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Fantasy Retough Lore Page

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The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
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This will be a continuously expanded upon list of in-universe lore, talking about anything from political situations to divine structure to types of monsters.

(The following is an excerpt from Saif Al-Imam, the Theocratic head of the Achaemisid Throne, in his teachings Of Water Drops in the Sky. Translated from Turmic.

When the stars collapsed from their place in the sky and the land was riddled with the corpses of the Dead Glowing Ones, our world was forever changed. over nine hundred years before our days today, this event set in motion the churning of the seas and the ever-restless nature of the remaining stars. Those who did not perish to the Grand Collapse in the Sky were stuck, sinking in an endless ocean with naught but the cadavers of Stars to warm us. Even though we may not know the cause of this blasphemous event, we can forever clasp onto their unintended assistance. Their presence is the only thing that kept us from slipping beneath the great waves. Through their guidance, even after death, these fallen stars herded us to the Plateau, where we could farm and feed and thrive. It wasn't until the mercy of these celestial divine beings permeated our world that we stood a chance in raking ourselves from the muck of the Starless.

The sun and the moon remind us of just how close we came to extinction if it were not for the star's divine help. Ever beaming and seeking only our destruction, the sun reminds us of the greatest of lessons; even that which helps us thrive can be our doom. The ball of fire chased away the stars, intending them harm as it would intend us harm. If not for one brave star, no beings would survive the bright fiery end that the sun has planned for us all.

The moon distracts the sun with each passing around our world. The sun, ever enthralled in destroying another star, chases after the moon in a vain attempt to bring down but another sacred celestial emissary. The sun and the moon, forever a game of cat and mouse above us, should always remind the faithful that death always looms, and each day is a blessing from our beloved moon. No more stars will fall from the sky so long as our benevolent protector watches over us.

Ami S'i'i!

(The following is a passage from a Pillum explorer who first wrote about Praetian religion in the 760's. Though her name is lost to time, her work has been preserved in the Archive of Anglous, Rinnersport. Most keep to calling the mysterious figure as "Tarmir," but that moniker was only developed in the last decade or so. Translated from Aullese.)

The Praetians, stemming from the long forgotten Thulideans, have many religious similarities. From the names of gods to the structure of the higher church, the religion of Terin is essentially Thulidean in all but name. This isn't a surprise as many aspects of Praetian life is but a bastardized recollection of a dead culture. Terin is perforated with gods, so many that to count them all would take generations. Rivers can have multiple gods, particularly important rocks, an old tree, even a pressed flower; gods come in all shapes and sizes, from the smallest walks of life to the grandiose. In Terin, one chooses to pray to their select god or gods out of the pantheon. There are a handful of famous deities, including your typical sun god (Vrem), sea god (Trush), death god (Aulmex), and so on, totaling somewhere between 8 to 13, depending on whether some of the lesser gods are accounted for.

Terin has a form of higher church known as The Scepter, which many higher priests belong to. These priests holds congregations, usually supporting only the pantheon or even just a handful of the pantheon. Other, more disconnected priests may choose only to worship a minor god (such as Hidrastia, one of a handful of harvest goddesses). Usually the chosen gods of worship are those that have the most influence on someone's life. For instance, a farmer would first and foremost pray to a harvest god. A soldier may pray to a god of war, or a god of peace. To keep a list of them would be impossible, especially since many names of lesser gods change from region to region. Compounded with so many local gods that only a select region pray to, Terin can be hopelessly difficult to complete a picture of.

Bishops and higher priests attempt to streamline the religion by cutting out those extra, unnecessary gods. The pantheon absorbs all the duties of the lesser gods for believers such as these. Vrem may take Hidrastia's responsibilities, for instance. Why pray to every god you wish fortune from when you can assume one does the responsibilities of the rest? After all, the sun determines the harvest, does it not? This is the way many higher Scepter priests think.

For commoners, it is easy to spend free time in the worship of as many gods possible. Small animal sacrifices, totems, and other displays of worship are a part of everyday life in Praetum. To curse a god is no small gesture. The gods are fickle in their support and waver even at the slightest deviation from practice, as most commoners believe. Routine is important to the gods. They expect to be honored as often as they wish, and the cost of failure from their subjects is harsh weather, failing crops, a rise in monster activity, and sometimes even apocalyptic retaliation. In Terin, most of the gods are seen not as benevolent beings but instead as demanding rulers who are easy to upset and hard to please.

(Included here is a page torn from Mallin Tem Awsh's book To Catalog a Being, a Launceen explorer renowned for his documentation of the various cultures across Retough in the 350's, Her Years. Translated from Launceen.)

Elves live for a very long time, and as a result few among the other races understand them well, dividing them simply into Still Elves and Unruly Elves. Elves have no formal social structure, though age and expertise at crafts, arts, or skills are often deferred to. Blood relations have no meaning to elves and they have no hierarchies save respect for age and knowledge, and they do not worship in any form but claim they are divinely ordained by the Green Mother to spread life across the world.

Elven Rubies: The elves say the first Elven Rubies fell from the sky like shooting stars, falling as seeds to guide the confused life of the world to a higher purpose, namely the preservation of nature. The bodies of elves continuously renew themselves, purifying and removing scars and imperfections. Therefore, elves are always beautiful, young and healthy. Over time, they learn how to control their appearance. They can choose their shape and physical colors and completely change their appearance in a few months’ time. If their flesh is destroyed but the ruby remains, the elf can be recreated from this spore by the old masters in the Stillmist – the mysterious realm now warred over by Intemore and Pillum, a land of misty forests walked by entish guardians and woodland spirits that have taken to slaughtering any who cross their borders. If the rubies are cut from their flesh, the elves’ bodies shrivel up to husks within a few hours. If the ruby is shattered, the elf is lost for all time. Young elves start their lives with a shard of ruby that grows over time.

Still Elves: When elves have been alive for a long time and believe they have seen all the world has to offer, they might lose interest. Some of them claim that only the now exists, while others believe time is cyclical, when it comes to days, years, and even ages. Some become melancholic while others simply continue being. They may spend years lying under an oak tree to observe the changing seasons of the year or the slow withering of a rock, or they may develop eccentric obsessions, or spend their time on slow, esoteric art projects. Some choose to fuse their ruby with an oak or ash tree and grow into an ent, to walk the forests as a living shepherd of trees. Yet others completely leave their body and have their ruby mounted in temples where they spend their time exchanging ideas and thoughts with those who have made a similar choice. There are rumors of paths of wisdom through the Stillmist which younger elves seek for wisdom and counsel. It is not uncommon for the elf in a ruby to appear in the dreams of whoever wears it. Ancient elves may eventually choose to shatter their own rubies, splintering it into shards from which entirely new elves grow.

Unruly Elves: Less patient elves still want to leave an impression on the world. Hopefully, it is from this group the players create their characters. Some are good-humored and curious, others are filled with a lust for revenge, focusing on experiencing the world or defending the living. Even if the Unruly respect the elders of their kin and the Stillelves, they often carry hatred or even secret disdain for their torpid and inactive relatives. They furiously resist their kin’s inclination towards lethargy, and want to fight, avenge, conquer and experience – they believe they have an obligation to commit great deeds during their long lives. This duality births a rage they gladly subject the rest of the world to. The Stillelves lovingly tolerate this rage, saying that all elves tend to go through a few centuries as Unruly while they are young. Wisdom comes with age.

Redrunners: There are those among the Elves who view the influx of humans and other races into the lands of Retough as an invasion of their sacred soil and an impediment to their duty to perfect the world’s natural form. Every farm and city is a blight upon the world, an artificial blemish in need of cleansing. Redrunners are genocidal warmongers to the last, all possessed of an aristocratic certainty that only they are fit to live. While they tend towards violence, their spy network has cast its net far and wide, and any who dares to wear an Elf Ruby as jewelry or keep one as a treasure should live in constant fear of Elf-made blades glinting in the dark.

(The following is a report from an unnamed soldier some time in the 800's, Her Years. This is the earliest recorded mention of the Returned.)

The Returned are hardly understood, but what is known is that they most often emerge in places of great emotional turmoil, like the aftermath of battlefields or in the ruins of a town wiped out by a plague. Occasionally, clusters of souls sometimes unite to reanimate a nearby corpse. The process prevents decay, but often leads to confusion, disassociation, and feral behavior as the distressed souls struggle for control. Sometimes, however, the conflict settles and a Returned wanders home, only to find his wife doesn’t recognize him in this body and that his hands can work with tools he’s never held.

(The following is from a message board advertising the Academy of the Western Breeze, a renowned mage academy in the province of Temnum.)

What is magic?

Magic is the essence of life in Retough. Elsewhere across the Breathing Sea you may find hints of its power, but only in Retough will you be able to discover the vast wealth in which it is in abundance. As far as the annals of history show, no place is quite like Retough in magical capability. While mana itself is different from person to person, Retough itself is steeped in this power and is what allows spells to be cast with such efficiency. Some say the long dead ruins of an ancient civilization beneath the surface are the cause, while others believe it is because we are descendants of Eirunn, the first person to step foot on these shores. Through her holy blood we find ourselves imbued with the magic of the gods. Of course, neither of these answers could be true; we must accept the fact we may never know why Retough is steeped in so much arcane presence.

Farmers hire mages to protect their crops from failure. Kings use their profound sorcerers to stop miasmas from plaguing their lands. A man wronged may use magic to spurn his offenders. In this day and age, magic is used all the time, though only few have the ability to practice the arts. Many simply don't have the drive to spend hours each night perfecting their craft. After all, if it was easy, wouldn't everyone become a mage?

How is magic performed?
Magic is cast with a catalyst. Usually in the form of a staff, or a wand. Spells can be precast into a gem of worth (like a ruby, sapphire etc) and all it takes to create such spell after its been tethered to the gem is to break it. You must learn/memorize the incantation, spoken aloud or by using certain gestures, to perform a spell with a catalyst. Magic is used by the catalyst, but the power is taken from the person's mana. Some people naturally have more mana than others. Elves have a better mana pool than most other races, as do Fey. In summary: magic itself comes from a certain memorized spell, it takes a catalyst to use it, and it draws from a person's mana.

What kind of magic can I learn?
All types of elemental magic, illusory spells, and holy sorceries can be learned at the Academy of the Western Breeze. This includes the pungent, favorite spells of every sorcerer such as flames, ice shards, and electricity. Are you looking to summon a spirit to fight off bandits in your stead? Or perhaps bring about the god's holy justice with a beam of light to scare away the dark forces of the world? All of these can be obtained from our prestigious academy. And for those looking for more intricate, dark arts, we have specialized courses that can be catered to whatever a novice or master mage may need.

Elemental magic is the most basic, and easiest to achieve results with. Spew flames from your staff, or pierce your enemies with ice so cold it freezes limbs at a mere scrape from it. Most elements have been tamed by now; wind, fire, even the sky itself with powerful storm magic. However, just because it's the easiest does not mean it is easy. It still requires months of dedication to learn, and it's easy to forget how to cast spells after just a few weeks without casting. Keep up your training even long after you've mastered the arts!

Illusory magic is particular in many ways. The more basic spells, such as casting a simple visage of a person, is quite simple and easy. However, the more complex spells require sometimes years or even decades to master. Summoning an apparition to fight on your behalf is tricky and dangerous. The spells themselves are not hard to memorize, but understanding it on a fundamental level to ensure you don't sic this conjuration on those you wish not to harm - or even yourself - is a fine line to walk and requires practice. Other such illusory spells such as a weak invisibility or even levitation are often closely guarded secrets, lest these abilities fall into the hands of common bandits and would-be assassins. This is also why magic training is limited to approved, select academies; ill intentions are quickly thwarted under the light of a mage council.

Lastly, holy magic is a unique form of elemental magic; often considered a part of the schools of elementia, by some. However, holy magic is particularly hard to grasp due to the selection process of the spells itself. See, in all other forms of magic, the caster chooses the spell. With holy magic, the gods must decide you are worthy to use their spells. As such, dastardly individuals or those with ill intentions cannot summon the light of the gods, nor rely on holy artifacts to work in their favor. This moral judgment from a higher power is what originally spurned the belief that this magic is considered holy; only the gods or God, whichever it may be, can choose who is worthy. The greatest liar in the world couldn't convince this ultimate adjudicator to use holy magic wrongly.

There are a few more schools of magic, but these are ill-omened and often only used by criminals or those wishing immense harm. As such, these types of magic are usually kept from being taught at these academies, though some wondering rogues wishing to sow chaos and deceit may choose to train others in their dark ways.

Different spells and various forms of magic can be conjured together, sometimes to increase potency or to combine the effects of multiple spells at once. However, this is extremely dangerous and should only be used by those with many decades of magical experience. Some of these spells interact in harsh, volatile ways that could harm the caster themselves, cause unwanted effects, or even level entire cities. Combining magic is playing with fire; it is highly recommended by all mage guilds and councils to abstain from it.

How long will it take me to return to my Da's farm and help till the boring fields and live my dull life again?
The length of a class depends entirely on what a prospecting mage aims to learn. different schools of magic take different lengths of time to learn. Proficiency of the teachers is also taken into account, and of course, the willingness and drive of the student. It also depends how much the person is trying to learn. One spell can take as little as a few months for an easy spell, but if you're looking to learn quite a few spells, you'll likely be booked for years. If you have the gold and the will to become a master of the arcane arts, find your way to the Academy of the Western Breeze. No schooling anywhere else in Retough can provide such excellent and profound sorceries.

Another determining factor in time spent learning is how predisposed an individual is to magic. Some are naturally talented in both understanding magic as well as having an unusually high mana pool, while others are hindered by exceedingly low intelligence and mana. This is seemingly random; each person is completely different, and except for rare cases, hereditary mana proficiency is never seen. The only way to find out how well someone will take up magic is by practicing it and seeing the ease in which it is done. Some races, such as Elves and Fey, are naturally better with magic, assumedly due to their inherent ties to nature.

(Included here is a page torn from Mallin Tem Awsh's book To Catalog a Being, a Launceen explorer renowned for his documentation of the various cultures across Retough in the 350's, Her Years. Translated from Launceen.)

There are two courts: The Seelie court and Unseelie court. The Seelie court includes spring and summer fey, and the Unseelie court includes fall and winter fey. The courts are often considered at odds with each other. Fey born under either court will have physical attributes relating to their season. This may be burning red hair for a fall fey, spring green eyes for a spring fey, black claws for a winter fey, a slight literal glow around a summer fey. Fey also often form bonds more easily with animals, Seelie fey especially so. On the other hand, Unseelie fey can survive harsher conditions, often having slightly more keen senses that help in the fall and winter months.

There are 3 main types of fey: forest fey, water fey, and most recently, city fey. City fey are “born” in a forest or river and acclimate themselves to city life early on, often dedicating themselves to the growth of the city. They are still fey however, and often reside in or at least near forests or rivers.

The lifespan of a fey is directly tied to their surroundings. Fey who keep themselves in their element live much longer than those who do not. With this in mind, fey lifespan lasts approximately 120 - 500 years. Many fey in the 400+ age group have secluded themselves in their groves or rivers/oceans/lakes and dedicated their entire lives to nature. Fey tend to live in small, close-knit communities. These communities can pop up everywhere, but are most common in dense forest and along rivers. There may be communities of fey at sea, but this is not known to the outside world, merely scholarly guesses.

There are spots of high magic in the world called siphons. They pull magic into a small, almost black hole in the air, making it nearly tangible. They can appear anywhere. When enough small siphons culminate, they combine with others similar to two stars, and the energy will sometimes birth a new fey, whether from water, trees, or natural and living spaces. Most often fey will be “born” and emerge from their tree already a young adult. When a fey dies, their spirits turn back into the siphons, eventually regrowing and changing and creating a new fey.
 
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