The Gods’ Duel
Long before our world came to be, everything known flowed through the stars. Great celestial beings guided the stars into shapes to tell stories, and when they grew bored of that, they started creating worlds. One fateful moment in time created a world unlike any other when two gods started building the same world by accident.
Taranis toiled away in the sky, bringing light and life to the surface. The other, Aegir, hewed a home of stone. The two were unaware of each other for a brief time of peace, and then sky met earth on the horizon and prides flared. Fire erupted from the earth and was hurled at the sky. Great claws from above tore giant fissures into layers of stones and ripped mountains upward. Calamity raged on for a time unperceivable, and humanity hid until something extraordinary happened.
The blood of the earth, the water that had previously only flowed from the stones, came falling out of the sky. And then brilliance, silver and gold, had now become part of the earth. This excited humanity and brought them out of their caves. They used the rains to grow food, and with gold and granite, they built great temples to honor the gods. Only then were these titans able to look away from their war and see another reason to be proud.
They asked one thing of humanity: “Choose a side.” --and so the two factions were created. Taranis now looks over The Order of The Gilded Sun, and Aegir harbors The Enclave of Blood & Stone. The Divine War ended, but gods are restless. Celestial battles break out on occasion. Mountains erupt fire, and storms rage where great golden arrows strike down a fire of their own.
As long as the factions prevail, the two gods will quell their contention before it destroys all.
As long as the gods remain entertained….
As years turned into ages, humanity grew with the earth. Their ability to utilize the gods’ gifts burgeoned into a place worthy of the word civilization. Although, synonymously, came the need to govern.
The Council took their positions, and their presence became deeply woven into the fabric of Ferös. Albeit rumors swirled around the five Council Members. Who were they under their dark cloaks? The only thing certain was they were descendants of the oldest families—the ones who originally encountered the gods. For the last age, the Council has remained the guiding hand in all major decisions of the realm. But like all things, time eroded their control.
The people could not relate with their nameless, faceless patrons. Soon, the factions looked to their Commanders for guidance and defied all other laws. This led to a surge of bloodshed between neighboring baronies. Each faction sought to dominate the other and make them subservient, but ultimately, it was tearing Ferös in two. The Council foresaw a world of endless war. So, they came forth with an idea to unify the people once again.
With the passing of its eldest member, a seat on the Council sat empty. To quell the bloodshed and disobedience, the people of Ferös were offered a choice. Meet on sacred ground, under the eyes of gods and man, and battle to the death, or have their fates decided for them. The faction who proved superior on the battlefield would be granted the privilege to elect one of their own to this governing body. The people accepted. And thus, The Battle of Banded Iron was born.
Within the bustling city of Emrol, the capital of Ferös, stood The Tower of Sumeir where The Council met, slept, and conducted the many matters of the realm. Sumeir was an edifice of their reign, built with elaborate stone carvings and large orbs of banded iron posted on either side of the front entrance.
The Council maintained their anonymity with a servant staff known as tacets, paid well for their servitude in exchange for their own tongues. Tacets entered their contracts willing, maintaining their assigned duties until their bodies aged and could no longer carry them out. Although none were indentured as long as The Emissary, also known as The Voice of Sumeir and the key element to The Council’s sovereignty. For The High Chamber, where The Council assembles, is a door barred tightly to all except one.
The Emissary spends their lifetime in servitude. Once they turn fifty years old, the gods select a feröner mother still carrying her child in the womb. This child is to become the next Emissary and considered a great honor for the family, but not one to be refused. The mother, reluctant or eager, travels to Sumeir where she delivers the babe during a private ceremony, weaving the divine with this new mortal conduit—the future right hand of The Council. Remaining nameless, the child is only allowed a few short weeks with their mother before The Emissary-to-be is passed on to a wetnurse tacet and considered the Child of Ferös from then on. For the next fifteen years, the Child is tutored rigorously for their position, from dawn till dusk most days. On their sixteenth birthday, another ceremony is held in The Tower of Sumeir. All the high families are present, and the commoners gather in the streets of Emrol, holding a great festival in The Emissary’s honor.
During this ceremony, The Council, in their dark hooded cloaks, form a half circle facing large idles of Taranis and Aegir. The current Emissary and The Child of Ferös kneel beside one another facing the gods with The Council to their backs. The Emissary uses a ceremonial blade to cut their own left palm, and then also cuts the right palm of The Child. With their hands clasped together, creating a link between their souls, the elder drinks a special poison—a swift poison, putting the former Emissary into a deep sleep before ultimately ending their life. The new Emissary holds their hand till the body is laid out on a bier and the pall is dawned.
The newly anointed Emissary often feels minor side effects from the poison themselves, light-headedness or a shimmer of light, proof they have coalesced with their predecessor and the gods. For their life will now solely revolve around serving Ferös and The Council—relaying their will, conducting matters they cannot attend, and embodying the rule over the realm as The Voice of Sumeir.