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Journal of Averyx: The rise of the Carnifex

by Cab

Part 1

(from the journals of Averyx: Immortal of Time and Patron of the Old Alphatian Clockmakers Guild, President of the Institute of Temporal Studies and chair of the Pandius Genealogy Circle).

i.

Many have asked me over the years to go into more detail on the rise and fall of the Carnifex civilisation. Indeed, after the the strange matter of Hallucigena it is probably the most requested topic of conversation with other immortals, and one of the matters I have been requested to elucidate upon through more commune, contact outer plane and gate requests than all others combined. And, alas, the problem with that question is that it is based upon a flawed premise; that there is an identifiable species or civilisation that can rightly be described as the carnifex. In fact, there are several; Carnifex came to mean, in the language of the original species to share that name, 'ruler' or, perhaps more correctly, 'caesar'.

I suppose that in any account of the full lineage of species calling themselves 'carnifex', the beginning is as good a place as any to begin. And thats a long way back in time and there are few extant records of who or what that species was. But I shall start there nonetheless, at the beginning.

I have told in an earlier tale of a great war between Hallucigena (if you recall,the name of the species and immortal were the same, the two being largely inseperable) and a race of strange, amphibious humanoids. That was not the first war between Hallucigena and another race, and I may go back and add more information of those conflicts later; the dominance of Hallucigena over races of intelligent plants makes is a fascinating tale. But it was the final stand of Hallucigena on Mystara. The race that finally deposed Hallucigena from a long period of dominance on Mystara were the Diplocauls, although they eventually took the name of their greatest leader, the one who led them to victory in the great war that nearly ended the history of Mystara almost before it began. That leader was called Carnifex. The Diplocauls were the first truly intelligent vertebrates on Mystara, and the first species to really trouble Hallucigena. Until their arrival, none could touch Hallucigena and his Meks; none had the physical prowess or the magical might to be able to stand up to these creations. All of the intelligent races of fish, bugs and plants who had gone before had been too slow in adapting to be able to win out, but in the Diplicauls, Hallucigena had met his match.

The average Diplocaul was semi-bipedal; he'd be happier on all fours in his little mud pool than up on his back legs. But he could raise himself out of the mud and use his hands in a rudimentary fashion. The only thing that held him back was an inability to see what he was doing with them, the species was possessed of an almost comical arrow shaped, hard head on which the eyes were found on the dorsal side. That was originally a superb adaptation to avoid being eaten whole by predators, but later it was to prove to me the making of the Diplocauls. Over aeons the Diplocauls learned to sense tiny electrical forces in the ground and around them, and their extraordinary heads became sensitive across their entire surfaces to these forces. The result was that while Diplocauls coudn't see their surroundings for toffee, they were able to perceive electrical forces in the smallest detail. And they learned to manipulate these forces to create a sort of writing. Thus with a basic, rudimentary intelligence and a means of storing information they had all they needed to commence a slow rise to civilisation. But what set them apart from the plant like species, from the early fish species, from the plant like races that had gone before, was the ability to talk.

This seems quite insane to most who learn of it now, those who can see back mere thousands of years and believe that gives them knowledge of the most distant Mystaran history. But, really, look at what came before; the plant races with their subtle chemical communications, the fish and invertebrates communicating by touch and light... What the Diplocauls had that none possessed before was sound. And it took the world by storm. For the first time a race had developed both the written and the spoken word, and that meant that Mystara had at long last gained the capacity for something radically, entirely new; wizardry. And before long there came along the first Mystaran wizard king, a Diplocaul who went by the name of Carnifex. And Carnifex was the first to put the prime weapon and abilities of the Diplocaul (namely, the manipulation of electrical forces) to the test in battle with the Meks. And the result led to all out, nuclear war.

ii

I have related already the tale of Hallucigena, and his side of the story of the war. He saw it as a battle for supremacy over the whole planet, but the Diplocauls merely saw it as a battle to survive. Considering the harm that they and future races taking the name of Carnifex would bring to Mystara, its difficult to believe that this was the case. They were not warlike. War was brought to them by Hallucigena, and the Diplocauls responded by hiding, by burying themselves in mud for years at a time and waiting for their troubles to pass. But Carnifex was different, he saw that it was possible to use the magical words of power that he had developed to defeat Hallucigena and his meks.

Details of the war are few and far between, indeed the damage done to Mystara was so massive that few species survived, and little of the written language of the Diplocauls survived the period. Hallucigena had wrought destruction on many races already, and in truth even without the war his race was dying. But the final defeat of his Mek army on Patera, and his petulant destruction of his remaining followers, rather left Carnifex as the last man standing, the final victor over the long series of wars that had ravaged the world. The defining moment in Mystaran history, indeed in the history of the known multiverse, now approached. The remaining immortals with an interest in Mystara finally met (the Conclave of Stone, of which more later), and decided that the destructive force of an immortal should never be allowed to go unchecked on the surface of that world again. The rise of racial leaders to godhood through the accumulation of personal might and power, through the ever increasing rise in strength until they were effectively immortal, could not be allowed to continue. One or two 'becoming' had been safe, but as each kept links with his original race and strove to protect and further that races goals, the never ending wars had made the atmosphere of Mystara almost entirely hostile to living things. Gods could not simply walk the earth. Something had to change, and once Hallucigena was out of the way, it could.

We wouldn't recognise the crude methods devised then as paths to immortality as they are now, but the bare bones were laid, and a clear division between mortal and immortal was laid down. And after his epic victory over Hallucigena, as far as Carnifex was concerned, he had been left on the wrong side.