On the Problem of the Dragon by Ruádha, Sorceress Queen of the High Kingdom:
You darkness that I come from
I love you more than the flame that confines our world,
for flame only shines a circle so those
inside are blind beyond the light.
But the darkness welcomes… everything.
Shapes and flames,
animals and me,
how it swallows them:
People and Powers.
And I have the feeling some vast presence is stirring all around us.
I have faith in nights.
What Has Transpired
When the Cahál and the Ternyn thought that tragedy had befallen them when their shared island Capitol of Ynys Mawr sunk beneath the waves, they were underestimating the heritage of sorrow that is the birthright of every scion of the Five Kings.
The war of Ascension where the High Kingdom sought to re-establish Siocháin Rí ( its dominance of the 5 Kingdoms ) was averted – temporarily – by the Fall of Ynys Mawr. But what came after was more terrible than any mortal – or perhaps immortal – being anticipated.
Spurred on by events ranging across the 5 Kingdoms – first the coronation of a new High King in Foraise that went terribly wrong, then the fall of the great House Cyrdaen of Tar Tranwyn in negotiation with the P’ntri to save their people from a Builder structure gone mad, to the Tower of Yesterday in Cahál – the greatest School of Magick on Mawr – vanishing entirely with its grounds and the whole mountain it occupied… the war happened in any case.
When the war began, it was like the glory of old – soldiers in glittering armor, sorcery charging the very heavens with an unearthly light, voices ringing from mountain to forest pronouncing the presence of the Hosts of the Houses.
And then the Houses themselves joined in … 1 by 1 the Gods entered the battle, shocked at being opposed to one another. Day by Night, against Day and Night.
Then the Gods began to die.
The Mist engulfed the battlefields, and even Macháin of the Three Voices could not escape by the Bright or Secret Paths. The Bright Ones joined the fray in their forms of glory and terror. Races unheard of and unseen issued from Builder structures to join the battle… against the Gods of Mawr. Forms alien and obscene, wielding terrible weapons against the Gods that proved largely ineffectual, until … the Gods and a small cadre of mortals began to wield Godsblood weapons (a fantastic and accursed metal made from the blood of gods) against each other.
The effects were swallowed by the Mist, washed by the Serpent, but the war did not stop, spreading, becoming a civil war in Ternyn.
Until as the sun set to start Midsummer, the Dragon died.
The crops of summer languished in the fields and did not produce seed.
The green heather on the seashores of Mawr faded to grey and gave way to mud.
The shoals of Mawr were taken over by eels and jellyfish.
The Southern ships did not come that year.
The Tower Sea ships with their magical automation did not come.
The ships of the Thousand Isles of the West came only as shipwrecks found as testaments to the illimitable wrath of the Serpent, found only ever at the revelation of dawn and their ruin, unbolstered by the hope of Lost-Pronabyn-First-to-Die.
In a Marriage of Serpents, everyone gets bitten.On the Five Kingdoms, by the Ternyn Siar Belliosas
Your story began in the recovery of this era. During the early Years of the Serpent, who is the only Power left to protect and defend Mawr, cold though it may be.
Magic has been loosed like wildfire in the Kingdoms. The enigmatic grey Builder structures have come to life, changing, expelling their denizens and swallowing others. Wizards have come from Cahál at great peril, but failed to stop or address the problem.
The aftermath of the great war was not only a massive loss of life, but nearly all the Siar (speaker of the Gods) have lost their voices, their power, their presence – literally, and figuratively.
The fleets of Mawr are gone, and the Serpent’s seas have become terrifying, unreliable. All the trade Mawr enjoyed is lost this last decade. The island is cut off, alone. Nonetheless, strangers appear in Mawr. In towns, on roads, in cities. They pass and do not return, secretive on their own business.
Tuhál sees Vulfen in numbers in the southern plains of the lost kingdom of Alae. The secretive cat-people, the P’ntri, are seen spying at the edges of the Teinwood – the rightful demesnes of the Tuhál and Cahál.
The ocean kingdom of Ternyn continues its civil war in the wake of its sunken Great City and its failure to stop… whatever happened.
Foraise is a place of Mist and ghosts – only the Ión river and the capital city remain relatively safe, and the white Builder ribbon of the Great Road.
Tuhal is mourning its losses, recovering, filling granaries again, turning its eyes toward a future, while watching the P’ntri and the Spider people work in the expanding forest of Teinwood with trepidation.