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Flaemish Legends

by Ripvanwormer

While other peoples tell stories of brave warriors slaying dragons and founding civilization, the stories the Flaems tell are altogether more pessimistic and fatalistic, tales of centuries of wandering, loneliness, and humiliations, of the never-ending hubris of their people and the inevitable punishments they suffer for their arrogance. Yet Immortals-defying pride is a fundamental part of their character, and always their hubris rises again, followed by yet another fall. They do not share these stories with outsiders, as they do not paint a flattering picture of themselves. When they write these stories down, they write them in code that only the Flaems understand, and few others have deciphered them.

Some legends say that Cassandra was not a Flaem by blood, that she was instead a daughter of the Queen of Dreams who fell in love with Meradon the Ash Mage, or that she dreamed of Old Alphatia's fall and followed the Flaems in penance for failing to warn them in time. Cassandra is mentioned in records from throughout Flaemish history, warning them of visions of doom but never believed until it was too late. Cassandra is said to have bore the Ash Mage three daughters representing the past, the present, and the future and three sons representing morning, noon, and evening, though the Flaem sold them all as children to slavers in order to buy passage from Hestavar to the City of Brass. For 3,000 years she traveled with the Vlaardoen family in the past until they were reunited with the other Flaems. She traded her eyes to the enigmatic guardian of the gates, Aoska-Shek, in order to buy passage for the Flaems between Pyts and Aelos. Tales say Cassandra lives even now in Glantri, a blind prophetess in a lonely cave high on a mountain peak.

A group of Flaems - exactly which family it was varies from tale to tale - discovered a way to travel from Entrem to Old Alphatia at the time of its height, millennia before its destruction. Yet they found to their horror that the magic stranded them in a single moment, so that all they could was witness the great cities and vistas of their home world, frozen and immutable, unable to communicate with their ancestors or even move a single solid object from its place. With the stars and planets still in the heavens, they had no way to tell how long they remained in the timeless world, trapped unaging between one instant and the next, until a Grand Planar Conjunction opened a portal to Mirage and allowed them to escape. None of the Flaems ever glimpsed their homeworld again.

For decades the Golden City that watches over the Straits of Teeth allowed the Flaems to enter their gates at the beginning of the dry season so that they could sell charms and magics until just before the beginning of the monsoon season. Then they were cast out for fear the Immortals would punish the city with unusually deadly storms for the crime of sheltering Flaems for too long. The Flaems would move to the City of Rats until the waxing of the Scarlet Moon, and thence through the Low Cities across the Straits of Teeth during the grim and festering monsoon season until the dry season came again. Then, at last, they were allowed once more in the Golden City of Cargarinople.

One year, at the beginning of the dry season, the princess of Cargarinople was kidnapped by the treacherous wizard Neru. All of the city's Flaems were blamed and threatened with execution, but the Flaemish sorceress Aldegonda managed to rescue the princess and six mysterious children as well. The grateful princess awarded Aldegonda with the title of baroness and lands of her own. Rather than share her newfound wealth with her people, Aldegonda joined the other nobles of Cargarinople in banishing the other Flaems from the city at the beginning of monsoon season. That year, while the other Flaems were wandering the Low Cities, a storm of devouring ghosts struck Cargarinople, scrubbing it clean from the face of the world. Only the princess survived, as she was on a diplomatic mission to the City of Rats (she would eventually marry Morning, one of the Three Enslaved Brothers, and help found the City of Morning in Cargarinople's place). Aldegonda was never seen again, though her ghost is said to have joined the winds, following the Flaems as the ghost-winds blew between worlds and planes.

The Flaemish sorceress Aldegonda freed three sisters and three brothers from slavers of Leng and brought them back to her people. While the siblings looked Flaemish in appearance, they could not prove their paternity and so were left behind in the City of Rats when the Scarlet Moon waxed in the heavens, awakening the yearly wererat plague. As it happened, they survived, eventually marrying three princes and three princesses of Mirage. They left behind a dynasty of noble kings and queens who unified the Lunar Empire and ushered its people into an age of peace and advanced magic, but they banished the Flaems from their world, casting them into Pyts.