1. The History of Meridian 59

The History of Meridian 59

Being a History and Testament of the People of Meridian; its Origins, Geography, Gods, and Kings; and an Abridged Account of Our Current Situation

The Beginning

The tale is told, though remembered now by few, of courageous voyagers in the time of the first great civilization, the Empire of the Nexus. These explorers journeyed in all directions by ships of the land, sea, and air, following the ancient Meridians of Power that converged on their land. These lines of power acted as both pathways and sources of immense energy, enabling the explorers to travel great distances and even, some said, to venture to other worlds.

Thus they found exotic lands, fantastic creatures, incredible treasures, and splendors of every description. This was a golden age, and the Empire became the center of the knowledge, trade, and culture of many realms. The wisest men and women of the Empire learned much about coaxing power from the meridians, so that feats thought impossible quickly became commonplace. As their knowledge grew, they carefully catalogued, mapped, and numbered the meridians and the lands that each touched.

Soon colonists followed the explorers to the richest of these new lands, to tame them and ensure the flow of wonders back to their home. Great among these lands was the distant region that lay fully astride one of the most powerful meridians, numbered 59 in their reckoning. This land was rich with mineral wealth, strange and beautiful creatures, and the vitality of the meridian that ran its length.

For a time, the colony flourished. Skilled artisans created works of beauty from the metals, wood, and gems found in abundance near the town of Jasper. Merchants grew wealthy plying their trade between the Empire and the coastal port of Barloque. Learned men and women gathered in the bustling city of or Noth to plumb the secrets of the land, discovering more about harnessing the powerful meridian that spanned the realm. Soon farmers found the best ways to use the abundant soil, and the villages of Tos and Marion grew into friendly agricultural centers. The whole was governed by the great Far’Nohl, who, for his learning, wisdom, and determination was crowned Prince of Meridian 59, and ruled from his seat in Barloque, in peace - until the chaos descended.

Chaos and the Gods

Without warning, the world was plunged into chaos, and everything changed. Communication with the Empire ceased. The meridian, once dependably fixed in its path through the land, now writhed like a creature in pain, as if it was a rope and the end at the Nexus had snapped. As it careened wildly across and through the land, the nature of reality warped around it. Unthinkable change spread in its wake: Areas were plunged into inexplicable darkness and creatures of earth and flame came to life. People died by the thousands, only to rise again as blank-eyed dead. Many animals vanished, while new, stranger beasts took their places. Colonists went screaming into the chaos, and were rumored later to be seen as changed, hulking shapes lurking in dark caves. Portals between worlds opened, enabling beings of deepest evil to pass through; because of the longest-lasting of these portals, even the meaning of death changed in this world.

During this time six of the most wise, those who had devoted their lives to studying Meridian 59, gathered in the Ring of Stone. This was their meeting place for deep discussions and great feats, and was one of the most powerful places in the colony, where the meridian itself brushed the visible realm. Kraanan, Shal’ille, Jala, Faren, Qor, and Riija met there to use the power of the meridian to calm the chaos swirling around them, though it might cost their lives. Each of the six agreed to try in turn to control and reverse the changes happening in the world according to their individual knowledge and talents. Kraanan reasoned that the changes were too dangerous and too widespread to risk their powers all together, though acting singly might increase the risk for those who failed. Any one of them could hold the key to controlling the meridian, while acting together they could even increase the chaos. Thus their individual attempts to control the meridian were fated from the beginning, as were their roles: to leave the physical plane and become the gods of this realm.

Iron-haired Kraanan, their leader, was the first to try to stop the shuddering earth. He removed his armor and grimly placed his callused hands on the hard ground in the Ring of Stone, pouring the force of his will into the earth below. To those around him it appeared as if he and the earth struggled, each trying to subdue the other, until finally the earth embraced him and changed him to its own form. In his last moments, as he felt the power he wielded turn against him and saw his own arms turning to stone, Kraanan’s rage and frustration overcame his discipline. He lashed out a final time in fury, the waves of his passion expanding outward like an expanding flame. In his passing the earthquakes he had quelled renewed, and howls from newly maddened men and beasts were long heard. The others could feel his presence and knew that he was not dead, and wondered at this transformation.

In response to Kraanan’s actions and passing, Shal’ille, Kraanan’s young and gifted wife, stepped away from the others, into the forest. She called forth a soothing breeze and light rain. Her subtle magic calmed the earth and those who walked it for a time, while her companions watched and waited. As the chaos lessened, and the earth and its denizens began to settle, she turned her mind too soon toward finding her husband. She cast her mind far and wide, but in doing so, the exertion allowed the newly unleashed power of the meridian to overcome her. In an instant she was swept away, taking the form of a gentle shower that gradually dispersed, though her comforting presence remained for those who sought it.

In the sorrow that followed, Jala, Shal’ille’s elegant sister, took her turn. Her song of grace filled the land, and even the Meridian seemed to dance to its majestic rhythm. As her sphere of power grew, restless minds grew quiet, and vestiges of culture and humanity began to reappear.

Yet, even as Jala’s magic reached its peak, dark-eyed Qor saw his opportunity—and seized it. Without Kranaan’s restraint, Shal’ille’s meddling, and Jala’s superior airs, she would wield the power of the Meridian as she pleased. Her obsidian dagger flashed as she buried it, up to its silver hilt, in Jala’s back. Jala, wide-eyed and uncomprehending, poured her essence into the Meridian as the life left her body. As her body vanished, only the last few notes of her harp were heard on the wind.

Faren’s strong, passive face had long held the secret of his love for Jala. But now, horrified at Qor’s unbridled glee, his visage clouded over with merciless, unthinking wrath. Qor saw her danger almost too late, and fled into a pocket of night as the swirl of destructive, rampant chaos gathered force around Faren. Enraged, he drew the full power of the Meridian into himself, giving himself over to its wild force. As the land shook and the skies darkened, it consumed him in a furious storm of wind and fire that devoured everything in its path.

Riija, the young Chronicler, now stood alone in the Ring of Stone, alive with the sudden understanding of all that had happened. The others had not died—he saw that clearly—they had merged with the Meridian, opening new paths of access to those who would follow. In that moment, he also knew the role he would play in the new world to come. With an enigmatic smile, he walked out of the Ring and into the mists. No one knows to this day where he went…