The Festival of the Way Part 1 – The History of Dawn [News] By WarderDragon (Baja Stratics Reporter) May 31st, 2009 “A band of four strangers shall come upon thee, and unto them ye shall deliver the implements of the abominations downfall. Yet the danger is not the abomination, but what it has released… In the midst of the great imbalance, thy city shall vanish from the sight of man. Ten times thou shall await thy summoning in a place of power. That which was small will become large, that thou canst prepare thy destiny. In all things there is purpose…” - The Prophetess Xenka, The History of the Kingdom of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998). Once upon a time, there existed a realm of powerful magicians and fearless legionnaires known as Akalabeth. A vast empire ruled by a line of wealthy and influential sorcerer-monarchs and guarded by a host of warrior-prefects, Akalabeth thrived for centuries as a center of learning and trade unmatched throughout all the realms of Sosaria. Only the Kingdoms of Olympus and Rondolin, who later became known as Luna and Zento, rivaled the majesty that was the Imperium of White Light. The Dynast-Emperors of Akalabeth brought peace and tranquility to their lands, with only a few notable exceptions to be discovered amongst the records of their long and storied history. They employed a small arsenal of enchanted relics and alchemical catalysts in their attempts to produce great wonders of elemental tempestry and arcane thaumaturgy. The performance of such miracles benefited their people in ways that have since been lost to history, although legend tells us that disease was rare and famine unheard of in the land of the Sorcerer-Monarchs. Yet for all their arcane prowess and knowledge of the world around them, the Akalabethans failed to see the darkness that had begun to fester within their own hearts or the black taint that their sorcery had left upon their souls. In the last five decades before the empires final collapse, a series of wars and the outbreak of plague threatened to destabilize the once peaceful realm. The Sorcerer’s War was the first to erupt, leading to the destruction of seven of the nine Towers of the Moon. The Keepers of Sorcery, once the protectors of the realm, were now divided and leaderless. The Third War of Succession followed shortly thereafter, threatening to tear Akalabeth in two had it not been for the swift rise of Lord Wolfgang the Great. Wolfgang was a wise and generous monarch, who managed to unite the numerous conflicting factions together and secure his place on the Imperial Throne. He performed many feats that helped to temporarily repair the damage caused by the two previous wars, but like his people he failed to see the treachery that existed within his own house. Wolfgang had two heirs, the youngest of whom was named Mondain. Mondain would show himself to be a capable albeit cruel young wizard, a child prodigy in every respect. Wolfgang recognized this all too late, but held out hope that his son would be turned from the dark road that he seemed destined to pursue. The emperor offered his son something that he believed the young sorcerer couldn’t refuse: The Sun Ruby. Should Mondain turn from magic for a time, and spend a year cultivating compassion with the monastic Order of Empathy, he would offer his son the artifact that was the source of the Emperor’s power. Wolfgang’s son proved to be much more treacherous and impatient than he had assumed. Mondain murdered his father that night, stealing the Sun Ruby and fleeing Akalabeth. Mondain returned several years later, launching the first attack in what would later be known as the First War of Darkness. He managed to swiftly crush many of the northern principalities. The weakened and divided Akalabethans – for without an Emperor to unite them or the Keepers of Sorcery to turn back the tides of darkness – they were helpless to stop the onslaught against them. It was at this time that Cantabrigian British, Squire to Shamino Salle Dacil and friend of Lord Blackthorne, arose to become the Champion of White Light. “There arose from the land a man, pure and just, to battle the Dark Lord. British, Champion of the White Light, did battle with Mondain deep within the labyrinth of dungeons, eventually driving him from Akalabeth forever. British of the White Light was now proclaimed Lord British, Protector of Akalabeth. Alas, much damage has been suffered unto the lands.” - The Annals of Akalabeth, Ultima 0: Akalabeth (Circa 1979). Mondain retreated in defeat, and spent the next two decades plotting the demise of the Akalabethans. Meanwhile, Lord British began to rebuild Akalabeth as the temporary General and Emperor Pro-Tempore of the Imperium. He reconstructed one of the older fortresses, while abandoning what was now known as the Castle of the Lost King. He rallied the best and brightest minds of the realm to him, including Nystul and Blackthorne, and prepared the realm for what he knew would be the return of a vengeful sorcerer in possession of the Sun Ruby. Mondain began constructing an army to aid in his conquest of Sosaria. He used the powers of the Sun Ruby, and his knowledge of the alchemical sciences, to construct new and monstrous hybrids and demi-humans to serve in his armies. He also fashioned for himself magically infused constructs, creating the Dark Core Prototype that would later become known as Exodus. Mondain soon discovered that the Gem of the Emperors possessed some artificial limits that hindered his ability to completely unleash its destructive energies, but he was hardly daunted by such a setback. The Dark Lord entered into the Time of Legends, an ethereal dimension that existed outside of space and time, and used all his alchemical skill to yield a relic that would rival the legendary Philosopher’s Stone: The Gem of Immortality. Mondain’s attack came swiftly and unexpectedly, his armies sweeping over Sosaria like a tempest. Northern Akalabeth, Rondolin, and the Kingdom of the White Dragon fell within months, followed soon thereafter by Olympus and the Kingdom of the Black Dragon. Only in Southern Akalabeth, the Lands of Lord British, was the tempest held back for a time. Mondain was not thwarted though, for this was only a diversion. The Dark Lord performed a dark ritual during the light of the full moon, causing the Gem of Immortality to become weaved into the very heart of Sosaria. All who lived within Sosaria were now bound up in the Gem’s awesome power, subject to the Dark Lord. “Only the appearance of a stranger saved Sosaria from impending destruction. From whence he came, no one knows, but his strength and courage was without peer…” - The History of Britannia, Ultima Online Introduction (Circa 1997). Nystul the Thaumaturgist, a close friend and advisor to Cantabrigian, devised a plot to thwart Mondain. Only a savior from the stars, not bound up in the corrupted Gem of Immortality, would be capable of acting outside the power and influence of the Dark Lord. With the Orb of the Moons, Nystul summoned a man from the same world that Cantabrigian had emerged: Planet Earth. The Stranger, as he came to be known, spent several years wandering the four continents, until he finally was able to enter the Time of Legends and defeat Mondain. The Stranger then turned his sword against the Gem, thinking its destruction would free the world of its corrupting influence. Shattered, the Gem did not free the world, but instead created a near-identical likeness of Sosaria within its myriad of shards. The Stranger, Savior of Akalabeth, had also caused the Great Sundering. Continents were sunk beneath the sea, while others rose. The Castle of the Lost King was swept beneath the waves. Olympus and the Kingdom of the Black Dragon literally vanished overnight. It would be decades before the lands would finally settle, and by then civilization had been brought to its knees. Lord British was made the reigning monarch of the remnant empire, which became known as the Kingdom of Britannia. He set about uniting the nearest city-states, and began to rebuild the cities that had been destroyed during the cataclysm with his own vision of a utopian society. The City of Moon was established as a place of knowledge and learning, built on the same isle as the last surviving Tower of Wizardry. Luminate was rebuilt, and was given the name Vesper. Magincia had survived the cataclysm, and was brought into the kingdom despite the reservations of its ruling Council. Lord British’s first years were moderately successful, despite being challenged by Lord Robert in a War of Succession and a small conflict with the Dark Mistress, Lady Minax. Cantabrigian established a system of ethics and morals – based on the earlier philosophies of the Ophidians, the Liturgy of Truth, and the Tenants of the White Light – which he dubbed “The Eight Virtues.” It would be during the following decades that he would be again challenged, as chaos would again threaten the ruin that was once Akalabeth. The world had been so changed by the Cataclysm, that not even the most skilled Lumarian sea vessel could locate any sign of the Lost Kingdoms of Olympus, Rondolin, and Barataria. Without the ability to do trade with ones neighbors in times of hardship, or the aid of the mystical Sun Ruby to control the weather and promote a successful harvest, famine quickly ensnared Britannia. The makeshift roads and forest paths that preceded our modern highways became choked with roving bands of starving highwaymen and desperate orcs who had been forced to engage in brigandry to survive. Travel between Britain and the recently constructed village of Trinsic became a hazardous and potentially fatal affair. Worse yet, not all took well to British’s Philosophy of Virtue. The Ophidians, an enlightened group of monastics who believed in balance between the opposing forces of Order and Chaos, fled to Serpent’s Isle and the Lost Lands to escape persecution. Lord Blackthorn, Cantabrigian’s closest friend and advisor, too turned against his King and established the Knights of Chaos as a countermeasure against the Cult of Order. Some began to question the monarch who had brought them through the First War of Darkness, including the city of scholars and alchemists that eventually became Moonglow. “Long ago, between the defeat of Dark Lady Minax and the rise of Exodus, there existed a city of mages known as Moon. Ever protective of their studies and secrets, the citizens of Moon were dissatisfied with the lack of privacy their open city provided.” - The Coming of Dawn, The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998). The High Council of Moon, and the remaining Keepers of Sorcery, recognized that their open city was vulnerable to both sea-faring pirates and several emergent evils who would seek to capture what relics they still posessed. They were also subject to the strictures of the Crown, who continually failed to provide adequate protection for their City of Truth, but still could afford to construct a shrine of virtue in the polar regions of Dagger Island. “And so they set out one day to build two hidden citadels of learning for their sorcerers. Unlike Moon, these cities would be isolated and hidden away from the world of common man, accessible only to those who know how to find and enter their gates. These two cities would come to be called Wind and Dawn…” - The Coming of Dawn, The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998). Wind was the first city constructed by the High Council and the Keepers of Sorcery. It would be established in the vents of an ancient volcano overlooking the forests of Samlethe, not far from the Village of Avalon, the Village of Haven, and the Village of Valderia. They would use what was left of their knowledge of arcane building construction, an art that had once been used to construct the Towers of Wizardry. Wind would be linked to the Tower of Wizardry via a magical one-way portal. Dawn would be constructed next. “Wind was built deep within the recesses of a mountain, and magically sealed off so only those with sufficient magical knowledge could enter. It’s sister-city Dawn was build deep within Sosaria’s Spiritwood Forests, hidden away from the eyes of man…” - The Coming of Dawn, The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998). The Spiritwood, the forests and meadows that lay between Skara Brae and Trinsic, were found suitable for the purpose of the City of Dawn. It was during the final weeks of construction that an ancient substance was discovered, or rather “rediscovered,” by the sorcerers and mystics constructing the foundations of the Mage-City. “Shortly before construction was completed on Dawn, a magical substance known as Blackrock was discovered. To their delight, the mystics of Dawn discovered that they could create their own moongates with small polished stones made from the rock. Their experiments led them to discover the ethereal void, a dimension as vast and mysterious as it was desolate. The Dawnites kept these discoveries a closely guarded secret and set upon a path to create the ultimate hidden city. They theorized that if a single pebble of blackrock could send a small group through time and space, could not a large enough piece transport all of Dawn? Using the last of their blackrock, a large globe was constructed and set into a stone obelisk outside the city. The mages used the blackrock orb to send their city into the ethereal abyss. They then enchanted the Orb of Dawn so that it would return the city to Sosaria for a brief time whenever the twin moons of Trammel and Felucca were both dark. In this manner the mystics obtained the privacy they sought without being permanently cut off from their beloved Sosaria. For many months, the cities stay in the Ethereal Void was uneventful, but then the Dawnites had an unexpected visitor…” - The Coming of Dawn, The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998). The newly established Mages Council of Dawn was approached within the Ethereal Void by a strange, elderly woman who purported to be capable of seeing the future and knowing their past. She warned them of another great cataclysm that was to come. “Great forces have been set into motion… Aye, forces so great that even restoring the Great Earth Serpent cannot hold them back now… Hear me, O’ Citizens of Dawn! For I have seen thy destiny and thy fate. I have been in thy future which is yet to be, and seen in my visions that which is to come. Only in thy reality amongst the many shall Dawn survive and prosper. And only in thy reality can the destruction of all the realities be averted. The city holds a unique place in all the multiverse, and should you fail in thy purpose, all the shards are doomed.” - The Prophetess Xenka, The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998). The High Council was naturally skeptical of this self-proclaimed prophetess, and considered throwing her into the oubliette until she had the chance to regain her sanity. Yet none could fathom how this strange woman had entered the ethereal wastes or had survived the dangers of the Nether Plates. Curious, they allowed her to continue. “An isle shall rise from the sea, spewing liquid fire and raining death on all who draw near. Tis a place so evil that the land itself shall bring death to all who touch it. And from this place an abomination upon the face of Sosaria shall seek the end of all that is. It will tamper with the elemental forces of nature which will set the Great Imbalance into motion. And with this Great Imbalance shall the scales be tipped towards evil and anarchy…” - The Prophetess Xenka, The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998). Xenka referred to the earliest incarnation of the Dark Core Exodus, who inhabited the Isle of Fire. “A band of four strangers shall come upon thee, and unto them ye shall deliver the implements of the abominations downfall. Yet the danger is not the abomination, but what it has released… In the midst of the great imbalance, thy city shall vanish from the sight of man. Ten times thou shall await thy summoning in a place of power. That which was small will become large, that thou canst prepare thy destiny. In all things there is purpose, and Dawn’s role shall one day be revealed… Other beings of power are aware of the growing danger, and thy ultimate role. One of them shall dispatch mighty heroes, strong of blade and pure of heart to seek them out. Among them shall be a Poet Warrior who shall become thy champion and lead thee to greatness… And what of the final battle? Four cities in two lands shall hold the key. One, the stuff of legends. One, an eighth of virtue. One, in the worship of evil. Dawn shall be the catalyst… On the day of reckoning, seek ye four spires of power, for they shall be the source of that which threatens all. One to the White, one to the Black, one to the Grey, and one to bind them all… A great power shall be summoned fourth. Here shall be the final battleground for all shards, all realities. You will face love, betrayal, hardship, death. Two armies shall rise, a third shall find itself divided, and the Army of British shall stand idle… They shall meet for the final time on the Bloody Plains… Remember, Dawn shall hold the key, but knowledge without wisdom shall undo all… Remember my words, citizens of Dawn, for foreknowledge is power…” - The Prophetess Xenka, The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998). With a flash of smoke, the prophetess disappeared leaving the council baffled and confused. What they did not know was that the prophecy was nearly upon them… Stay tuned for The Festival of the Way Part 2 - The Widow's Web.