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I have some thoughts about Khoronos and the immortals in the early days of Mystara. Not the real early days with Odin, Hel, and Valerias but long before Freda, Fredara, and Thor became immortals. It includes many references to Blackmoor so it might be worth posting in two places, three places because it says some things that are relevant to 2300 BC. It's more concerned with the immortal campaign setting than answering the question of whether Blackmoor is somewhere on Brun, Skothar, or elsewhere.
Immortals circa 4000 BCby Andrew Tyrus Wieland
Khoronos appeared as he did in life, a male of Neathar descent and ancient of days. Ixion had asked him to lead a discussion about the Cult of Zugzul the One. The Hierarch of Energy would open the meeting but wouldnít answer any questions.
Khoronos had already developed a countermeasure and he was prepared to reveal it to immortals from all five spheres. Ixion would be the only guest from the Sphere of Energy and Nyx would be the only one to represent Entropy. Terra would be the fourth to appear. There would be temporals to represent three spheres. They would question Ssu-Ma who would represent the Sphere of Thought.
Khoronos had lived for hundreds of years in his quest for immortality. He had seen the rise and fall of Blackmoor. He had walked as an immortal for seven years and he had already seen much. He had seen Ixion ignite the central fire and he had seen Thanatos shut it down. He would travel into the past to take his place as the Hierarch of Time.
Khoronos had seen eight wanderers that circled the central fire of Ixion. He had set the sixth wanderer in its place. He had seen Ordana and Protius place the seventh and eighth wanderers, which were too far away and faint to be seen by human eyes on Terra. He knew that Terra, who shared her name with the second wanderer, was an earth elemental and native to the sixth wanderer. She was the Hierarch of Matter.
Calitha, Ordana, and Protius had achieved immortality in the Sphere of Time before Khoronos was born, they wouldnít be at the meeting. Faunus, Ka, Kagyar, Korotiku, Valerias, and Viuden were other immortals that wouldnít be present.
Khoronos was an official in the court of Uther Andrahar and had a home in Vestfold. He also had a home in Blackmoor and was one of its first settlers. He was friendly to Rissa Aleford, Svenny, and Uberstar Khazakum.
Khoronos would sell his third home to the merchant who would become Asterius but the two future immortals would never meet. He would build his fourth house in the aftermath of the Great Rain of Fire.
Khoronos hadnít been introduced to the Hierarchs of Entropy and Thought, he had only seen them from a distance. He knew that Asterius would be an immortal in the Sphere of Thought. He had met a Neathar druid but wasnít aware that she would achieve immortality or what she would be called.
Terra arrived at the meeting and saw that Ixion and Khoronos had already taken their seats. Nyx was standing before Khoronos and speaking to him. Nyx and Terra appeared as females of Neathar descent with dark hair. They appeared young but they were ancient compared to Khoronos.
Nyx explained that Zugzul could be an immortal from the Sphere of Energy.
Nyx had heard the name of Zugzul spoken by the army that marched on the Vales. She had found no sign of him on the Plains of Hak. If Thanatos knew anything about Zugzul he hadnít shared it with her, which was disturbing in itself.
Khoronos asked Nyx if Thanatos knew that the theme of Zugzul resembled the theme of the Great Khan. She said that he knew. She said that the Great Khan wasnít due to be born until the days of King Dorfin IV Everast.
The temporals began to arrive. Some of them spoke to Khoronos and none of them spoke to Nyx. They formed three groups for the Spheres of Matter, Time, and Thought. Some of them talked with others in their groups, some of them talked to other they knew in mortal life, and some of them were silent.
The temporals were immortals and the ones that did most of the routine work. Some of them had been initiates in the recent past and still remembered their mortal life. Some of them had been initiates so long ago that they didnít care to remember how it all began. Some of them had been celestials before they were demoted to temporal status.
Terra wore archaic clothing that wasnít out of place in Blackmoor. Nyx wore clothing appropriate to a meeting hall or a battlefield. Their clothing and form wasnít human because it existed in four dimensions but it was the nearest immortal equivalent.
Ssu-ma arrived and took his seat. He walked past Terra and said nothing to anyone. He appeared as a youthful adult male of Oltec descent and he was dressed as a scribe. He had been a scribe for a prince in his mortal life and he had been called the spellslinger. He found a way to invoke magic without a link to an immortal or a pantheon of immortals. Some said he had copied the craft from a scribe named Vance.
Ssu-ma was ancient and some said he had been an immortal before Viuden taught men to speak. Some said he was an elemental from the fifth wanderer who had taught the craft of magic to one or more human scribes. He was familiar with written language and bronze weapons and tools when he became an immortal. He claimed to have destroyed an artifact called the Smoking Mirror. He never said when and where he had been born.
Khoronos saw that Ssu-ma had left a musical instrument on the arm of his chair, it was called a hyperstring and when the Hierarch played it sounded like a fiddle. He took it up and waited for the last of the temporals to arrive. The temporals took their seats and Nyx took a place at the door.
Khoronos said that he would play and speak about Zugzul and his performance would have four movements. He would dedicate them to shape changers, aquatic creatures, flying creatures, and tricksters. He had named them Gathering Darkness, Fire on the Mountain, Floating City, and Downfall. Others might choose to call them Duchy of Ten, Temple of the Frog, Valley of the Ancients, and Broken Egg.
Khoronos wrote four movements based on four houses where he had lived. There was a gap between each lifespan, the first one took place five hundred years in the past. He believed the gap between the second and third movements was the same length and the gap between the third and fourth was slightly longer. The length of the movements could alter the length of the last two gaps.
Khoronos didnít say anything about the characters but it was obvious that Uther Andrahar would be the protagonist of the first movement and likely that Rissa Aleford was the second protagonist. Uther could be engaged to marry Rissa at the end of the second movement or could marry someone else at the end of the first or third movement. The fourth movement was experimental and had no main character.
Khoronos had asked for help from Nyx to write the first movement and her influence could be felt on the next three movements. Toska Rosa was the antagonist of the first movement and never confronts the protagonist. The relationship between her and Zugzul was based on the relationship between Nyx and Thanatos.
Khoronos had many options for the second movement. The antagonist could reform because of the good influence of the protagonist. The antagonist could become the protagonist of the third movement without converting to good and civil behavior. He would choose an option based on the influence of Terra and the other immortals.
Khoronos played his theme, it was simple but had flair that wasnít obvious at first. It attracted the attention and it threatened to become repetitive over time but it never seemed to have run out.
Some of the temporals liked the music. Some of them werenít sure about it but they were pleased to hear a new song. Some of them waited for the Master of Time to finish.
An immortal walked into the hall, it appeared to be a woman with fair skin and golden hair. She was dressed in a style that was nearly a millenium ahead of its time. Nyx asked if she was late. The visitor said she was early, in fact she hadnít even been born yet. Nyx explained that it happened with immortals in the Time sphere. She said she was not.
An immortal walked into the hall and interrupted the conversation, it appeared to be a woman with fair skin and golden hair. She was dressed in a style that was nearly a millenium ahead of its time. Nyx said she was not, and the third immortal asked if she could be not. The three women looked at each other and the two visitors left the hall.
Khoronos ended his performance and asked Ssu-ma to speak. The scribe said if Zugzul was an immortal from the spheres of Entropy or Energy it was unwilling to grant spells. He didnít know what Zugzul was and he would explain why he didnít know.
Khoronos asked Ssu-ma to explain how spells worked for the benefit of immortals that hadnít visited the prime plane for thousands of years.
Mediums always had a symbolic link to the astral plane. Adepts always had a connection to a pantheon, a lone immortal, or one of the five spheres. Acolytes had magic without a connection to an immortal or a connection to the Akashic records, Ssu-ma explained. His reasons were technical and difficult to follow without access to information sources beyond the five senses.
Toska Rosa had magic and he wasnít sure how she had obtained it. She was like Nyx but she didnít have a disfigured rival that she knew about.
Toska Rosa believed that her patron wasnít an immortal but a god. She wasnít certain of its goals but did what she thought was right. Her relationship with her patron was a marriage and both of them were jealous. She was the prophet but it was barely possible that a stronger prophet could succeed her.
Toska Rosa was the voice of her patron to the Afridhi. She told them that The One didnít want followers but companions who were worthy to walk with him. She told them that mercy was one of the diseases she hoped to eradicate. She taught them to use signals to know when to attack and when to retreat.
Toska Rosa had technology she shouldnít know about. She hoped to develop syringes to replace cure wounds and slug throwers to replace magic missile. She hoped to make Blackmoor the capitol of the Afridhi Empire.
Ssu-ma didnít know if Zugzul was an immortal, a source in the outer planes unrelated to the immortals, or a name without a source in the outer planes.
Terra imagined the theme as a fire that would spread until it consumed the world. She imagined a counterpoint and it was a flood. She saw the fire build gates to keep out the water and she knew she didnít understand the theme.
Terra imagined the theme as a bandit that couldnít be caught. She imagined an antagonist and it was a hunter that worked to shut down the black market. The hunter found a group of children, the bandit didnít bother them and didnít give them any food. They played with marbles that the bandit had discarded and some of the marbles were diamonds.
Nyx closed her eyes and began to speak. The Cult of Zugzul the One has nothing to fear, she said, except for the one not yet born.
Khoronos began to play the second movement. He played a lively theme that he called Fire on the Mountain. Nyx didnít like it as much as the dark, foreboding first movement. Terra couldnít be sure, but she imagined Gathering Darkness and Fire on the Mountain were at heart the same theme.
Khoronos played a comic theme, the darkness that threatened to come in the first movement had changed into light.
Khoronos introduced Steven Rocklin as the new antagonist and a countermeasure against Toska Rosa. He came from a future time and he could have been the one not yet born. Others had good reason to think they were the ones not yet born. The identity of the chosen ones was never resolved and Zugzul was never unveiled.
Khoronos played about light instead of dark but light had its own dangers. Fire that turns rock to liquid is pleasant to watch from a distance as it burns forests and destroys farms. Strangers from the future raided the Temple of the Frog, they left it in ruins and abandoned Rissa Aleford in Vestfold.
Khoronos introduced two new elements that he called the blaster and the cyborg. Ssu-ma liked the new elements and Terra didnít trust them. She saw how they could alter the balance of power and compel Blackmoor to conquer the Thonian Empire.
Khoronos wanted to introduce two new elements called orb and serum but in the end decided that the antagonist already had enough tools. He decided that the temple would be rebuilt to oppose the antagonists of the third movement.
Terra said Toska Rosa saw what happened to the Froggies and built a headquarters underground to protect against airstrikes.
Nyx said Toska Rosa didnít know when or where she had been born but she knew that the constellations didnít look the same.
Ssu-ma said the fourth planet was unstable and one day there would be a new planet between the wet and fertile first planet and the central fire. He said one day the central fire will grow large until four planets are engulfed by the conflagration.
Khoronos began to play the third movement. He played a theme called Floating City. It was like Fire on the Mountain but more complex and deeper. It was a juxtaposition of the mortal and immortal worlds. It was a threat to Blackmoor and an opportunity. It couldnít return to its place of origin without help. It could sacrifice itself and cause a Rain of Fire that would bring desolation.
Khoronos played about a rebel who wanted to return to the Floating City and overthrow the commander. The number of rebels had been reduced from five to one. The rebel wasnít destroyed but driven away, and the commander prepared defenses. One of the loyal subjects fled and Blackmoor learned of the new place.
Khoronos was willing to return the lost city to its place of origin but the reactions of the group suggested that the inhabitants of the Floating City spent most of their time asleep and when the visit ended they would return to their slumber.
Khoronos knew that the Floating City wouldnít sleep forever. One day it would be destroyed but noble efforts worthy of the immortals would prevent a cataclysm.
Khoronos thought it was sad that the commander was willing to wait for rescue by another ship but nothing would ever come to him. He didnít want any help from the dwarf crafters and miners. He wasnít curious about the deposits of black rock. He could have been stranded on a flat world for all he cared.
Khoronos became angry and he looked forward to the sorrow that would engulf them. When he looked at the crowd he knew that one of the lost ones would rise above the lethargy of his place of origin and be worthy of immortality.
Khoronos knew that the world had changed and the empire of King Dorfin would never come to pass. Nothing would ever equal the wonders of the Floating City. It would inspire the people of Serraine to good works, they would develop methods that would make an Empire of the Great Khan unworkable.
Khoronos thought about his old friend Uberstar Khazakum, who took a nation of herders and started a nation of miners. He made them cautious and reserved and increased their pride. He was a symbol of the first stage of progress that brought great wealth and great sacrifice. He knew that the gap between mortals and immortals had divided them.
Khoronos thought about the beastmen who were changed by exposure to the ruins in the Valley of the Ancients. Their children didnít resemble their parents. They had few or no benefits in return for their loss.
Khoronos never stopped playing and there was no clear break between the third and fourth movements. The fourth was called Downfall, it began with a distortion that confused everyone except for Nyx. There was a broken egg at the start of the third movement and it taught the people of Blackmoor how to build floating cities. It was the basis for many themes.
Khoronos showed that the Floating City was only a vehicle like the egg and the crew werenít gods but highly advanced mortals.
Terra didnít like the fourth movement, she saw it as a return to the Zugzul theme. She didnít know the fate of Toska Rosa or her people. Sages would argue about whether the prophet was an actress playing a role or a charlatan that believed her own lies. The Afridhi Empire broke apart into multiple barbarian kingdoms.
There were many ways that the song could end. Blackmoor could conquer the Afridhi Empire and become cruel and strict. Blackmoor could conquer the Thonian Empire and become arrogant and hostile to the gods. Zugzul would never triumph and Ssu-ma would never understand what it was, until he heard it again in another age.
Blackmoor could start a war with the elves and be forced to abandon its mines. It could be destroyed by an unknown threat before it finds the elves. It could be destroyed by magical research that attempted to duplicate the works of the Floating City.
Zugzul wasnít defeated because, like the Cult of the One, the Floating City worked to undermine faith in the immortals. Worshippers of Ixion would turn to human sacrifice to please their patron, causing the other immortals to turn against them. Lupin would cohabit with Rakasta. Tenians would forget the past. Thonians would turn to new crafts that merged science with magic and bring on the Long Winter.
Khoronos ended his performance and the City of the Gods was no more. The immortals werenít gods but flotsam washed up on the beach of Pandius. They were the five rebels on a futile quest. They were the sleepers waiting for a rescue that never came. They would fight to unify the world or fight to divide it and it didnít matter.