MYSTIC HIGHLANDS – THE GENESIS
Chapter One- The Pre-history of Mystic Highlands
No-one quite knows how Mystic Highlands came to be, but the old folks have retold this story many times to those who would care to listen.
Legend says that the land was created by The Great Fire that engulfed and destroyed the old world. The old world was a dark, dangerous place with many hardships to be endured by all. There were originally four kingdoms each ruled by an elected leader. The oldest kingdoms, Mol-Rehan, Jenn-Kellon and Horde of the Summoned fought one another for many years. It became difficult for a person to live in these lands though it must be admitted they produced many fine warriors and the quality of their horses was known everywhere. People gradually tired of war and so prayed to their gods for help. As so often happens, there was a great price to pay for peace and it was that they must agree to start their civilisation anew. Reluctantly they accepted those conditions and the great fire sparked into life.
The fire destroyed much of the evidence of the ancient land but with one notable exception. The capital city and Royal Family survived almost intact. The wise ones combined to use their alchemy skills to protect the city. The veil of smoke from the fire swirled around the outskirts but was unable to spread into the city. Instead it formed a dome of protection that prevented the further spread of fire and allowed the finest, most ancient buildings in the land to remain intact. It also refracted the light so that from the outside the capital became invisible.
A new land was formed between these ancient kingdoms in an attempt to create a barrier to the hatred and ill-feeling of the old world and it was here that the gods created the new life that they hoped would spread out over the continents. The new world is now central to all the ancient kingdoms that existed for eons. No-one yet knows what the origin of the name of this land is but due to the strange happenings even on those early days, and the huge, imposing, snow-capped mountains it became known locally as Mystic Highlands.
The wise ones still talk about how when our ancestors gathered in ancient circles, the center became a symbol of their interconnections and so it was with Mystic Highlands. At the very centre of Mystic Highlands is believed to be a stone, marked with ancient rune-like ciphers. It is known in our legend as the navel of our world and it is here that our kings and queens were crowned. It was known as a place of great importance and of mystery. It was the point of reference where all citizens needed to come together as communities for feasting, remembering their ancestors and worshipping their deities. The stone was supposed to contain details that could tell the people the precise location where the gods placed the capital of these lands. The Great Chronicle in the ancient library gave scholars the name of this city as Eldergate – The City of Dreams. Alas we do not have anyone who remembers this site. Many people have tried to rediscover our heritage but as of yet, no-one has succeeded.
Chapter Two- The Royal Family, Government and early conflict
The first ruler of our beloved land is King Eadwulf. He was married to Queen Eoforhild with whom he had two sons and two daughters but alas he was destined to outlive all but the youngest daughter. Each child and the Queen, however, were destined to make their own indelible mark on our fledgling civilisation. The king was crowned in the temporary encampment that is Safehold so named because it is a place of safety for the citizens of this new land.
The youngest son was Prince Alfred who was given the task of ensuring that the granaries were always kept full, the forests had wood to keep the people warm in the harsh winters and to make sure that the knights had fine horses. Alfred grew to love nature but was killed in battle protecting the kingdom and on his death was buried with his armour, favourite steed and sword. In addition to these usual artifacts, young sprouts, thorns and a bow were laid alongside his body. Pottery, cloth and food were also buried so that these could be sacrificed for favour in his new life. A fine rare silver coin was placed in his hand so that he could pay for his passage to the after-life. The priests raised Alfred to the status of a god of our nation and he became known as Fo, god of nature.
The next son was Edric a huge mountain of a man. His task was to ensure that the smiths of the kingdom had free access to the many mines. Edric was an expert in locating and finding the best ores. His great love was trying to locate some rare stone He was also a just, kind man who spent his life ensuring that every person was able to try and achieve all that they dreamed of. He believed that each and every person should be born free and would often be called upon to advise the law-makers so that justice could be done. He died trying to rid the land of the evil that inevitably appears wherever humans live. Upon his death, Edric was buried with his armour, steed and great riches hewn from the deepest mines. His sword, inlaid with gems lay alongside him and a silver coin was carefully placed in his hand. Edric was raised to the status of a god by the priests and was given his name- Magranon.
Elfgifu was the eldest daughter of Eadwulf. She loved learning and enjoyed studying the ancient legends of the kingdom. She could be often seen hunting using the bows that she had hewn from the willow that swept the banks of the lakes. Fishing was another love and once again, she would create her own fine rods from her favoured willow. Eadwulf ensured that Elfgifu could safely walk to the lakes and many fine paved paths were created. One day which was to be burned in the mind of Eadwulf the body of his daughter was found by the banks of the lake. In her hand was a bow, a rod and a book. The book was opened at a page containing an ancient map containing clues about how to reach the Mystic Stone. Had Elfgifu discovered how to reach the stone, was someone trying to prevent from doing this? Eadwulf pondered all of this over and over again. Elfgifu was buried in her finest clothes, her fastest most favoured steed and her beloved bow, rod and books. A rare silver coin was placed lovingly in the hand of the princess. The King blamed himself for the death of his daughter and was becoming increasingly distant from his Queen, his court and his subjects. Like her siblings, Elfgifu was raised to the status of a goddess and was given the name Vynora.
Queen Eoforhild had been married to Eadwulf for over thirty years. Her name was to become both significant and feared by many citizens. She was given the name from the ancient language elements eofor “boar” and hild “battle”. For some unknown reason, when hunting she would always be the focus of attacks from the boars that she searched for in the forests. The Queen could be found at the side of Eadwulf in battles. She earned a reputation as a fearsome warrior. The enemy who fell into the hands of Eoforhild was not so fortunate. She would take pleasure in torturing, maiming and killing anyone who dared attack her kingdom but over the years she had started to treat her own citizens in the same sadistic manner. Her children became ashamed of what their mother had become and her husband, the King, became increasingly estranged. One day Queen Eoforhild was out hunting boar when her horse stumbled. She fell to the ground and as she lay unconscious the boar turned and gored her. The Queen died where she lay. King Eadwulf mourned his wife despite the terrible things that she had done in her later years and despite their inner feelings, the priests made Eoforhild a goddess, however they were to call her Libila, the evil, dark goddess and those who wanted to worship her were warned to think hard before doing so.
King Eadwulf was filled with despair, anger and sadness at his losses and was seen less and less in court and in his lands though the love of his land was undiminished. The only time his subjects would hear from him were when he asked them for tax due on their small estates or when they were rewarded with a coin for dispatching a dangerous creature. The one bit of light in his life was his youngest daughter- Princess Leofflaed. She had been named such from our ancient language leof “beloved” and flæd “beauty”. As her father remained away from the people, Leofflaed became more and more influential in the kingdom. The court and the priests came to love her and trust her. It was her ambition to see the kingdom restored to its previous glory. She dreamed of a kingdom of strength but also a kingdom where the law was respected. She was, like her sister, absorbed by the ancient texts and legends. She longed to discover the ancient stone in the centre of the land and from it discover the site where the new capital was to be built.
Leofflaed had long since been prepared by trusted servants to take on more and more responsibility and had already been given more powers by her father; however, she herself yearned for her father to return to leading the kingdom as was his birthright and indeed his destiny. One day, a famed mystic named Justus approached Leofflaed to warn her that one of the initiates, Mustes, had talked of destroying the kingdom and creating a theocracy which was precisely what the priests had vowed never to do.
Leofflaed determined to keep this news from her father and so she called Mustes forward and confronted him with the accusation of trying to usurp the throne and destroy the kingdom that her father had so lovingly built up. Mustes remained silent, closed his eyes and vanished to the remotest part of the kingdom. Leofflaed talked with her most trusted priests and after some thought calmly made two edicts. The first was that Mustes and anyone who supported his aim were to be forever banished from the kingdom. The second was that anyone who supported the kingdom against Mustes was to be well rewarded in coins according to their effort in battle.
The Royal Family now lives in the citadel which dominates the city of Eldergate. Only they and a small number of trusted servants know the exact location of where they live. Mustes was banished from the city before the protective veil from the fire and so is now unable to return to Eldergate. His aim, to destroy the kingdom must wait until he is able to locate the city once more. The city shall have to remain hidden until it can be certain that the fledgling citizens are able to protect their beloved Royals.
Chapter Three- New Citizens and new challenges
Now in the present day, the kingdom appears to be safer and calmer than it has been for many years. The fledgling kingdom saw a steady influx of new citizens many of whom came from neighboring kingdoms but all with the aim of making our lands great again. Many years have passed and many old friends have died or have decided to return back to their own lands but my memory somehow seems pulled back towards the beginning.
Without being able to locate Eldergate and pay homage to our King, new citizens set out from Safehold. This small, protected enclave was created by three knights of the kingdom: Lord Valiance, Lord Razathor and Lady Kaylie. They were soon joined by many others who sought refuge there but also to support King Eadwulf and Princess Leofflaed. These first settlers were ill-prepared for the journey that lay ahead of them and in the early days most simply spent time learning skills that will no doubt be of great importance in the future. Skills such as mining, smithing and of course fighting dominated the thoughts of many but some felt the urge to venture from Safehold and gain some tiny foothold away from Safehold.
Whilst people of Mystic Highlands went about their business, Mustes, forever banished from the kingdom had spent the intervening time to raise his alchemy skills and supported by his allies decided to once-and-for-all to wipe out the fledgling kingdom before ultimately turning his attention to Eldergate. Soon after arriving the new citizens were called to arms in defence of Safehold and ultimately the kingdom. People used Safehold as a simple fortress and were aided by a single Templar and Tower Guards. It was a bloody battle and many from both sides lost their lives but, eventually, good won out and Mustes was defeated. As he fled to fight again he was given a new name by the people who had bravely fought him The Necromancer, a name that was to become synonymous with evil as over the next few years he attempted time and time again to exert his will on all.
In the early days the new citizens heard from ancient peoples who already lived in other parts of Mystic Highlands. One of these mysterious places was the Tower of the Wanderer. Access to and from the Tower was afforded to the people of this fine land via a portal as a reward for fighting off bands of evil creatures. The citizens were able to explore the Tower and the region around it. What is was exactly, when was it built and why was it there were questions that were not asked at the time. Is the Tower evidence of a previous civilisation? What force or what person prevented the Tower from being destroyed in the great cataclysm or The Great Fire? These are questions that still burn in the mind even though by now many years have passed.
The discovery of the Tower may have raised questions but it also allowed citizens to spread to parts of Mystic Highlands that were far from Safehold. It was also around this time that life became more challenging as winter chill threatened to wipe out the early community but this did afford the opportunity to spend our winters huddled around the forge creating and sharpening the weapons that were to be so important in our quest to solve the mystery that is Mystic Highlands.
In the intervening years, with an improving road system, many newcomers spread out from Safehold to make a new life. Some became farmers, some smiths and others priests. All were made welcome but all were ready to lend their sword-hand or healing powers against the Necromancer. Sail boats could be seen travelling along the coasts and people learned to create bridges that were used to make travelling around the land easier. Small towns could be seen growing in distant parts of the land and then fall into disrepair as their founders find the challenges of Mystic Highlands too great.
The Crypt was a place that was found close to Safehold and the adventurer could attempt to accept the challenges that lay deep in the bowels of the earth. Citizens were amply rewarded for their efforts but possibly their greatest reward was the fighting experience that was to be gained. As citizens were time and time again challenged by the Necromancer, many brave souls met their end in Safehold Graveyard valiantly succumbing to the hell hounds and lava spiders brought to life by our evil nemesis
The Shifting Maze and the Perilous Paths were other ancient places of interest that were uncovered in time. These were places where citizens could challenge themselves and raise their skills still further in order to prepare for even greater challenges. In the times of peace, Merchants arrived in our lands and even along the coast citizens could trade their gems for coin. The Knights of our Kingdom used many of these ancient sites to bring the community together but also to raise the fighting capabilities of the citizens and prepare for the battles that must surely come in the future if we are to bring peace to these ancient, mysterious lands.
More recent places to have been discovered include the Dragonpath Raceway and Knightmare Castle. Once discovered, citizens flocked to them to participate in the challenges that each posed. Some citizens have started to wonder why these places of wonder have survived The Great Fire. Are we being aided by an as-yet-unknown god? Many of the places of interest exist along the coast. The coast would certainly offer some protection against any historic fires but could they also suggest that there may yet be distant lands across the great ocean that surrounds our continent? Evidence for this may have come from an event when marine monsters were summoned to attack Safehold Harbour. It took many citizens to prevent the loss of this landing but in the end, we were successful.
Portals have been discovered near Safehold that allow the explorer or fighter to travel great distances in a moment although there is a fear in some minds that the Necromancer may be able to use these for his own evil purpose. Where the Necromancer lives, no-one knows just now. There are still remote areas of Mystic Highlands where a cunning, determined foe may hide though much of the land has seen at least some footsteps from the new citizens. Could this evil creature live in a land yet to be discovered or could he be dwelling deep in the furthest mountains readying his armies for yet another attack on our still fledgling civilisation?
The land has changed a great deal during these last few years and the King has watched with interest. One year citizens found scraps of maps that could be used to find danger and maybe coins but these have been lost now. Perhaps they could hold the key to finding the ancient stone that we learn about in our legends? This stone will guide us as to where we may locate Eldergate- a capital fit for King Eadwulf and his daughter. We could however, simply stumble across the city just as citizens found many other places- through exploration.
Citizens often talk about where this capital may be. Some say it should be a citadel situated high in the mountains for defence whereas others warn that this could make it easy for The Necromancer to call his evil creatures out of the darkest, deepest mines. Some people say that the capital ought to be in a lush, verdant valley making it easy for our farmers to produce the crops that will be needed. Other citizens say that the capital should be found along the coast or off the coast to allow protection from the dark creatures and enable merchants to trade and sell their wares around the lands. When we find the city that has eluded us for many years then we will surely know- time will tell.
The time is surely approaching when the Necromancer again attempts to make the kingdom his own and people wonder if we can once again defeat him and his cohorts of evil. Old friends will no doubt leave and new friends will hopefully arrive as we attempt to create the vast thriving kingdom that our King deserves. Our capital- Eldergate- is a place that will surely have many stories to tell and many wondrous buildings to view, although we must search for its location first. When we finally find our capital then Mystic Highlands will surely become known as the most important kingdom of all. I am just a lowly servant but if we all work as one, then we surely can find what we search for. I wonder if new gods will be created to join those already with us but that will be for others better than me to decide. This story will then be continued in the way that a true chronicle should and will be talked about around camp fires, forges and ovens for generations to come.
Chapter Four- Princess Leofflaed asks for help
The Kingdom has enjoyed relative peace in recent years apart from the occasional testing attack from the evil army that is so cunningly controlled by the Necromancer. The citizens have used this time to raise their skills in fighting, armour-making and weaponry as well as farming, leather-working, tailoring and all the other skills so necessary for survival in these lands. Some fighters are so skilled that most animals pose little fear in an attack- but have we become over-confident?
Sir Valiance and Lady Kaylie, at the behest of Princess Leofflaed invited citizens to The Twilight Arena. Those able to attend included some of the most experienced fighters in these lands but also some of our newest citizens.
Everyone gathered in the arena looking around the empty tiers lest it be a trap but exactly on-time the quiet but forceful voice of Princess Leofflaed could be heard echoing around the magnificent edifice…
‘The King is gravely ill and our doctors and alchemists cannot help. His Majesty was poisoned and only one person knows the recipe for the cure.
The Goblin alchemist knows the cure. Please find this goblin as soon as possible.
Kill all the goblins as the Goblin alchemist is not easily recognisable. When any goblin is killed, look carefully through their belongings and seek the recipe’
Princess Leofflaed, despite her obvious distress, invited those present to practice their weapon skills. During the evening we were attacked by Goblins, Spiders, Crocodiles, Scorpions, Hell Hounds, Lava Spiders, Trolls and even a No-Gump. These creatures caused many injuries but most were defeated and healers were able to assist many fighters.
Many people thought that this was to be the closure of the event but The Princess announced a final battle against a Venerable Green Dragon Hatchling. Against such a beast we were found wanting- a true reminder that we must endeavour to raise our skills still further.
In recent days I have heard citizens describing how they are working hard to find this elusive Goblin but as of yet- to no avail. It has always been this way. Mystic Highlands is a tough unforgiving land where people can only survive though hard work, cunning and good luck. It is however, a beautiful land full of wonderful monuments that may one day show us how to link the ancient history of the Kingdom with the present day situation and ultimately the future.
Good luck to all who work in these lands and who search for our past as well as our future. Long live King Eadwulf and Princess Leofflaed and all our Mystic Highlands citizens.
Chapter Five- King Eadwulf succumbs
Much time passed since Princess Leofflaed asked for our help to find a cure for her beloved father. Many a brave warrior has travelled these lands to try and find a cure for our King but to no avail. The recipe that contains the cure for the affliction that affects him remains as elusive as we all feared it would. Nothing here on Mystic Highlands is ever easy but it does instill a determination, fortitude, even stubbornness into the hearts and minds of the citizens who choose to make it their home.
It happened one day- as well all knew it would- a message was sent out throughout the Kingdom requesting that citizens report to Safehold to defend the town against the Goblin Horde and their evil allies. This message did not come from Princess Leofflaed but instead came from King Eadwulf himself. Our King somehow raised himself from his sick-bed demonstrating the same characteristics that typify all who dwell here.
For some citizens, the journey to Safehold is a short horse-ride but for others it is a journey lasting many hours. This seemed not to matter to his loyal subjects as the time given to us by our King the roads were crowded with knights, soldiers, priests and even newly arrived adventurers eager to prove their bravery.
The day arrived, bright and clear. The valley that cuts though Safehold looked empty apart from the army of citizens that continued to arrive. Even the most accomplished knights looked tense and rode their steeds up and down the road waiting for the foe to arrive but where would they be? Some of our army used humour in an attempt to hide the strain of waiting for an enemy that could arrive at any time, some simply remained silent, contemplating the fact that for some this fine Spring day could be their last
A call went up- the King and our Princess were arriving, suitably late as befits people of such high status. ‘Hail!’ went the call from many as the royal party slowly made their way out of Safehold to where their main army was to be found. People bowed respectfully but at the same time managing to catch a glimpse of their beloved King.
This was surely the opportunity that the Goblin army was looking for. They had long vowed to destroy not just our Royal Family but also the citizens of Mystic Highlands and Safehold itself. The scent of death descended onto this most beautiful valley. Who was destined to survive and who would lay down their life for the King, our Princess, and indeed our kingdom? The answer would sadly not take long.
The alarm went out and all looked around to see their foe. They came in waves, goblins, wolves, trolls and wolves again. Fighters hastened from North to South and then back again. As fighters tended their wounds, champion creatures were unleashed on the brave army defending Safehold and our Royal Family. Lava spiders were the next wave to attack. We had all become accustomed to these foes during our endless battles with the Necromancer but nothing could warn us of what was about to be unleashed…..
Rift beasts of all shapes and sizes tore at the scattered army These creatures had never been seen on Mystic Highlands before. They looked evil, were numerous and unleashed great powers of darkness in every attack.
The defenders of Safehold gave everything and some their lives. During the melee it became apparent that our King feared that these great creatures posed too great a threat for his army.
His calm, powerful voice could be heard above the battle cries saying,
‘I know not what draws me to the North’
‘I fear we cannot keep this up’
As he slowly turned away from his loyal subjects he could be heard saying, “Farewell Leofflaed, my beloved daughter. I love you now and for always”
King Eadwulf increasingly found himself drawn to the North. Some brave fighters could be heard vowing to stop their beloved King being drawn further into an increasingly desperate situation, but to no avail. Fighters were still struggling to battle the rift beasts when Princess Leofflaed called out to the warriors and announced that her beloved father and our great King had died.
A silence descended across the valley. The rift beasts had been defeated or had withdrawn from the field of battle but there was no sense of jubilation, rather a hollow-feeling in all our stomachs and a pain that signalled our failure to protect His Majesty from his nemesis.
The Mystic Highlands army encircled Princess Leofflaed, protecting her in a wall of armour lest there would be any further attacks from our foe.
‘The King has passed from these lands to meet his fathers’ she announced. She also told us that King Eadwulf had given his life so that Safehold could go free. ‘It was the prophecy’
The last sentence caused great questioning and many puzzled glances amongst the gathered troops and priests but now was not the time to ask our Princess who was already preparing to take the body of her beloved father back to their home.
This sad day ended with Princess Leofflaed leaving the battle-field with the words that, ‘you will hear from me soon, thank you all for your loyalty to my father, my heart is breaking’. With that, she turned and with her closest advisers left to prepare for the next chapter in her life.