There are many things to be seen in
Temuair that can take an Aisling's breath away. Seeing for the
first time the sheer height of the rock-cliff faces cut into
the earth at the Pravat caves can be for many a humbling experience.
The golden red sunsets off the edge of the sea to the west of
Suomi, as the dying light of Danaan gives fire to Deoch and
birth to the moon, Glioca, can be such an experience of godliness
that priests have been known to faint at the glory of it. The
pounding, chilled surf that pummels Mileth's seaboard is shocking
evidence of the harmony of nature, for as the sea crashes upon
the cliffs, tiny baby sea birds sit dry and content in their
nests only inches out of harm's way. The glory of Aisling magic
is a sight to behold, for what other force could summon forth
earth to smote a foe?
It is indisputable, however, that there
is one Aisling-made sight which towers above all others in its
awe-inspiring glory. That sight alone is the Hy-brasyl Warrior.
Whether she strides down the muddy streets of Mileth, clatters
on the pavements of Rucesion, or pads down the halls of Castle
Loures, all stop to turn and behold her beauty, glittering in
her finery, platemail gleaming, each finger delicately wrapped
in gauntlets as perfectly fitted to her as lamb's skin. Every
part of her body is carefully shielded in this rarest of materials,
an impenetrable as a castle herself. And yet.
Warriors were not present during the
rise, or fall, of Hy-Brasyl. It was only seventy years after
Hy-brasyl drowned that the first warriors came to be. And yet,
there are no Hy-brasyl staves or Hy-brasyl necklaces to assist
in the casting of magic. Even ordinary leather belts are more
suited to priests and wizards than those of Hy-brasyl materials,
while gauntlets and greaves are of course better suited for
the warriors of the Earth-Sea. Why have these vestments and
armors, shields, helmets, and also those legendary swords and
axes been given to the warrior's path and not those of the magicians,
the priests and wizards?
It is this rogue's opinion that the
armors of Hy-Brasyl are smithed from the smelted remains of
those elusive Hy-Brasyl fragments, which are almost always found
in the ancient Kasmanium mines south of Mileth. (The gauntlets
and greaves are like all magically imbued items; they are the
dying rewards of the dubhaimid, items taken from those warriors
long acquainted with the icy darkness of Chadul's realm.) So
what, then, makes up these fragments?
"Who could regret the golden streets,
towers, or unspoiled fruits and meats," quotes the Seancheas
Temuair. When I asked Leo, Piet's Jeweler, where he gets the
gold for his fine strong earrings, he said that gold was the
color of Hy-Brasyl, and that all fine metals and stones came
from the Kasmanium mountain range, the same mountains into which
the Pravat caves are carved. Historians and creag wizards have
told me that the earth in the Kasmanium range is very old, and
the huge smooth bouders which lay on the edges of the cliffs
were worn smooth by the power of ard sal, the most powerful
It is entirely possible, then, that these
rocks, as well as the minerals and gems within them, were washed
down from the north and Hy-Brasyl, which is speculated to have
been located in the area currently known as Abel. Hy-Brasyl,
upon testing from the finest athar wizards of the land (air
being, of course, the element of metals) is said to be mostly
made up of gold, but also contains powerful magical vibrations
unlike anything ever experienced before. Additionally, the gem
contains fine fragments of a clear yellow stone known only as
the true gem of Hy-Brasyl. The fragments which are found are
an alloy, an unnatural mixing of metal and gem. Some magnanimous
wizards I spoke to refused to touch the fragments, so strong
was the resonance of magic even from several paces away. Finally,
a master stonesmith confirmed for me what I had already suspected.
He said that the particular fragment of Hy-Brasyl that I'd acquired
had been a part of the upper tiling of a circular roof -- the
golden towers of Hy-Brasyl.
But why warriors? Why not use this enchanted
gold for a priest's purpose, or a wizard's? Why would the ancient
people of Hy-Brasyl create these golden gauntlets and horrific
axes if they knew no war? Certainly it was not to cut down trees.
- - - - -
I lay back against the old weeping willow
tree, looking out over the edge of the river. Often I retreated
to the forests between the Castle Dubhaimid and Rucesion to
write, but this is the first time I'd chosen such a formal topic.
I sighed softly, pulling one bare leg closer, crossing my booted
feet beneath me. I sighed and put aside my writing book, an
easier to handle canvas, I found, than the great heavy scrolls
so favored by the traditional scholars.
The wind blew across the bay from Piet,
hot and steeped in humidity from the fetid swamps. The hanging
leaves of the willow bowed and danced in the soft breeze, whispering
in the afternoon, shifting like a widow's veil. I reached for
a baguette, chewing thoughtfully a moment before turning again
to my pack. Leaning over to hook a finger over the edge of the
worn leather sack, I tugged it closer. Sometimes the quiet tranquility
of polishing gems helps to clear my mind of these sudden lapses
Gems spilled out across the grass around
me, glittering a moment before disappearing in the soft blades
of emerald. Cursing softly, I sat up and leaned towards the
pack, rump high in the air as I nosed for the precious stones.
I gathered the bright rubies and corals quickly, looking for
the yellow beryl between the pebbles closer to the river's edge.
There, a flash in the riverbed! I reached out for the glittering
golden orb, realizing as I did that a fragment of Hy-brasyl
must have escaped from my pack. I reached my hand towards the
gem, my fingers closing tightly around the polished golden surface.
... I stood upon a golden terrace,
my gaze swirling dizzily. I shook my head to try to clear my
eyes of the blue mist, but quickly realized that could not be
done with a simple gesture. I slowed my movements, staring suddenly
at the vista before me. It was nearing sunset, the golden towers
ablaze with light and glittering gems. Gems, everywhere, a city
of them, studding the golden towers. Their flat surfaces were
many-faceted and utterly perfect, clear and gleaming prisms
of color, casting rainbows onto the windows of adjoining buildings.
Before me stood the civilization of Hy-Brasyl.
My blue eyes grew wide to behold
the sight. I could see others on terraces like this one, magicians
and wizards and sorcerers calling down the elements from the
heavens with power like I'd never before beheld. Lightning of
pink and blue streaked across the skies from the ends of gem-tipped
staffs, while wind whipped through the towers at a fantastic
speed, carrying off the enormous summoned flames. These were
the final moments of Hy-Brasyl.
I closed my eyes for a long moment,
then, turning, turned my eyes to the sea. In the distance, I
could see the wave coming. Through the darkened rainclouds and
the lightning and the whirling tornado of flame, I could see
it coming, higher already than the highest tower upon which
the sal wizards gathered, their robes drenched and their eyes,
I could see, even from here, bright with madness as their magic
Desperately, I stepped off of the
terrace and into the room. I stopped, suddenly, shocked to find
myself in flowing white robes, instead of my comfortable corsette.
I realized, then, too, that the orb of Hy-brasyl, the same fragment
which I remembered. from somewhere. hung around my neck in an
ornate golden amulet. It was beautiful, covered in runes and
delicate carvings of fruit and complicated knots. Regretfully,
I turned my gaze to all that around me, realizing for the first
time that I was not alone. Other young women filled the room,
upon their knees and crying to the gods. They were dressed just
like myself, but without the same golden amulet. Candles and
scrolls filled the room. I ran to one and let my eyes roam over
it, trying desperately to make out the ancient words of the
elders, words which I had never truly studied.
"Kadath. Fiosachd.cast out.
Aosda.wanders." With a gasp, I realized that this could
be the story every worshipper died for, the truth about what
led to the god being exiled from the earthly home of the gods.
I felt a rumble beneath me, feeling the power of creag for the
first time. Small trinkets and candles toppled from shelves,
alighting wax upon the floor, fire creeping up the purple curtains.
A deluge began upon the tower's roof, the sky went dim. The
water was coming.
With unforseen clarity, I realized
that I stood in a room with the pure priests, those who refused
to entreaty the otherworldly gods of Kadath. I dropped to my
knees and managed only to cry out ancient Fiosachd's name before
the wave struck....
Spluttering and coughing, I pulled my
head from the water, gasping for breath. I shook my ponytail
out of my face and opened my eyes, shocked to find myself sitting
in the riverbed not far from Rucesion's gate. I could see the
wrought-iron fence from where I knelt. My corsette was soaked,
my knees badly scraped from the rocks of the riverbed. In my
hand, I clutched the orb of Hy-brasyl. I stood, shaking slightly.
I whirled at a huge crash and splash
beside me, my mind flashing to the collapsing towers of Hy-brasyl.
Instead I came face to face with an indignant warrior covered
in mud. Behind him, dry as can be, the other members of his
party, a priest and a wizard already chanting his next round
of fas nadur, tried desperately to contain their laughter. The
warrior frowned and clumsily hefted himself up with his sword,
clumping down the path without a word. His party members followed
after, chuckling to one another.
I walked back over to my pack, which
lay disheveled but fortunately undisturbed. I sat with a sigh
and began to write.
- - - - -
One can only conclude that the elders
of Hy-Brasyl, those who had fled the Elemental Wars and escaped
the drowning of civilization as they knew it, watched as the
path of the warrior crept up, as the last of the remaining children
of Hy-Brasyl, wizened against magick, took up swords against
one another in matches of strength and skill. They surely must
have felt that this is a superior way, that the warriors of
Hy-Brasyl, weak in magic, deserved the protection of their ancient
And warriors, in their simplicity, could
not use the ancient metal for evil, nor sense the magical vibrations
that the earlier paths could. Wizards and priests, meanwhile,
knew too much already, and to arm them with the ancient ways
would be too dangerous, for never again could the elders bear
the thought of such destruction. Warriors would protect the
old ways, without ever knowing it.
- - - - -
With a sly smile, I closed my book. Let
them have their armor, their greaves and belts and gauntlets.
Let them be weighed down with vestments. The glory of Hy-Brasyl
lies not in its armor, but in the knowledge gained. I slid the
book into my pack and swung it over my shoulder before cloaking
myself in shadow and heading towards the ports, the vision of
that ancient parchment fresh in my mind's eye.
- Bren Malkier