Creatures of the East
Authored by: Oberon
The descriptions of the beings to come are based upon personal recollection and a combination of details given throughout the works of others. Among those I wish to describe are shivurna, feranox, and gargoyles. Although there are many more creatures currently inhabiting the land beyond our borders in Enghor, such as dragons, cyclops, and cruorsitis, the three to be described have intimately intertwined themselves in the fabric of Friedünn’s illustrious history. I find it appropriate to begin with the most sophisticated of the three I wish to describe in this account: shivurna.
Shivurna are lean creatures of fair complexion. They are significantly taller than the average man, yet their long limbs and skinny bodies are often frail. Their hands and feet are similar to those of humans, but appear to be more stretched out. Often wearing simple tunics, these creatures are predominantly gentle, and seem to slowly glide around as they maneuver in their quiet sandals. They generally have long, thin hair atop their heads. Elder shivurna males tend to grow lengthy, grey beards as a sign of age and wisdom. This age is normally quite old, for the life span of a shivurna is much longer than that of the average human.
What makes these beings exceptional is their third eye. Located in the middle of the forehead on their elongated faces, this white eye does not “see” in the traditional sense. Its primary function is to impose thoughts into the minds of other creatures for the purposes of communication and manipulation. It is how they communicate with all. Over their lifespan, a shivurna will typically become skilled enough at implementing thoughts into others as to be able to influence lesser beings into obeying their commands. Some even possess the ability to control large groups of creatures. The better one’s skill of influence, the higher social rank one can obtain. Despite being able to control other creatures, however, they are not able to control other shivurna or humans, as only a weak mind can be swayed by this third eye.
The majority of the time, since the fall of Caelus, as discussed in my other work, A Brief History of Caelus and Enghor, the use of this influential eye comes into practice on creatures found abundantly in the Eastern Mountain Range known as feranox. Once hailing from the underworld, feranox are thought to have originated from what was left of shivurna’s souls after they were tormented for an eternity by Caelus in the underworld, for they resemble shivurna physically, but, in reality, are nothing of the like. Their bare, hairless skin is as dark as the night and, accordingly, night is the time in which they leave their mountain dwellings to hunt in the Weitwood Forest. Fully erect, feranox stand at a similar height to humans, yet they naturally hunch over like the savages they are. Like shivurna, they have long, skinny limbs. The difference, though, is that these limbs are packed with lean muscle ever ready to be utilized. In full movement, these quick and agile beasts sprint and pounce upon their prey. Their hands and feet are elongated, but function more like claws than anything else, and each individual toe and finger is a blade with the purpose of cutting down victims.
Feranox, too, have a third eye amidst their forehead, though theirs is a beady, black eye with the sole function of seeing heat. This ability to see the natural body heat of other living things is another reason they often hunt at night, and it is also why they are simply known by some as “nightwalkers.” The downside to this eye is that it is extremely sensitive, thus adding another explanation as to why feranox dwell in mountain caverns until night falls upon the land and their unsuspecting prey.
Finally, I would like to discuss another creature released from the underworld by Caelus: gargoyles. Once thought to be the gatekeepers to the underworld, these despicable beasts remain isolated in small numbers within the depths of the Eastern Mountains. Thought to be man’s version of feranox, the once servants of Caelus have bodies crossed between that of a man and a bat. Their curled up, black bodies bulge with human-like muscles, and their toes and fingers are replaced by razor-sharp claws. In the upper, mid-back, two massive wings sprout out to give these tortured, unrecognizable souls the ability of flight.
The faces of gargoyles fully epitomize that of a demon, consisting of two jagged horns atop their heads, long, pointy ears jutting out from the sides, and four inconceivably sharp fangs among their numerous serrated teeth, two amidst the top row, and two amidst the bottom. On Friedünn, they feed on the souls of the living, turning men bitten into incoherent corpses often preyed upon by feranox.
The importance of understanding these creatures, along with their relation to man, is paramount to understanding the history of Friedünn, and why the continent lives on as it currently does. Though none of the three have interfered with the likes of man for quite some time, aside from the occasional feranox assault on travelers, I suspect that, as Enghor grows, our fates may once again become entwined, be it for better or for worse.
A Brief History of Caelus and Enghor
Authored by: Oberon
In a time before great civilizations, Caelus, a sage of fire and once ruler of the underworld, reigned supreme over all of Friedünn. Breaching the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead, Caelus erupted from the sea atop his phoenix, Avideus, in a monumental explosion that formed the chain of islands north of the mainland, which is characterized by the volcano from out of which the two came forth. Reeking of death’s putrid odor, and standing larger than life, Caelus was a dark figure. His leathery skin was black, and his red veins coursed with the forgotten dignity of those whom had passed. An aura of fire surrounded him, and his yellow eyes burned with a lust for supreme power. He fed off of the suffering of the dead left in the underworld, of which there was no short supply. The phoenix he rode paralleled a dragon in size and was an entity composed of underworldly fire when enlarged. Streaks of black perfectly accompanied these flames to form a terribly majestic creature. In its normal state, the phoenix would shrink down to the size of a hawk, yet remain black with burning yellow eyes like its master. The two were one in the same; one being, yet separate. They possessed the ability to see, hear, and feel what the other saw, heard, and felt. When Caelus was strong, Avideus would be strong; when Caelus was weak, Avideus would be weak. Apart, they were powerful; united, they were nearly unstoppable.
From the volcano, Caelus flew atop Avideus to the mainland to claim the land and lives that he believed to be his. Liberating the feranox and gargoyles from the underworld he once ruled was the initial priority to achieve this, so he traversed deep into the heart of the Eastern Mountain Range to create a permanent bridge between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Upon completion, Friedünn was plunged into darkness as hundreds of feranox and gargoyles spewed from beneath. Along with the command of his army of underworldly beasts to do his bidding, Caelus used his unmatched power to call upon fire and molten rock to make short work of the human and shivurna tribes that stood in defiance. It seemed as though there were no creatures capable of thwarting the new ruler of Friedünn. The third eye of the shivurna was powerless against Caelus and his minions, and there was no gathering of man large enough to make a significant impact. In an instant, Caelus could scorch the landscape, and would do so, if any opposed his rule. A supernatural being, he used this ability to rule the land for thousands of years.
In the time before Caelus’ appearance, pockets of man and shivurna riddled the continent and roamed freely; now, all were oppressed by Caelus and his army. A light came, though, when a slave who worked closest to Caelus discovered what could be a fundamental weakness in his master. A man who went by the name of Enghor noticed that, throughout his travels with Caelus, the supreme being grew weaker the longer he was away from his origins in the volcano. Unbeknownst to Enghor, this was due to the fact that the lava within the volcano to the north was filled with tormented souls that Caelus used to replenish his strength. Nonetheless, Enghor devised a plan to overthrow the fiery beast, and let word spread; Caelus and Avideus were no longer the only entities traversing the world like wildfire. The plan was to stage a string of miniature revolts against Caelus’ faithful army to keep Caelus away from his volcanic home until he grew weak enough to defeat. Enghor would “catch word” of these uprisings and suggest to Caelus that he put them down by demonstrating his true power so that those whom opposed him would never again take up arms for fear of a blistering demise. It was a relatively crude plan, but it incited enough hope to carry out.
The uprisings took place all across Friedünn. Enghor would simply tell Caelus where he heard or speculated that problems were arising, Caelus would fly there atop Avideus as his closest servants followed on horseback, and the protestors would instigate a battle. The result was always the same: those who were revolting would put up an honorable bout against the army, but then be scorched the moment Caelus arrived, and Caelus would move on. Those killed in the early stages of the plan sacrificed themselves for what was to come. During these travels, a much larger force of man and shivurna amassed near the volcano Caelus would return to after his extended journey with Enghor and his other close servants. The force streamed in and took refuge in the rocky terrain that led to the base of the volcano. A significant force of feranox and gargoyles inhabited the singed island, but they all remained on the volcano, unaware of the counterforce forming beneath.
When Caelus’ party finally returned to the island volcano one foggy day, Caelus himself was by far the weakest Enghor had ever seen him. Avideus had taken his smaller form, as he, too, was drastically weakened. Upon landing, Caelus immediately began his lengthy walk to the volcano with Avideus perched on his shoulder, too fatigued to fly. This is when the battle for freedom began.
Thousands of soldiers ambushed Caelus from all directions. He immediately snapped out of his daze, and Avideus soared high into the sky, enlarging himself into the fiery phoenix the resistance had learned to fear. Screeching above, Avideus swooped down and created a wall of fire between the assailants and Caelus before shrinking down and returning to Caelus’ shoulder. Enghor was nearest the wall and, as the flames licked his determined face, caught the gaze of the tyrant whom merely began laughing. Caelus then picked up his right foot and shook the entire island as he stomped it down. Hundreds of feranox came charging down the side of the volcano in response, and hundreds of gargoyles blackened the sky. To this, Enghor unsheathed his sword, raised it high, and, with a mighty yell, leapt through the wall of fire with an army of his own following closely on his heels. Caelus grinned a sinister grin and shot balls of fire at the resistance while working his way backward toward the base of the volcano. Shortly thereafter, the two armies clashed, and a battle for the ages began.
Gargoyles swooped down in wave after unrelenting wave, and feranox maimed each and every soldier they could, but this did not stop the determined forces of Friedünn, and the battle for freedom persisted as dusk fell upon it. By now, the ground was painted red and black from the blood of the two enemies. Realizing the battle was in a deadlock, Caelus knelt down and bowed his head. Once again, the island began to tremble, and the forces of man and shivurna looked on in horror as Caelus raised his head, inciting the volcano to growl and thick smoke to billow from its wide mouth. He raised his black arms with his red veins brightening, and flaming rocks spat out of the volcano. Hundreds of soldiers retreated to the shore as white hot stones rained down upon them and feranox and gargoyles pursued to pick off inattentive prey. Enghor stood at the front line, astounded, moving only to slice any fowl creatures that made the fatal mistake of attacking him.
As hundreds ran for their lives away from the volcano through the dismembered bodies of their fallen comrades, hundreds more remained beside Enghor. Now, Caelus slowly rose to his feet, and magma began spewing down. Enghor stepped forward and immediately caught Caelus’ attention as he had before. He sprinted at Caelus with his sword drawn, and Caelus fully raised his arms. In a mighty explosion, fire from the deepest depths of the underworld came rushing out of the volcano. The blast leveled everybody except for Enghor, whom merely stumbled; he regained his balance and continued toward Caelus head on. Caelus reached his arms back to call upon the molten rock that was nearing them and swept his arms to the front of Enghor in an effort to bring lava beneath his feet, but Enghor dived and, with all his might, plunged his sword into the neck of Caelus. Avideus flew from Caelus’ shoulder and disappeared into the night sky as Caelus was tackled to the ground with Enghor atop him. Magma rushed around them, and now the men and shivurna whom had stood beside Enghor retreated, as did Caelus’ army.
Caelus lie motionless on the ground, and Enghor’s sword grew hot. Enghor removed the sword from the neck of his adversary and tossed the searing metal to the side. As it clanked against the ground, the body of the fiery entity began to glow bright. It glowed with the radiance of a thousand suns and melted into what was a shimmering, metallic substance that proceeded to crawl up Enghor’s arms and legs. He slowly stood, and the fluid continued upward until it encased him entirely. It then seeped into the skin of the victor whose eyes glowed bright yellow. He extended an arm and the lava flowing all around him stopped, as did Caelus’ retreating army. He clenched his open hand into a fist and all of the still magma hardened into rock; gargoyles fell from the sky, and feranox crumbled to the ground. He turned to the volcano, raised his arms, and calmed it in an instant. He then methodically walked all the way to the lip of the volcano and stared down into the bubbling liquid. A single, young shivurna who had rushed along behind him caught up and watched as Enghor waded knee deep into the lava. The volcano trembled once more, and Enghor continued in until he was waist deep. It was at this point that he paused and gradually sunk beneath the surface, leaving the lone shivurna to stand in astonishment.
Everything was still as the moon floated calmly overhead, lighting the scene. The shivurna walked to the edge where Enghor had entered and noticed bubbles emerging from the spot Enghor had gone under. In that instant, the volcano was filled with an intense, yellow light, and a beam shot straight up into the sky. The shivurna fell back and covered his face, and the soldiers along the shore were forced to shield their eyes from the immense brightness. The beam illuminated the carnage left in the wake of battle and ripped through the clouds before dispersing as quickly as it had appeared. When the shivurna in the volcano opened his eyes after the spectacle, he noticed that the pool of lava had been replaced by a bed of black rock with Enghor lying in the middle. He rushed over to him and picked up his head. Enghor opened his eyes, which had returned to normal, and pointed to the sky. Straight above them was a now fiery moon, and Enghor, before slipping into unconsciousness, muttered, “Caelus shall never again inhabit Friedünn.”
The shivurna carried Enghor out of the volcano and down to the shore, where the man who had banished Caelus to the moon was closely monitored and gradually nursed back to health. The excitement that would have otherwise filled those left from the assembly of man and shivurna was hampered for a majority of the night until, that is, Enghor woke. The moment he did, they all rejoiced in triumph. At long last, they were free. The following morning, the coalition began the return journey to the mainland to retake their homes from the fragments of Caelus’ army that remained. They easily slaughtered what was left of the beasts from the underworld, and the monsters that managed to survive retreated to the Eastern Mountain Range.
In the years that followed, the City of Enghor—which would later grow into the Kingdom of Enghor—was established with Enghor as its first leader. The lone shivurna who had witnessed Enghor’s transformation and carried him out of the volcano established a city of his own, Raj Miasto, on the far side of the Eastern Mountain Range. A large portion of mankind united in Enghor, with the exception of several tribes, while all of the shivurna united in Raj Miasto. The shivurna discovered that with the expulsion of Caelus came the ability to influence feranox with their third eye, just as they had always been able to do with lesser creatures. It was a skill that developed as time went on.
Generation after generation passed with no communication between the two cultures. There was no bad blood, only the fact that a great distance, as well as the Eastern Mountains and Weitwood Forest, stood between them. Each society simply thrived on their own.
To this day, there has still been no legitimate contact between man and shivurna. In fact, such a long period of time has gone by that many people doubt the validity of such an epic tale. Many of those whom have spent the entirety of their lives within the walls of Enghor even consider shivurna to be fictional creatures. I find myself ashamed to live in such ignorant times, and vow to one day rewrite the conclusion of this history through experiences of my own.
This history is credited to a number of works created by many who lived during and after Caelus’ tyranny, Enghor himself, and, in particular, the lone shivurna in the volcano.
To whom it may concern,
Though I find it unlikely for many to examine this work, I feel I possess a duty to exemplify my thoughts through ink. My name is Oberon, and I have a sworn duty to serve King Wilhelm to the best of my ability as both his advisor and sorcerer. I have accumulated what is a library of sorts, and I often study the works of others to gain wisdom from past events. I also spend much of my time composing manuscripts of my own to share with future scholars.
Before I begin, I believe it would be sensible to give you a modest look into my mindset as a sorcerer. Sorcery is a tricky thing. It follows the laws that bind us to this world, namely that for every action, an equally sufficient reaction must take place. One cannot simply enchant an item without repercussion. To offset our abilities, every enchantment drains a sorcerer of a portion of his life-force, so to speak. Granted, the typical sorcerer will live for hundreds of years before his death, so do not envision me as a frail old man just yet, for I have at least one more journey left in these “magic” bones. For ages, it has been that one man and one shivurna are the sole two with these special properties at any given time. When their successor to be finds them, it is the sorcerer’s duty to use their abilities to better Friedünn one final time, if they can, ultimately resulting in death. One might go so far as to say that sorcery is a dying art. Upon the sorcerer’s death, his successor will be filled with more abilities than he will know what to do with. Point being, there is little time to explain all of this to whomever comes along to replace me, so I do what I can to teach through writing. Along with this, I find it important to keep a record of events going on, and I include my input.
All of this being said, I write this letter for fear that we are delving into complicated and troubling times, times for which I see no clear end. Wilhelm continues to expand the boundaries of the Kingdom of Enghor at such a fantastic rate that I worry for the day we intrude upon forces we cannot handle; external as well as internal. We are fortunate to occupy a portion of Friedünn which is not inhabited by vulgar beasts as is the east, yet we continue to expand in that direction. This I do not understand. There are always unknowns in this world, but that does not mean it is best to seek them. Furthermore, there is one glaring fact that I find impossible to ignore. If things continue the way they have throughout Wilhelm’s rule in regards to expansion, the kingdom’s resources will run thin, theft will plague the kingdom, and anarchy will be all but certain to ensue. A lust for land is never satisfied, and possession of all the land in the world will never quell the appetite people hold for order. If there is one truth in this world, one verity that will stand when all others fall, it is that forbearance is key. I have been quick to share this view with the king, but his confidence is as overbearing as his views of the world are shortsighted. Alas, it is foolish to think of what could be rather than what is, so I shall continue with my thoughts by putting forth another essential issue I find in these times.
It is not my intention to defame the king with this letter; I simply wish to keep an account of these atypical days for future generations. There is one event I would like to discuss, a celestial event delineating a dying belief. In olden times, this view was widely accepted as truth, but as our culture becomes increasingly alienated from ties to the past, yet continues to propel itself blindly into the future, the more the links we once held to traditional beliefs fade. The particular event I speak of is the volcanic activity on the moon, the very moon to which Caelus was banished by Enghor long ago. It has been believed for years that this active planetesimal predicted occurrences on Friedünn. There are many variations to the story, but the most widely believed is that the more volcanically active Caelus is, the worse off things will be for the descendants of Enghor in the near future. It signifies Caelus eagerly awaiting bloodshed. Although many have turned their heads from this belief, as a man of “magic” myself, I have found it to be true.
I write because, as I do so, Caelus spits fire more vigorously than I have seen in the centuries I have spent inhabiting Friedünn. I fear that the line between our world and the underworld may be fading. I also find myself in a powerless position. I know something bad is to happen, yet I cannot act for I do not know what it is. It may involve the expansion of Enghor, and I speculate that perhaps a collective assault of feranox may occur as a way for them to honor their old master. Alas, I simply do not know. As I conclude, for those who read this, be prepared not solely physically, but mentally, as well. A new day is coming, and it shall be nothing like the last.