The Enclave > Powers

The Powers That Be

Sages of the old Ammand had much to say on the matter of Powers, but little of this work was brought to the Enclave. The Oath wrote that Powers are "the attempt of all creation to speak to itself, wise in ways we can never understand," while The Feather believed that the Powers of the Ammand - the Ammane - were nothing more than a puissant form of Ammanene wizardry. The power of the Ammane could scarely be refuted, whatever its origin; the knowledge of sages and strength of armies paled before it. Yet the Ammane kept to their forests and did not reach out to interfere with the lives of mortal Ammanders.

The Powers of the Enclave are said to be hidden in the deep Farthest. The same sages who wrote of the Quintessential Realms referred to these Powers as Ideals, "reflections cast from the pool of creation, each one known by a thousand names yet instantly recognized at first sight." Others call this wishful thinking, nothing more than a futile attempt to recapture the long-dead Ammane. What is there to the Powers of the Farthest beyond song, legend and pervasive belief?

The Datarii knew of Powers before the Magi founded Port and spoke respectfully of the Beautiful Stranger and the Crafter in those long ago seasons. The Neth build strange wooden structures and conduct cruel rituals out of fear, hatred and envy of the Eaters of All and their own brethren. Ammanders and Ammanene see their own Powers in the Farthest, some of whom were once mortal. The common folk make offerings and visit temples in Port and Three Stones in the hope of gaining favor.

[ Posted by Reason on January 6, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Fisher in Darkness

Ammander and Vanished Islander folk from Port and coastal villages venture forth in small boats on calm nights to catch glowfish and spineels. Gently bobbing lanterns in the darkness of the Unending Sea are a common sight in warm seasons.

The Fisher in Darkness is the kindly old stranger who offers advice and points the way; only later do you realize him to have been a trusted keeper of your deepest secrets all along. He has mastered his own great hardships and is at peace in the quiet final seasons of a full life - a life you will never fully appreciate no how long you spend listening to his tales.

The Fisher in Darkness chooses to be alone and apart; he loves to fish in the expansive darkness of the Unending Sea, but hates to spoil the mood by catching anything. The farthest lamp from shore may just be this Power, rowing out of the Farthest Sea to enjoy a warm summer night and the sight of other fisherfolk living their lives.

Statues of the Fisher in Darkness can be found all along the waterfront in Port, from the traditional aged man, lamp and rowboat in the dockside market to the stylised stone lanterns at the end of many jetties.

[ Posted by Reason on January 13, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Laelene, the Eldest Tree

The Sons and Daughters of the Ammane retreated from our towns, as before. We of the Ammand are disappointments, mortals stained by the actions of our ancestors in service to the Greater Power. The Ammanene witnessed their own destruction; this they recall and suffer yet. It can be seen in their eyes, heard in their beautiful voices.

Laelene, the eldest tree and beloved of the Ammane, was cruelly hacked down and burned during the Expansion of the Greater Power. The remaining cities of the Shining Ammanene soon followed. Yet in this far removed place and time, deep within the Farthest Woods, the Ammanene have glimpsed Laelene. A temple of the old style has been raised at the Watch of Trees. Hopeful priests, a few more with each new summer, atone for our past by accepting wisdom from the sorrowful Ammanene.

We are told that peace, acceptance and forgiveness lie beneath the spreading branches of Laelene. Creation's green wilds are uncritical of our errors and misdeeds; in accepting this, we can find the path that leads beyond our failings.

[ Posted by Reason on January 21, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Lady Moonlit

Put down your tools and listen a moment.

Once upon a time in the far away Ammand, a young noblewoman decided that she would be the very best at everything she ever attempted. There is no story in that, no mystery beyond why this was her truest nature. She determined to perfection in the same way you determine to wake each morning or take each new breath.

Thus the young noblewoman worked, and worked hard, for there is no other certain way to become the very best. She did not court, nor attend the yearly fairs, nor pay attention to her duties. In time, she did not even come forth during the day - she worked by the light of the moon, away from the distractions of her household. The years passed and the young noblewoman became the Lady of her house, but still she worked. The privileged few to behold the results of her talents were amazed, but she did not indulge her increasingly rare visitors. In time, even the last retainers left and the manse of the Lady become dark and unkempt.

Still she worked by moonlight. The Lady was indeed the best; better than any famed smith, any known horseman, any artisan or crafter. That was what mattered to her, and that was what she had become. Eventually, as for all mortals, the sands of time ran out. The Lady no longer appeared by night, nor at all.

Yet wondering stories were already told, far and wide across the Ammand. As time passed, the troubadors called her Lady Moonlit, for in truth no-one remembered her given name. Guilds took her as a patron, but no-one recalled her likeness.

Where is the Lady Moonlit? Why, in the Farthest, of course. You must be kind to Visitors from the Farthest Guilds, for they may have met and learned from the best of all. And all of you - you could do worse than try to follow the example of the Lady.

[ Posted by Reason on January 30, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Passages

In the Ammand, the Ammane breathed life into the world. Their breath was strong for the Ammanene, who live and live and live. We mortal Ammanders must make the best of our lesser gift of life, for we do not know whence we go after the weight of years has been lifted.

The Magi are said to have known the great mysteries of creation, even learning the secrets of death from far across the Unending Sea. This is lost with the Vanishing, yet I doubt the legends. Had the Magi known such truths, they would have abandoned their trading to bring enlightenment to all the mortal peoples of creation. What else could they have done? There are truths and there are Truths; the latter burn in the mind and steer the lives of men.

The Ammanene think they have found Truth here in the Enclave; that the dead, their beloved dead, dwell in peace in the Farthest. I have seen Visitors and Trespassers, seen the Farthest Library and the Farthest Graves, and I believe the Ammanene chase a noble dream born of guilt. Nothing more. Yet their forest shrines will prosper, and they will waste lifetimes in the service of memories and what might have been.

All too many - amongst the commoners, the priests, the sages - declare death to be the very end of a long Road. They do not see that there might be anything more beyond the last breath, but I cannot accept this. A Road cannot end: only cobbles and route markers can end. The Road continues for as long as the traveler carries it in his heart and sets one foot in front of the other.

The death of mortals will forever be the greatest mystery in all creation. It is a hardship, like so much of our lives, yet we must take heart. Each and every one of us will learn this great hidden Truth in the end.

[ Posted by Reason on February 8, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Vessel of Burning Truths

His existence pales before his knowledge; his name, his history, his part in the dance of mortals have been burned away by the Truths he holds. They flame in his mind, guiding his footsteps far from the world and daily concerns. Like all who find the Burning Truths, he first denied, then reluctantly acquiesced, eagerly quested, and finally accepted. His life is the stuff of legend, yet he might be any man.

All Burning Truths, whether deeply personal or of world-changing significance, are a fragment of the single mystery of creation, recognized by awe and little else. The quest for Truths always leads inexorably into the Farthest, away from the world we know.

Many folk have come to understand the Truths of the Vessel as mere mastery, however; mastery of people, of coin, of skills, of the mundane but significant truths and secrets of a mortal life. So it is that the nobles of Three Stones have long commissioned statues of themselves as the Vessel Ascendent. So it is that priests of seasons past came to write and enforce the law of Three Stones. So it is that the Temple of Powers in Three Stones is led by a charismatic tyrant rather than an introspective seeker of Truth.

[ Posted by Reason on February 9, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

King of All the Ammand

He was a rough man, skilled with a blade and the old Ammander spear; the best of warriors to have stood by your side in battle, a man who had seen the high cost of blood. He could be trusted with your wife, but not with your daughters; a lover of good wine in the best of times, sufferer of bad wine in the worst of times. He had a way about him, honest with a grim sort of smile at life's injustices, thrust into leadership time and again, a reluctant bearer of the trusts that others shirked. In time he came to be the King of all the Ammand lands, united the quarrelsome lords, brought peace, prosperity and an honest rule. Yet in his heart he was always a commoner, duty placed upon him like an ill-fitting robe - and therein lay his greatness.

The white-haired sages of the Black Tower claim there never was a King of all the Ammand lands, but the common Ammander folk of the Enclave know better. Any honest spearman might have taken up that crown, that duty, if the world were simply more just. There is a little of the King in all worthy commoners, a little of his decency, his rough honor, his sense of what was right and necessary.

There are no Kings in the Enclave lands, and certainly no King of all the Ammand in the present time, but the man who was King watches over his descendants from deep within the Farthest. If more men followed the King's Way, the world would be a better place.

[ Posted by Reason on February 10, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Salin and the Saltblock

Aye, this'd be a place for tales. The old songs too, mind you, though like as not you'd rather someone younger carried the tune. Salin it is, eh? I would have thought you eager scriveners to have all the stories of the old Seafarer locked up tight in ink and parchment, all painted and pretty like yon mounted eel with the glass stare. Aye, it can't compare to the eel in the sea, though. Mark my words, scrivening may have its place in the world, but it draws the life right out of a tale.

A few coins, then. Aye, and that stranger's coin too - to pay Salin his due at the temple and bring me some luck besides.

Aye, then, how this alehouse got its name, the Saltblock. The block that serves as a tavern table and the statues in back, they've been there since I was a lad - since my grandfather's grandfather was a lad, like as not. Salt they may be, but may as well be stone for all the wear that the seasons and ale can muster. Wizardry! Right in front of your nose, young scrivener, and more than the greatest of your whitebeards can muster, eh? The Saltblock wasn't there when Salin sailed into Port, nor the statues, mind you well. Salin the Seafarer came from the the Unending Sea in a mighty tradeship, a rough set of hands and three Magi as crew. This was in the years when dusky, potent Magi still roamed the Sea - Iron, Wind and Salt were their names. Searching for the Vanished Isles they were, the Magi to find their way home and Salin to find a mountain of coin, secrets and wizardry.

He was a sly eel, was Salin, aye. Not one to shy from an impossible task either. Rough as the King of Thieves, voice to charm the clothes from a Lady, master with a thrown spear and butcher with a sea ax. He'd raise a crew and find a ship in the time it'd take you to write his name three times; a man known on every shore of the Unending Sea, a greater seafarer than any who ever lived.

That swarthy crew, seafarers from a harsh, hard land, snarled up and down the dockside like dogs. The Temple Guard kept them in their place, not like the militia eels dragging their spears on the cobbles. Shining red iron like the best of the old Ammand, they were, good enough to watch dogs from the Sea - but not Salin and not the Magi of Iron, Wind and Salt. The folk from the Farthest Sea soon had priests, Lords and Ladies following them like trained birds from the Fane.

Aye, they were for raising ships and crew for trade with the Vanished Isles. Enough to light up eyes and lighten purses, it was. Who's to say where it would have gone if everyone had kept their hands in plain sight? Some say Salin was too familiar with a noble daughter promised to a Lord, others that Lords were fired with greed for the wizardry and goods aboard Salin's tradeship. If you're to be putting a purse on the table, best to carry a good spear ... but both or neither, like as not, I say. One man's suspicion poisons the whole crew, aye, and then who is to know the truth of it?

So it was, afore these four walls and roof were built, that Salin, the Magi and a certain noble lady left Port in more of a hurry than they might have planned. The Lords called on the Temple Guard to seize Salin and his unseemly crew, but the wizardry of Iron parted their ranks like the tide through weed. The Lords called on Seafarers' Guildsmen to seize Salin's great tradeship, but the wizardry of Wind scattered the seafarers into the streets and water, just as though a great storm loomed over the dockside. Finally, the Lords themselves and a great retinue blocked Salin's path. The last wizardry of the Magi turned the Lords into salt statues and their followers into the Saltblock - just as you see them now.

Aye, and Salin's rough crew laughed and growled, taking what they could from docks, merchants and houses in payment for such poor hospitality. Only one ship left Port that season, just as only one ship arrived; left with a full hold too. Maybe it is that Salin searches for the Vanished Isles yet, or maybe Iron, Wind and Salt have found their home. One fine summer season Salin the Seafarer will return, mark my words, and will expect a better welcome from Ammander nobles. Aye, or there will be a worse price to pay!

[ Posted by Reason on February 23, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Traveler

The stonefolk told stories of the Powers to the first Ammanders to arrive in the Enclave aboard Magi tradeships. Like the Beautiful Stranger, the Traveler is a Datarii Power, adopted by the Ammander folk as their own. The Datarii know the Traveler as the oldest of all stonefolk, one who walks each tunnel, each hall, each vault from deep to shallow. Every possible route beneath Great Home and into the Farthest has been walked by the Traveler and will one day be walked again. The Traveler helps to make the deepest and Farthest ways safe for those Lost Datarii who journey to meet the Crafter and their destiny at the center of all creation.

The mortal folk of the Enclave have come to a different view of the Traveler; he is the guardian of the Known Roads, but more than that, a guardian over the end of Roads. Roads and journeys have always provided powerful metaphors for the passage of life amongst the Ammander people, and this has become even more the case in the Enclave. As a road ends, so too does life end - yet the Traveler still travels, as do the friends and companions of the passed. Mundane but important duties fall to those who continue the journey; burial; respect for the Road traveled; respect for those who kept company along the way.

[ Posted by Reason on February 27, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Beautiful Stranger

Beauty is kindness in the Farthest, or so the Datarii taught the first mortals to come to the Enclave lands. True beauty shines from within, shines from actions and the momentary self; even the worst can be beautiful, if only for a moment. In stonefolk myth, the Beautiful Stranger wanders the Farthest Halls to guide the Lost to safety. She is as much a vision as Power, an ideal made real by the kindness of Visitors. The Beautiful Stranger wears many faces other than her own; to act for her is to be her.

Ammander and Vanished Isle folk took the Beautiful Stranger as one of their own, just as for other Datarii Powers. The Farthest is strange and often threatening for mortal folk; the watchful kindness of the Beautiful Stranger is a necessary comfort. Datarii lessons from long ago took root and flourished - so it is that descendants of Magi and the old Ammand have long said "be kind to those of the Farthest, and you will be gifted in turn," and "be kind to the Lost, for one day their need will be yours." They visit shrines to place coin at the feet of the Beautiful Stranger, treat Visitors with respect and help the Lost.

In time, as settlement of the Enclave spread beyond Port and the coast villages, the old Ammander traditions of healing and charity came to be associated with the Beautiful Stranger; this is the given role of kindness from the Farthest in the mortal Enclave lands.

[ Posted by Reason on May 30, 2005 | Permanent Link ]