The Broken Lands and ki-lin (log)
This lecture by Xorus was done as part of a Frontier Days 2015 event.
This is a cross-post of the lecture from last week.
It was worded to be compatible with both the Elanthia and Shadow World timelines, even though the justification depends entirely on the obsolete history. The interpretation of the Broken Lands itself comes from the "Curse of Kabis", which is coincidentally about an imprisoned Althedeus-like demon of Shadow. The theology of the hooded figures is based on the theocracy of [Eorgina] that was run by Kadaena's daughter, the symbolism in the Graveyard, and the archaic lore surrounding "Void" demons, the dark gods, and the Lords of Essaence.
The creature lore is based on the bestiaries that were used for the "describe" verb illustrations. The "Ki-lin" in Rolemaster is sort of an evil imitation of Western unicorns, whereas their "Ki-rin" use the Chinese conception of Qilin, which correspond to the appearance but not the behavior of our Ki-lin. I would guess the reason for the Ki-lin in the first place was that in eastern mythology, the Qilin would appear with the birth or death of immortal sages, which is perverted in the Broken Lands with Uthex and the various monks with their warped asceticism.
- Xorus' player
[Monastery, Misty Chamber] A damp mist seems to seep from the very walls of this vast chamber casting the walls in an eerie green pallor. A large round stone stands upright in the center of the room, rotating like a coin that has been stood on edge and spun. The opening at the center of the stone is pitch black and odd runes are engraved around the edge. A low steady hum emanates from the stone, and the sound soothes your tired nerves. You also see a sleek raven, the Beldannon disk, a huge dusky shrike that is flying around, a blue-eyed tawny golden cougar, an orange tiger, a shabby black cat, the translucent Fupius disk, a pure black six-fingered cat and a puddle of water. Also here: Chancellor Kaldonis, Exitialis, Merikas, Pulpit, House Envoy Raincail, Skarrd, Lord Beldannon, Kirael, Rolfard, Alisaire, Keeper Astru, Duskruin Arena Hero Fupius, Lillinia, Bato, Lord Xorus Obvious exits: out Xorus says, "For those of you who do not know me, my interest is forbidden knowledge. Whether the esoteric lore of dead religions, forsaken rituals, or relics of dubious provenance." Xorus dismissively condescends, "Those things most would say are best left forgotten." Xorus says, "The darkest and most dangerous kinds of knowledge, whatever is condemned as the black arts." Xorus says, "The Broken Land is one of the most intriguing such things." Xorus says, "It would take hours to treat this subject properly. I will not even attempt to reveal all of its foul secrets." Xorus says, "Instead we will briefly address some of its major aspects." Alisaire grins. Xorus warns, "Some of which will be surprising." Xorus says, "Its history is rooted in the Age of Darkness, over one hundred thousand years ago, with the Dark Lords almost destroying the world." Xorus says, "... and the heretical theology of a demonic cult, which discovered its ruins through this very ancient portal." Kaldonis wiggles his ears. Xorus says, "The Faendryl historians have always blamed 'The Empress' for unleashing the Great Demons." Xorus says, "It is rumored she was engaged in hideous experiments of twisting life, with the aid of the 'Spirit of the Past', hidden away in the abysmal recesses of their 'Lonely' moon." Xorus says, "In the dead language of Iruaric these words would be Kadaena, Lo'nae, Loorn. In the common tongue, we call them Eorgina, Fash'lo'nae, Lornon." Xorus says, "In the more archaic theology, she fashioned many of the dark races of the world, with one poem calling her the 'Mother of Darkness'." Xorus says, "The Empress was the 'queen of evil', after all, who in the old myths invented the Vruul." Xorus bluntly says, "Very old lore. Mostly forgotten." Exitialis tightens his grip on his black orase runestaff. Xorus says, "It is the reason the Broken Land is so incomprehensible. Its secrets are all buried in obscure history." Xorus says, "Most theologians would assume such things happened in the icy caverns below its utterly inhospitable surface." Xorus says, "There was once a very esoteric legend, however, which would suggest it was not the moon at all." Xorus says, "It was instead an unnatural plane of existence, forged out of the rock within Lornon." Alisaire smiles. Rolfard gazes with interest at some strange runes on a large stone. Xorus seriously states, "... an enormous hollow sphere, spinning to give the illusion of gravity." Fupius ponders. Xorus says, "Coexistent with the moon, but hidden from our reality. Out of phase." Xorus says, "Literally. Broken Lands." Xorus says, "Whatever truly happened in the great demonic war, this 'evil place' was lost to history." Xorus says, "Some forgotten, perhaps banished realm of the dark gods. Utterly abandoned." Kaldonis shivers. Xorus insolently quips, "The charms of the Southron Wastes without the sand worms." Rolfard chuckles to himself. Xorus says, "It was not until a few millennia ago that this cycle repeated itself." Xorus says, "Followers of 'The Empress' were often called 'servants of the Shadow', such as their infamous phrase 'Shadow bind my soul'." Alisaire nods slightly. Xorus says, "Now, there is no making sense of the work of Uthex Kathiasas, without first understanding these 'hooded figures'." Kaldonis nods slowly. Xorus says, "Their unholy religion was why his work was twisted." Xorus says, "Six thousand years ago the lands around Darkstone Bay were controlled by a sinister theocracy called The Dark Path." Xorus says, "It was a cult that was in homage to 'The Empress', in the literal sense of thralldom under a liege lord." Xorus insists, "Their beliefs were idiosyncratic, so for the sake of clarity, I will avoid calling her Eorgina." Xorus says, "It was closer to her archaic idolatry, where she was made of flaming steel." Xorus says, "In their mythos the Empress was dead, but was born from death, ascended as a burning goddess of darkness." Xorus says, "Decapitated. Supposedly before the 'Gates of the Void' in the final battle which ended the First Age." Xorus says, "Her body fell through the demonic gates, ruling ever after, as the queen of her black hell." Astru frowns. Xorus says, "They believed she had fashioned the first of the Great Demons, and that she had the power to transform souls into the demonic." (Rolfard lights a small cigar which is quickly divoured in a simple inhalation. He exhales a thin stream from both his notrils which expand from the shadows around the room.) Xorus says, "These would have eternal existence in the demonic pales, in the same way that souls rest beyond the Gates of Oblivion." Rich cedar smoke curls up from the cigar in Fupius's hand. Xorus say, "It was 'the dark path' in purgatory that led to infernal damnation. Eternal power, or utter annihilation." Xorus says, "The ideal was to ascend to higher forms of existence. Whether undeath, the demonic, or even godhood." Xorus says, "It was a dark mirror of Lorminstra worship, replacing her with their 'Guardian of the Forbidden.'." Xorus says, "The 'forbidden' was being 'lost to the demonic.' Souls lost forever to the Void." Xorus says, "The hooded figures are the surviving members of this theocracy." Xorus adds, "Which was founded by Bandur Etrevion, a contemporary of Uthex Kathiasas." Raincail grunts. Xorus say, "This brings us back to the work of Uthex, one of the greatest theorists of his time. A Sage of what we now call the Order of Lorekeepers." Xorus says, "His worst fear was the idea of the dark gods waging war upon us themselves, without immediate intervention from the Lords of Liabo." Xorus ironically remarks, "It might take them a few centuries to agree we are worth saving. In the interim we would be left to fend for ourselves." Xorus says, "It would be impossible to win such a war, their avatars could only be temporarily defeated." Xorus says, "What was necessary was the ability to fashion entities out of pure essence, possibly even up to the power of the gods themselves." Xorus says, "Such was the potential he was offered by Bandur, who wished to twist his mastery of artifice toward other ends." Xorus says, "They would have met when Bandur was recognized by the Sages for his insight into the forces of darkness." Xorus says, "Uthex would have had no idea Bandur was actually the high priest of an evil theocracy." Xorus says, "And he was blown away by what he saw in the Broken Lands." Xorus says, "It was strikingly unreal. Cliffs cut as though with a huge blade. Snow covered mountains in a land without weather. It was a material existence within a more purely essence realm." Kaldonis beams! Xorus says, "Upon a barren plain was a great crystal dome that absorbed the surrounding essence, concentrating it in such a way that it could be transformed into physical entities." Astru nods. Xorus says, "Corporeal existence out of pure energy. Perhaps even non-corporeal existences. Intelligences fashioned out of the essence itself." Xorus says, "The Dark Shrine insinuated Marlu himself may have begun that way, or who knows how many of the other dark gods." Xorus says, "Such horrible power would make the fragile balances between the gods meaningless. If it really happened." Xorus says, "If that were not bad enough, there was something much worse." Xorus says, "The land was infested with extra-planar entities known to summoners for migrating randomly between realities." Kaldonis crosses his eyes. Kaldonis gibbers incoherently. Xorus says, "The texts they had found left over, however, implied these were once forged artificially." Astru giggles at Kaldonis. Xorus says, "Which is why the original names for them given by Uthex were all in the dead language of Iruaric." Xorus says, "These were twisted, unnatural aberrations, such as our Ki-lin." Xorus says, "Extra-planar, but dubious." Rolfard sets his mouth in a thin line of disapproval. Xorus says, "When you can do such a thing with extra-planar entities, you are dangerously close to being able to do the same with 'the demonic.'." Rolfard waves his hand in a dismissive gesture. Xorus say, "When the cultists tricked him into drawing upon a 'new source of power', Uthex was slowly poisoned with the dark essence from beyond the pales." Rolfard's eyes flash with crimson lighting as he beseeches a reverent phrase while manifesting the elements. Rolfard traces an arcane sigil in the air while incanting, resulting in the opening of a small rift in space beside him. His eyes glow momentarily as a very short mottled amber grik'pwal comes hurtling out of the rift. Speaking raspily to a very short mottled amber grik'pwal, Rolfard says, "So pretty." Rolfard touches a very short mottled amber grik'pwal. The grik'pwal's wings shiver slightly, but it does not otherwise react. Kirael grins at Rolfard. Kaldonis cackles at Rolfard! Xorus says, "It warped his mind and soul into a cruel visage of hatred and lust for power." Rolfard waves a hand at the mottled amber grik'pwal, shooing it off. Rolfard incants arcanely while staring at a very short mottled amber grik'pwal. He gestures vividly, causing a small murky black rift to open. The grik'pwal is pulled through the rift which closes behind it. Xorus says, "As he became increasingly darker, his work twisting into more perilous forms, his fellow Sages knew something was terribly wrong." Xorus says, "It was obvious by that time he was working in a region vanquished by the forces of darkness." Kaldonis acts puzzled. Xorus says, "When they confronted him in his workshop, the hooded figures attacked the Sages." Xorus says, "Uthex escaped to his great dome as they battled." Xorus says, "They discovered the secret passage to the barren plain hidden in his workshop. Uthex was able to conjure an endless horde of his foul minions out of thin air." Xorus says, "Ultimately, they had no choice but to summon down a terrible meteor swarm, collapsing the lands from high above them." Xorus says, "Far more violent than any ordinary such spell. The very sky fell to the ground in a horrible cataclysm." Xorus says, "The artifact was immune to its charms. Uthex was less fortunate." Xorus says, "When studying his work the Sages came to understand its nature, immediately recognizing it was too dangerous to exist." Speaking squeakily to Xorus, Kaldonis exclaims, "That's a good trick!" Rolfard gasps. Raincail grins at Kaldonis. Astru ponders. Xorus says, "Such a perversion of knowledge was not merely necromancy. It was apocalyptic. The world could be destroyed with its horrific potential." Xorus says, "If, indeed, it could do what the cultists believed was possible." Kaldonis hangs his head. Xorus says, "They called this wretched place the Man'Ta Pn'Tairken. The Home of Broken Lore. Of lore twisted into wickedness." Xorus says, "It was also called 'the broken lands', owing to its possible unholy origins." Xorus says, "And the ill-fated destiny of Uthex Kathiasas." Xorus says, "The hooded figures were much more well off. They were indestructible, being endlessly reincarnated." Xorus says, "Incarnation from pure spirit, after all, is the unique power of Lorminstra." Xorus says, "It was perfectly blasphemous." Rolfard rubs his chin thoughtfully. Xorus says, "With the cultists ineradicable, there was no choice but to remove whatever they could, sealing the portal with runes of warding so only the powerful could return." Xorus glances at some strange runes on a large stone. Alisaire leans back. Xorus explains, "Collapsing it would have been extremely dangerous. It was possibly an anchor for the Broken Lands." Xorus says, "The surrounding region was conquered by the forces of darkness, so the Sages established a hidden monastery to guard the portal from all threats." Exitialis put a ki-lin carved black orase runestaff capped with a rune-incised gold band in his elven-crafted robe. Xorus says, "It was not only necessary to keep out intruders, but to prevent the hooded figures from escaping. They struggled with them for centuries." Xorus says, "These texts they had removed, especially from the Dark Shrine, would eventually corrupt the monks who read them." Xorus says, "Some of them turned themselves into liches, ripping out their own organs. The Ritual of Black Eternity." Xorus says, "Others became specters while failing in the attempt." Xorus mockingly jokes, "It makes you wonder what was in the books they actually destroyed..." Xorus says, "In the end, they failed." Xorus says, "Their souls were forfeit to the very darkness they fought." Raincail quietly says, "I can sympathize." Xorus says, "The fascination of the monastic liches, however, has never been their own tragedy. It was always their summoning of a most rare and fantastic beast." Xorus indulgently says, "The Ki-Lin." A blue-eyed tawny golden cougar snarls menacingly! Alisaire grins slowly. Xorus says, "Most Ki-lin would resemble a greyhound with a stag's head. It would very nearly pass for the mystical unicorns in the black of night." Xorus says, "Fiercely independent creatures of darkness, obeying no one, according to old legends they enjoy impaling virgins with their horn." Rolfard grins wickedly. Xorus ironically says, "Ours are much more unusual." Kaldonis turns to Xorus and cheers! Lillinia feigns a scandalized look and gives Rolfard a goodnatured shove. Xorus says, "They resemble stags with a lion's mane, except with the head of a dragon and an ox's tail." Xorus says, "These are warped vestiges of another, much less malevolent, amalgam called a Ki-rin." Xorus says, "Aerial creatures of the light, Ki-rin will on very rare occasion answer the pleas of land dwellers, aiding those who fight evil." Xorus says, "Whereas Ki-lin are of ice and darkness, teleporting about with their burning horns, allying with none other than themselves." Xorus says, "In other words, what we call Ki-lin are hybrids, grotesquely transformed." Xorus says, "Their willingness to aid is unnatural." Xorus says, "While this might otherwise be dismissed as obscure trivia, it is inextricable with the unholy purpose of the Broken Lands." Xorus says, "Unnatural amalgams on the one hand, but twisted and perverted, something benevolent made to serve darkness." Xorus says, "The inevitable fate of whatever issues from that cursed wasteland." Xorus concludes, "And that, more or less, is the story of the Broken Lands."