Mythic Archipelago Elkasjir “Dar un vasca Clorigan”, or “For the Cold”, was the ancient mantra of the Elkas before the Collapse. In the north, amid their hot springs and by the Iastr al Viscir, the Vale of Glass, the Elkas awed at the cavernous depths of the Dolraam, the great Cave of Ice. Upon the surface of their island, the world never seemed to lose light, as the Vale seemed to glow even after sunset with the day’s warmth. The hot springs, too, warmed the lands so that life flourished, and even the darkest nights were loud with vivacious noise. Wild, animal gatherings would band together every night to sing and dance and praise their Hart God. Only in the Cave could the people meet in stillness. Only there could they mull in quietude. Only there was it ever cold. So in the cave was wrought a great temple, of stone and ice, where no torch would be lit, and the only light would be brought in glass from the Vale. For centuries the people of the Elkas would make their way, bearing gifts of food and light, into the deeps of the Cave, where the Priests to the Cold would listen to their stories. It was there, in the cave of darkness, where an age of enlightenment began. The Priests compiled volumes of tales, from merchants and travelers, and from their own people, and filled a great library with hundreds of leather bound tomes. This collection of knowledge was passed through the generations, and grew greater in size and complexity. It was this requisite of experience that the first Architects of the Elkas drew upon in the creating of the Tower of Glass, a towering structure of clear, swirling patterns, looking as a cyclone to the sky. It was from this bank that the first Engineers began to learn of the technologies from far away islands, and dreamed of great machines to transport water and dig into cliffs of rock. The Elkas grew a bright and prosperous nation, never considering the prospect of war. This story of knowledge and creation ended with the arrival of a great warlord, who called himself Alban. Upon seeing his huge vessels approach the mainland, the Elkas sent all their youths and children into the Cave to call the Priests for help. Hearing of the ships, though, the Priests withdrew, and held a council. They knew that the boats came not for trading, but for capture. And they knew that if they fought, with their spears and their stones, they would die. But the wish to protect their culture was strong, so the Priests made the ultimate sacrifice. They collapsed the earth in upon the cave, sealing they and their books beneath the ice and the stone of their motherland. This was an event of great sorrow, to be written of by the, then, children who were sent from the caves with a message to prevent violence at all costs. Alban came to the island and was met with open hands. Elkasjir went on to become a very powerful state under Imperial Reign, but the destruction of the Cave was too great a loss to be forgotten or forgiven, and was mourned as the “Collapse” evermore. Armiuun al Jamiuun, one of the children who had been sent to the priests, became a renowned poet years later, in B.S.F. 259, and went on to sing of the agony which the Elkas suffered at the loss of the Cold to Alban years later. The general was seen crying before he ordered Armiuun executed for treason. This fueled a brief rebellion in Elkas which was cut short by the culling of all men and women who had been young during the Collapse. With an entire generation murdered, the Elkas were made silent. This open attack against their people, though, signaled to the rest of the Empire that they were inferiors. Raiding of Elkas homes became common in many parts of the north, and an estimated three quarters of the Elkas population had been branded on the forehead with their sacred Buckhorn symbol by suppressors by the year B.S.F. 213. Even in their home city, they had been rousted. The Glass Tower was then the symbol of the regent of Elkasjir, and was used to house wealthy guests of the man. Slowly but surely, what remains of the Elkas culture was eradicated from public view. Only a few of people, the recluses, maintained some semblance of life before the collapse. Many of the faithful families deemed to live along the western coast among the impoverished and criminal population, barely surviving off the fishing of the deep coastal waters and farming of some measly root crops in the hills. Slowly but surely even the ones in self-exile were swallowed in the tide of foreigners that flocked to see the Glowing City and its Glass Tower on the slopes of the Vale. By B.S.F. 120, almost no sign of the natives even existed in Elkasjir, and most had little clue where the name of their island came from. The Elkas language was extinct even in the few households that remembered its name. Through the next century the mountains of Elkasjir heard no whisper of the name. The Hart God itself seemed to have turned its cool green gaze away from the island. Regent after regent had risen and fallen peacefully, while the Glowing City grew around the Tower. There were thousands of people by then, and there came a growing need to deal with the large quantities of waste that such a population generates. Until that point, hot spring water was used to simply wash debris out of gutters and into shallow holes. Then, that changed. The master architect who had designed the palace in which dwelt the regent Arhcol un’Damien began to implement a plan to create a sewer system that ran beneath the city to the estuaries that led into the ocean. Hundreds of city masons and labourers were commissioned to excavate tunnels beneath the road. One of these masons was a young journeyman, and his name was Alram al Armiuun, great grandchild of a great poet whos name had been forgotten. The architect’s plans were executed splendidly. Within seven years, in B.S.F. 11, the system was in operation. It was then, in the midst of a collective sigh of relief at having a clean city, that Alram discoverd a passageway under the earth. A gateway of stone, frigid to the touch, a hunting scene carved intricately in relief upon the frame. Doors of heavy metal rested between heavily upon solid hinges. And lastly, sitting upon the top rim of the mantle, a great sphere of glass, carved with the insignia of the Elkas. Alram was curious, but noted that if such a thing had been sealed, it was likely not meant to be found. He removed the glass from the gate, and sealed the passage that led to it. He bundled the orb in cloth, and brought it to his grandfather, Darjil al Armiuun for examination. Darjil was known in the Glowing City as a man of wisdom. He was a Priest of the Stillvaste Order, one of the most powerful sects in the city, and had access to many of the oldest books in the Stillvaste's private libraries. It was with hope that Alram went to him, and he was not disappointed. Darjil, upon hearing Alram's tale, removed his dyed burlap turban, the ceremonial head dress of the Stillvaste. Upon his forehead was branded the buck horns of the Elkas. It was then that Alram learned of his heritage. Alram wept for the death of a culture, and looked upon the Glass Tower in despair. "That glass is the heart of my people" was what he said then, and then again many times in the future. Alram was determined then, to meet out jutice. He let his own blood upon the glass orb in an oath to restore the name of the Hart God, and set to inquire deeply into the history of Elkasjir. His grandfather, though, was brought about in a time of reckoning for the Elkas, so could provide no more than the names of a few Elkas families. In a fit of helpless rage, Alram stormed once more into the sewer and wrecked the hastily mortared wall he'd erected to cover his discovery. He drew his hammer, and with a might swing destroyed the lock that held the doors shut. He then wrenched them open, and delved into the caves where the ancient knowledge of his blood were hidden. None know what he discovered, but it hardened him. He emerged from the cave branded upon the forhead. He went forth from that place to the city and went to seventeen houses of people both rich and poor, masons and bankers. He would disappear into these houses for sometimes an entire day, and emerged from them with the people following him. Seventeen families did he bring to the cave, and seventeen families emerged branded. Then did start the rise of the Elkasal, a new order of men and women of both Elkas lineage and foreign. They took to the streets and roused the people in the marketplaces and the portlands. Preaching of a new dawn, one of peace and prosperity, of wild nights and warm, joyous days, the Elkasal moved the common folk of the Glowing city to storm the Glass Tower. The mob threw the guards into the sewers, and forced the wealthy out of the windows of the Tower to their deaths. The climbed the endless stairway to the peak of the tower, where they were met by Arhcol un'Damien and a vanguard of both his best men and liveried servants. Alram called to him to surrender to the old way, to give back what was rightfully theirs. Arhcol laughed and scoffed at his pleading, before finally Alram had had enough. "We will then, take it," he said. So he strode forward with his people behind him to slay the regent. Arhcol became grim, and warned him against coming closer--to no effect. The guards stood passive as a young girl came forward from the servants to stand in front of Alhcol. She raised her hands and sang.