Mýty a Legendy z Lineage II časť 2

27. září 2009 v 0:06 | GrandMaster_JAX |  PC Hry
The stranger looked up, his latest story completed.

The tale was different from any we had heard, yet strangely familiar. The beautiful elven maiden in our company sat quiet, tears brimming in her eyes.

The night had deepened as the stranger spoke and now the cries of wild creatures were nowhere to be heard. The wind had ceased to rustle the tree branches overhead, and even the water flowing in the nearby stream seemed muted and soft. Only the sound of our breathing and the crackling of the burning campfire rang out through the night. It seemed as if all nature around us held its breath to listen close to the story told by the campfire.

We leaned in close as the stranger, clearing his throat with a low rumbling cough, began again.

"So. Is it not ironic that the lowest creatures of all, the humans, ultimately attained ownership of the land? But that is the result of human will. Even the gods did not imagine that humans would ever become rulers of the earth.

"Now, I will tell you the tale of the most brilliant human kingdom that ever existed. This is the story of the humans who walked the same path as the giants."

During the long battles against the orcs and elves, the humans began to form primitive kingdoms among their numbers. The central group was composed of the Athena clan and humans skilled in magic. They protected their numbers with their power, kept order through threats, and occasionally became involved in small and large battles.

Order was resolved quickly when the Athena leader, Shuniman, united the regions currently known as Aden and Elmore. He called his kingdom Elmoreden and enthroned himself as emperor. The tree branch crown adorning the brow of his ancestors became a gold crown with glittering jewels to set upon his brow. He became known as a presence nearly equal to the gods in the lore of his followers.

Emperor Shuniman worried over the life limitation of the humans. The fact that Gran Kain, god of death and destruction, was their creator gave the humans an inferiority complex. Additionally, the tales that they were created from the leftovers of other races was deeply humiliating to these new rulers of the land. For their new kingdom, they needed a new myth; a new history that would prove them noble beings.

Eventually, and through large-scale religious reform, Shuniman made Einhasad the goddess of humans instead of Gran Kain. Myth and history were changed and those practicing black magic, as well as the followers of Gran Kain, were persecuted. The religious reform continued for generations and eventually all humans believed that Einhasad, the goddess of good, was their creator and Gran Kain was simply the god of evil. When learning of this, Gran Kain laughed in acceptance.

"Even if they do not serve me, I will not be angered. But foolish humans, no matter how you try to cover the sky with your hands -- is the sky truly smaller than your grasp?"

While Emperor Shuniman and the Elmoreden kingdom grew and prospered, the Gracia region across the sea still rumbled with turmoil. The geography of Gracia was varied and dangerous and while many human groups battled for control, no strong power had emerged to unify the government. Small kingdoms dotted the landscape, claiming parcels of land as their own and conducting minor skirmishes and greater battles as they struggled for dominance.

The day came when Elmoreden's strong army invaded the land through the western sea bridge and the kingdoms of Gracia were forced to ally in their own defense. Much of the land's royalty and aristocracy were slain in the process. The surviving aristocracy grew in power. In the end, the Elmoreden invasion was repelled, yet it served to create a foundation for a unified kingdom of Gracia. This kingdom was named Perios.

Thereafter, Perios and Elmoreden became locked in an ongoing struggle for domination. Elmoreden, which had first established a unified kingdom and possessed great military power, was far superior. But Perios had advantages of its own. First, the sea separating the kingdoms limited Elmoreden's pathways to attack. Also of great importance, the people of Perios possessed powerful relics left behind by the giants that could be used to their military advantage.

Even with their overwhelming might, in the end the military of the Elmoreden kingdom could not conquer Perios.

The kingdom of Elmoreden was home to the Ivory Tower, an institution for learning magic. The mages working within the Ivory Tower labored to recover, study, and improve upon the magic of the ancient giants. The magical prowess of the tower's scholars was great, and at one time their influence in the kingdom was near that of the Elmoreden emperor.

Among those from the Ivory Tower was Beleth, the strongest mage of all and one of the greatest geniuses to ever walk the earth. He became obsessed with the magic of the giants and managed to acquire nearly all of their strengths. But the power of the giants was a cursed power unfit for humans, and having attained it, Beleth's ambition and thirst for control grew rampant. Alarmed, the kingdom and the mages of the Ivory Tower combined forces to rid themselves of Beleth. But Beleth held extreme strength and power in the dark arts.

Finally, the Ivory Tower magicians used forbidden black magic to succeed in suppressing Beleth's powers just enough to trap and seal him in the dungeons below the tower. Yet despite the knights and magician's guarding the seal, Beleth succeeded in breaking the seal and escaping. He fled to Hellbound Island to recover his strength and continue in his ambition to conquer the land.

The black magic cast to trap Beleth had another lasting effect. The southern portions of the region now known as Gludio were laid waste by the black magic, and many humans were killed when the spells were cast. The kingdom blamed this on Beleth and spread the word that Beleth was a devil among men.

A great change occurred in the Elven woods around this time. Having lost control of the continent to the Humans, the Elves gradually lost their confidence. They all but forgot their ambition to rule the land and became content with their peaceful lives in the woods.

There was a group known as Brown Elves who were dissatisfied with the complacency of the Elves. Possessed of a strong ambitious streak, they insisted that battle with the Humans must continue - even if it meant the use of banned black magic. However, this stance met with violent opposition from the other Elves.

During this time, a Human magician appeared among the Brown Elves and, approaching their leader, spoke.

"King of the Brown Elves - you desire power. But the weak Tree Elves and their supporters fear you attaining the great power you deserve. They only worry about whether you will attack them or bring on even greater plague by provoking the Humans. It is those weak thoughts that have created the current weakness in the Elven race."

The Brown Elven leader responded warily, "Who are you, Human magician? What goal do you have to fool us?"

"My name is Dasparion and I am a mere magician. But I possess the strength that you desire. I can help you acquire your ambitions in return you must give to me that which I desire."

"That which you desire? And what may that be?"

"Your youth. The secret to eternal life." A slight smile touched the corners of Dasparion's mouth. "Though I may be skilled in magic, I am still Human and my lifespan is not even one hundred years. So, King of the Brown Elves, what is your decision? We can help each other attain what we desire."

Seduced by the powers of the black magic that Dasparion possessed, the Brown Elves accepted his proposition and learned the dark arts under his tutelage. Dasparion in turn acquired the knowledge of immortality and left the woods satisfied.

Learning of these events, the Elves banished the Brown Elves, who had abandoned Einhasad and came to follow Gran Kain. A battle ensued among all Elves. The Brown Elves, acting on a plot of Dasparion's, used a deadly spell to annihilate the Tree Elves. But the Tree Elves, with their dying breath, laid a curse upon the Brown Elves. The curse rotted the woods of the Brown Elves and they became a race of darkness. Thereafter, Brown Elves were known as Dark Elves.

The golden age of Elmoreden came about a thousand years after its establishment, during the reign of Emperor Baium. With great charisma and leadership skills, Baium created the strongest army in the history of the kingdom. This army drove the orcs, who had considerable influence in the northern parts of Elmore, into the black woods, known later as the Orc Kingdom. In addition, Baium's army led repeated attacks against the kingdom of Perios, and eventually occupied the southern parts of Gracia.

In his later years, Baium lost interest in conquests and used his kingdom's forces to begin construction of an elaborate tower rising into the clouds.

"My name inspires fear in every corner of the continent. Tens of thousands of lives can be lost or saved by the movement of my hand. My power is absolute. That I can only have this power for a few decades, I cannot bear! No -- I shall obtain everlasting life from the gods and rule my kingdom forever!"

The magnificent tower of Baium's design took thirty years to construct. He intended to use the tower to climb to the residence of the gods and obtain the secret of everlasting life. When he climbed the tower, the gods objected to his plans and gave him this response:

"Child of lowly humans, and a lowly human yourself: You dare to soil our abode for your own everlasting life? Have you learned nothing from the lesson of the giants? Very well, if eternal life is what you desire, we shall grant you your request. But you shall never leave your tower."

Having brought the fury of the gods upon himself, Baium was trapped for all eternity at the top of his tower. After the sudden disappearance of the emperor, a fierce competition broke out among members of the royal family as each vied for ascension to the throne. Numerous aristocrats also seized the opportunity to stake their claim to the throne, leaving the entire kingdom of Elmoreden enmeshed in internal conflict. The costs and labor requirements for construction of the tower had already weakened the kingdom. The added conflict and backbiting over the vacant throne was the last straw. The resplendent kingdom of Elmoreden, powerful on the continent for more than a thousand years fell into rapid decline. Within a mere twenty years, the kingdom was in shambles.

The story, traded for a meal and a warm fire, continued to unfold in an unpleasant direction. We did not know the identity of this stranger, nor did we know why he was telling us these tales. Yet we listened, a captive audience, unable to look away or move as if an unseen force kept us pinned to our seats.

The man acted as if we were not even there. He gathered dry twigs and tinder from around his feet and tossed them into the dying fire. The flames, which had nearly died out, blazed up with a renewed vigor. The man did not even glance in our direction as he began to speak again.

"My tale is now nearly at an end. The story which I am about to tell is a familiar one - that of the power struggle of the Humans which continues to this very day. This is the story of the continent after the fall of Elmoreden."

While the demise of Elmoreden worked to slow the fall of the Perios kingdom, nothing could stop the oncoming plagues from the Gracia regions to the south, nor the devastating cold that swept through from the north. Like Elmoreden before her, Perios disappeared into the dusty tomes of history.

After the fall of these once-great kingdoms, the land was embroiled in a horrific turmoil, and the dark times evoked memories of the aftermath of the Great Plague. The Human aristocracy fought amongst each other for supremacy and some even granted lands to non-humans in exchange for military might. The Orcs seized this opportunity and gaining a foothold, brought their strength to bear. Reorganizing their armies, the Orcs once again waged their campaign to dominate the continent. Their armies were mighty and they soon occupied the northern parts of Elmore, but fighting between the noble orcs and the lowly orcs weakened their power.

Amidst the conflicts, the Elves could do nothing but fight for their own lives in the endless battle against their Dark brethren. And the Dwarves were no match for the rampaging Orcish army and were easily pushed aside.

In this time, a dominant Human faction emerged, known as the Elmore kingdom. Their claim to be direct descendents of the Elmoreden emperor, whether truth or myth, was widely accepted, for they had the truth of strength and the truth of steel behind their words. The Elmore army clashed with the Orcish army over many terrific battles. The war waged on for many years, costing each side heavily. The armies were evenly matched, for although the Humans outnumbered their enemy, the sheer strength of the mighty Orcish army made for a formidable foe. In the end, however, badly defeated, the Orcs were again driven back to their own lands to bide their time and plot their vengeance. As for the Dwarves, what few remained were banished from the Human continent into the depths of the Spine Mountains.

With its now diminished military force, the Elmore army finally gained control of all the northern lands and marched south in the quest to reunite the continent under the Elmore flag. But unification of the divided continent was not to be. The Oren, the most powerful of the southern kingdoms, fended off the invading army with their strong magicians and well-trained soldiers, and the Elmore could not match the ferocity of an army out to defend its land.

The various southern kingdoms prospered under the protection of Oren and together began to take the form of a nation. These kingdoms maintained balance amongst themselves, and grew strong and prosperous.

The many wars lasted through numerous generations, and out of the chaos, Gracia became the first to thread together the strands of unity. A man called Paris, with his military prowess and tremendous strength brought glory to his people, winning many battles and claiming lands in the name of Beheim.

Paris achieved legendary status when he and his army faced off against the vicious highlanders of Quaser. In a desperate fight against Tor, Quaser's mightiest warrior, Paris struck a decisive wound. Having never before lost a fight, legend has it that the wounded Tor uttered, "Can you really be Human? Such strength, such speed!"

Standing before his enemy, Paris looked out over the battlefield and replied, "I desire that much to unify this land... Brave warrior of the North, pledge me your loyalty, and together we shall conquer all who oppose us."

Thus Paris led the White Hawk Knights, the Wind Knights, and now the newly allied highlanders across the lands of Gracia and achieved many military victories. The lands of Beheim swelled to more than five times its original borders, and as for Paris, he staged an uprising against the royalty and ascended the throne.

Meanwhile, the southern lands were also bursting with activity and many were concerned with news of the turbulent tidings from Gracia and Elmore. A charismatic leader named Raoul appeared, and led his own campaign to amass a personal force under his flag. A fiery speaker, Raoul defeated those who opposed him not with weapons but with words. One of his speeches usually went like this:

"Lords of the land! Do you not see what is happening beyond our borders? Formidable enemies march down on us as we speak! The kingdom of Elmore has long sought our wealth and our lands and is only waiting for the right time to strike. If the Gracia region across the sea should also decide to move, we will be overrun! There is no other option than to join our armies together under one flag and to prepare for war."

Raoul used persuasion to steadily tie the southern lands together. But the perceived threat of the Elmore kingdom was not as great as it appeared, as they were too busy dealing with the mass uprising of the orcs to focus any attention on Aden.

Nonetheless, Raoul first combined forces with his loyal ally Innadril, and together these lands established the kingdom of Aden. Unlike Paris, Raoul waged a bloodless campaign and he easily progressed west to acquire Giran and Dion.

It was in Oren that Raoul first met upon resistance to his plan. Oren claimed itself to be the leader of the southern lands and did not accept any leader other than their own. Eventually, the two kingdoms came to blows, but the Aden kingdom maneuvered a remarkable victory. The Gludio kingdom, witnesses to the might of the Aden army, voluntarily chose to ally itself with Aden, completing Aden's unification. Thereafter, Raoul became known as the Unification King.

Soon after the unification of Aden, Gracia solidified its own lands when the last remaining opposition, the Hwuh, fell into the hands of Paris. Paris moved the capital to Arpenino and reorganized his kingdom's structure.

Newly powerful Aden proved themselves a force to be reckoned with in their successful defense against Elmore's advance. However, a new page was turned in Aden's history when tragedy struck Aden with the sudden death of Raoul. Sensing the moment to strike, Elmore repeatedly invaded into the northern lands of Aden. Raoul's successor, Trabis was able to fend off the invaders, but he soon passed away from a mysterious illness. The next in line for the throne was a sixteen-year-old boy named Amadeo.

Upon hearing the news, Paris exclaimed, "The heavens are aiding our Gracia kingdom! A sixteen-year-old king? That will be the downfall of the Aden kingdom!"

But Paris gravely underestimated the young Amadeo. The boy king succeeded in brilliantly defending a large-scale Elmore attack and Paris sensed his opportunity to conquer Aden was slipping away. Ignoring the advice of all, including his trusted right hand man Dillios, Paris launched a massive attack on Aden by land and sea.

The results were disastrous.

Asteir, the ousted king of Elmore, had joined forces with Aden, his father's long time enemy.

"Have you no shame? You should fall on your own sword for standing at the side of your father's enemy!" shouted Paris in anger.

Asteir brushed off the comment and replied, "The cub can be taken care of later, but for now you are my main prey."

The battle of Giran proved to be the turning point in the war, and the Gracian troops, beaten and demoralized, retreated to their own lands. The failure of the Aden invasion left a deep wound in Paris's pride, for he had never known defeat. Eventually, Paris became ill and died soon after.

The Gracian heir was a frail man named Carnaria, whom many deemed unfit to rule the kingdom. In opposition, Cucarus challenged Carnaria's claim to the throne. Backed by Paris's once-trusted advisor Dillios, Cucarus gained popularity with the Gracian people, and he and Carnaria split the kingdom into two factions. North and South Gracia became bitter enemies and their struggle would consume all their energies.

This was the best news for Amadeo, and he used the break in fighting to strengthen the Aden kingdom. Through his efforts, Aden, Elmore and Gracia entered into a peace treaty and an uneasy age of peace came to pass.

When the man had finished his story, light had begun to creep into the dark sky. The long night had passed and dawn was coming. Nothing remained of the fire but smoldering ash. The storyteller lit his pipe once again, and took a contemplative puff.

"So my story comes to an end for now. As time passes, maybe the story will continue? Who knows, perhaps someday your names will be in my story?"

The morning sunlight came creeping forth and I could sense an urgency that a significant event was passing me by. It took an effort to find my voice, and I dared to ask, "Who are you? Why do you tell us these stories and, and how do you know them all?"

The man wordlessly rose to his feet. As he stood up, he was growing in size! He seemed a normal man while sitting, but now he was a giant, almost twenty feet tall - casting a shadow over the entire party. His features remained indistinguishable beneath his hooded cloak. Then slowly, subtly, he began to disappear! I can only describe it now as a withering away at the edges, and then suddenly in a gust of wind, he was gone like so much dust.

He did not tell us anything at the time, but now I think I know who he was. Disguising himself to tell histories to the races of the world was exactly the sort of act that would appeal to one who had existed since the beginning of the world. Perhaps even to the one who had created humankind?

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