, not one person doubted the threat.
Gregoire reached out and set a hand flush on the table in a soothing gesture. “If I am understanding the phrasing of what you say correctly, and please, Bazl feel free to interject, are we to understand that Quirifen, Nel and Ndor… the Erahs gods, were in fact real people. Not gods at all.”
Calihl scoffed, “well that is just… convenient for you is it not? Let us validate our own beliefs by invalidating anothers as quickly as possible. Erahs gods are false, merely Erahs.”
“I did not say that,” Gregoire argued calmly. “I am asking if that is what Hereth and Bazl’s interpretation is asking us to accept.”
“It is,” Bazl answered in a firm tone. “And this is true. In fact, from the studies we have done with the young Yaffeta, Hereth and one have come to understand that at the time of the Felling, there were six Meta–”
“What are these ‘Meta’?” The Lamane sneered.
“In a moment…” Bazl held out a finger to dismiss him, then continued. “These Meta have names one may know. Quirifen, Nel, Ndor, J’Vahun, Hroc Tosh, Naaris, and Telloran.”
“That is seven.” It was Hakken who spoke in confusion this time.
“Nel and Ndor were the original Dyás,” Atirian interjected. “Like Khes and myself. They count as one.”
Bazl gestured with a grateful gesture, but then corrected him. “One is correct, they were joined, but not the original Dyás. There are two others, also a pair unrelated by blood. A Shae male named Jaa and Dyás, an Erahs female.”
“Of course, history steals her name, but forgets the woman.” Nelah growled, slumping into her seat with a sneer. “Oh no… they kept track of the evil one.” Pelleas rubbed her thigh in sympathy.
“Even with your Ontax math, that still makes seven then,” Osian snorted, the Lamane’s attitude a darkening influence at the table.
J’reth sat forward with interest but reluctance. “If we are to say these Meta are gifted ones say of an exception talent above that of ordinary gifted… and Quirifen was corrupted. I’m supposing, if I were to believe this, that she is not counted among the original six. The implication made by this Weyd journal is that she was an enemy of the others. Possibly turned the twins against the others as well.”
Hereth shook their head and pulled the ledger of their own notes to them. “Not entirely true or wrong. Jaa and Dyás, we believe found a way to join with a third. We are not sure who. This was named as ‘Apotheosis‘ and brought about what was called the ‘Blood Reign.’ Without going to the Ontax home, it is difficult to gain the full truth, but by contrasting the accounts available, this is how we believe the Felling actually took place.”
A series of uncomfortable coughs and grumbles arose as the others shifted and settled to listen. Flicking their eyes upward, Hereth looked for at least one person who was not going to simply dismiss everything out of hand. They found this in the gaze of Gregoire and Atirian. It was not much, but it was a comfort.
“Before the time of the Felling there are no records of any peoples in Tybraes save the Erahs.”
“WHAT?!” Osian snorted a rebuking laugh. Belks slammed a fist on the table and glared at him. The Lamane shuddered but fell silent. Turning back to Hereth, Belks gestured for them to continue. With a grateful nod, the Shae sighed and continued reading from their notes.
“There are scattered references in Erahs texts to the “stone kin” and their “fire-keepers,” almost like sightings of legendary creatures or visitations of strangers. But no mention of Shae or Ganroth. Then a roughly a Kyr before the Felling began suddenly there are abundant Shae and Ganroth texts as if the cultures simply appeared. This is in keeping with the fall of Iaeganaul, the first ruins at Yadri, accounts of Thes tu’Iri, and several other scattered ‘events of legend’ throughout Tybraes.” Hereth lifted their gaze a moment to look about. All attention was focused now. “Then accounts of The Felling are very disparate. The Shae claim the Ganroth attempted to enslave them. The Ganroth claim the opposite. Both sides had opposing Erahs clans as allies and Erahs clans who remained neutral or hidden. But in none of this were the Ontaxa or Tōk. Then– THEN there is mention of the ‘Old Gods’.”
Hakken leaned forward with a point. “No… the Old Gods, that’s what started all of it. The Old Gods became corrupt so the Jaed had to protect us. The Felling happened because the Ganroth retaliated.”
Belks shrugged and eyed him, “Ganroth say the Felling was the plague sent by Uvall to test us all and cull the weak. Who are we to say that’s wrong?” He looked sidelong at Calihl and J’reth. “What’s the Erahs hist’ry say?”
The Elihaet grimaced and rest his hands on the table. “The… esh… the Erahs histories are not very complete–”
“Seeing as much of our civilizaton was forced from its homes, we had to rely on oral histories for a long time,” J’reth interjected with a sour note. “And our culture…”
Calihl nodded and continued with far less venom that the Venerate, “the Quirsahtha teaches only of the existence of The World Before. The Felling is, essentially, just a marking point for the end of The World Before, which was a time for us that the Erahs no longer speak of. We teach it is best to keep one’s thoughts in the present, not in the past.”
“So what is The World Before?” Hakken asked softly.
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This is an excerpt. You can follow the blog to read full and future chapters here: firetidecomes.blogspot.com/