End of an Era

A brief history of an ancient people, written from the perspective of an outsider who is present during their final hours.....

This is a fantasy/fan-fiction based off of a piece of concept art created for the game "Shroud of the Avatar" which is being created by Richard Garriot. The concept art itself was created by Stephen Daniele, and is linked below.....



1. Beginnings

As I write this, the last remnants of a noble race are meeting their end. Just a year ago, they were considered the unparalleled rulers of this land, but then disease struck. They will not survive. Centuries from now, their name will be lost to the world, though they will leave a legacy of sorts. I choose to be here during their final hours, not to speak of their final days, but rather to give proof of their existence. Who I am is not important.

            The city I am in is their capital, Praemak, and it was forged from fire and stone. The city was built atop an active volcano, using science and magic to harness the raw force of the magma in order to power their world. It is truly a technological marvel the likes of which this world may never see again. I wish I knew the details of how they accomplished these feats, but the secrets of their magics are guarded closely, and no outsider may ever learn them. Those who violate this rule meet a fate worse than death.

            These people are known as Theresians in their tongue. This name is derived from the goddess whom they worship, Theresia, though she is known by many names. She is the goddess of creation and destruction, and is most often associated with the primal forces of earth and fire. She is often depicted as either a dragon, or a beautiful woman. Unlike most deities, she is neither considered good nor evil, but rather a neutral being who exists to bring change to the world. The Theresians believe that the recent plague that has swept through their land is simply her way of saying that it is time for the world to change, and that their era of power has come to an end.

            Legends state that Theresia was the one who granted her people the knowledge of how to control the fires of the earth and put them to use. It is said that in the early years, the Theresians were known by a different name, and worshiped no gods. They were a small nomadic tribe, who specialized in building structures for the other races they encountered. Their masonry skills were renown throughout the land, and they were considered allies by the many warring cultures that comprised the land at the time. Though they were skilled architects, they choose to settle in no location, for they felt sought an untamable realm worthy of their skill. That is when they came across the volcano that now houses Praemak.

            They felt that if they could tame the fires of the world itself, then they would truly have proven their skill. So, for decades they battled with the flames, and for decades their efforts were destroyed by the magma. Still, they pressed on, feeling that this was truly a worthy challenge. After nearly two centuries of effort, their race had dwindled, so that only a few dozen of their kind still fought to tame the volcano. It was at this time that Theresia chose to intervene.

            As the legends go, she came to them, as an eruption from the volcano sent lava to eliminate the last of their once proud race. Theresia curved the flow of the lava around the early city of Praemak. She then spoke to the leader of the city, and told them that she had been watching their efforts for years. The people, though tired, were not broken and stood with pride before her, showing no fear. This surprised Theresia, who had only saved them out of pity, and who was expecting to be met by a groveling mass.

            Then, she spoke to them and asked them why, after all these years, they continued to fight against the volcano. Their efforts had all eventually proven for naught. Their race had been all but destroyed. The many nations who had once considered them valuable allies, now had forgotten that they even existed. So, why?

            It was then that their leader stepped forth, a man by the name of Kallet. His response to Theresia’s question was simple,

            “If we didn’t strive to do the impossible, then what would we live for?”

            Theresia was impressed by Kallet’s answer, and so made them an offer; they worship her, and she would grant them the power to harness the very power that had opposed their efforts for so long. Kallet, however, was skeptical. His people had tried every means that they could to construct something that would allow them to tame the flowing lava, yet nothing had worked. Kallet thought for certain that the only way they could best the volcano was with magic, and his people had lost all of their magical talent centuries ago.

            And so, Kallet refused Theresia’s offer. He believed that if his people didn’t complete their task under their own power, then their efforts over the years would have been pointless. Theresia was amused at this man’s response. Before she left, she made a vow that Kallet’s line would never perish, so long as they always strove to do the impossible.

            After Theresia’s visit, the birth rate of children among the populous of Praemak increased dramatically. In one year’s time, the population had nearly doubled, and by the time Kallet was on his death bed, his race had grown to nearly three times the size of what it had been when they had first come across the volcano. During his life, he had developed new techniques to strengthen stone, making it all but impervious to the heat of the magma. They had at last conquered the might of the volcano.

            As Kallet lay dying, however, the volcano erupted again, this time more violently than had ever been recorded in history. Ash choked the sky, and lava flowed higher than any structure the people had built. As the flows of lava threatened to consume Praemak, Kallet used his last breath to utter a prayer to Theresia, asking her to save his people as she once had so long ago.

            At this time, Kallet’s grandson, and only surviving family member, strode forth to the oncoming lava. Derath, only 10 years of age, thought with the naivety of a child to do the impossible and save his home. As the flowing lava sought to engulf him, he held up his hand, as if to tell it to stop. The accounts of what happened next are mixed. Some say that the earth itself shook, and that Derath glowed brighter than the sun itself. Others say that the image of Theresia appeared behind him, and held up her hand against the lava as well. Two things are agreed upon however; that the lava split into two paths, and flowed around the city of Praemak, and that magic had returned to the people.

            After this event, the people began calling themselves Theresians, as they believed that her visit, many years earlier, had saved their race from the brink of destruction. Over the course of the next few centuries, they developed their magic at a rate that no other race has yet achieved. They harnessed the power of the volcano to work not against them, as it always had, but rather with them, allowing them to reach new technological heights. These rapid advancements, as well as the continued population growth, caused them to need to seek out more space and resources however. The age of Theresian expansion had begun.

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