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Catastrophe Myths - Volume1

by John Calvin

Dalwin Lussos

Published in 977 AC

This leather-bound tome is marked with the stamp of the Lussos family of Darokin. It measures 12 by 14 inches to a side and is filled with sheets of supple parchment.

The writing of this tome came about after I noticed several strange coincidences, which I will relate presently. One of my mercantile partners, a Ylari by the name of Sayar-ibn-Memnet, always insisted on starting our business transactions with a hardy meal, and a long tale. The food was always good and the tale always enjoyable, if not perhaps unbelievable, so his customs were not hard to oblige. When in Ylaruam do as the Ylari, and you will never go wrong. I will recount a few of the stories below, in short, and their relevance will become clear later. One of Memnet's favourite tales was of a time before al-Kalim, when the world was struck by a great catastrophe.

"The immortals were angered. The First Men were arrogant with their own power. They became decadent and stopped following the teachings of their patrons.

Several of the immortals conspired to teach the First Men a lesson. The immortals played upon their pride, goading them until finally the First Men became careless. That carelessness caused the sun to waver in the sky. Terrible storms followed which rained down fire, instead of water, and the earth was shattered..."

Memnet claims that the story was handed down to al-Kalim by his father, and from al-Kalim to the Ylari people. Indeed the Nahmeh does make reference to this tale.

"Frowning down upon the decadent people on the earth, the immortals punished them by removing the sun, and sending upon them burning pitch from the stars." The Ethengarians tell similar tales which should come as no surprise since they share some common ancestry with the Makistani of Ylaruam. Darokinians tell stories to their children of a time when the sky was on fire, and the Thyatians speak of a day of reckoning when the immortals descended upon the earth to destroy a corrupted populace with fire and earthquakes.

In 973 AC, my father took me on my first expedition to the Atruaghin Plateau. It was there that I met several Children of the Bear, or members of the Bear Clan. That evening while we sat down to smoke peace pipes, the village elder told a strikingly familiar story.

"...and Atruaghin placed one man and one woman in the hollow of a giant tree, where they would be safe from the coming disaster. The stars fell from the sky and crashed upon the earth, tumbling mountains and opening up great rifts. When the storm of fire had ended Atruaghin led the couple to safe ground. They prospered and multiplied, and so repopulated all lands."

After subsequent visits I learned that the Children of the Tiger also have myths along these lines, all be it, a little darker in substance.

"The great King Xactocle cut out the hearts of 72 victims and ate them raw. Another 34 he threw into the pit. 10,800 victims he bled to death at the top of the temple, and their blood flowed down the sides to form pools on the ground. All of this was prescribed so that Xactocle and his family might be spared when the sun crashed into the earth."

I was now determined to investigate these tales more fully. Over the next several years I actively sought out tales from individuals ranging from Sind in the west, to Alphatia in the east. As you might now be able to guess, each and every one of these cultures has their own myths about what I will label the Great Rain of Fire.

The elves of Alfheim tell tales of great heroes who led them to this land after the world was torn apart by fire and ice. The dwarves of Rockhome speak of being led underground by their patron Kagyar, so that they might avoid destruction at the hands of humans who had "reached too far into heaven, and brought the skies crashing down." Northerners from Vestland quote texts which speak of a man and his wife being given shelter in the World Tree during a time of fire and earthquakes...a tale very similar to that of the Bear Clan. Even the Alphatians claim that their home world, an entirely different world than this one, was destroyed in a conflict between powerful mages of air and those

There are too many similarities in all of these tales to be accounted for by mere coincidence alone. Might all of these cultures have contaminated one another to the point where they all share the same basic myths about the destruction of ancient civilisations in the Great Rain of Fire? That was a distinct possibility. Although inclined to believe otherwise, I was determined to prove my point beyond any doubt.

Thyatian culture was the obvious place to start.

Their records are extensive (and more easily accessed than those of the Alphatians) and date back to when the Thyatian people, then divided into three tribes, had just colonised this land.

The Ylari attribute their catastrophe myth to a time before al-Kalim, and before even the coming of the Thyatians. This belief seems to be substantiated by several stone monuments located deep in the Ylari desert. Glantrian associates of mine have dated the construction of the monuments to between 1500 BC and 1000 BC, well before any Thyatian set foot on Brun. We must therefore assume that the Ylari myth is uncontaminated by Thyatian beliefs.

The Thyatian ancestors came from the continent of Davania, across the Sea of Dread. If natives of that continent have catastrophe myths about the Great Rain of Fire, then the Thyatian stories are not mere distortions of older Ylari tales, but are unique to the Thyatians, and not corrupted by mythos native to the Brun continent. Travelling to the Hinterlands, I found just such proof.

"...the sky turned black as the sun was devoured by ravenous Degnar. The beast then turned its eye toward the earth, and began to spew forth flames. Having been forewarned by the immortals, Ganrak and his kin were safely hidden in the cave where they had stored food, water, and two of each animal kind, one male, and one female."

This is proof enough that cultures both on Brun, and on Davania, have tales of the end of the world. The tales are so similar that we must consider one of two possibilities.

At one point these diverse cultures were a part of a singular culture, and it is from here that the myth originates.

These myths relate factual events which occurred at some time in our distant past.

The general consensus in Glantri, and of many other learned men to whom I spoke of the subject, is that the latter possibility is the more probable. What was the Great Rain of Fire, and what (or who) caused it?

These questions will be dealt with in a later volume.

Catastrophe Myths - Volume2

Dalwin Lussos

Published in 979 AC

This leather-bound tome is marked with the stamp of the Lussos family of Darokin. It measures 12 by 14 inches to a side and is filled with sheets of supple parchment.

Volume 1 in this series discusses the various catastrophe myths that can be found throughout the Known World, and beyond. Most of these myths describe an event that I have termed, The Great Rain of Fire, in which the world, and all civilisations, are destroyed. Invariably some immortal intervenes to save a small group of people which then go on to repopulate the planet. This story seems almost too ridiculous to believe. I never would have if not for several of the following points.

The myth appears in several unrelated, and often distant, cultures.

The story, with few minor variations, is always the same. The world is destroyed. Some few people are saved by the immortals. Those survivors go on to repopulate the world.

There is physical evidence to support this theory. It is of the last point which this volume will deal with. Yes indeed there is physical evidence to support that the world perished in a Great Rain of Fire, and was then reborn into that which we live in today. What might this evidence be?

First let us consider the myths themselves. They state that civilisation was destroyed. This implies that a civilisation (either one or many) existed before now. If this is true, then we should be able to find the physical evidence of this civilisation scattered throughout Mystara. It is just that evidence which I am about to present.

The Pyramids

We need look no further than Ylaruam to find evidence of a former, great civilisation that has long since collapsed. Having heard numerous tales about wondrous structures called pyramids from my business associate, Sayar-ibn-Memnet, I decided that I would have to see these structures for myself. After driving a caravan to Ylaruam, I did just that.

The pyramids are indeed wonders of this world. Giant, triangular structures made from thousands of cut limestone blocks, each weighing the equivalent of several elephants, the pyramids are a spectacular feet of engineering. It confounds my mind as to how the construction of such monuments was achieved. This alone would not prove that an ancient civilisation once dwelt here, however similar structures have also been found to the west - in Sind, and along the Savage Coast, as well as to the east - in Thothia and scattered throughout the Isle of Dawn. These pyramids are not the work of a single ingenious wizard, but are fruits of the concerted effort of an entire, wide ranging, civilisation.

Who built the pyramids, and why. This question may prove impossible to answer. Scholars and sages can not come to an agreement as to the identity of this once great kingdom. Some argue that the Thothians on the Isle of Dawn are direct descendants of these people, while others claim that they simply "moved in" after the pyramid builders vanished.

Under the Waves

Of equal interest to the mighty stone pyramids are reports of vast columnar complexes, and even of entire cities, underneath the Sea of Dread. Reproduced below is an excerpt from the logs of Captain Zenthralin of Aquas. Zenthralin is the skipper of an Alphatian Shark, an enchanted vessel which is capable of travelling beneath the waves. He writes: "I was at once overcome with amazement and resentment. As the Silver Mako floats along what once must have been a wide paved road, I can see vast complexes of columns expanding in all directions around us. Now crumbled and partially buried in sand, the columns stand as a tribute to what must have once been a proud and powerful people. I must now be the bearer of the unthinkable news that Aquas was not the first city to be built beneath the sea."

Zenthralin later sent divers out to explore the ruins, however much of his following report has been classified by the Alphatian government, and we may never know what he found. The little information we receive from him may provide us with valuable clues. Who built these cities underneath the Sea of Dread? The first possibility is that they were built by the tritons or merrow which live in the area now.

Minrothad, as well as Aquas, has numerous dealings with such creatures and their existence is well know. Zenthralin however, appears to discount that an aquatic folk could be responsible for these buildings when he laments about Aquas not being the first city to be built under the sea. The presence of paved roads implies that citizens of the city used them for walking - a rare occurrence for aquatic folk who swim from place to place. Columns also indicate a terrestrial origin because they imply that something was being held up - perhaps a roof or ceiling of some kind. This also implicates a land dwelling architect, for roofs are primarily used to keep the weather out - a need that is not present on the ocean floor.

Zenthralin may be wrong on another point however. He seems to assume that whoever built those cities, built them underneath the ocean. There is another possibility, and one that lends support to my own studies. Could these cities have been built by land dwellers... on the land? Is it possible that these lands were then sunk beneath the ocean in a cataclysm, the likes of which have not been seen in modern times? At this point I have no evidence to substantiate such claims (other than the cities themselves), so I will leave it to the reader to decide.

The City of Silver

My next piece of evidence, tales of a silver city in the mountains, also comes from the journals of an Alphatian captain. However instead of travelling beneath the ocean as Zenthralin did, Captain Farnemir of Aasla soars through the skies. In one of his journals we find this entry:

"...the creatures are horrendous! Nearly a third of my crew has been slaughtered without warning. They swarmed about Sun Chaser on insect-like wings, their writhing tentacles either tearing my men apart or flinging them over the side to perish upon the rocks below. I ordered a hasty retreat away from the dome, and as quickly as they had appeared, the vile creatures had vanished..."

The dome that Farnemir makes mention of is of interest to this study. Before being attacked, sentries on the Sun Chaser caught a glimpse of a flashing light high in the mountain tops. Moving in to investigate, they discovered that the flashes were produced by a "giant and inverted silvery dome." The dome was large enough to occupy an entire valley in the Silver Sierras range.

Farnemir's account may be hard for some to believe, but there is more evidence to back up his story. In 927, after travelling through the Silver Sierras, Cruth Mountains, and the Altan Tepes, Magnus Thorvaldson told this tale, excerpted from The Riders of the Winds

[Geoff Gander]:

"Can't believe what I saw; words cannot describe it! I shall attempt to draw what I saw on the last page of my journal - a fitting end to my quest. All that can be said is that all of the old tales are TRUE! They are out there, and they live in great citadels on the tallest peaks."

He later sketches what he saw:

" is depicted as having four tentacular "arms", a vaguely insect-like body (with what appear to be folded wings projecting behind it), and four spindly legs. Notes typed beside the picture indicate that the creature's skin has the appearance of an insect's carapace, as is a mottled greenish-grey in colour. The head of the creature appears to be crested, and large in comparison to the body. Dominating its face are three large eyes, which are noted as being red, below which four thin tentacles protrude."

Being most intrigued by these two reports, I financed an expedition into the Silver Sierrasin 978 AC. I equipped seven hardened adventures for a journey into that range. Only three of them returned. One, Engvid Gerut, a Wendarian ranger, disappeared before I could interview him. Of the two that were left, Malarik Fortane, a seasoned veteran out of Corunglain, and Luriea Malatarnakis, a mage and scholar from Thyatis, only one was left sane. Luriea spoke nothing but gibberish until she died earlier this year. Fortane, although a changed man, was able to confirm both the tales of Thorvaldson and Farnemir.


I think it is easy to see that there are numerous examples of ancient, and advanced, civilisations that have preceded us on this world. What may be harder to determine is who these people were? Was there a single civilisation from which we are all descended, and thus from which we all inherit the same catastrophe myths? Or were there instead several great civilisations that all describe, through their myths, the same catastrophic event? We may never know.

The story does not end there however. In the next volume I will again delve into catastrophe myths and investigate the events which they claim happened after the Great Rain of Fire.