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More Than Lore...
When I was a child, my grandmother told me the creation myth of how Litos came to be. I can still recall the smile that never touched her mouth as she spoke of the Goddesses Eos and Dione sculpting the world out of cosmic clay. Her thin, frail voice, like ancient parchment scraping as she described the ensuing evolution of this new world: the shaping of soil and sediment into mountains, the divine tears of joy that forged the oceans; the creation of the lesser races, and the wise, benevolent dragons charged with their care. To hear her tell it, it was a time of bliss. Nations grew. The lesser races flourished.
But the Goddesses, in the haste of their exultation, had left one of their wardens with a fatal flaw. Deep in the pit of the dragon Kharvag’s breast, a dark sentiment brooded. Avarice. He felt the warmth and happiness inhabiting the land as sure as if it were Litos’ pulsing heart. Avarice swelled in his chest and infected his brain, until he was consumed with a single thought: that such paradise should not belong to the lesser races while their superiors were relegated to glorified stewards. He unfurled his great wings and broke from confinement to rain his Avarice upon the land. The kind of Avarice that could not be bartered or reasoned with. The kind that exists solely to extinguish all light. Kharvag wanted only one thing from Litos: to watch it burn.
Or so the story goes.
The rest went much as you’d expect from such tales. To intervene in the impending collapse of their wondrous creation, Eos and Dione selected the most powerful and pure among the lesser races, and bestowed celestial blessings upon them. These they called the Dragon Knights, and with their aid the Goddesses’ children managed to overcome the dark dragon. Though untold lives were lost before all was said and done, Kharvag was ultimately defeated. In an effort to prevent such a catastrophe from recurring, the benevolent dragons separated their flawed kin’s soul from his body and sealed them away for the rest of time, sacrificing themselves in the process. Free from this threat, Litos started to heal.
And so on.
As a child, it was my favorite fable. But time passes, and the story of Eos, Dione, and the Dragon Knights became a distant childhood memory. My grandmother, too, passed, when the Dusk Plague visited our village. At her death bed, I recited the tale back to her – a shared memory about which we could both smile fondly. As I finished, she beckoned me close, too weak then to crane up, and whispered in my ear before she crossed. To this day, her words remain by my side like an unwanted shadow.
This story, she said… the story of Kharvag’s Avarice, is not yet over.
I remember wondering if there were more chapters to the saga she’d left untold. It was only years later that I came to understand the ominous portent of her final breaths. War broke out. Litos had grown fat off the prosperity so neatly explained by this myth, but still the lesser races wanted more; they became greedy and corrosive to one another. The contentment in our hearts turned to darkness, a change marked by deceit and bloodshed. The teachings of the Goddesses were forsaken. And then one day, with a deafening crack and cataclysmic tremor, a seam in the world… split. There is no other word for it. A slow leak torn asunder, from which spewed every form your nightmares have ever taken. It was then I understood that the Dusk Plague was the beginning, a harbinger of what was to come. Someone – or something – had weakened the seals restraining something terrible. It could only be one thing, though I could not bring myself to speak it.
Kharvag had returned. My grandmother’s fable was no fable at all.
But, denizens of Litos, it is no less a story, and every story needs an ending. What does one do – how does one respond – when the devil from our children’s books comes out of the shadows to claim us? Will we watch now, cower, anticipate the inevitable as our kingdoms burn and the dark dragon blights out everything we know?
Or will we fight? Rise against Kharvag and his minions, like the legends of old? Become the next generation of Dragon Knights, and drive Avarice once more from Litos, for good. The story has unfolded before you, and now enters its final act. We are no longer the lesser races; we are the only races. And how the curtain closes is up to us.