Medievia Mudslinger

November 29, 2004

Blades of War- Prologue

Below is the prologue to Excrucior's novel Blades of War. To purchase the book visit Xlibris.com.

There are few who would dare to deny the power of the Book of Faith. Though I am not an outwardly religious person, I appreciate the majesty of its content. Our history is contained in its pages, and - if you look closely - you can see the future. Only in the vaguest terms, I must caution you, before fortune hunters seek my doorway yet again, but the future is there. I would advise everyone to read the Book of Faith, or to listen to the sermons in the temples. They are wonderful guides to what and who we are.

The Story of Arrival, for instance, details how we came to Medievia from distant lands, brought here by the gods. Over five millennia have passed since this momentous event, and the diverse cultures the gods brought have evolved into current Medievian society.

The Story of the Purging - such a great cataclysm of destruction. I occasionally think about how lives - our lives - emerged from the deaths of others. It was ever thus, and it shall be so until the end of time. The gods cleared the way for us, their people, with the aid of the enigmatic World Spirit. They left us the lands of Medievia. At least once every moon, my dreams contemplate what the Purging must have been like - a fearsome spectacle of death and destruction. Brilliant and deadly, it cleansed a world. I wake at such times, coated in sweat, as I see what the gods once wrought.

The Story of Building is also fascinating, for it details the efforts to which the gods directed us, including the manufacture and raising of Castle Medievia. I can only think wryly of those who deny the truth of such tales, for from my perch here in the clouds, I can look down from the proof. A castle raised into the air by magics that even I would not attempt to understand? No one dares to challenge my skills in the Discipline of Magic, yet even now some skeptics refuse to believe in the gods.

The Story of Life and Rebirth hints at what we are. Puppets of the gods, or servants - it makes no difference, but we travel this life and attempt to be the best that we can. Should we fail, we are promised life once more to try again. It is one of the central mysteries of the temples, mysteries only the gods can understand. We are promised a return to life, but is it a boon or a curse? Don't ask such questions of me, for I have a different perspective on the matter.

The Disciplines, though. Now there is a story to thrill the heart. Lovingly told in ancient grammar and language, the Story of the Disciplines tells us how the gods pushed back the beasts of the wilderness. We were sore beset by the creatures that survived the Purging, and the gods took the battle to them. Our bravest joined with the gods to fight, and even now, I can see that spirit in the youth of today.

We fell in great numbers, but the gods took heed and asked us why we fought alongside them. Our race has ever been curious - some would say that I am one of the most curious of all - and the gods agreed to teach us the ways of battle. In time, the knowledge became known as the Discipline of War.

Ranks of fresh-faced young men and women formed bands, and they fought the beasts, banishing them to the depths of the wilderness. I can imagine the celebrations only in my more pleasant dreams, for the gods walked among us then. Peace came, and with it, some of us grew lax. Fortunately, many held to the Discipline of War and perpetuated its tenets.

In time, the beasts of the wilderness came once more, but this time in greater numbers. They had stayed their hands - perhaps paws would have been a better word - as their numbers grew, and many of us fell before them. The gods led our forces in mighty battles, but as it ever was, we demanded more knowledge. To the craftiest, the gods gave the knowledge of the Discipline of Stealth. With our new abilities, we took the battle into the depths of the wilderness, scouting ahead and knowing the foe better than they knew us. The creatures dispersed once more, and we rejoiced.

We fell under siege again. The Book of Faith does not give exact times of the calm between the incursions, but we can assume several generations. The gods did not give the knowledge of Magic lightly, for my Discipline is dangerous to the unwary or the careless. Many died in learning its ways, but with the assistance of our control of the elements, we pushed the beasts back to the forsaken depths of Medievia.

We had power, and we reveled in it. I see this repeated these days, and I mourn for the people of Medievia. I cannot truly count myself as one of their number any longer, and I remain apart from them in my lofty domain.

Matters were worse in the old days. The Disciplines were used against friend and foe alike, for many sought dominance over their fellows. Siblings fought, and families died. For centuries, the wars laid waste to tracts of the wilderness.

The gods saw all, and they brought us three last gifts, for their wisdom is as legendary as their wrath. First, they gave us the Minds, binding the souls and lives of the willing to them. The clans thus formed carved out their territories in the wilderness, able to work together more closely than any of the Free.

The second gift was that of the Discipline of Faith. The gods took the wisest to one side and taught them prayers to heal and cure, but they also gave prayers to punish and destroy. I see the congregations in the temples even now, and I know that Faith is a binding force. Many of the temples we use today were erected in those early days, and all are monuments to the enduring power of Faith.

Last of all, they gave us the gift of a challenge - and the ultimate prize. Anyone who could meet the gods' standards in any Discipline would be named a Master. Those who demanded testing would face rigorous challenges at the risk of their lives, but the survivors would be reborn and strengthened. Any person who faced and survived the tests for mastery of all Disciplines would receive the rank of Hero.

The first Masters were recognized by the gods in those early days, but many fell in youth's desperate rush to gain glory. Other sources from the time suggest that it took nearly a century before the first Heroes attained their rank. As these first Heroes strode among us, the gods took their leave of the people of Medievia. They brought Godshome Mountain up from the living rock of Medievia. Those lofty peaks, lost in clouds, are now their domain. Those who venture there never return, but the gods descend on occasion to test those who request recognition.

Ah, such a prize it is to be a Hero. It is more than being the best of the best, for the gods grant everlasting youth to those who achieve the rank. Age does not visit them, and I often gaze upon them with envy. Allow me some self-pity, for I was also ... blessed by the gods in this way. Heroes die, often in blazes of glory, but not I. Some days, I wonder if the gods will ever allow me to rest.

-Marious, Eternal Wizard of Castle Medievia

From Ruminations on the Book of Faith

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