Category Archives: World-Building

Map of Morzand

A Description of the City Anaris

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Intended for the hands of my friend Boltar, 19th archivist of the Undannekan Library in Gazbek


I greet your father and your father’s father, all those in your clan, and all those in the Undannekan Library. I hope this letter finds you in stout health. Here I beg you to get that nose of yours out of old histories and read this for a moment, as you might find it interesting. I know that you are far too busy to think about leaving the Library to see the world. That’s why I’m bringing it to you, or at least a report of it. It would be good for you to know some little about what’s around us when you start sifting through the half-burned pages you love so dear.

I write to you now from a passing room in the main hall of a township in Anaris. I know these words do make no sense to you, but I had to find a place to start. Anaris at least you must know, one of the great human cities out there in the stormlands. I’ve been here six days up to now and I do know not quite what to make of its people. Humans are usually as friendly as a drunk, but these here are generous with the little they seem to have. I’ve seen few poor so far, but neither have I found the large buildings that I know humans build. I almost think that I should have stopped at one of the other cities we passed through. In every one, I was able to stay in a quite comfortable inn and speak with the grandees. Here, friend Boltar, I sleep in someone’s spare room and I eat my meals elbow-and-elbow with everyone else.

I said the room was passing, which is either a criticism comparing it to those inns before or a sign of just how desperate this journey made me. You can choose which of these it is. The journey was utter hell. Through the Library I’d hired a human ranger as my guide, with the idea that we’d skirt the storms as best we could. He had a nose for the weather, he said. Nonsense. Twice we missed a city’s gate closing and only the generosity of the sentinels let us sleep in the dry. We were pelted by rain and hail throughout, walking always under the most forboding black clouds, jumping at every strike of lightning. And after all that, I write to you from a borrowed room where I constantly have to say that I am not yet leaving, and which is a walk of fifteen minutes from the place where I will sleep tonight.

Unlike in dear Gazbek, though, I do not think I’ll have any fear of walking past curfew in this place. They do no take care like you would without thinking, keeping a little jabber to scare off urchins, not carrying a great deal of coin, and while I’m speaking of it, I hope you still do keep that knife to hand. In Anaris, I’ve sat up through a night and found it quiet. I even saw seen the true stars once, whose majesty did no strike me until I thought about them the next night which was ceilinged by clouds. There be patrols around some buildings but none with strong arms, no sticks even that I could see. I keep my jabber with me but I find myself somehow soothed by the still air inside the bounds of their barrier.

This things may not seem trivial to you as you will know the same good bed tonight that you’ve known for a century. But though I’ve put all this down, and though you might as well read it and laugh at what a jammed gear I am, this is no what I wanted you to hear.

On the third day I had been here, I was in the town hall of this particular township (whose name is Hayan) and watched their weekly official gathering, where they aired grievances and assigned duties. That is, at least, the closest thing to it that I can say, as they did no decide in our way. The one who opened the gathering was called Ranah bet-Shahan of the Weather Circle and seemed to have the studious bearing of a wizard, but even-saying the meeting proceeded almost ignoring Ranah, with motions coming freely from the others, being discussed, agreed upon, and accepted without Ranah’s input. In fact, he spoke only three other times, and always in support of someone who had spoken. Two of these motions appeared to be favored, but the third was clearly rejected. When the meeting was done, Ranah repeated the main points of agreement where he was again interrupted and accepted that input, made sure the items were recorded, and the meeting simply dispersed.

Imagining the astonishment on your face right now has had me laughing for far too long. It’s complete chaos, is it not? Imagine any firm in Gazbek being run so haphazardly. People interrupting the tycoon? I bet you’ve dreamed no once even of talking back to the First Archivist.

I asked questions of Ranah and of some others in the city, and I was surprised at how erudite the people were. I’ve seen no nobles in this town, but I got as fruitful a discussion about the city’s politics from a farmer as I did from a member of their star-chamber, and I say that as no insult to the sitter. What they told me is close to chaos but is no the same, there is order. I will do my best to explain, but first I must tell you some history.

You are familiar with Cammelan, I am sure. One of the Last Realms and fell, like all the others, after the Breaking. Most of the humans to our south are their descendants. Cammelan was ruled by sovereigns and, when this country was shattered, many of its successors were ruled by sovereigns as well. But Cammelan did not just fall from a catastrophe of the new climate. Those great, destructive storms were actually the violent stop to a civil war which was by then on its way to ripping the realm into pieces. That war was fought between the Royalists who stood for their sovereign and the Supporters who favored their university and its high mages. In the middle of that war, there were those who fought on the side of the Royalists but who had before this decided that they would no longer be dominated by magic. They were a relatively small group then, but after the kingdom’s seat was leveled by storms, they were one of the few large and united groups of people remaining.

Mages who had been fleeing in every direction to avoid the supernatural storms came upon this band of wanderers who were being ripped at by the storms but were no discouraged. Some of these mages stopped but were told by the people that they would no accept a mage at all who did not live as an equal citizen with the rest of them. Saying this would be close to anathema for us and it was similar for the humans. Most of those mages who stopped decided to move on and build their own private bulwarks. Yet some stayed, at first only enough to fend off the winds by the night, then eventually enough that they could construct an aegis. They then founded the city of Anaris on this new almost anathema which, as you can see, still motivates its people.

Calling Anaris a city is, according to them, not exactly correct. They call Anaris a “common-hold”. It is divided into 27 townships of unequal size, which can be thought of in the same way as we have many khavans inside the dheep of Gazbek. Each township chooses a custodian of the year (or “custodian for the year”, I did no get precisely how they meant) who is responsible for the township but no having authority over it. Ranah, who I told you about, is the custodian of this year for his township of Hayan. These townships help the people of Anaris to direct their needs, but they no have importance in decision-making. The closest thing that we have are the justice legates of our khavans, but where the legate can command, the custodian can no do more than suggest and often-times the people disagree.

Decisions about governing in Anaris are decided on a city-wide basis at their star-chamber, which they call the Common Council. 40 people sit on this Common Council, each one being called a speaker (instead of sitter). I asked about what their even number meant for voting as the chamber could be locked dead when a majority is wanted. Their way of dealing with this is very strange. If a vote goes to an even split, the council will take a break for one hour in which no member is allowed to speak or communicate in any way with another, and they are no permitted to discuss the details of the matter. After that hour, they vote again. If there are three extra votes taken with no result (that is to say, on the fourth tied vote), the matter must be tabled for at least one week; in this time, the speakers can actively discuss the matter. When I asked they said that while this could, by the letter, continue on this way forever, tied votes rarely even get to the stage of being tabled.

The Common Council is quite different in other ways from our Star-Chamber as well. Whereas our chamber is for sitters to interpret situations and the old kings’-law, their Common Council actually creates new laws with every decision they come to. They have little respect for old laws except as a record of the past and mayhap as a guide in their discussion. I called this a reckless disregard for the traditions which bind any society, but the human I was speaking to pointed out that they would come to the 18th 50-year celebration of their founding in just three decades which is respectable for humans in any age and astounding now in the Ruin. And further, it seems that everyone takes heed of what the Common Council decrees, which is all any government needs.

Also, where our Star-Chamber sets everything in motion and watches over all, the Common Council is a last resort for the Anarines. The majority of their day-to-day decisions are made by discussion and voting among their circles. The circles of Anaris are broad associations of all workers of a specific professional goal throughout the city. For instance, the Clothiers’ Circle is not just made up of weavers or sewers but of those who make any sort of cloth made for wearing or decoration. Some of the city’s leather-makers, such as those who make leather for shoes, belong to this circle. Others belong to the Merchants’ Circle, which includes messengers, wagoners, and hostlers, all of whom have different needs for leather that are particular to trading and carrying but not to wearing. One leather-maker can provide materials for use in both riding and wearing if they are able, but they can only be a member of one circle and must, if it becomes a dispute, follow the decisions they agreed to in their circle. Every year, each circle elects a runner who takes responsibility for, but has no authority over, the circle. The circle’s authority comes from the votes which are taken on each matter, not for any other reason. They tell me that only the Common Council has the right to compel anyone in the common-hold to do something against their will, and even this could be challenged by the circles.

Humans in Anaris are much like humans elsewhere and tend to live in households where adult mates cohabitate, along with with their children in the first degree and with their older relations when necessary. All people above the age of childhood are given a voice in their circles, and even children have one if they are doing more than just a light share of their house’s cleaning. So saying, it is common for young adult Anarines to spend some time living in a household without children, sharing with blood siblings or non-related acquaintances in a compact which must be actively renewed every three years, though it can be concluded at any time. Marriages among the Anarines have only a religious standing and are not backed by the circles or the Common Council. For us, meeting outside of marriage is anathema. For the Anarines, it is a subject of gossip and little more. Staying married for longer than two decades is seen as a testament either to emotional compatibility or mental fortitude.

If I had not been here for even the short time I have so far, I would not ever believe that a city of humans, one fortunate enough to have an aegis, had no great institution of magic, but it is true. It must be true. I’ve seen and heard of no great school here. The Camlani were so proud of their great university, the kind of machine for producing mages which had rarely even been dreamed of. Ah, I caught myself before I spoke about how Undannekan had tried to host a university, but you are the one who told me about it. We would have thought that the human race could no abandon the idea which finally gave them such glory and influence. But pushing past all that, it seems to be true.

Being no great mage myself, I cannot tell just how effective their method of teaching is, but whatever they teach has been enough to keep their city whole. They tell me that it is the circles who teach magic. There be no singular circle of mages or even two. Mages may be found in any circle. A mage of the Farmers’ Circle might focus their efforts on nurturing the harvest or calming animals, while one of the Builders may help in setting and framing a new house. There are five circles who it can be said are interested in magic above other matters: the Weather Circle (which should be self-explanatory), the Teaching Circle (which includes both teachers and scholars, of magic and otherwise), the Alchemists’ Circle (which also includes magical artisans called arcanists), the Ritual Circle (including clerics and divine casters), and the Students’ Circle (which includes young students and apprentices of magic and otherwise). Individuals are trained on the basis of mentorship, but the resources of their entire circle are always available to them.

These circles, while all important, are not equal throughout the city. Each township is its own community, connected to the others but no needing that people leave their own area for too much. In each, so saying, the number of workers of any kind will be different. This Hayan township has a large number of cold craftsfolk, so the Clothiers’ Circle and the Potters’ Circle have more influence than others, but other townships will have more farmers or smiths and so on. This does cause some community competition which comes out in little jibes and other such gnome-tricks but it no seems to rise to true enmity.

I am no giving you a complete report on these people, I know. You would read a more thorough essay in anything recorded in the Library. They will not tell you about Anaris, though, so you must make do with me for now. Mayhap you can persuade one of the elder archivists to sponsor a team and do a good twenty-year preliminary study on the humans. You might write a book that your mother would want to read for once.

I expect that I will stay in Anaris at least another week. I have by now climbed down from our mountainside and seen what there is to see, I might as well see it through. If good things are coming this season from Blessed Darrun, I await them with open arms. Remain in health and drink like I’m there with you, as I will be soon.


In Words Firm and Sincere,
44th Archivist of the Undannekan Library
Written from the Township of Hayan in the Commonhold of Anaris
In the 996th year since the Last Law was proclaimed

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Tower of Babel (top) by Pieter Bruegel

The Creation Myths of Vahea

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The four creation myths of the multiverse of Vahea — Death’s Children, the Invention of Life, the War of the Five Hells, and the Seven Mortal Ages — overlap and intersect with one another. They cannot be completely reconciled. Also, they do not explain (and sometimes contradict) observed behaviors of reality. Together, however, they explain the origins of most principal phenomena of this multiverse.

The Myth of Death’s Children

At the beginning of all things there were three people: the Person Who Was Death, the First Mother, and the Heir Beloved. Nothing else existed: not light, matter, darkness, or life. In this state of pure void and nothingness they were visited by the Great Maker. The Great Maker told them that they lived in nothingness and that something, an existence, would be more fulfilling than the void. The three original people thought this was a good idea, but Death would only agree if the Great Maker also agreed to live apart from them. They all four accepted these conditions. The Great Maker then invented reality and the multiverse, creating all things that they had lacked before, including light, matter, darkness, and life. Within reality, the Great Maker created the House of Death, where Death, the First Mother, and the Heir Beloved would live. They all four were happy with what was made.

The Great Maker wanted to have a mate then, and so they began to court the Heir Beloved, and the Maker’s advances were returned. This angered Death, who began to torment the multiverse in rage. The Great Maker and the Heir Beloved left the House of Death and traveled far away to make their own home where Death could not find them. The Great Maker made this new house more splendid than the House of Death and it was called the House of Infinite Wonders. Here, the Great Maker and the Heir Beloved had fourteen children. Their love for their children was overpowering, as was their dismay that their children did not speak the same language. The parents could not speak to the children and the children could not speak to one another.

Distressed, the Heir Beloved went to Death and the First Mother, begging for them to reveal why the Heir’s children spoke different languages. Death said that this was because the Heir and the Maker had left the House of Death despite being forbidden. Because of this, Death laid two evils upon the children. For the Heir’s sin, the children and the children’s children would never speak the same language in their hearts. For the Maker’s sin, both the Maker and the Heir would be banished from the House of Death until beyond the end of time, but their children would have to return to the House of Death after some time in life.

The Heir Beloved was bewildered and horrified. The First Mother said that these evils were the payment owed for disobeying Death’s command. However, out of the Mother’s love for the Heir, the Mother granted that seven of the Heir’s children would be spared Death’s evils: they would be able to speak the same language and converse with their parents and, though they were free to visit the House of Death when they wished, they would never be forced to come as the other seven would. Given the two evils and the grace of the Mother, the Heir departed and, to this day, has never returned.

The seven children who were spared Death’s evils became the archdivines, the greater deities and rulers of the outer planes. The seven children who remained cursed became the ancestors of the mortal races, who walked upon the material world. All were loved by the Heir Beloved and the Great Maker and would be so bonded until the end of time.

This first myth introduces the concept of death, the journey of mortal souls, the difference between divinities and mortals, and the creation of reality. The seven mortal children are sometimes taken to be the seven ages of mortal beings, but this analogy fails for several reasons, the most obvious being that the seven mortal children were created at once in this myth while the seven ages happened sequentially.

The Invention of Life

At the beginning of all things there was nothing. The Shaper of Things created all that is. It isn’t known where the Shaper of Things came from, except perhaps also from nothing. The Shaper decided that they would create matter, a thing which had weight. To make matter the Shaper first made the material elements: water, earth, wind, and fire. Combining these in endless variety, the Shaper created the universe, and in this universe lived all the deities who now had something to exist in.

Soon, every deity felt how crowded this single universe was. Each being, who could reach to infinite distances, found that wherever they might reach they ran into another. To please the deities, the Shaper of Things created other universes and the places in between universes. The deities then spread to these other places and they were content.

The contentment did not last very long. The deities who existed on different planes now could not converse. Being unbounded by time, they found that their rates of motion differed so much from one plane to another that the deities could not bring themselves into rhythm. The Shaper wondered for many eons about the solution to this problem. Then, all at once, the Shaper created a new sort of element called life. This element would weave through the material elements and animate them. By life’s motion, which could not be replicated and would hold onto its own rhythm no matter its location, the gods would be able to find one another and communicate.

The Shaper of Things returned to the original universe and there planted life. Immediately, the boundless potential of life unchecked became apparent to the Shaper. To prevent the future calamity, the Shaper created death as an opposite to life. Both were put into this universe and they began to cycle one another: life high when death was low, death high when life was low. This cycle of life became the focal concept of the multiverse, with mortal beings as reality’s meter.

This myth shows the origins of the six elements — the four material and two motive — as well as the creation of mortal beings, the reason for mortality, the creation of the planes, and the centrality of the Material Plane (identified with the original universe in which life was placed). It complicates the Death’s Children myth by saying death was a creation of another being.

The War of the Five Hells

The origin of the Elder Daemons is mysterious but, however it was, they came to reality and found it created, full of planes and beings and life. The Elder Daemons tried to stretch themselves to their utmost but found that they were prevented. They discovered that this was because the many ideas which could be conceived had already been claimed by the deities. Only the undesirable ideas such as cowardice, hatred, murder, and corruption were left unclaimed. The Elder Daemons then claimed them, ensuring that they could not be forbidden from a certain amount of freedom.

With the authority of their claimed ideas, the Elder Daemons launched violent uprisings against the deities throughout the multiverse. On five planes, their uprisings were so successful that the deities fled and the Elder Daemons claimed dominion. The deities gathered together and decided that the Elder Daemons could no longer be allowed to claim any of the ideas which made up reality. The idea of war was then conceived and swiftly claimed by the First Warrior, a deity of great purpose.

The deities, led by the First Warrior, invaded the planes of the Elder Daemons and assaulted their ancient rivals. The Elder Daemons defended themselves but could not stand firm against the deities. The deities managed to retrieve all the ideas held by the Elder Daemons, and some deities claimed them in order that the Elder Daemons couldn’t gain them again. These deities soon defected from the invasions, leaving the other deities suddenly overmatched. The host of deities fled the Elder Daemons’ planes, but as they did they created the Gate of the Hells. This Gate would prevent any being bound to the Elder Daemon planes from passing into any other plane, including the Material Plane.

Being defeated by the deities enraged the Elder Daemons. They decided that they would meet their situation with force as they had the last. To accomplish this, the Elder Daemons would need all the power they could amass. The Elder Daemons gained power by oppressing others, and the greatest power available to any was the domination of a plane. The Elder Daemons created new beings, such as the tanar’ri and baatezu races, to serve in their armies in opposing their fellows.

Until the war with the Elder Daemons, souls who were deemed unfit for entering heaven or for rebirth would simply linger forever on the Fugue Plane. The Lord of the Fugue decided instead that such souls would be banished beyond the Gate of the Hells. Those souls who, through despising the torments of the hells, came to repentance could be admitted back to the Fugue and the normal journey of the soul. The listless but unharmful life of the Fugue could never hope to convert its denizens, even those of ten thousand years. The Lord of the Fugue thought that now there was at least a chance at redeeming some.

The Elder Daemons were overjoyed at the new souls they received at first, but it was soon apparent that most of these were of no quality, not fit to be transformed into a greater sort of fiend. The necessity of testing and sorting all souls received made a great deal of work for the Elder Daemons. Any power gained was also poured back into a conflict which became known as the Blood War or the Wars Between the Fiends.

This war bloomed out of the competition between the Elder Daemons to be recognized as sole sovereign. They felt no remorse for those minions who died and were similarly unmoved by the growing strength of the successful ones. Eventually, the Elder Daemons were overthrown by the races they created. This ruined any schemes the Elder Daemons had for invading the other planes in the foreseeable future. It’s believed that all Elder Daemons have been killed by their once-servants or vanished by some other means.

Those deities who had taken the evil ideas during the War of the Five Hells began to show distasteful behaviors to their fellows. In order to escape these feelings of antipathy, the evil-claiming deities moved to the Five Hells and took up residence. Not even the greatest of archfiends could oppose these evil deities and, without the Elder Daemons, there was no power of competing authority. The celestial servants of these expatriate deities became corrupted and transform into the nephilim. The deities of the Hells do not involve themselves overmuch with the concerns of others on their planes, partly because each plane is so vast and partly because each deity is a transcendent being with simultaneous concerns in other times & dimensions. This is how the evil deities and the fiends coexist in the Five Hells, the Blood War raging while the evil deities spin wider plots.

Here is described the origin of the Five Hells and their separation from the mortal world and the Upper Planes, as well as the arrival of the Elder Daemons and their rivalry with the deities. It also reveals the origin of the Blood War and the end of the Elder Daemons.

The Seven Mortal Ages

In the first age, the first people were made, and these were the People Before Light. Their whole world was in a darkness before darkness, as the dark and the light had not yet been separated. These people moved about in a restricted life, unable to truly know what they did or to observe what their neighbors did. When the Sun came and the dark and the light were pulled apart, the People Before Light came under the Sun’s great radiance. The people could not live under this new light, so they withered and they died.

In the second age, the Brilliant People were made, people who could grow and flourish under the Sun. The Brilliant People were perfect in every way and they sang praises to the gods day and night, dark and light. They discovered magic and society. They moved across all the world and made it theirs. Then the deities and the elder daemons had their great war. The elder daemons had their many demon servants, and so the deities faced them with the Brilliant People. The elder daemons were prevented from invading the world, but the Brilliant People were destroyed.

In the third age, the Metal People were made. These people came after the war between the deities and the elder daemons, and they were made so that they could not be broken. They could not sing like the Brilliant People, but they were strong and everlasting. For years uncounted they patrolled the world and all its gates. Then one by one they stopped moving and would not move again.

In the fourth age, the Proud People were made, self-moving and self-motivating. These people drove themselves to achieve things that were not even dreamed of by their predecessors. They were as beautiful as the Brilliant People and as strong as the Metal People, and they invented intellect, expertise, and ambition. They believed that their lives were unbounded. In this endless arrogance, the Proud People listened to whispers from beyond their world and they began to build a bridge. The deities themselves stopped this, seeing the bridge by which the elder daemons would storm the world. The deities cast down the Proud People and broke all of their works.

In the fifth age, the Wooden People were made. The knowledge that they could be wounded made these people cautious, but they were still strong, and they still grew as part of their essential nature. The Wooden People communed with the world itself and became its nurturers and its children. Their age was an age of peace unending. Suddenly, a Cosmic Conflagration consumed the whole world. The world remained but the Wooden People were destroyed.

In the sixth age, the Mighty People were made. They would be able to construct the immense barriers and magical works that would protect the world from any future conflagration. They could stand against the elder daemons with full confidence. The strongest of these people would become lords over the others, and the strongest of these lords would become great tyrants. There came then a tyrant of tyrants who thought that their power was equal to the deities. In an instant, this megatyrant was thrown down and the Mighty People were driven out.

In our age, which is the seventh age, the deities made the Honest People, who are also called the Children of Fate. Unlike the earlier people who sought to protect themselves against the shape of coming years, the Honest People would not seek to alter their destiny but to flow along with it. Instead of trying to be unbreakable, and thus ultimately breaking, the Honest People would bend with pressure but remain intact. They would not attempt to resist the will of the deities, but to submit and to do what they could with what they were given.

This myth discusses the progression of mortal races. Most believe that the Proud People became the dragons, the Mighty People became the giants, and the Honest People are all the various smallfolk races. The Brilliant People are usually taken to have become the seraphs, though some believe they became the eladrin.

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Tower of Babel (top) by Pieter Bruegel

The Houses of Humanity

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The universe of Ansel Gedden’s time is dominated by the Sublime Organization, commonly known to humans as The Org. This vast multi-galactic empire is controlled by an enigmatic race called the shen and governed by their three paragon races: the military woad, clerical domos, and the technical carpenters. The twelve worlds which make up human space are a very recent and relatively minor portion of this state. They are one of the gathered races, those with no rights in the eyes of the paragons. Only gathered peoples can be sold as property, and the exotic, attractive human species has become a sought-after commodity. Their self-rule is limited; though the everyday touch of the Org is light, the immense phalanx city-ship that serves as the sector capital can wipe out any of the human planets.

There are six Houses of Humanity following from the death of their first home Earth: Mars (often Old Mars), Ibetida, Far Britain, Savane, Endeavor, and Nuevo Salvador. Each is split into around 200 provinces and each of these is independent of the others. There is no planet-wide human government on any planet except for Mars, through a special dispensation. The Org’s governors of each planet reside on the phalanx and conduct their business from there. This keeps humanity divided and prevents rebellion.

Before their subjugation by The Org, humanity was remaking itself as a spacefaring people. The Consumption of Earth killed that planet, but before it died, eleven worldships were sent out. Only five arrived and it’s from them that the outer Houses grew (Mars had already been colonized by the Consumption). It took centuries for humankind to rebuild the capability first to communicate across lightyears and then to discover fastlight travel. They were on the cusp of a true reconnection when they were set upon by The Org. The five year war which ensued is known among humans as the War of the Tears. At once, the Org crushed the religious and governmental centers of humanity, which were at that time the same.

The deliverance of that small portion of humanity out of the Consumption was regarded as a miracle by those who re-emerged on their new worlds. Soon, the descendants of those who had launched the worldships were regarded as divinely touched, worshipped as radiant and wise, and then acknowledged as the god-like Ascendants. They became the total rulers of their Houses and the center of all religion. In the War of the Tears, The Org largely annihilated the Ascendants, breaking humanity from their link from God. Only the wife of an Ascendant was spared. She took the honor of Ascendant for herself but called herself Matriarch. From that time, the Matriarchs of Ibetida have been the spiritual center for much of the human population, Ascendants in all but name.

Mars stands apart from the general story of human exodus. It was settled in ordered fashion centuries before the Consumption was irreversible. It watched, horrified, as Earth died, too small and poor to do anything but accept those refugees who could make it. As the worldships floated through space and then its people built itself up, Mars grieved. Its faith became one of constant vigil, placating the wailing ghosts of those abandoned on Earth. When the War of the Tears came to Mars, they fought but surrendered quickly. The Org’s hand fell somewhat lighter on them than on the other Houses. It is still, to the other human populations, backwards. They are still, to Marsees, naive.

The presence of Org races on human planets is minimal. The vast majority of the work done, even for The Org, is done by humans. Each province’s government is split into four circles: the Circle of Exchange, dealing with commerce and industry; Circle of Administration, for public safety, utilities, general welfare; Circle of Mediation, for trials and arbitration; and the nefarious Circle of Coordination, responsible for ensuring compliance of human populations with Org writ. It isn’t force constantly applied which keeps them in line. It’s the distant threats of phalanx bombardment and invasion by woad battleclans, as well as the memory of Tears.

The issue of slavery has always been contentious. Human governments have never permitted it; even under Org rule, slavery bills often greatly diminished a sitting government’s numbers as votes were tortured out. Instead, the Circle of Coordination has taken under its own control areas of each province which are called Freetown. Here, only the commands of Coordination (and The Org) must be respected. This has helped to create two different societies in humanity: citizens, who are bound and protected by the law, and outlaws, who can be sold as property and who can deal in slaves. Yet even though this arrangement has gone on for centuries, it has not become amenable to most of humanity.

Revolts against The Org are not uncommon but are all small and all doomed. This hasn’t yet crushed their spirit. They all wait for the fulfillment of a prophecy, spoken of by Hagia Saress the first Matriarch, that there would come a child of two Houses. Both of the Matriarchal House of Yesod and of another, a Hidden House which had escaped the full wrath of The Org and would, at the appointed time, return to create the savior of humankind.

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