The Six Altars of the Royal Basin
History and Ethos
Before the legendary coming of the Nexus, the Source Comet, that many historians refer to as the Source of all magics, the power of the Wyld planted the seed that would grow into the tree of power from which all branches of Magic grow. The ancient peoples of Daer Akmir, not simply the Royal Basin, were spread across the continent in small groupings but it is known that there were seven great tribes called the Earth Tribes who concentrated their power to the North of what is now the Razorback Mountains. These simple people tended the land on which they lived and took from it only what was needed to survive and tended to the ancient Gillieabad of the land. In return for gifts and kindness the Gillieabad would give voice to the leaders of the Tribes and grant them insight into the location of the most fertile areas and coming weather patterns. In this form a Tao formed, an ideal to be attained by the people that respected the Gillieabad in which the foundation of our current society can be found.
The Gillieabad and our Evolution
The spirits that we serve now have been tiered by scholars and our own Melkarr over the years; some are more powerful than others and if for no other reason than safety, it has proven wise to do so. At the top of that tree is the power of the power of the Gillieabad, the power of three, Ravage, Quinrath and Avvannah they are named. In the days of our forefathers all the spirits that flowed were of the Gillieabad and they had no names but their power could be felt. In those days they roamed the world free, stories say that they slept in the roots of great trees and inhabited the bodies of monstrous beasts, the only living things that could cope with the power of their mighty spirits. Unfettered they were and woven into the very fabric of the world of Vaklam that gives us life and sustains us. It was in this time that we had our strongest links with them:
In ways, long forgotten and lost to us, we learnt to leave offerings to the Gillieabad who strengthened the land; garlands of flowers, hard worked artifice of wood and bronze, at the places where the Gillieabad touched the world: Tree’s sacred pools, great rocks and where violent storms might be held. The wisdom is of the Great Spirits could not be guessed at but their benevolence was plain and soon, in return for these gifts, they began to speak through our leaders, those that become known as Augers or Druids. Special times of the month and the year were identified and at these times majestic festivals of gifting, dancing and other celebration of the Gillieabad took place. The Gillieabad would speak through our ancestors and seed knowledge in their minds; a greater understanding of the world and what was in it, through such activity humanity prospered. The teachings came in the form of farming, tool working, family, crafting and the like all of which would benefit both ourselves and the Gillieabad.
The Void and the Gift of Blood
At some point during the Age of Blood and long before the Nexus, the threat of the Void came and with it a darkness that would drown the Sun in the sea of the night. The exact connotations of what occurred is probably known only to the oldest of the Fae or the Skagriagaard but it was foreseen that only the blood of an Earth Tribe could hold back the darkness. From the line of Fae known as the Mora Mari was born a warrior called Skagridd, a warrior for this new age of war, one more formidable than any who had come to life before. He tore his way into the world a full grown soldier and called to each of the seven tribes to send him their greatest warriors. It is believed that these men and women came together somewhere in what is now the Harthalian Woods or Rhygahrea and affirmed their loyalty to him as the Guard of Skagridd. Thus the Skagriagaard was born.
As one the Skagriagaard dug a great pit in a place most sacred to the Gillieabad and there they called to the tribes and said that two thirds of all that lived among them must pour their life blood into the pit as sacrifice that the Gillieabad of Battle – Ghul might bless them and make them strong against the void. It was the first time that a name had been given to the Gillieabad and none knew how they themselves had come to know it. Still the deed was done and blood was spilt and Skagridd and his guard were anointed in sacrificial magic of a proportion that had never been seen before nor again. The story of the battle of the Void is well known but it is believed that at this point much changed within the Gilieabad with the first sacrifice of blood, indeed when the guard returned they did so with Blood Druids and Blood Magic, a now forbidden art.
The Fettering and the Rise of Kethlan
For many decades, unrecorded, the Skagriagaard and their blood magic ruled in the North, over the seven tribes from who they originated. Both their physical and magical prowess were much greater than that of the lesser tribes but still the latter continued in their worship of the Gillieabad as they always had. More and more of the Great Spirits were given names by their people and here, we believe, there was a decline in their power linked to that naming and there may be correlations to the utter sundering of power that occurred upon the arrival of the Source Comet: Generations of the Blood Druids and the Augers saw visions of the heavens on fire and a great shift in power. The Skagriagaard retired to their great feasting halls to sleep for an eternity but the Augurs stayed to protect the spirits that they lived to protect.
When the comet came it cause great changes across the face of the Tao that would cause repercussions for millennia to come. Great changes overcame the Gillieabad for reasons that are still unclear to us; many were scattered into the Calician (Kal iss E on) or Spirit World with their power much diminished, others became anchored to the places of power to which once they were called for but moments. Others still vanished into the deep Calician Wylds and have not been heard from since. In that one cataclysmic night the voices of the spirits fell silent, the great Gillieabad trees that sustained them vanished and the beasts in which they roamed the earth were gone. It seemed that the days of the spirits, the druids and the augurs were over. Along with them the seven tribes were split asunder as the races of the Comet were born from their flesh and the migrations to the South began. It was not long after this that the formation of religions based upon the Focus of the new magics began to shape the world and all seemed lost.
The Rise of Kalarm
For several centuries the art of the Tao fell into memory, only a handful of the most dedicated and skilled could find a contact with the spirits and they found them weaker than before. The age of powers like the Felakiq and Galafeli had begun. However much of the ritual that had been learnt, the ways of contact and the powers that had been manifest before were forgotten by the disillusioned and the powerless. The persistent attempted to contact the spirits and instead, unknowingly, were visited by other creatures, wicked creatures, that took on the guise of their former patrons. During these dark days many atrocities were committed by what was perceived as the Tao which led to the rise of a misperception of the Druidic and Taoic culture which still has persistence to this day, specifically around the worship of Blood Pits and Daemonic influence there.
Whilst this was occurring the Gods of the Royal Basin were gaining momentum and their forthcoming ascension to the heavens was causing belief to spread throughout the South like wildfire. The loose coalition of the Tao was led, at this time, by Kalarm a powerful druid and named Hierophant, or defacto leader, of the Tao. He was immensely popular and ruled from the legendary Dreff Wood (explained later) where he held his grove. It was there, whilst addressing his followers that Kalarin, Malice and Tremalian slowly rose to the heavens off of the back of the belief of their followers. Such was the potency of their action that Kalarm could not help but absorb the belief of his own kind and rose with them. In the action of one night Kalarm vanished and the whole face of the Tao changed, its followers and peoples with it. Instead of ritual and communication with the spirits and favour for boon relationship the Tao conformed to the practice of prayer and reverence in return for the granting of miracles, a form of religion that was to last for hundreds of years.
The Return of the Spirits
Kalarms rule lasted for many centuries but the spirits still existed and the old ways never truly vanished; churches were not built and like before the followers of the Tao gathered in places that were once powerful to the Gillieabad and chanted their words into the air. People still left gifts and offerings at these places and one by one the Gillieabad began to return to their followers. A Pantheon of Spirits begun to spring up, spirits that could be contacted and spoken to by the Melkarr and the Ulmargarn. When Kalarm was supposedly killed in the Pantheonic wars it was these spirits that took his place and continued in the same vein ostensibly as Gods; these spirits were Kethlan, the world Spirit and its followers Ravage Avvannah and Quinrath. No-one is sure if the Gillieabad actually understood what was happening around them or if they connected with the worship directed at them but the transition back occurred relatively swiftly.
As the prayer continued so the spirits communicated the forgotten secrets and ways of the Tao and slowly things began to return to a shadow of the past. As this was happening the foundations for the current Tao were being laid: Groves, or Altars if you will, were springing up on the crossing of Ley Lines and unsettled spirits were being bound to them and given names. The Harthalian Woods sprang to life as the Yuirfarvallen people gathered the true secrets of the Tao to them, spurning the falsity of religion and creating a new grove of the Hierophant. In Dreff the legendary Moss learned to speak directly with Kethlan and the legend of the Malefic Tree became known. Slowly religion became community and the laws and social politics of the new Tao were born, paving the way for the culture that we attach ourselves to now.
The Modern Tao
The Tao is a way of life that is shared across many sections of Daer Akmir and exists, in one form or another away from the Royal Basin. The system works around several key principals that are carried over from the days of the augers and the old tribes. Community is all important; sharing burdens and workloads and with a mutual respect for whatever position is held by the individual. In all things the spirits lead us: The Ulmargarn are our politicians, we call upon them to dictate policy and to settle dispute. The Melkarr speak directly to the spirits they are our loremasters, historians and Ritualists. The Ele-Strom are feared as our Justicars and law bringers and finally the Vormearn; our soldiers, our warriors and our protectors. Each one is led by the spirits and it is to them that we give thanks and sacrifice for their efforts.
Altars and Groves
Like any of the other “Guilds”, “Colleges” or “Churches” the members of the Tao require places for its followers to gather, learn and prepare themselves for their service to the Tao. In the Royal Basin these places are called Altars although they are more commonly referred to as Groves or Lodges in other lands. They are generally built around existing Gillieabad related places of power where Ley Lines cross and hold the collective knowledge of the ages of Ritualists that have dwelt there. Each Altar teaches a specific style of ritualist that will go on to support a specific part of the Tao.
The Guidance of Dreff
The Land is the Gillieabad
There are few habitats available to them and they must be preserved if we are to survive
There are corners of the world that have bred the most terrible corruptions, corruptions that stand against everything we are a part of. The must be fought.
The Guidance of Azilir
The Spirits guide us, they are free and belong to no-one.
From them flows the wisdom that brings us to the Tao and the Tao to us.
The Tao is the way of life that has preserved our knowledge and power for thousands of years.
In the Tao none stands above the other in station but respect is to be shown to any who have earned it.
You will respect the will of the Tao and show deference to the laws of the land in which you, as a Taoist find yourself.
Protect the people of Vaklam that stand under the remit of Dreff.