Mastery

This is a fantasy story I'm working on. It's a bit hard to explain so just give it a go and see what you make of it.

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1. Prologue

Prologue

Before the four was only wilderness. A world so harsh and unforgiving, life could not prevail. Until the forces of nature were tamed by four masters: Gaeldum, Koidis, Cathox and Vadirrie. These waged war with the world itself, tearing the elements apart, mastering each, one by one. Shattering the foundations of everything and carving a new world of which they had dominion. Total power. Man's dream realised.

Except that this power was shared. Only together could the four hold the world in shape. However powerful, four elements required four masters. Gaeldum was lord of Fire, Koidis was lord of water, Cathox was lord of air and Vadirrie was lord of earth. Yet they all desired more. And so began the struggle for supreme power. A battle that would last over a thousand years.

The great masters became jealous, acutely aware of their own greatness, they felt control of just one element was useless. They yearned for total power. For without all four the world would cease to be, so despite their talents, not one of them could rule it all.

In order for there to be one leader, endless disputes arouse as to which of the lords was more crucial, which element most essential. With four equal powers, decisions could not be made for neither lord had authority to overrule another. As leaders often do, these men held strong yet conflicting views on all matters and each ruled differently. One would lay down one law, and one another, resulting in much chaos. The people did not know who to look to.

Eventually, the entire population broke into four divisions, following the lord they believed most essential, he would teach them how to use his element. But what they didn't realise (at first) was that their masters were preparing them for war. To use the earth as a weapon. Although they were free to rule as they willed, the longing for more did not go away. Some dreamed of glory, of universal allegiance and respect, others wanted pure power. To shape all things for themselves.

Vadirrie was the most flawed. Unsure exactly what he was craving, he felt only envy. That sort of man who doesn't even know how to be pleased for another but only despairs at their triumphs and becomes bitter at their success.

These four strongest of men, carried too the weaknesses of any other men. Weaknesses that proved disastrous to all the race of Lofiana.

Inevitably, the war came. Of all the creatures of the aligned planets, none bothered to invade Caleddrielos. It was plain to see that, given time, the Lofians would destroy themselves. Although they would never admit it, inside their darker selves, they desired war. A chance to prove their strength. Since the taming of the world, there was no need for heroes. Years of learning seemed worthless with no chance to wield their elements.

Few women survived the wilderness. Only a handful saw the founding of the new world. Now, this minority were responsible for the endurance of the race. So far, no children had been born.

Not by good-fortune did these women survive. Rather by courage, wisdom and extraordinary will-power did they persevere. By being alive, they proved themselves remarkable women, the very best. Physically weaker than the men, they were intelligent women who had learnt to fight with their minds, outwitting and deceiving the men who would have let them starve. Too ignorant to realise the long term consequences, to care if their race died so long as they lived.

Now, about a hundred years after the taming, only three survived. The four lords needed these women to continue not only the race of Lofiana but their divisions. Without children, as soon as their men died, their skills would be lost. Four masters, three women, one element would be left out. The old debate once more: which is most important.

This situation increased enthusiasm for the war. In the hope that opposing divisions could be wiped out. If only one survived, not only could the great master carry on his line, but the ordinary men could have a part in the next generation.

In the centenary of the new world, war began. The women watched on frustrated at the stupidity of men. The divisions, trying to wipe each other out, were entirely interdependent. If only the great men were not too proud and too stubborn to admit the other's importance.

If any of the lords were killed, their element would likely be set free forever. And that would bode ill for every living thing on Caleddrielos, no matter their division.

For this reason, despite their hatred and despair, the women married the masters, for the battle held little hope for them and so they hoped that they could secretly give birth to the heirs before their husbands were killed, heirs strong enough to stop the elements from being set loose once more.

The Lady Erinlore married Lord Cathox and bore twins, one son, Artoth, and a daughter, Elwenora. Lord Cathox died on the fields of Hagrod, having taught Artoth the secrets of his power. But Artoth was not strong enough to contain the air and so his sister, trained against her father's wishes by Erinlore, had been the one to inherit her fathers natural feel for the skies and flowing gasses, so she became the first great woman. Elwenora, Lady of Air.

The division of water was also saved by Lady Juna, she had four children during the war, and the people called her Lofia because she was considered the preserver of the race. She had three daughters and a son. The son, who succeeded his father, was gentle and kind, not cut out for fighting nor concerned with power and prestige. His only desire was for peace.

The final division saved by the three women was the earth moulders. At first Vadirrie was far to proud to accept help, besides, much as he resented giving glory to anyone, allowing a woman to be the saviour of his division was unbearable. That credit was rightly his. After all, while she struggled with the rest for survival, he had conquered the earth, he alone had power over his element. Eventually though, he had to accept, that the Lady Olisia was his last chance to save his powers. Without her, his accomplishment would be futile, the power over earth would die. Begrudgingly, he married her and they had a daughter.

The divisions of air and water had already formed an alliance, their new master and mistress seeking peace at last. Lord Vadirrie was eventually persuaded by his wife ( by her sword rather) to add his name to the treaty. Finally, the forces of water, earth and air were united at last. Nature settled and the world blossomed as never before. The wise women also found a way of settling the question of ultimate authority. The Lady of Air, Elwenora, married the new Lord of water, Koidis' son, Aaros. Therefore their son inherited both powers and was master of both elements. This son, Kaeros, married Vadirrie's grand-daughter, of the earth moulders.

The result of all this being Aluna. For the first time, even with the signing of the treaty, the three elements were really working as one, for now there was a single great one to lead. One with the authority to make those final decisions, to hold the world together and to unite the people. Three divisions became one. The Lady Aluna's power increased as no man could ever have imagined.

The three wise women had planned all along to marry there children into each of the master lines, to create this one heir, but even they had no control over gender. That their new leader, the one with powers the four lords only imagined, was a woman, was rather a comfort to those three women. They had seen every other of their sex die as the stronger men selfishly took what they needed to survive. Now a woman would rule them all. Now a woman would rule the earth itself. Stronger than any man had ever been.

But there was one element still struggling for independence. Three women married three masters, one remained. Gaeldum, most dangerous, Lord of Fire. He would not surrender his power. Nor did he need an heir. Fire was an unbeatable weapon, he could not be destroyed. Pride, however, was his underlying flaw. While he stood alone against three strong powers, refusing help from anyone, Lady Aluna had the backing of many great and wise men and women. She was not above taking advice, realising the strength of her allies and respecting a different perspective.

This is the story of the struggle for power, as earth, water and air, tried to cool the flames of Gaeldum and unite the divisions.

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