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  • Citadel LandscapeHow do you chronicle the history of a world with no memory? Long have the scholars of Citadel faced off against this leering challenge, to varying degrees of success. They sift through the sparse ruins of the Ages Before, gleaning little but empty accounts of a seemingly endless era of devastation and abandon.

    One thing is agreed upon, and that is that the world has emerged from a long period of chaos, destruction and uncertainty. This period is almost universally referred to as the Rain of Stars. Estimates as to the length of this period vary from mere hundreds of years to guesses in the tens of thousands of years. Some even say that the Rain of Stars warped the passage of time itself, blurring day into night and effect into cause.

    The Rain of Stars

    Three hundred years ago, the world knew its nature and was at peace.

    The sun and moons wheeled overhead, the seasons moved in procession, the tribes of men harvested and herded and sang their songs of praise and lament, and everything was as it had been since time began. But then a star fell from the heavens and everything changed.

    That star was joined by a thousand more. Then a thousand thousand more. The sky was streaked with light as the stars rained down, the air filled with smoke in their passing, the ground thrumming underfoot with their arrival. Some said it was a sign of the gods’ favour, others a sign of the gods’ displeasure. Some said there was war in the heavens and that the gods had killed each other and left their servants forever alone. Whatever the truth, in the wash of strange colours the animals, the plants, and even the tribes of men took on new forms.

    - From “The Before Times” by Doctor Jude Mayberry

    It is recorded fact that the Rain of Stars ended 294 years ago. The event which marks it is known as the Re-Awakening. For whatever reason, people of the time describe being unable to remember what transpired previous to this event. It was as if the whole world had awakened from troubled dreams with no memory of the past. Some jarred and scattered accounts speak of a horrible purple comet which bathed the night sky in its lurid light.

    Not many written records survive from before this event either. Historians agree that shortly before the Re-Awakening, terrible tidal waves had swept most coastal regions of the known world. This is thought to be an event mirroring the disaster in recent history known as the Sundertide, but on a much larger scale than its modern counterpart.

    Little is known about the world before then, but it is generally accepted that it was a more dangerous and more savage place. It is almost impossible to determine how long the Rain of Stars lasted. Far from Dr. Mayberry’s romanticized account which suggest it lasted but a few years, most historians posit that the Rain lasted at least 100 years, during which time civilization was all but scoured away. Under a sky wracked with star storms and destruction, the tribes of men scurried about like rats amidst the ruins of the past.

    The Archaics

    Not all pre-existing cultures and civilizations were utterly obliterated by the Rain of Stars. Some survive today in some form or another. These cultures hold clues to the nations and races that stood proudly and defiantly before the Rain laid waste to them. These nations and races are collectively known as the Archaics.

    One such civilization, the Essendrian plainsfolk, fled their land’s destruction by taking to the seas in huge ark vessels in a Great Migration which brought them to the coasts of the Dartsall Peninsula. Their great fleet, however, was scattered and their relic Arks may be found beached or wrecked as far north as the Gascar Spice Coast and as far South as Granally. The Essendrian homeland has never been found.

    The Hictians are a leanfolk Archaic civilization who survived by taking refuge in the many caves and caverns that riddle the mountains around the Barhem Highlands. By the end of the Rain of Stars, however, their culture had been reduced to troglodytic raiders in perpetual conflict with the neighbouring Galtic Plainsfolk.

    The Karsashi and Ursashi peoples of the Yahabat and delta regions in the north survived in scattered villages and settlements along the length of the Paan River. Their sophisticated language, social protocols and oral traditions speak of an advanced society sometime in their distant past. But like most surviving Archaic cultures, it is likely unrecognizable as the culture that spawned it.

    Rain of Stars

    Most other Archaic peoples were decimated by the Rain of Stars and exist today only as savage and primitive shadows of their former selves, with only a handful of exceptions. Worse yet, many are afflicted with madness, and extreme xenophobia is a common feature of these remnant cultures. Scholars of the past see it as one of the great tragedies of the common era that these cultures are considered a threat to civilization, rather than a window into the past.

    The Astraics

    Long before the Archaic tribes of men ruled the land, there was another, greater and more ancient civilization. These mysterious beings are referred to as the Astraics. Enigmatic and obscure, they are regarded with almost worshipful reverence by many, and superstitious dread by others. Practically nothing is known of the Astraics, their culture or their beliefs. Due to the fact that no mortal remains of an Astraic has ever been found, no-one even knows what they looked like.

    What is known is their legacy - the strange ruins that dot Citadel. Almost all of these are made using a construction wholly alien to even the most advanced of today’s mechanomancers. Seamless and practically indestructible, Astraic “ruins” are often anything but. Perhaps the most impressive of these structures, the Cunningham Disc, is a seamless, shallow platform nearly five miles wide cut through with an array of concentric channels. It is so stable and solid that the entire city of Auldport was constructed atop it, with the channels used as the basis of the canals that divide the city and provide transport and drainage.

    Perhaps the most recognized symbol of Astraic civilization is the profusion of small Astraic structures that dot the lands, a common sight just about anywhere in the world. Typically no larger than a farmhouse, they are all unique in actual construction, no two being exactly alike. However, all of them bear the same ideographic inscription upon an unmarrable mirrored plaque. This inscription is the origin of using “Citadel” to describe the world, commonly translated thus:

    “The Stars may fall,
    The Moons may fade,
    The Sun may be blotted from the sky,
    But our world is Citadel,
    Against the Void.”

    That’s all for this week. Next time we’ll move onto Modern history and look at the tumultuous three centuries following the Rain of Stars and the momentous events which forged the civilized world as we know it.

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