We are the Center By Xibalba of Dark Ages
We are the center. In each of our minds, some may call it arrogance, we are the center, and all the world moves about us, and for us, and because of us. This is the way of man. Outwardly this idea of thinking is shunned and disregarded. But who among us has not thought the world a personnel dream of their own making at some point in their lives?
And so, should I be any different? Should I consider my life but a drop of grain in the hourglass of time? I should think not. For which one of us can go through their lives without the feeling of some sense of purpose or accomplishment, no matter the significance of it?
And so here is my life. Not as another tale of deeds an aisling has accomplished to accept a place in forgotten history. But as the way my world of Temuir is, and how my unforgiving world moves through me.
My actual birth is irrelevant, as it has no real significance in my life other than to serve as the beginning. So to put a beginning on my life, I was born near Mileth the winter of Deoch 8, on the last day of the year of Sgrios. This day is when the world of Temuir is said to be closest to the Plane of the Dead. And so my name was hence Xibalba, the Gateway to Hell, or in some instances, the Gateway to Death. My name is of little note to me, as I see it as little more than a name.
Shortly after my birth, my mother died giving birth to my brother in late Deoch 9. A few days later my father took his life on the precept of grief. Which I have come to believe was no more than an excuse to end his hated life. But, as I can only speculate on these things due to a lack of first hand knowledge, these beliefs are no more than that, beliefs. And so considering these circumstances, my brother was named Immolatus, an Omen of Disease, or, in some cases, an Omen of Death. Ironic considering his present trade as a priest.
The loss of my parents causes me no remorse, as I never really came to know them in the first year of a childís life. But, something good must come of everything. And so this was without exception. My brother and I,"Children of Death" one would think upon hearing our morbid names, were adopted by our Uncle Bogedi Quartermaine.
Bogedi was a man of little morals. Death or misfortune was of little concern to him other than to serve as a basis for his tactless sense of humor. He was probably the cause of my own lack of morals. But, he was also a kind man, caring for my brother and I as if we were his own. We did chores in the morning and learned of reading and writing and the world by night. I consider myself lucky to have been raised by one as intelligent and wise as my uncle and mentor. Strange, I would say, considering his choice of trades as a warrior.
And so this was the world in the beginning of my life, work and learn. When I took an interest in the workings of magic, it was of little surprise that my uncle held no angst towards me at my lack of interest in his own trade. I got a job working for Dar of Mileth gathering little odds and ends, such as spider parts, that he used to research and study, in exchange for small lessons on Graymere, Elements, and wizardry research. I soon became so intrigued by the study of magic, that I found myself a guide in the art of wizardry in Zanji Merecto. Zanji taught me more of the elements, and worked me towards my goal of becoming a wizard.
One day during an outing into east woods by myself I came across burial mound. The mound intrigued me because I thought little of death. But upon inspection of the old weeded mound, I noticed an epitaph etched crudely into a large stone nearby. It said, "A life not fulfilled". It caused me to think about the fulfillment of my own life. If I died on the walk home would my life be for naught? I might be grieved, but what true difference had I made in this world?
Thatís when I realized the world was my own. The endless lectures I was told of the world seemed to click together and fall into place. My life was not meant to be a mundane routine in the happenings of life. I owed it to mentor, and mostly to myself to take hold of my life and work towards my goals. The preaching of what an aisling was had been drilled into me, again and again. But I was always unsure of my understanding of when I would be ready. This was a complete and utter understanding the moment it happened. I was an Aisling.
The day of my initiation was in the winter of Deoch 14. There are some days in a personís life that one would remember every second of the happenings, even years later. The day of my initiation is one such day.
Zanji and I stood before the vault doors to the Temple of Choosing. The intricate carvings and statues that adorned the entrance to temple awed me. Creatures that were part beast and bird and stone guarded the great doors to the rooms beneath.
Zanji soon had me moving into the mouth of the temple and the great vaulted rooms of the temple. Upon entering the first room I beheld the most beautiful ageless woman I had ever laid eyes on. And in a complete contrast, a horrid and stooped figure stolidly stood next to her. The chamber was of an average size, but the walls extended the height of ten men. At the tops of the walls, huge orc like monsters carved from the granite stared judgingly down at me from their high perch. I turned to face the beautiful woman who quickly determined my course, and spelled me into another room of equal splendor. Upon a quick inspection of the vaulted room, Zanji urged me into the next room and followed behind. This room was like the others except for an intricate rune glowing in the center. It was a perfect circle with other smaller circles interwoven in the borders of the outer circle.
I sensitively stepped towards the center of the rune and felt a little of myself being drawn into the circles. Upon reaching the center of the rune, an unworldly voice softly echoed in my mind. This was the test of might or magic. It flooded my mind with images of the strength and determination that I could possibly have, and indicated the door to one of the two unexplored rooms. Than the voice spoke again, flooding me with images of magic and power, directing me to the last door of the room.
Without further thought, I immediately trouped towards the later door, and a room of equal proportions and make. The rune in the center of the floor was designed exactly like the last, so stepped towards the center of it. Upon the striking of my boot on the stone, I felt the stone shift under my feet. The thought of what was beneath made me shudder in fright. This was the Test of Light and Dark. The first sets of images were of healing and compassion. The second were of power and destruction.
And so power and destruction it was. Who was I to argue with the will of my mind?
The next room was like the prior. The rune in the center of the floor trembled and moved upon my touch. And this frightened me no less than the time before. At the center of the rune, I stopped. For a second, I stood there wondering. Was the essence of the temple rejecting my claim to sorcery?
I was answered a few second later by a mind flay. My inner will was ripped from the depths of my mind and paraded before my eyes. The Test of Dedication had begun. I would have expected to be brought to me knees by the fury of the flaying. But some force held me erect as my determination and patience were judged in the span of a few heartbeats. As quick as it began, it ended. The images disappeared and my mind was filled by the unworldly voice once again. I had passed the third test.
The next room was as beautiful and intricately carved as the prior was. But still a stooped aged man dominated the room. The air around him seemed to crackle with power. And the huge granite gargoyles seemed to tremble in his gaze. This was the Servant of the Wizard.
I meekly stood before the weathered man and accepted his scrutiny. After a moment he spoke to me of my choice and bid me to wait. After a quick conference with Zanji, the man looked back to me and gave his final parting words. He told me that the path to learning was endless.
I have never heard anything that rings more truth. There will always be more to understand. How could you be better equipped against the world, than by being wrapped in an armor of your own knowledge? I would rather travel with a wise and intelligent man, than the most battle hardened experienced warrior. For which man will know the limits of his own power better?
After a few moments of soaking in the mans wisdom, he called upon his own powers and bestowed me with the spark of magic. The feeling of magic is unlike any feeling in the world, and I bathed and rejoiced in the power that went through me. The power was mine, and I wanted to wield it!
But, ever a patient being. I was not rash in the beginning of my rebirth. For that is what it was, it was a rebirth. From the life of a mundane to that of an aisling is not where the actual realization of your own mediocrity marks you enlightened. But from a peasant to one of power, that is the point of rebirth.
I soon learned my first spell and went to work on rats and spiders. I kept up the work for Dar, bringing him parts of my kills and such for his research. And he told me more of the elements and gave me my love of Srad, element of fire.
I guess fire had always been a fascination of mine. But the idea of wielding at as weapon of destruction was too much for my power craven mind to resist. The idea of smelling burnt flesh and hair didnít appeal as much as the concept of burning foes. But, it remained my choice to bring me elemental power.
Power. Now power is something to be sought after. But, one is to be cautious too. One who is concerned solely on the advancement of them selves can only see in one direction, forward. So, in my quest for power, I have also taken into concern self-preservation. But, it seems to me that power is a worldwide hunger. Because power is without limits, it will always be sought after. And because the search of power is selfish, there will always be side effects.
First, the concepts of society will suffer. How can someone caught up in self advancement be concerned with the problems of others? And given this lack of concern for others, how are we to advance without the help of others? These understandings are indicative of a collapse of society. But yet, most people care about the welfare of others to the point of giving up a bit of their own power or wealth to help an individual out without any expectation of retribution. And because of this, society goes on without us reverting to the principals of basic animals.
And second, it seems to me that if one were to seek power, he is seeking it for a reason. Does he wish to hold his powers over the heads of weaker people? Or does one seek power for the sole purpose of helping others with it? The later would be idea in the concepts of society. But the prior seems more likely.
So why did, and do, I seek power? I would hope that I have risen above the selfish interests of power over others, but I fear my own desires lie somewhere between the two. One day I hope to write a work of philosophy on the subject. But for now, I will return to my life.
Given my wish to better myself, it wasnít long before I entered the second circle of wizardry and truly began to hunt and quest for riches and power. But what gave me the knowledge to enter the second circle? I would wish the circumstances behind my own enlightenment on no one.
Jajing Desuntra was a fellow mage and great friend. And so, given our combined love of magic, we were inseparable. He was built average like me. But where I was more strength, developed from wielding fire, he was quicker and more agile from his workings in Athar. And where I was patient and intense, he was confidant and brave, or a fool, as some would see it.
So it was that we found ourselves out on a common hunt to better our magic and techniques in the east woods of Mileth. It started out as a usual hunt would, with childish jokes and impossible boasts. And soon the fringes of civilization grew further and further behind us.
We talked a lot that day of dreams and wishes. Jajingís families were poor peasants of little note. So his dream was to bring glory to his families name. He loved his family dearly and spoke of them often, almost to the point of monotonous babbling. But I was always interested in his dreams, as I loved him like a brother. When we came upon some wolf tracks, we vowed to work together until we both died with the world under our rule, and with determination, set off after our prey.
After killing a few wolves, we decided to gather our burned pelts and head home. But on the way back I spotted some goblin tracks and pointed them out to Jajing. After a few moments discussion we decided to move cautiously on towards home. A little later we forgot our fears and continued along easily, lost in the beautiful display of early spring.
As I was admiring the mirage of colors cast by the trees I heard a muffled grunt. I spun immediately behind me to witness a gaping Jajing struggling for breath. Behind him a goblin soldier evilly grinned as he twisted his dagger further into Jajingís tender back.
I stood transfixed as Jajing slumped to the ground while the goblin licked his bloodied blade. At first I felt a great fear for myself and anguish for the loss of my dearest friend. But the emotions went through me so quick that I hardly registered them. Than a rage like none I had ever experienced erupted in my soul and sped to every extremity of my shaking body. My hands whipped into a fury of motions and intricate gestures as I quickly mumbled the words to the spell. The rage inside me burned and fed into the power of my spell as it scorched into the screaming goblin. I cried out to Ceannlaidir, god of war and battle, with all my strength, and felt the air crackle and spark as I repeatedly torched the screaming goblin. My mind near insanity, and the goblin a smoldering mass of flesh and bone, I slumped to the ground and wept.
Weeping, I crawled to the sprawled form of Jajing Desuntra, and gently took him in my arms. He gasped a protest to Sgrios, before fixing my watery eyes with a ghastly stare. Struggling for breath his half mouthed his last words to me. He said, "the world is yours now".
And so it is.
The world is as I make it. It can be fulfilling or pointless. It can be cheerful or unforgiving. But whatever I make of it, it will still go on.
My advancement to the second circle wasnít one of insightfulness. It was the coming to an understanding, that your emotions as well as your intelligence power your abilities.
This is but the end to a section of my life. It goes on, and I grow as my powers do. But I live my life in the understanding that it can end at any moment. And in this understanding, I realize that a fulfilled life is in the eyes ones self.
When I buried Jajing Desuntra I etched this a nearby boulder, "A life fulfilled". And a legacy yet to happen.
- Xibalba Quartermaine Desuntra