Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Portal Lore Revised for Role-Playing Games

Portal Lore
Volume one
Thomas P. Walton

Rumor has spread about the portals of the nine archetypes manifesting here and there, in both the realms of fantastic beasts and the medieval lands of men and dragons.  – Malaar, the wise.

About this book…

To better understand why there are nine portals in my role-playing system, I will tell the tale of the legend behind all portals.

As with many of the ancients, the elements were the building blocks of the world. The lore of portals would be incomplete if I did not include the history of the elements, and the creation of the ultimate potential for existence… Midgard (a.k.a., Middle Earth), which in my fiction I call Gaia Saar.

Most game lore is based on the Hermetic philosophy in regard to elements. I’ve decided to run my RPG universe a bit differently, mainly because the Teutonic system is so much more interesting, and in greater detail.

We begin with the element of ice, and thus, our first portal in the entire universe is born…

The Beginning
Darkness held the ultimate void in its tendrils of domination. Yet, it was from this darkness that the polarity of contraction manifested as ice. From ice came forth the fire of the younger gods, who then formed the ultimate portal for giants--the fire portal.

Between these two polarities emerged the parallel universe of air and water, thus forming the air and water portals. These four portals are referred to as the primary portals of power.

The secondary portals formed from fire and air, and gave birth to iron. The aggressive, wild expansion of elemental fire threatened to burn away all that darkness dominated. So, then, the spirit of air flew before the curling flames of endless energy, and presented fire with the element of iron as its child god. Fire taught iron the ways of strength, determination, and conquest through expansion—unlike the contraction of the great darkness the elements fled from through outer-space. 

And so, the metal portal was born of fire and air.

Hearing of this newborn god-child, the element of water went unto the ardent god of fire, and gave him a second child. The child was Venom.

The spirit of venom was as restless as her fiery father. She projected herself out into the void, but found that she could not expand, nor create, nor find joy in any part of the universe.

The father of ice was envious of his fiery children, and so drew water to himself. Ice tore away the power of life from the spirit of water. Fire saw this, and in a fit of rage fought against the great darkness of Ice. In their cosmic struggle, the element of yeast scattered everywhere in the cosmos.

Water and ice formed yeast.

The quick intellect of Air saw the opportunity to steal power from the spirit of darkness. So, he took from Ice the designs of the elder gods. In his cleverness, the great spirit of air breathed his life-force into ice, causing the darkness to slumber, and took from him the salts of the essence of life.

Ice and air formed salt, and thus the first necro portal was born.

These were the first eight portals.

Then something miraculous happened… As the fairies and the giants waded in the fiery depths of their great work, a new element gave birth to all life. This element, the ultimate potential in the entire universe, is a place we call home, or also known as Earth. 

These are the nine portals of power.

The giants settled down beneath the earth and the seas. Others took up great houses for themselves upon the earth. The fairies settled in the trees, and others hid in the secret portals of flame, in the infernal realms beneath the deepest depths of the earth. Those who remained built doors of magic. With these magical doors, the giants could traverse the realms in the entire universe, and keep mechanisms of the greater portals in order.

From the Darkness
In the beginning there was only darkness.

Wading in the fiery depths of their great work, the fire giants were the first to behold the work of their fairy cousins: A new elemental spirit formed from the variations of the primary and secondary components of the universe. Alu sung the child a beautiful name, and her name was Gaia. From Gaia’s gay and merry voice a song was heard. The giants took up the song, making variations of their own. The fairies picked up the melodies, and Alu cried with joy!

The earth was then formed from the great composition of the elements. The realm of Gaia Saar was then born into existence by the imagination of the children of Alu.

When the age of men reigned strongest on Gaia Saar, the fairies hid their younger cousins in the sea, while the fairies themselves entered the secret doors set in trees and knolls. The fire giants returned to their infernal realms by way of the mountain, which later became the center of all power in Gaia Saar.

Gaia Saar, once a great kingdom (driven from power by the cybernetic armies of Truul, and again by the Borg from the necroverse), built its brick monasteries and towns closest to the ancestral mountain of the gods. It was from this mountain that all the spoils of wealth pored into the kingdom.

((Truul came from the depths of Threshaven, and was a foul mutant expelled from the world of gaints. The Borg, a cybernetic race of machine-men emerged from the first metal portal with the help of the dwarves.))

A final battle was fought on the peninsula of Talos, between the druid-mages and the necromancers.

However, an unforeseen consequence of the firing of vorpal weaponry triggered a cosmic phenomenon unseen before such times. A great smash portal tore the realm into ruins, leaving fragments of Gaia Saar across multiple realms in the cosmos.

A rare journal was set down by the sage Malar, or Malaar, who in legend is said to have walked firsthand among the people of Gaia Saar on their day of doom. We cannot completely dismiss the legend as myth, nor can we ignore the importance of the value in this lore.

((Talos is the south peninsula where the counsel of mages resided in Gaia Saar’s kingdom))

Alas, the orifices of Threshaven are all that remain of the dead planet. For in all realms exists the greater portals of power; whether these be manifestations of nature, the supernatural, or replications of the elder archetypal portals, all realms harbor a secret door to the center of the universe—a pinnacle of all dimensions, which was so very long ago the beloved kingdom of Gaia Saar.

Taking account of the recordings of Malar, the great sage of that period in Gaia Saar, we can see that the kingdom of Gaia Saar was in its last years a historical treasure trove of artifacts—Many relics baring symbols associated with the gods who were believed to have dwelt deep within the mountain Threshaven.

Relics of the ancients aside, Gaia Saar in its latest years was indeed a historical treasure.

It is said that long ago there was an uncanny rogue-mage venturing the farthest reaches of the realms in search of the origins of Gaia Saar’s many people. The rogue is believed by the sages of Talos to have discovered the secret to unlocking the first of the great doors of Mount Threshaven. Barring the curious adventurer from the secrets of the gods, Threshaven was shrouded in vorpal mists, which is said to cause men to lose track of time, or disorient the human mind enough to cause hallucinations of other dimensions. Malar, having been the first explorer to sketch a rough map of the mountain, sought the entrance to places beyond the realms of man, and to seek out the secrets of the gods.

Malar describes the mountain of Threshaven as a colossal rock, broken only at various angles by smooth stones which must have once been the great stepping stones of giants. These flights of steps reached a monolithic door at either side of the mountain. Other orifices or doors existed in this great mountain of the gods which seemed to mock the senses of men. Sometimes these were pools of glistening light and mist. Other thresholds were described as being entirely made of empty spaces never illuminated by the light of the sun.

Malar describes one particular portal of interest, which he referred to as the fire portal.

From the portal of fire came both the builders and destroyers of the world—the fire giants.
- Malaar, the wise.

The Giant King

The coming of Lord Truul is a tale of bitter seduction.

In the earliest years of man, the giants remained inert in a cloister of portals at the base of Threshaven. From therein the haggard and twisted giant spawn, Truul, emerged from his long slumber. It is written in the ancient lore of our people that, slender and seductive spirits came upon the lonesome giant, Truul. They were the daughters of Venom, one of the secondary elementals to shape the earth.

Truul was lured by the silky smooth beauty of these spirits, and lay with them. The passions of great magic were shown to Truul, but in everything the spirits taught him there was no love—For the daughters of Venom were not unlike their mother, who was without joy, and who was herself as restless as her fiery father. Therefore, Truul shared their pain, anxiety, which drove Truul to prove himself worthy of recognition. It became a burning anxiety, which in time drove Truul to do the will of darkness.

The other giants were angered by Truul’s insistence, for he had roused all of his cousins from their epoch of sleep. The great work is done, protested the elder of the giants. But, Truul did not feel satisfaction.

Obsessed with the rite to rule, Truul sought the advice of the ladies of Venom, who in time taught Truul all that they knew of portals and sorcery, for they were unreserved spirits who held nothing back, and shared Truul’s passion for extreme outcomes—For to them, the daughters of Venom, nothing short of conquest was worthy of invention.

After the poisoning of his kin, Truul ruled supreme all the lands of the underworld. But this was not enough for Truul. In time, his hordes withered into weakness. They had not the power of order, for that power rested in Alu, their elder father, and the giants of Truul were chaotic and vulgar in their practices. So, Lord Truul set out to find human consorts.

Capturing the daughters of men, elves, and other humanoids, Lord Truul deformed and molested the gene pool of order. He created the dark and foul creatures of which were feared throughout all of Gaia Saar.

After a victorious battle between the denizens under Threshaven and the Alfs of the far eastern shores of Gaia Saar, Lord Truul returned to his grotesque kingdom. With him were many slaves. But, few were in the service of Truul, for he did most of his own fighting, being the biggest giant alive on the earth, standing at eighteen-feet tall.

Back within his gruesome abode Truul ate a portion of his slaves. Their viscera littered the morbid halls under the earth. His meal however, was interrupted by the swift return of his spirit wives, the daughters of Venom.

When the daughters came to him, they did not make love to him as they had many a night before. Rather, their faces were grave, and Truul recognized the fear in them. It was a fear that made Truul, sick, and he detested them. However, the sisters pressed their concern upon the deaf ear of Lord Truul, who feared nothing himself.

It was told to Lord Truul by the sisters of Venom, that the eldest father, Alu, was aware of their destruction upon Truul’s kin. All-father Alu, who ceaselessly holds back darkness, and transforms chaos into order, forever painting the beauty of the cosmos, stopped in his great work to look upon the daughters of Venom with furious vengeance.

So terrified of the wrath of Alu, the daughters begged Truul for protection. But, Truul had forgotten Alu, and could not remember ever hearing of him. So, Truul laughed contemptuously at his slender spirits, and named them as lying serpents. Truul’s nonchalant retort offended the daughters of Venom, for such spirits did not tell lies—at least not intentionally. They were, though venomous and fiery, very pure spirits of their elemental maker.

Alu sang his sadness into the hearts of the daughters of Venom, forbidding them to traverse the realms, and removing their ability to fly between the great spaces of the stars. Never again would they behold the beauty of Alu’s almighty work. So, the sisters, fearing for their end, slithered into the pores of Truul’s gigantic body.

When Truul had finished his feast, he carelessly fell asleep. Abruptly, Truul awoke. He discovered great pain in his body, a pain he’d never felt before. The very blood in his veins burned, and every nerve in his body was on fire. His oversized heart, a gift from the fairies of old, was burdened with labor.

The daughters of Venom gave their remaining life-force to Truul, so as to hide their identity’s imprint within the monster they had created. In the process of nesting their spirit DNA into Truul, the power of venom turned Truul’s blood to acid, and corrupted his body.

Truul found himself driven by a great thirst, and went hastily to the pools in the depths of his lonesome cavern. Upon seeing his reflection in the water, the giant roared with confusion and anger. And he felt something else… fear. Lord Truul had never known fear or defeat, even before his victory over his brothers and sisters of the giant mountain.

In the waters of the dark cavern, the giant looked upon a face which was a texture of foul color, greenish and gray. His eyes were completely black, which did not contrast well with the dark spots growing all over his body. Truul touched his hooked nose with a long talon-like finger.

Desperate to breathe the sweet air of the world above, Lord Truul made his way up the bone cobbled steps to the surface world. Upon reaching the outside world, Truul tried to stand erect, but found that his back was hunched. Terrible pain moved the bones in his body, and his neck shot fire into his melon sized skull.

What came out of that mountain was a monstrosity so fearful, that the people who remained in the kingdom of Gaia Saar hid in a fit of ultra-phobic terror.

The eldest giant, Gygatherion , was a good and faithful son of Alu, though he was prone to wandering from the great halls of his father in search of adventure. It just so happened, that one evening Gygatherion  stumbled upon the horror that was Truul.

Aloft the highest peak of Threshaven, Gygatherion battled Lord Truul. The beast known as Truul was fiercer than Gygatherion  had ever fought before. Truul’s talons tore through Gygatherion ’s divine armored breastplate, and wounded him. But the valiant son of Alu was not easily defeated. With all the power of his will and his heart, Gygatherion  hefted a mighty ax, and decapitated the arm of Truul.

Truul leapt a hundred feet down to an adjacent tier of rocky slope on the side of the mountain. The ugly giant entreated the magical stone empowering a metal portal. Truul slipped under the arc, and then passed through the glowing threshold.

Gygatherion  pursued his prey, but Truul was gone from the lands of Gaia Saar.

After this epic battle between the sons of Alu, Gygatherion freed what remained of the slaves of Truul. And for good measure, Gygatherion ensured that all monstrosities created by Truul were slain by his own ax.

Alu was briefly dismayed by the actions of Gygatherion , but he received his son warmly. And all was forgiven. Then, on the next beautiful day on Gaia Saar, Alu visited the lands with his son. Therein the strongest bones of the earth, Alu commanded his son to take a bride from the daughters of men. Alu believed that the good heart of his son, Gygatherion, would flow through the bloodlines of men, and a fair king would be ensured for a long, long time.

True to his father’s will, Gygatherion set out to find a wife.

Vorania, lady of the southern peninsula of Caladrake, was a rare marvel of creatures both fair and wise. Her hair was the color of midnight, smooth as silk, and her eyes glowed like green sapphires above her sharp nose and high set cheekbones. Upon their first meeting, Gygatherion could not move his gaze away from Vorania’s eyes, his hands longing to pass through her silky hair, and press against her olive skin.

At length, within the course of their marriage, Gygatherion and the Lady Vorania were blessed with a son. The almighty Alu came to Gaia Saar one last time, to bless his grandchild, who he named Futharion. It was a name which passed on into legend in the nine realms of mortal men.

The Blessed Lands of Gaia Saar

In the golden days of yore, King Futharion was lord of the land and all that lived in the realm of Gaia Saar. Futharion’s eyes were keen and farseeing. He saw all that transpired over the lands of Gaia Saar. From his high seat the lord watched his lands grow rich in culture and kinship. 

Upon his high Olympian brow rested the circlet of Ardor, a golden set jewel, hexagonal, red, and blazing. Futharion’s eyes held a far and remote quality, blue as the flames of Andromeda, and kindling with ancient wisdom. The king had aged nearly a century, but for those who looked upon Futharion, their king looked not a day older than forty-five.

A tall king was Futharion. His great hall was indeed built by his own hand, and he was as skillful in masonry as he was skilled with a blade. Overall, Futharion was a king mighty in stature. It was never doubted in the minds of the people that their King was the lord of the land, and his domain was all that was the planet Gaia Saar. Some even thought Futharion immortal. Gaians revered their king so highly, that many had forgotten Alu almighty, the grandfather of the giants, and the divine architect of Gaia Saar.

Far off to the barrens in the east, and at the shores of the south sea, cloisters of mages congregated in secret guilds of darkness. Word of these factions reached the ear of the elder sage, Malaar of Talos.

In Talos, the order of the clergy of Alu worked to refine, retune, and rebuild the forces of chaos into the harmonized order of nature which was almighty Alu’s plan; A plan known to only a few wise men, mages, who had themselves been selected by the ancient grandfather of giants, and long before the kingdom of Futherion was raised from the bones of the earth.

Malaar, who was both councilmen and friend to the chairman of the guild of magic, approached Aldus with the news of these factions of chaos with seasoned caution. The elderly sage knew all too well the fiery nature of Aldus. The arch mage Aldus brooded over the possibility of war often. An ancient man himself, Aldus was born before the golden age of Gaia Saar, as was Malaar. This more than anything else made the two scholars kinsmen of the older world. Yet, Malaar was the more patient and thoughtful of the elders, whereas Aldus was as temperamental as he was powerful in magical knowledge. In the past, Aldus was cautioned by Malaar for his rash actions in the east, where factions of desert wanderers dabbled in ancient knowledge outside of the order of Alu. Vast firestorms hurled down meteorites like canon balls plummeting to a battlefield—except, that in the case of the east, no war had ever been declared by either side. Malaar was weary of the east, to be sure. However, in his friend, Malaar had little faith in his better judgment.

In an attempt to avoid unnecessary conflict between the south of Talos and the far east, Malaar devised a plan to scout the peaks of the eastern borderlands in secret. Having made his decision to keep his friend in the dark about his plans, Malaar announced his temporary leave of Talos to the arch magus, Aldus, stating that he would himself visit King Futharion with their quarterly announcements on the prosperity of Talosians in the name of his highness, and onward to the pinnacle of Threshaven, whereat the shrine of Aesirion Malaar would pay Talos’ homage to the all-father, Alu.

Being deep in study of his worm eaten books, Aldus was absent of all concern about worldly affairs, and so thus Aldus agreed to Malaar’s request of leave from Talos.  

Walking northbound on a cobbled road, Malaar paused to peer back at the high citadel of Talos. It’s white towers glistened in the sunrise with an auburn hue. The enchantments of Aldus, he remembered taking notes on this magic during one of their lectures in the courtyard of wizards. Malaar let his sentiments break apart like flower seeds in the wind. Onward was his risky venture, and far it would be. Wizards of Talos walked, and seldom had need to ride a horse. Yet, a horse was what Malaar needed to make his journey over the eastern ridge. The rogue scholar would acquire a horse once he arrived to greet the king in the great city of gold. 

Bountiful were the fruits of the prosperous and proud people of Gaia Saar. Gaians, as they referred to themselves, were stout in mind, body, and spirit. Every harvest was a banquet. Every book a treasured classic. Every portrait a work of art. Architecture in Gaia city was functionally aesthetic.

Here and there were the abundant harvests of wheat. Children ate pastries without care, and they danced their little feet merrily to the sounds of flutes and harps. Gay were the people of Gaia, for no man was required to work more than his share of a few hours, though many gleefully offered of themselves to help others in their labors. No task was too great or too small for a Gaian. Nearly every man was physically able to heft great loads, and the women were more than half the strength of the men. Powerful were their people. And kindness was never beneath their dignity. To all were all welcome, was the way of Gaians.  

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