The First Age
The Second Age
The Listener's kept 3 of the Brals in their age:
- Ukkoto Umberhand, Eater of the Light: He showed a near endless capacity for quenching light, and painted the world in darkness. His servants sought to extinguish the light so that the Ashen can be brought wholly into the darkness.
- Riak, The Nightstorm: Wherever Riak walked, Darkness would rain from the sky, leaving a stain wherever he went. He sought to take the Ashen's heart and take it into the darkness so that the new Incarnation can be a creature of Bral.
- Sissna, the Spinner of the Shadows: She spun her webs of night-mass across the land, this web caught any free particle of light. She was subtle, understanding the power of lies and winning over others.
The enemies of the Listeners underestimated them, thinking that needing to listen is a weakness and that by listening they keep a space in their minds for others to twist them, but they listen to more than the words; they listen to the beat of their heart, the flutter of their breath, and most importantly to their soul.
Later, a golden age started for the Listeners. They reveled in their power after they defeated the Bral, drove them away from the Ashen, and forced them into hiding. The Elder Dark remained, rooted in the Ashen's cooling extremities, where it sprawled across the plains on which it had fallen.
On the surface, the Listeners held sway, and rejoiced in the light after defeating their enemies with its power where they could endure the brilliance of the light and hear the beauty of its song.
They built temples of light to pray for the Ashen. Their prayers were intoned so they can be heard by their benefactor. But as the light faded a change fell upon the Listeners, a cancer of despair, for without the light the ash would become dark-tainted, a tool their enemies could shape, and the exiled Bral would start to crawl back from the plains of night to renew their old conflicts. Matriarch Amiren, from despair, went into exile in the Seat of the Matriarch and became a tyrant according to Bataran.
The Third Age
During this age humanity owned great cities. This was the last golden age created in the death throes of the Great Ashen, and were at peace with the Listeners.
During this age Humanity and the Listeners were able to communicate with the Great Ashen using the Heart of Lathyrus after the death of the Great Ashen the Listeners and Humanity blamed and fought each other until all the cities were destroyed by war or famine.
But as the Ashen and its Light faded away and the world fell into darkness, chaos insured. The great cities and civilizations humanity had built collapsed and fell away into the ash. Humans are resilient, and would adapt, but their history would never be forgotten.
The History of Man:
Humanity came to Ashen in the third age. Gefn took the seed of a Listener and birthed the first man, but whether the child was wholly her design, or patterned on something she encountered on her age of roaming, has never been made clear. Certainly Gefn swam from the Ashen in its dying breaths, losing herself in the seas of night and finding herself on many a strange shore. Some say she swam to the very roots of Yggdrasil and gazed upon the worlds that hang from its branches.
Men, shorter of stature and of shorter of days than their Listener ancestors, lived and died across the great expanse of Ashen, conquering territory, mining their host’s body for resources, and building cities where they dwelt in teeming hordes. The truth of man’s origin became lost in the centuries that crowded behind them and they happily wrote their own myths, building on fragments of tales found in ancient stones, or the words of strange Bral that began once more to roam Ashen’s margins.
Although humanity would never match the ashsmiths of the Listeners, there were mages and sorcerers among their number who gained some mastery over the ash and were able to work a variety of wonders with it. Some held that there are sentences within the ash, others that it is a repository of memory and that nothing touched by it is truly lost. Sometimes what is held within the ash escapes into a living form, where it dwells within the flesh directing its host like a puppet or even reshaping them into something new.
Humanity gave itself gods in their own image and stood on the balconies of tower and castle watching the light die. The ash drifts that had once been a vital part of the cycles that sustained men, animals, and plants, turned sour as the light faded and the ash became unbalanced, blotting up darkness as paper takes ink. Strange patterns and flows appeared in the ash. Travelers reported monstrous forms rising where the ash lay deepest, only to struggle to maintain their shape and collapse again. Crops failed and ash dunes swallowed villages.
Although humanity built many great cities in the third age of light, Lathyrus was the most grand. Seas that had been clear turned black and the fish within them grew strange. The last and greatest of man’s cities, the many-spired Lathyrus, fell, swallowed by a flow of ash that needed no wind nor gradient and seemed to contain with in it many great serpents made of the ash itself. So many humans died that the piled heaps of their bones grew larger than the homes they had once lived in.
Full dark came and the remnants of man foraged across Ashen, hiding from the Bral, seeking shelter in the temples and labyrinths abandoned by the Listeners. In the age of night the ash grew black and spirits haunted it. Sometimes it would form in imitation of lost cities, raising walls and towers in a matter of hours and maintaining them for moments or for years. Sometimes the ash would wrap old bones in night-flesh and set them walking, black simulacra of the original owners, either echoing through memories of lost routines or stalking their descendants across the face of Ashen.
Great libraries fell into decay, the ink spreading to turn each page black. The history of men shriveled from a thousand volumes of academic study to a handful of tales repeated at the fireside to stave off fear. Stories of the first man whose family sprung from the ash where his tears of loneliness fell. Tales of the heroes who first wrested Ashen from the Listeners’ rule.