Vacation Special - Arch Sage Mason's Lore

December 25, 2023 01:29:59
Vacation Special - Arch Sage Mason's Lore
Carrots and Suffering: A D&D Odyssey
Vacation Special - Arch Sage Mason's Lore

Dec 25 2023 | 01:29:59

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Hosted By

Nate

Show Notes

It's the holiday lore short, featuring just Nate's midrolls where ArchSage Mason tells endless tales of lore for our world.  See you all in 2024!

Music by Todd Ferguson, My Pet Machine on Facebook

Logo by Julie at Elaborate Flight of Fancy

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:31] Local gaming friend and listener recommended that I combine the lore mid rolls together and release that. And so I am doing. So. This is your Christmas present, Travis. And to all the other lore nerds out there, happy holidays. If you're not into lore, that is a ok. Skip this one and we will be back next year with the start of season four. [00:00:58] It's me, arch sage Archibald Mason, and I've had my three glasses of wine, which means it's story time. [00:01:09] There once was a little girl who got too close to the raging river. When the silent judge arrived, she took pity on the girl, as she is known to occasionally do for the young, for who in their youth hasn't cheated death at least once? [00:01:24] The silent judge turned her back and went to leave. The child was awed, however, for she insisted there be no exceptions to the rules and demanded to be taken to the world, the dead in the name of law and order. [00:01:40] No person had ever turned down the indifference of the silent judge. [00:01:46] The family of the daughter was not happy. And before the child's soul could even be taken to the realm of the dead, they called for the priest of the radiant one. The family had much money and was known in the land, and so the priest came as quickly as he could with gems of life and prayers of true power. [00:02:02] But in the moment the priest beseeched the radiant one to return breath to the child, the small guards of storms and water came to plead their case. Storms know each other, while no man nor God understands the true power of a storm before it has grown. [00:02:21] These lesser gods begged the radiant one to deny the wishes of his faithful, the family of the child, because if she is returned to life, people might lose their fear of the water and learn to fear this child instead, for she would be a truly terrible storm. [00:02:41] The radiant one's power is as undeniable as the sun itself. And the God couldn't accept a mortal as dangerous to him. And so he sought to disregard the words of the storm gods. The storm gods called the Radiant one and declared that if he were to persist, that he takes responsibility for the actions of this child through the whole of their life. The radiant one simply laughed and the child was given breath anew. But in this moment, the radiant one and the girl were bound. [00:03:15] In this time, these few hours on the face of this plane was the longest the silent judge has ever spent with a soul, and the two gained a kind of friendship. [00:03:26] The silent judge would look in upon the girl from time to time and see her progress. For the goddess of death and transportation of souls. This experience was new. She had always seen a person's life at the end, as they look back upon themselves. But in these fleeting moments, she saw the struggles of mortal life. As truly is. [00:03:49] When future is unknown and past incomplete. The present is dramatic in a way the silent judge would not normally see. And so, as the child grew to a woman, the silent judge, ever neutral, ever watching, gained for the first time love for a single mortal. [00:04:10] As the child grew, she chose sister truth, goddess of law and civilization, to be her guarding light. And sister truth saw the pureness of intent in the heart of the young woman. And chose her back. This surprised no one. [00:04:27] And in this moment, for the first time, and the last time in all of the eons and epochs of this world, was there a mortal who saw the favor of more than one God. For when this particular young woman would call upon the gods, the sun, the law and death came to her aid. Such a power set the other gods aflutter. And in a world of a thousand gods, they all gazed upon the growing storm that was Saint Astragaria Contessa, known in the heavens ever after as the godslayer. [00:05:07] That is all for now, my young apprentices. Find your peace. Listen now to a different storyteller. [00:05:41] Round a in apprentices. And listen to one of my stories. For it's a rare thing when a man as old as I tells tales true. [00:05:51] The three undeniable gods. The sun, the moon and the earth. Known today as the Radiant one, the luminous one, and the green man. Gathered one day at the peak of a mountain. The radiant one was heard to boast that his people, the mortals, would soon surpass both dragon and fairy kind. The green man, who barely notices such trivial things as boasting, even from his own son, said nothing, certain that no mortal would surpass his dragons. The luminous one, a creature who does not boast, said simply, she felt the radiant one was mistaken. In this moment, a troublemaker chanced upon the gods. The mask, a God or goddess, none would ever be sure, proposed a challenge. [00:06:34] None had reached the top of this very mountain. No mortal, no dragon, no fay, the first to reach it without the power of a God, would be deemed the greatest of the three. The green man cares not for contests or boasts. But it did wish to know the answer to the question. And so, the father of all gods accepted this challenge. And when this father speaks, all children listen or perish. [00:06:59] Word crossed the land. And at the base of the tallest mountain came immortal. A fay and a dragon. The dragon took to the air and flew for the top, sure to be the first to win. But as it rose, the cold of the mountain grew and the fire froze in the dragon's belly. Dragons have magic of their own. It would not reach the top, but in future eons, its children would. And so it placed eggs in the ice, wove magic into the nest. When the young dragon would hatch, it would be white as snow and free to climb to the top. The fay was both fickle and eternal. And for every step upon the mountain toward the top it took, it would wait a year, becoming one with the blizzard, snow and the wind that howled while it waited in luxury and held court with whatever creatures came by. Contend with a few centuries of time for this challenge. The mortal, however, was not eternal and had no magic, not granted to it by the gods. If the mortal was to succeed, it must hurry. It went to pass the fay and asked the fickle creature for a boon, that that mortal might stand a chance against the cold. The fay laughed and whispered a price into the ear of the mortal for a bottle of fine wine made by the mortal itself. The fairy would grant him a magic fur to keep him warm. The mortal knew it would not reach the top without such an item, and so it turned home and began a vineyard. With each cask of wine, the mortal returned to the fay and offered it. But the fay was a harsh judge of wine, and it took many years to make one truly fine. The mortal, now aided by its children, took the magic cloak and continued up the mountain until it reached the dragon. The mortal asked the dragon for a boon, such that he could reach the very top of the mountain, for the mortal had no claws to climb and no wings to fly. The dragon laughed and roared out his price. He would teach the man the secrets of metal to forge his own claws. If his children were to agree to watch his egg for the decades it would take to hatch. [00:09:03] The children of the mortal agreed. And so the dragon whispered the ancient secrets of the earth and fire to the man. Secrets, however, are not skills. And so the man returned home and began the work of finding and creating with metal. [00:09:16] It was many years before his skills could make the tools needed to climb. The man returned to the egg and gathered his grandchildren to aid him. He taught his kin to use the tools he had made, for at this age, climbing was beyond him. His oldest grandchild took from him the tools and the cloak of warmth and began to climb, for she had grown up in the mountains watching the egg of the dragon, and was accustomed to climbing in the cold. The mortal came near the peak and was about to claim the prize when she fell far below. [00:09:50] Taking pity, the luminous one granted the falling mortal magic to land softly in the snow. And so the first human learned magic. The whispering shepherd, who comes to give all new creatures their breath. And the silent judge, who gathers all departed souls, came to the valley where the first mortal lay at the end of his life, before the egg of the dragon, near to hatching their children and children's children, and the fay, who at last came this way. All gathered together, the two gods gazed at this contest in sadness, for their work of life and death was being squandered by the will of their parent gods, made reckless by a petulant divine childlike. The mask. [00:10:39] The whispering shepherd spoke in soft tones and declared the contest over. Declared the result a draw. None who wish for worship can deny. The shepherd's will for life begins with the sweat of his brow. [00:10:57] To this day, the green man and the luminous one gloat over the radiant one, blocking his sun's rays from time to time. To keep the boastful God humble. For not winning to the radiant one was as good as a loss. [00:11:10] Let it be known that a braggart pays the highest prices for loss. [00:11:17] That is it, apprentice. [00:11:19] Back to work. [00:11:31] Apprentices. This is one I heard in my travels. In a small village with no name, a child was born. This child grew the tallest, the strongest, the smartest. Unlike those who came before, this child knew they were destined for greater things. And so they took up the sword of birch tree and practiced day and night, knowing they would someday need such skills. They studied with the blacksmith and mastered the craft far too fast for the comfort of the smith. They learned the ways of cooking and sewing far faster than was considered a blessing by the tailor. When the day of adulthood came, this child, now a powerful mortal, picked up the true sword they crafted and put it on the leathers. They sewed and left home, leaving behind love and family for an ill formed dream of greatness. [00:12:19] This sacrifice caught the eye of brother ambition, the God of all ambitious people. Ward and strength. Brother ambition loves the young, who know only successes and accept no limitations in themselves. The person went to the city of Genoch, known for training the greatest warriors, and promptly cleaved his sword through the largest log on display with sparks of divine power, and was immediately promoted to an officer in the paladin corps. For six years, this paladin climbed the ranks and came to a startling realization. Would take at least ten more years to be a general. This follower of ambition would never be sated by such a role as general. They left the army and set out to claim the fame as a great hero of the land. They marched far to the east, the blasted wastelands where nothing grows in search of the beasts of legend to tame, and came upon a great dragon in the shadow of the dragon. Crops grew and people flourished despite the wastes all around, the great Paladin gained audience with ease and told the dragon of their ambition to be the greatest of knights. Famed across the land in a slayer of great beasts. Like the dragon, the dragon looked upon this tiny knight and smiled. Young knight, your ambition is noteworthy, and I can see your desire is true, but you have come to the wrong place if you wish to vanquish a dragon. If I perish, all the people here shall die. What they need. What the people need is something more powerful than a knight or a dragon slayer. They need a blacksmith and a tailor. Will you be their most acclaimed hero? The knight saw for the first time the flaw in their plan and the truth of their ambitions. This world needed a great hero. Yes, but it was not the hero that this knight had imagined. In that moment, they surrendered their ambition and began to teach the people in the shadow of the dragon their skills and the power of brother ambition ran dry within them. For brother ambition cares not for those whose ambitions would wane. [00:14:25] But this is not the end of the tale. The Paladin was an amazing teacher and taught the people their skills. In a few seasons, again, they sought audience with the dragon and stated the dragon their true ambition. Dragon, I have done all I can for these people. There must be others in need of my skill in these endless wastes. Send me. For now I wish to be the greatest teacher of this world. The dragon chuckled and smiled. Tiny knight, it seems your ambition has found a new home. But such a profession does not give fame. Seeing the determination in the eyes of the paladin, the dragon continued. Then head east and become a wanderer. Or in the shadow of all the desert's great beasts, the people can toil to survive, many with cruel masters and all in need of a teacher. As the wanderer left the shadow of the dragon, the safety of the shade, and the love of their students, brother ambition again found them and poured into them the power they needed to handle the desert's many perils. When one ambition dies, another can be born. And brother ambition accepts only those who strive for the best, but cares not if the best is a mighty, gleaming paladin with flashing sword, or a teacher tending the wounded hand of a student pricked under needlepoint. [00:15:52] Now, as an apprentice, you should strive to be the best apprentice you can be. [00:15:58] Storytime is over. [00:16:00] Get back to work. [00:16:12] Apprentices. In the age before the empire, when the lands were wild and full of terrible monsters, there was a town where everyone feared death. In this town was a nobleman held above the rest, who feared death most of all. This tiny hedge king knew in his deepest soul that if the silent judge cast her gaze upon him, he would leave this life forever forgotten. And the fear grew. [00:16:46] This noble demanded that all death happen outside the walls of this town. That as people would age or sicken, they were forced to leave, to be claimed by the wilds of the green man. Ever without mercy. [00:17:00] The people were not allowed to grieve, for the rituals of death might turn the divine gaze upon this land. [00:17:09] In time, the fear grew worse, and this self proclaimed king banned animals, pets and meat from his presence and began to subsist only on the fruits of the land. For fear that even small deaths would turn the raven goddess upon his soul and steal it away to the lands of the dead. [00:17:30] In this town was also a great sage whose advice was prized above all others. Sage began to see the damage done by the king. When those cannot see death, they fear it greatly, rather than accept its role in this world. [00:17:48] When those cannot mourn their dead, they become cold and empty toward the living. For as divine mercy teaches, those who turn off one of life's many emotions, turn off all. The sage foresaw a new kind of sickness that would end all the good and order in his tiny kingdom. For people without love in their hearts, without knowledge of the sanctity and power of death, could never truly live in peace, for they would never choose it. [00:18:20] The sage went to this tiny hedge king and whispered to him the truth. But the king was not swayed. The sage held a mirror to his face to show the weathered, the tired, the thinning, and the aches and pains of age. [00:18:37] And still the king was not swayed. The sage pointed to the king's beloved. In her face, he could see the same. How would she be remembered? And still the king was not swayed. In desperation for the future, the sage traveled to a nearby town, seeking the advice that would sway this wayward noble's heart. He found the land where all the elderly and sick had gone with their pets and their cattle. Life in all directions, a place familiar with death and ready to remember the living with dignity and sadness. [00:19:17] The sage sat through a funeral and watched an internment and saw the beauty that was possible in welcoming an end, he turned home with truth in his heart. And in his wake followed ravens by the hundreds, casting their shadows over the land. [00:19:36] When the sage arrived, they were not the same. [00:19:40] The silent judge had touched them with power. They came to return respect for death back to the people, to end their fear. With the power of the goddess, the sage healed the heart of the nobleman, who finally saw the error of his ways. [00:19:59] When the nobleman passed, the rites of death were once again shone in the streets. The people were moved to tears. They embraced those they loved, and they began again to understand the importance of life through the importance of death. [00:20:17] So you see, apprentices, the silent judge is not to be feared. In time, I too will return to the lands of the dead. And when I go, remember me with tears in your eyes and love in your heart. Laugh as I leave, for a remembrance of death is truly a celebration of life. Remember, even as we study death, that we must respect its role. Do not fear it, only understand. [00:20:49] Now return to work and cast aside those grim expressions, for that is temporary, as are we all. [00:21:08] Gather round, apprentices. Three of the toughest people decided to escape their life in the city and pay honor to the green men deep in the forest, each their own way. [00:21:20] The first was a sage whose talent of herbs was unmatched. The second, a hunter whose trophy wall rivaled that of kings of legend. The third was simply tired of the noise. [00:21:33] The sage gathered all the edible plants and mushrooms and waded through the winter in a shelter made of logs. They emerged at the end of winter, skinny to the bone, and returned to the city triumphant. [00:21:45] The hunter slew great beasts and weathered the winter in a tent of hide and stones. [00:21:51] They emerged unwell, but well fed, and returned to the city triumphant. The third was never seen again. And some say the legend stops here. And the lesson is that to worship the green men successfully, one must have great skill. But the rare and true priests of the green man know this is not the moral of the story, nor even the story. The two who returned to the city merely caught a glimpse of the true wilds. And the truth is, the green men caught no glimpse of them in return. [00:22:25] The true parable is the story of the third. The third person sat by the river with a pole and line, but caught no fish. They saw a bear scoop a salmon from the shallows. And so the third made a net and weighed it in the shallows and scooped out a fish, just as the bear had done. The person ate the fish and caught some more. Later, they saw a deer chewing on mushrooms and so they gathered those same mushrooms and ate them happily. They watched as the rabbit squirmed under the brush and took some fishing line to make snares. And so they ate rabbit and squirrel. As winter drew close, they made a shelter of branches and rocks, a blanket of rabbits and squirrels. Winter was cold and harsh. But soon the deer could be seen digging below the snow and licking upon the rocks. And so the third did the same. As winter ended, the third found they did not miss the city, but they did miss the company of others. And so they wandered deeper into the forest until they came upon another just like them. They told that other what they had discovered by listening and watching all that they had seen. And this fourth was fascinated. And the two set out together to learn more. In their fifth year, together with three children clinging to them, they finally caught the attention of the green man. [00:23:51] A great beast, such as others would call a monster, was wandering the forests in search of food. And came upon a rack of dried fish. As it turned to leave, it noticed the family sitting quietly trapped between the beast and a house of bark and stone. [00:24:10] It came close and sniffed the curious sight. And took a careful nip of the arm of the third who had left the city so long ago. The third knew their time had come, for nature rarely offers second chances. They felt no anger or hatred, for they would do the same as this beast to survive. [00:24:30] Knowing the family would watch and that they would learn as they always have. They ran into the clearing to lead the beast away. [00:24:38] When next the beast came to this part of the forest, the food was high up and buried below the family, nowhere to be seen. [00:24:47] And then the green man smiled. You see, the green man is a God of nature. And nature cares not for your wishes, your will, or your dreams. Nature just is. [00:24:59] Those who see it as a thing to be known or a thing to be conquered or slain have no place in the eyes of the green man. They are but shadows passing the truth of the world unaware. [00:25:10] But those who become one with the wild achieve balance in its natural laws. Who sink into its ambivalent arms and hone the instincts long surrendered for love of warmth and a sure meal. [00:25:23] Those are the ones the green man would acknowledge. The story does not tell us what became of this third person because the outcome does not matter. Was the beast full enough to spare this third? Or did it hunt them down and dine again? The green man doesn't care. I like to think the beast chose the easy meal of fish and deer over a meal that was ready to run and fight. [00:25:48] So, apprentice, as you enter the forest for your herb studies, understand one thing. [00:25:53] The forest owes you nothing. The green man does not watch over you. Tread with caution. Watch with your eyes open. Listen with your ears. Trust in your instincts, and maybe you won't return home. [00:26:20] Gather round, apprentices. It's time for another tale. The sun commands this world. It sets the cycle of the day. It calls us to wake, to work and to sleep. And its call cannot go unanswered. It drives away the darkness of night, exposing the world as it truly is for us to see. [00:26:40] Who could live up to the expectations of such dauntless and certain power? [00:26:45] To count themselves among the holy. [00:26:48] Yet priests of the sun are not rare. Nearly every group of life of any size has a leader, one whose words set the pace of life, one whose calls are always answered by those around them. Like the sun, leaders give to others purpose, direction, certainty, and trust. [00:27:07] Like the sun, their power defies the poets. [00:27:12] There once was a person born in the big city. Their energy and desire to be strong was unmatched by any follower of ambition. [00:27:20] But they were also kind to others. They were funny, responsible and reliable, giving and loving. [00:27:29] When they failed, there was always someone coming to help them back up. And so they learned to take risks. And over time, some of those risks paid off. This experience became wisdom and reputation. And when they saw those around them coming to help, they knew their power was not about personal skill. [00:27:50] Those who came to help were their truest expression of power. [00:27:56] They had become a leader of men. [00:28:01] It is impossible to define a leader in words. They carry something inside them that shines out from an ordinary creature. But with each passing day, it becomes clear that they are nothing like ordinary. [00:28:13] Under the sun, all things can be seen. Under the sun, all things are exposed. [00:28:19] And those who find their power in being seen and exposed are the ones who gain the favor of the radiant one, God of the sun. [00:28:31] The sun does not wonder, muse or dither. It is with certainty that it rises each and every day. [00:28:38] Expected then, that the sun God does not come to those who succeed and ask for their loyalty. It simply passes them the power they have earned in pursuit of growth. As a team, as a town, as a community, as a people. [00:28:54] The light of the sun grows inside them, and they guide their fellow creatures, seeming to set the very pace of life. They call for joy, for excitement, for sorrow and anger, for giving and sacrifice. And their call cannot go unanswered. [00:29:12] In truth, apprentices, anyone can be like the sun. It has nothing to do with the magic or cleverness that I teach you as a wizard. Anyone can set the pace and tone of this team. [00:29:25] But when you do it, not for yourself, but for the accomplishments of the many, you have the truest form of power. Granted by the sun itself to the humans it created the radiant. One watches each day for those who would lead that day. [00:29:42] So I ask you, do not compete against each other today. Do not ask what you can do alone. [00:29:50] Ask what you can do together and find inside yourself a light that can guide others to the warmth of the sun and the truth seen in its gaze. [00:30:02] Now, back to work. Apprenticeship. Gather around, apprentices. Today we talk of love. [00:30:20] The fairies are creatures of a singular nature. They are trapped in a cycle started on the day of their birth, unable to change their desires. Mortals are different for one reason, we are gifted by divine mercy. Power of emotion. Common folk might call them the goddess of love, but this is just an old favorite, a very complex divinity. There once was a tribe of humans, far to the north, who lived for the art of war. From the moment a child could hold a weapon, they trained for the day they would do violence. For violence was considered the nature of humanity at the time. Of course, when one has a sword, the world is ready to be cut. And when one trains with it, the world appears as flimsy as leaves. [00:31:09] It is a dangerous person who roams this world with sword and hand and violence on their mind. But perhaps unnecessary person in a world of storms and dragons. When a great battle came and north and south fought in rage, it was, of course, the north that won. For the world was in fact, a fragile leaf before their blades. But something happened that would change both tribes. That began on that day. [00:31:39] Some say that divine mercy rode the battlefield with her arrows of love atop a steed of passion and fired into the warriors as they fought. But that is a silly story. True followers of mercy understand that no single action and no outside force creates love. Love is a pot of water, a warm fire and a gentle rain. [00:32:06] These three elements are placed inside of every mortal. And through time and connection, they combine to form still water. [00:32:15] Boiling ferocity. An empty pot, charred and dry and back again to still water, filled by gentle rain. It just so happened that on this day of war, the fires were hot on this season of the mind, the gentle rain had filled the pot, and the battle brought the fire to the water. [00:32:37] Let us not get lost in metaphor. One warrior saw to the injuries of another, having been intrigued in their dance of death. [00:32:45] By the end of the seasons, they were in love. A year from then, the two were three. And another year they were four. [00:32:53] It was for love that the family decided to change everything. [00:32:58] When rage again came between north and south, the two warriors refused to battle. For they saw the violence in their nature and knew that it was placed there not of their own choosing, but by the poor choice of those who came before. [00:33:14] The two lovers spoke to their leaders. One south and one north. And in the end, they agreed. The two lovers would fight at the end of a festival. And no one else would need die, for the winner would decide their fate. [00:33:28] The tribes came together under a single tent. And a great feast was prepared. But each day a rain, gentle and cold, spoiled the battlefield. And each night, the people of the tribes huddled for warmth and spoke their minds. On the day the rain stopped and the festival ended, the tribal leaders spoke and declared the fight unnecessary. For they had reached agreement. In the day's nights of discussion, this miracle was a simple one. A full pot of water, a burning fire, the gathering of the elements. [00:34:04] Over time, the two tribes grew as one. Under the leadership of the lovers, the first two priests of divine mercy. And the north surrendered their way of the sword. For after a while, it was simply unnecessary to fill a world with violent intent. And so you see, apprentices, how the goddess of emotion works to ignite in all of us the power to change. [00:34:28] But the change is a subtle one. It takes time and talk. It takes understanding and compassion. It takes work. [00:34:37] But the gift of the goddess is undeniable. [00:34:41] Fill the pot with gentle rain. Light the fires. And take the time to bring together our hearts. [00:34:49] And we will find the truths that change our world. [00:34:53] Back to work. [00:35:04] Gather round, apprentices. For all of the power of the sun to reveal this world as it is another, governs the world we do not truly understand. [00:35:15] The moon, it shifts in appearance. Its markings beg strange interpretations. Under the gaze of its waning light, the world takes on a magical hue that plays tricks upon the senses. [00:35:30] This is the power of cleverness and magic at work. The power of the luminous one. We who practice the arcane study that which was created by the luminous one in the heavens. And passed to her chosen creations of the Fae. From them, we humans learned a small portion of the secrets of the gods. [00:35:51] We learn magic. And in so we study the luminous one. And the gifts she gave this world, capturing each unique speck of knowledge with her blessing. The luminous one does have true priests and priestesses in this world. For which she chooses and grants power. But they are rare. Because the truth is, apprentices in this world we need her more than she needs us. We might wield her fire and ice, but this is as a hammer wielded by a toddler. [00:36:24] There once was a child born under a strange moon. Colored blue is the clearest skies. [00:36:30] Parents never wished to call attention to such a blessing, for the child would surely be strange. And this was very true. [00:36:37] The mind of this child was unlike mine and yours. It thought of nothing in a straightforward way. What is more, the child was blind. Power swelled inside of them and spilled forth with images no person had ever seen with their eyes born of the mind of a person who had no eyes to see. The legends defy description in this tale. For who could imagine a world that exists in the mind of a single person? [00:37:05] At this time, there was a fay traveling the land, and in each town it would stop. It asked the villagers to show it a sight it had never seen before. And if they tried and failed, the fay left a curse. But if they tried and succeeded, it would grant them a wish, a wish of their wildest dreams. The townspeople tried many things, rare plants, two headed goats. But each village was left with a magic curse and a fay that was unimpressed. When the fay came to the village of the child born under the blue moon, it asked again its question. And the people knew of this young person and their strange dreams that could call into reality things none had ever seen before. And they gathered this child, they brought the child to the fay, positively brimming with magical power. The child cast no spell and produced no images. [00:38:00] The child said simply, my powers are not for games. [00:38:06] The fay this day saw many things they had never seen before. But the first was a creature of magic who would solve a problem by doing nothing, not for fear of a curse, nor respect of the fay, nor compulsion of glamour. But because this task was simply too trivial. The fay understood that the game was over. They offered the child their wish, and the child's empty eyes offered no answer. [00:38:33] They turned and went home. [00:38:36] There was nothing this faye could offer that matches the splendor in the mind of this child. [00:38:42] No gift of sight or coin or magic could ever compare. The luminous one chose a champion that day and gave to this child their power and blessing. They grew to become a saint, known the world over for their clever use of magic in unconventional ways. [00:39:00] As I said, apprentices, the moon doesn't need us as much as we need her. But this child could do something none of us could do. And that was to show the world true magic, the magic of things we cannot see. And the cleverness to teach even the most versed and mystical powers a thing or two about this world we live in. [00:39:24] Go forth, my apprentices. Do not focus on the hottest fires or the coldest colds. Focus instead on the part of magic nobody has yet seen coming. [00:39:48] Gather round, apprentices. Today we learn of life. [00:39:53] The essential spark of the soul that churns every living creature in this world. What type of person could possibly be worthy of the blessing of such a God as the whispering shepherd who roams this earth breathing souls into the living of the tiniest sprout to the grandest dragon? Let me tell you a story. [00:40:14] There once were three supplicants to the whispering shepherd. The first, a farmer who raised crops and animals so that others might eat. Each spring, the blessings of the whispering shepherd granted his family prosperity. And now the farmer wished to repay this kindness. The farmer offered the shepherd their loyalty that each spring they would tend to each new generation. The shepherd did not answer. [00:40:39] The second supplicant was a healer who had overseen the birth of hundreds of babies and extended the lives of those in distress each day in their work, the healer saw the miracles of the whispering shepherd and wished to help. To the whispering shepherd they offered devotion that they would, for the rest of their days continue as they had working to cure the sick. And still the shepherd did not answer. The third supplicant had been many things. A baker, a laborer, a painter, a woodsman, a farmer, a carriageman, good at none. Yet they loved each pastime the same each day. They loved the task they chose to do and so they wished to revel in their own life. They offered the shepherd nothing but a promise to live their life as fully as they could and vowed to settle down with children whenever they were ready raise crops when it brought them joy and share what they learned if it suits them. And the shepherd did not answer. [00:41:37] The farmer went home to raise their cattle and crops and did so with great success. Continuing with the blessings of the whispering shepherd the healer went home to treat a fever and prepare a new mother with child and did so with great success, marveling at the miracles of life. [00:41:53] The third, with no profession and no goals went to travel and chanced upon another on the road. This fourth person was a man who could not use his hands and was miserable in sorrow as many unfairnesses of this world seemed to be visited upon him. In jealousy of the wandering and purposeless supplicant the man asked them, why do you travel? Why not settle down, earn money, earn respect? Why not start a family? Dedicated to your God. To which the supplicant laughed and said, there is too much life to live to do as others would expect of me. [00:42:29] Have you, for example, ever considered learning to paint? The man who could not use his hands was quite bitter and said simply that he wished he could. And in that moment, the third supplicant gained the power to heal and heard the faintest whisper on the winds. [00:42:46] Share life. [00:42:50] The whispering shepherd found its priest. The power of the God was not for those who saw to the abundance of new life, nor to those who prolonged the life of others, nor to those who found their own joy and cared not of others. No, the whispering shepherd chooses to give power to those who share the excitement of life and inspire others. [00:43:14] Those who make the most of life and share are the only ones worthy of the whispering shepherd's blessing. [00:43:23] So, apprentice, someday you will find a thing that brings you great joy. Someday you will cherish it above all others. [00:43:33] But when that day comes, know that that is the beginning. [00:43:38] For what is life if not lived well? And what is living well, if not shared with others? [00:43:46] Enough talk. Back to work, apprentices. [00:43:59] Today we tell the tale of the eternal two. [00:44:03] The fay have a peculiar custom. The rules of the world work quite differently in the fay. While it is possible to accumulate much greater power, it is not uncommon for one who accumulates such power to declare themselves a God. This is, of course, unacceptable. It is unacceptable because to honor the gods, there can be no falsehoods. [00:44:28] However, in the days of Astrigarian Contessa, at the founding of the great empire, the prophet herself went to the feywild and discovered the truth of the matter for herself, with the guidance of sister truth. In the realms of the fay, there are two forces of nature, unbreakable laws of the universe that do not govern our mortal world. These two laws are the two gods. But in the Fae realm, the seasons are locations and time is concurrent. It is not summer, but every summer, eternal at once. [00:45:05] This is the effect of the God eternal cycle, a God of seasons and time, but in truth, mostly time. [00:45:13] This God of time holds a similar role to our silent judge, and there is no aging in the traditional sense, only time eternal, governed by an offspring of the green man and the luminous one. Their priests are the rarest of the rare, for their power is undeniable. And of course, the followers shun the mortal plane, for all who enter fall into the purview of the silent judge, and so age and die. Then again, each season comes with a set of common traits bound into each citizen, as surely as divine mercy, has given us all love and emotion. Summer is wrathful and fierce, while spring is joyous and idealistic. Autumn, fearful and somber, while winter is cold and harsh. It is perhaps more accurate to say that every denizen of the feywild is a priest of eternal cycle. The second great law of the fairy realm is not codified in writing and reinforced by the church, governed in the ways of sister truth. No, in the realm Arcadia, the fae are governed by the power of agreements. O's and pledges are supernaturally binding, breakable only as a last resort, and carrying with it the penalty imposed by a vindictive God. Eternal knowledge, a God of every agreement between living and divine from the beginning of time. [00:46:40] Clerics of eternal knowledge are numerous and known as the great oathsmiths, capable of forging and unforging agreements on behalf of the gods. There exists a few known priests, such as the heart render, who trades hearts, emotions and motivations, the archfae of immense powerhold. Libraries of eons of such agreements in the names of this unwavering lawful God, the pax, of course, delude in power with those touched by the rule of sister truth and divine mercy. And so the followers of eternal knowledge also shun the mortal realm. The will of the divine is undeniable. The realms separate yet connected, the people separate yet connected. It is heresy to bring the gods of time and the God of oaths to the mortal realm, just as it is heresy to take death and love into the fay. To challenge this balance is to challenge the gods themselves. Do not fear the fay, for they live here. They fall under the sway of our gods. But best not to stray too close to the fay wild, for you may find yourself abandoned by the divine and in unfamiliar lands. [00:47:55] There's your lesson for today, apprentice. Back to work. [00:48:12] Welcome, apprentices. Gather again for a story. [00:48:17] The mask is a God of youthful rebellion, change, dreams, and the sole agent of chaos in our divinely created universe. [00:48:28] Of course, we all understand the need for such a God. There is a time when children must be allowed to make their own mistakes. A time when we must be less harsh with those mistakes. To forge youth into wisdom. [00:48:42] Each generation brings new changes from this process. There must be a God for all of the phases of life. [00:48:51] But of course, legend says the mask was not born a God as all of the others, but instead stole divine power, becoming the last God. Wherea the mask the gods learn their power must be guarded, while the mask watches over children. This enigmatic God or goddess doesn't choose children to represent them. Generally, all children are idealistic. It's a special kind of person who holds that idealism into their later years. And weaponizes it for change. [00:49:28] Let me illustrate. [00:49:32] In the largest city of the day, before the empire and the kingdoms we know. There was born a child who believed how their parents had and grandparents did before them. That the world worked a certain way. And certain rites and rituals would bring success for sure. [00:49:48] A sheltered thing to be. A child who thinks as they are told. But is as important to give the youth some grace. [00:49:56] But in time, this child grew to an adult. And took a merchant job. And began to travel. [00:50:03] Such certainty cannot survive the world, for it is a wild and vibrant place. The rituals and rites this child knew failed for others who tried the same. And often did not provide right answers and even fewer truths. You see, the world has few right answers. Like most adults, this one might have concluded that perhaps they were special, unique in the world. Worthy where others had failed. A sheltered opinion to be sure, and wrong in every instance. [00:50:39] Instead, this person began to muddle through life. As we all must do in the end. [00:50:45] Finding their own truths and philosophies. Finding the answers that fit the self or the moment. Finding the people that share passions. And giving to them parts of their soul. That we might thrive as friends or lovers. [00:50:58] Then came the moment to return home. [00:51:01] The adult had matured, had grown, had learned. And it now was impossible to ignore. That people and home had not changed. [00:51:12] Even in a big city, they had turned blind eyes to the ways of other people who didn't agree with them. They discovered the greatest of divine sins. In their estimation, they found hypocrisy. [00:51:26] And in that moment, they gave to themselves the resolve to change the world around them. To open the eyes of the people. And to shift the politics of a time. They vowed to agitate, to lead others to brighter futures. And to forever change themselves. [00:51:47] This is a champion of mask. You see, what matters to mask when it comes to patronage. Is not that you have power or want it. Not that you are young or old. Not that you agree with some person, priest or politician. The mask exists to fight the hypocrisy of stagnation by any means necessary. And lends their power to those who refuse to be told what to do, how to think or how to feel. [00:52:17] The mask forever dreams of better tomorrows. [00:52:22] You may not fit in this life you were handed, apprentice. You might think the world a mess. [00:52:29] You might make mistakes and grow. The mask will watch over you. [00:52:35] But if you commit yourself to the destruction of hypocrisy by your own two hands and change hearts and minds. That is the power of a God to manage the phases of life. [00:52:48] On that note, go forth with fresh eyes this day, see the world for its flaws and dream of a better future. [00:52:58] Such things are encouraged in our faith. [00:53:02] Back to work. [00:53:12] Gather round, apprentices. You've been asking about divine hammer for some time. And today is the time I tell the story. [00:53:21] Divine Hammer, the goddess of crafting and invention, is all about the advancement of our modern technologies. The spark of ideas that create something new, from poetry to engineering. But there is something more. This merging of magic and engineering that I know has caught your attention. I'm sure you've witnessed the great lock systems between Hilock and Turtle Bay, the great domed public buildings, the towering bridges that raise and lower the tiny trinkets for cooking and mixing. These are all thanks to the watchful eye and timely inspiration of the goddess in her wisdom, for she commands the spark of invention. There once was a wizard of great magical talent with a penchant for transmutation in a truly keen eye for the properties of materials. But they failed to catch the eye of the luminous one, for subtle refinements and spell design. And playing with minerals isn't exactly going to unlock the potential of the luminous one's gifts. Magic is a known quantity. And while new magic items can be crafted, new spells can be designed. The luminous one set the rules. The rules must be followed. Invention and subtle improvements are ways to honor her. But they are owned by another. This wizard sought to truly do the goddess justice and craft something remarkably new. So they turn not to the luminous one, but to the goddess of crafting and invention, divine hammer. And they prayed for the spark of invention. After a lifetime of work dedicated to the pursuit of magic and honest attempts to build new spells the luminous one might have never seen, they realized the folly of their pursuit. The muse of divine hammer struck them during a chance encounter with an architect. The architect was attempting to build a bridge that lifts in the middle to allow ships to pass under when needed. The materials were simply too heavy to both support traffic on the bridge and lift into the air. The wizard, in a stroke of insight, had an idea. Together, these two aged inventors crafted a material strong enough to carry the weight of horses and carts, but light enough to be lifted into the air. And by merging the fields of magic and engineering, they also were able to create a mechanism that could be turned with the strength of a single man and lift the bridge. Gaining the luminous one's attention by unlocking the true potential of magic is one thing. But combining magic with the newest advancements in crafting this was a new thing. And it was unclear which goddess. To give credit, the priests debated the issue. But in the end, the wizard who invented the new bridge. They channeled the power of divine hammer. You see, in the moment of inspiration. The goddess of crafting had chosen another representative. And the world's understanding of divine hammer changed. Where once you prayed for the goddess to guide the hands of a smith or spark inspiration to the poet. Now you pray for an inventor to find the inspiration that changes the lives of everyone for the better. [00:56:45] Do not forget, divine hammer apprentices. What we do may glorify the luminous one. And what we do with magic could aid any God or goddess. But with the power of divine hammer, we, with our specialized knowledge. We can change the world. As the followers of the divine hammer say, reach for the hammer, find the spark. Well, hand me my wine and get back to work. You've had your story for today. [00:57:23] It is time for your lesson, apprentices. [00:57:27] It is rumored there are gates between universes. Studied by supplicants of the luminous one. This, of course, is all theoretical. However, the nature of this world and the divine realm. Are confirmed by our prophet, Astragaria Contessa. I have told you in the stories of the divines. How this world and the feywild are like two sides of the same coin. Each a shadow cast by the other. But there is more to speak of in this divine realm. After Astragaria Contessa united the twelve tribes of humans and forged the empire. She toured the universe at the invitation of the gods. According to her account, there is the realm ethereal, known as the holy veil. That separates the space between life and death. This world and the divine. [00:58:17] This realm is a land of energy and spirit. That is traveled predominantly by the silent judge and whispering shepherd. As they move souls between this realm and the divine. [00:58:27] The prophet describes the realm as a clouded fog of gray. Visible in the distance. The light of the divine realm. And the shallow shadows of this world. [00:58:38] Once you cross the realm ethereal. A task reserved for gods and prophets alone. You pass into the realm of the dead. Often called the astral realm. In ancient magical texts, this realm is bodiless. It is an experience where all things are reduced to the shape of thought. In this realm, the soul is but a shining light in a sea of color. Forming a whirling, spherical nebula of a dreamlike creations. Until you reach the core where the souls gather. Having lost what is left of their mortal memories and return to a pure and calm state. [00:59:15] The souls of the outer realm are set upon their journey to the center by the silent judge, and the souls in the inner realm are retrieved for life anew in this world by the whispering shepherd. The walk between is a journey of the soul. And along the way some creatures divert and stall. At the bottom of the astral realm, there lies the places of festering evil, where the unjust dead who refuse to surrender their ideals and march the path to purity, gather. This realm has turned sour and is filled with the evil thoughts of our kind. The souls who reside here are called demons or devils, though the difference is purely academic. But the preponderance of destructive thoughts in one place has made the realm an inhospitable, endless nightmare. And these evil souls call to those on their path to purity to try to steer them from their rightful course. [01:00:08] At the top of the realm, the gods live, and they have pulled favored souls to serve as angels, also called the Arcons. Though again, distinction between them, purely academic. The angels serve the direct will of the gods, assisting them, as you might assist me in my duties, until such time as they too, complete the journey and return to purity. Here there is the divine kingdom, or the heavenly palace, a place of perfection governed by the twelve gods. From this location, the gods can look upon creation and stretch their powers through the border, ethereal, to be felt by man. [01:00:46] When you close your eyes, you are not cast into darkness. There are flashes of light and sparks of movement. This is your soul remembering where it came from and longing to return. [01:00:58] Each night you sleep, your mind drifts to the border, ethereal, and remembers what it saw in its journey under the watchful gaze of whispering shepherd. Remember each time you close your eyes that you walked beside a God and know in your heart that you will do so again. Wack to work. Apprenticeship, apprentices. [01:01:31] Once, in the early days of this world, there was just the radiant one, the luminous one and the green man. [01:01:38] They began to create life. Green man created plants, filling the world with verdant green vegetation, and set out to make the animals, the luminous one and the radiant one set out to assist. And so the radiant one created the whispering shepherd to help by bringing souls from the divine realm to reside in creation. And when the beings, these animals, began to consume each other, the luminous one created the silent judge to gently usher the souls back from where they came. [01:02:11] Things were at peace. But the sun and the moon are eternally jealous of the other's works. And so the luminous one created the first fay without a single form. Their shape was unknowable and blessed with magic. It was common to change, but they were above the animals. And so she exempted the souls of the fay from the reach of the silent judge. [01:02:37] Some believe the fay simply have no soul at all. Jealous, the radiant one created the mortals. Solid in form, like the animals, they held closer to the ways of life and death, in an attempt to please the green man. To these two creations of fay and mortal, a pair of gods were forged to govern each. For the luminous one's creations, the fay, eternal knowledge and eternal cycle were born to govern the nature of fay and the pacts between them. For humanity, divine mercy and sister truth were formed to govern their nature. And the pacts between humans, sister truth and eternal knowledge were immediately caught in conflict as the two governed the relationships between their followers very differently. And in short order, their followers were drawn to conflict as well. The green men set these peoples apart, carving their world into two. One a reflection of the other, separating them by a great veil of divine power. The fay were on one side, the mortals on the other. To govern the potential of war between them, the green men created brother ambition, and to give the humans a chance should the conflict continue, he gifted them divine hammer. Now you understand why our worlds are different, how they became so estrained. You are wizards, apprentices. You wield the same power of magic the fay were gifted. Do not fear them, for you are their equal. They are separate and potentially immortal. They may have an edge, but you have love and creativity. You have the muse of divine hammer and divine mercy. If they, the fay, bear their teeth at you, meet their gaze and know that you, among all of humanity, are their equal apprentices. [01:04:48] This land has many races of creatures in it. In the beginning of time, there were, of course, only two or so, the fay and the humans. One crafted by the luminous one, the other by the radiant one. Some argue the dragons crafted by the green man should be considered the third, but the predominant opinion is actually they are simply pinnacle among beasts. In historic times, it was felt that this side of the realm, the mortal side, belonged entirely to man and beast. But through the guidance of Astragarian Contessa, we have learned that this world is meant to be shared, and learned to understand the plight of the fairy descended races. We only ask that when they come to this land, they worship the gods of this land. [01:05:33] Let's talk about the fairy races. Elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, orcs, many others have fled the fay realm for the mortal realm. They accepted aging in death in this exchange for breaking themselves from the rule of eternal knowledge and eternal cycle and those first born of the luminous one. You see, the fay realm is built upon a perpetual collection of agreements that simply do not expire unless specified. These rules give the oldest of the fay the greatest power. Those we call the arch fay, they rule the land with an iron fist or other mystical appendage, all below them. As one might treat serfs or pets. Enlightened by Astragari and Contessa, we now also see the failure in a system of servitude based on the status of one's birth, and have banished the nobility for merit. If you believe that you are here, you are where you are because you earned it. It stands to reason the Faye descended races that are now mortal also earned it. And so we measure their worth, just as we measure everyone else's, by the strength of their connection to the gods. In the early days, when the fay races fled through the various portals to mortal realms, resources were quite scarce and fairy magic was more powerful and more influential. At the moment, some tried to set themselves up as gods themselves among mortals, attempting to create an archfay class again in this realm. Though, such efforts were short lived, as death ends everything in the mortal realm eventually. Instead, many brought with them new ideas of gods, adopting and adapting the local religious structures to match the ideas that they had brought with them from the fairy realm. Dwarves are a particularly interesting case, as they believed in a creature called moradin, a sort of all powerful creator God who industriously toiled, much like divine hammer, to craft every aspect of society, including lesser gods and the world itself. When the great prophet returned from their sojourn to the divine realm, they revealed that Morin was in fact divine hammer by another name, and that the dwarves were actually created, like all things in the fay realm, by first the luminous one, and then a collection of od agreements that bound their physical form. If you subscribe to them as completely separate from the fay, then their true creator was likely an arch fay who bound their lineage through some type of agreement to aid them in their labors. No doubt self servingly, the dwarven goddess of death was found to be the silent judge. But most of the rest of the pantheon was either angelic beings, souls forged into powerful shapes to aid the gods temporarily, or a few archfae still attempting to control those who had fled them. Today, all dwarves have accepted the rule of the empire and the certainty of our divine pantheon, and now represent honored members of our community. Every bit as dedicated to the gods as we are. The Fae races are now our brothers and sisters treat them as the family they are now. Back to work. Apprentices, gather around. [01:09:00] Now. Our prophet, astrigarian Contessa, founder of the empire, unitor of the tribes of men, and first translator of the modern church, traveled the holy divine realm and returned to clear up MaNY issues with the truth. With this new divine vision, the old faltered and disappeared. Most realized they were simply worshipping the true gods by other names, in other forms. And others had been worshipping perhaps powerful fay magic, mistaking it for godlike power in the modern era. We, of course, can tell the difference between these fantasies, these mythologies and reality as a matter of academic pursuit. Some of those lost histories are interesting, reads. The dragons. For example, the first alpha predators, highest of the green man's creations, have similar intelligence to Men, and their pantheons were quite complex. Though the prophet would eventually reveal they were simply worshipping the first of the three gods, the green man, the radiant one, and the luminous OnE. However, in the naivete of the dragons, before the time of our prophet, they believed in NeArLY a dozen gods. Their mythology goes something like this. Nodig was first among the dragons. A holy fire. He coiled around his tail to form the sun. Needing a mate, he created Tiamat, his queen, a five headed dragon of mountainous proportions. The two birthed the great egg. NOdig, seeing the power of his protege, cast a spell upon the egg to prevent it from ever hatching. And over time, trees and mosses began to form. And this egg, this egg is now the world. [01:10:47] TiamaT saw this and wept in her. Tears filled at the oceans. The two birthed many other dragons of many kinds to fill the seas, mountains, and skies, all smaller than their first egg. But they never agreed on the fate of that one greatest egg. In time, Tiamat withdrew from Nodig, circling her tail to become the moon. Now, Nodig has a rather amorous reputation, and it was believed that whenever the sun disappeared behind the horizon, he returned in sort of a different dragon form in search of a new mate among his progeny. When a dragon is particularly old or particularly large, they were said to be a kind of demigod, a half divine dragon, a child of no dig. And they would rule over other dragons, using the same ancient magics to create lesser draconic creatures throughout the world, just as their father had done. Thus was born the Kobolds, the dragon born the drakes and the wyverns. It turns out the ancient magic was mostly shapeshifting and tried and true procreation. When astragarian contessa returned from the realm of the gods, she answered the eternal question, of which came first, the dragon or the egg? And the answer was always the egg. The egg was first. And in fact, it was the green man whose silence on matters of earthly desires are well known. It wasn't that the God was some unhatched egg. No, it was just too great a power for the dragons to comprehend. Their nodic was truly the radiant one, and their tiamat was the luminous one. When the truth was known, the dragons abandoned their temples and their self proclaimed demigod kings and fled to the edges of the world, returning to their nature as the greatest predators. The story isn't quite over, of course. You can still find ruins of these old draconic temples. And of course, the dragon spawned races still exist as evidence of the passing of this era in history. But the record has been corrected. [01:12:50] All glory to the ten gods of the mortal realm. Now, apprentices, back to work. [01:13:06] Welcome, apprentices. Today we will discuss the elves. Their pantheon, before the true faith emerged, was fascinating. The elves never bothered with creation stories, speaking as if the world had always existed. But like the dwarves, they imagined a creator God of the moon who sung their people into existence. All the gods were flexible, shifting in appearance and form. Much like the fay. It was not uncommon to have separate names for gods when they appeared in male or female form. Most scholars agree that because the gods show themselves in many avatars, it's likely the elves were just describing the real gods, but in vastly different ways than we do today. [01:13:50] Their creator God was most often named Corellin. When the God appeared in its female form, they called the God Angharad. In male form, the God was considered a creature of clever magic, music and crafts, and in female form, a goddess of the changing moon and magic, and in particular, divination and illusion. They did have a host of lesser gods, like lunare, goddess of death, and Alona, goddess of the hunt, who also had many different forms, titles, names, genders, all that, like the shifting moon itself. When the prophet returned from the divine realm, having seen the truth, the elves renamed their gods and adopted the predominant opinion that while a God can appear in any form, they tend to have a preferred form. As such, their moon God and goddess were actually the luminous one. Their death God was actually the silent judge and their huntress God, actually the green man. It was generally determined their least gods were mainly arch fay in disguise. And as a result, to this day, the elves are quite untrusting of the true fae. A wise practice indeed. There are lots of documentation left in the old archives of Astragar regarding the elven deities, mainly because they match our existing deities today so closely that one cannot really confuse them any longer. Tales of their gods were definitely coloured by their exile from the fay realm, their creator God, for example, of a deep hatred of the Orc God. Again, resources during the first arrival of the fay to the mortal realm were quite scarce. Conflicts were not uncommon. But there is some evidence that the elves are still special in the eyes of the luminous one, and some of their old practices persist in od ways. For example, we know that elves do not sleep and instead meditate, but do have vivid waking dreams in which they are always living the lives of another elf, seen through their eyes sometime in the past. Often these dreams prove to be historically true accounts. In the ancient times, the elves believed they were viewing their own past lives. But as we know, souls are purified of all past life experiences before returning to the mortal realm. Today, this is believed to be a kind of divination dream magic left over from their time in the fay realm, and perhaps a gift directly from the luminous one. But it does show the distant past, and perhaps they're meant to learn valuable lessons this way. Lastly, some elves who live long enough have crescent moons that appear in their eyes, indicating that they have not longed to live. There are many theories about this, but the occurrence is so rare and so unlikely as to defy study. Some believe the luminous one is relinquishing her claim on the elves so that the silent judge can claim them. Others believe the luminous one is making them to ensure the silent judge finds them. Definitely a special favor. Indeed. In ancient times, the elves believed this was a sign the moon goddess was calling them home. But as we know the truth now, the moon goddess doesn't have power over the soul. Elves are quite rare and quite special. So to have elven blood in your veins is to have a strong tie to the power of the goddess. And given their beauty and long lived nature, it's not uncommon for magic users, like all of you, to trace lineage back to an elf somewhere. As such, it's deeply important that when you see pointy ears, you show respect. It's good practice, considering they could also live long enough to hold your actions against many, many generations of your line. All right, apprentices, back to work. [01:17:40] Welcome, apprentices. It's time again for your history lesson. Today we will discuss the rather preposterous gnomeish pantheon. Gnomes, as you know, migrated from the feywild to live out their lives in the mortal realm. When they first migrated, resources were quite scarce, and they found themselves in constant contest with other fay folk and even the dragons. Odd you would say that a creature so small would find itself in contest with dragons. Well, gnomes had a peculiar pantheon centered around a God known as glitter gold. This deity was sort of a concentrated force of gnomeishness. It was dedicated to being lucky in various forms of good hearted mischief. Though fiercely protective and weirdly attracted to gold, the 13th day of each month was considered a holy day dedicated to glitter gold, in which gnomes would gather for joke telling and other community resources. They would pull together their wealth, for example, to do good deeds. Now, over time, it became clear that not all gnomes were dedicated to the good collection of gold. Quickly, gold coins and gold nuggets became a common symbol of the deity. In time, the pantheon added a God specifically for the gathering of wealth. For selfish reasons. The gnomish obsession with gold brought them into conflict with dragons, who, as you know, have themselves an obsession with gold, specifically the dragon descended race of cobalt tasked with gathering gold for their draconica masters. The gnomish obsession with mischief left them without any allies to counter the draconic threat. And it was then they added gods of stone and illusion, permitting the gnomes to run and hide for their lives. We now know today that the pantheon was strictly preposterous. Not only did they have no creation myth, seeing the world as simply existing, they were utterly dedicated to the idea of luck, which has no place in modern society. With the emergence of the truth by our prophet astragarian contessa, it became clear that while there is some chaos inherent in the universe, the idea that it would favor one over another is preposterous. In our meritocratic society, we understand that what was considered luck was simply chance applied to one's talents and preparation. You will notice there is no true God of luck, because luck simply doesn't exist. The gnomish gods weren't even powerful, faye, just figments of a silly culture with backwards ways. Today, gnomes are quite rare, but they still maintain a trademark better sense of humor than the average mortal creature. Perhaps they have overwhelmingly turned their attention to divine hammer and begun to leave their fay heritage behind, preferring instead to focus on the world of innovations, crafts and invention. Well, there you have it, apprentices. Even the brightest among us, can be misled by fantasy and a good story. But as with all the world's historic false faiths, we leave them to the history books and focus our attention on the future. [01:20:48] All right, apprentices, back to work. [01:20:59] Settle down, apprentices. Wands away. It's time for the history lesson. Today we will talk about the fascinating case of the Orc. Before the era of Astragarian Contessa and the empire, Orcs were a brutish tribal folk who worshipped a one eyed God they called Groomsch, Lord of slaughter. Supposedly, Groomsch was the orc creator God in their faith, he came from another land and found this one and raided it, lost his eye fighting with the elven gods and his fallen blood, seeded the land with what became known as the Orcs. Now, not all orcs were raiding, slaughtering warriors. They had lesser gods as well, like the denmother, a kind of champion of motherhood and protection. But the strong did rule, and the warriors and their fascination with groomch, the one eyed God, drove them to greater conquests against the humans, elves, and dwarves. Like all conquests, though, despite early successes, they eventually spread too thin and the tide turns. Astragarian Contessa united the human tribes of men and formed an empire and an army. She single handedly stopped the Orc leader and slew him in a field of combat. The Orcs were not one to retreat or surrender. The casualties to the warriors were high. The snowy mountains at the edge of the eastern empire and the Uncharted great wastes became a field of red, a sad outcome, but a necessary one. The survivors of what is now called the battle of Grumpsh's folly was a great turning point for the orcs, or as we call them now, the Orc blooded. It was this battle that brought the elves into the empire and converted them to the true faith as the people of the luminous one. The surviving orcs intermingled with humanity, and now, half a millennia later, are spotted only by the occasional prominent brow and jaw or enlarged teeth. A small group known as the peer orcs fled to the uncharted wastes and were never seen again, presumably lost to a land with no food or water. Now, it's common knowledge that the orcs were once fay, who came to this world, historically reserved for humans, to flee the oppression at the hands of the fay lords. Resources were scarce, and so they immediately went to war with the elves and dwarves, raiding for supplies. It is likely their leader was a powerful fay named Grumpsh. This account has been disputed by the fay themselves, who have no record of anyone named Grumpsh, or even of orcs, and there is no fae magic or heritage detectable in their bloodline today. In recent times, a new theory has emerged that the orcs were an alchemical experiment by a fae who adopted grooms as a kind of guise, and that perhaps they were once human. This is a theory at least collaborated by the ease with which Orcs and humans were able to intermingle and produce offspring. The Orc blooded are not rare, but their ancestry has left them with a legacy to overcome. And as such, many have joined the faith with the greatest fervor. We are the learned here, apprentices. And our embracing of this people is a testament to the ability to reclaim orcs from the vile experimentation that was thrust upon them. We saved the orcs in a sad but necessary way. It is our duty, as those who know the history to continue to help them thrive. And someday they'll be indistinguishable from anyone else. Now, back to work it well, apprentices. [01:24:37] This is it. [01:24:39] I reach the end of another chapter of my long life. I have given you magic and knowledge, but now I must go. But as I go, I must give you a last bit of wisdom. History and religion are intertwined into such a knot. They will never untwist. But history is only storytelling. The story is written by victors in an endless struggle of an endless variety. It is this conversation that gave us magic, but also gave us war. It gave us truth in a world where none was to be had. But it led us to fight each other endlessly. The more you learn, the more you will realize that all the creatures of this world are too complex to be captured in any story. In any truth, there was never any truth. Only a great quest for meaning. I taught you where the conversation lies today. I told you it was the truth. But truth is itself just a story with another name, limited by the perceptions of humanity and the twists and turns of our wild souls. And the gods are no exception. So I leave you with one last story. [01:26:03] When sister truth was born, she created human laws. [01:26:08] Those laws arranged the chaotic masses of humanity into order such that the world itself could be tamed. But the green man cannot ever truly be tamed. And so Sister truth came to a tumultuous relationship with her grandfather. The two quarrel endlessly, as if every word they use means something different from God to goddess. The other gods began to fret that this struggle would unmake the world someday. An immovable object in Sister truth against an unstoppable force in the green man. Life and death, of course, knew no boundaries. But brother ambition sided with sister truth, threatening the balance. [01:26:53] Many gods tried to restore peace in the family in their own ways. [01:26:59] The luminous one split her magic evenly between mortal man and the wilds. The radiant one led humanity to preserve the beauty of the world it inhabited. [01:27:11] Divine hammer would build walls around cities. And then leave paths for the animals and parks for them to live. [01:27:19] Compromises each slowly easing the tension. [01:27:26] But of all, it was the mask who finally found the lasting peace between the goddess of civilization and the God of the wilds. The mask, the God of youth and rebellion. [01:27:40] Realized that each creature had the capacity for both nature and law. And in a world set on structure, there is no finer rebellion than returning to the wild ways and the ancient wisdoms. [01:27:57] The mask declared the seas, the skies and the storms to be the truest form of rebellion. [01:28:07] That they would never be tamed. [01:28:11] So wild would be the sea. That civilization could never truly touch it. [01:28:18] Even uncompromising sister truth agreed with this fact. [01:28:24] And enshrined in her sacred laws of man. [01:28:29] The laws of the sea and other wild places to be followed when her true law fails. [01:28:37] And this contrition to the green man settled the dispute. And the gods were at ease. [01:28:46] You see, the meaning is created by the story. [01:28:52] From the chaos, this brought even the gods and their great deeds and great powers to peace. [01:29:00] The story is perhaps not the truth. [01:29:04] But the meaning it created was a truth. [01:29:08] A truth that people and gods could use to preserve their lives in the face of great things and wild places. [01:29:19] I go now into wild places. [01:29:22] And I have left you with a truth. [01:29:27] Do not mistake it for the truth. [01:29:33] Goodbye, apprentices.

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