The Reign of the Demon King – Part 3
Before we conclude our discussions on the Reign of the Demon King, having already covered it’s effects on the kingdoms and organizations, I thought I would take a lecture to discuss with you my own personal experiences during this period of time. So as we conclude this section of lecture, if you do not mind a more personal and less objective historical recount, I will tell you about some of my experiences during this period in recent history.
During the Reign of the Demon King I traveled through Elhal, living in a number of different locations. At first, my goal was to hide and avoid the Demons, but as time went on I discovered a calling, to preserve the knowledge we humans had created, by finding and caching books, and documenting observations and interviews with various people. That calling required me to leave the safety of my hiding spot and go to more dangerous locations. That is what lead me to travel over Elhal.
Brodar, Kimryn 1035
When Inkala fell to the Demons, I traveled west into the Kotkalan forest. It was, at the time and through most of the Reign, un-populated by Demons. I found refuge in the town of Brodar. The Kotkalan forest is an untamed land, with a number of dangerous predators, including bears and dire wolves. It is also populated by massive pine trees which extend over one hundred feet into the sky. The Kotkalans built their towns into the trees, with levels ringed around the massive trunks and wood and rope bridges connecting various areas. There is always a fort at the bottom of one of the trees, where horses are kept and tradesmen like blacksmiths can work.
In Brodar I worked as a school teacher, instructing children in literacy and history. I lived in a small house three levels above the ground, and I taught in the town hall. Seeing Demons was a rare occurrence. The only time I saw them was during the dreaded Harvest, when the Demons would come to collect children for the Demon Forges. For me it was a dreadful time, as the children selected were my students. Ultimately, it was why I would stop teaching and move on. I could not bear the thought of spending so much time with these children, watch them ripped away, and the terrible things that would happen to them when they reached the Forges.
Brodar had a Church to the All-Father. It was not a formal structure, but rather services were held in the Town Hall each week. The Priest, who lived among all of us, would bring the symbols and scrolls from his home and conduct the weekly prayers. I did learn that a craftsman carved a secret chamber in his apartment where all the holy objects could be hidden, in case the Demons arrived.
It was at this time that I also had a chance to meet the Hobsons, a family from the nearby town of Kimryn. The Hobsons lead a rebellion against the Harvest of 1035, thwarting the Demons collection of children in Western Kotkala. They became outlaws, and were hunted by the Demons. Rather than hiding, they traveled around Elhal helping other communities resist the Harvest.
We will get to a more detailed discussion of the Hobsons and their efforts in a future lecture.
Towards the end of the 30’s, I realized that my true calling was not to teach children, but rather to find and preserve knowledge. I spent the next few years archiving what books and scrolls I could from the surrounding towns, archiving them into a vault near Brodar, then packing up and moving south into Stammiglin.
Fenalin, Stammiglin 1042
I spent a few years traveling around northern Stammiglin living from town to town. Eventually I made my way into Fenalin, the capital of Stammiglin. Fenalin is a massive city which is built into the side of a large mountain. The original town was built at the base and a set of mines were cut into various levels of the side of the mountain. The mines were hollowed out, and when there was no more ore to gain, the mines were rounded out and turned into living space.
Fenalin, at that time, was dominated by the Denos clan. The Denos held the entire top level of the mountain. I was able to get an apartment in the walled town at the base; only clans had property inside the mountain. I had two goals while in Fenalin: The first, and the more overt, was to document metallurgy and forging practices. The second, and far more dangerous, was to collect any information I could about the Giants.
Fenalin was a prosperous city, with mines set up in several adjacent mountains producing all manner of ores, especially Ebon, which was in high demand by the Demons. What was rigidly controlled was grain, Kotkalan grain, imported by the Demons and given to the Denos to distribute. Grain was crucial to the diet of all Stammiglinins, but was near impossible to grow in the rocky soil of Stammiglin. The Denos used the distribution of grain as both reward and punishment. Those that produced large quantities of Ebon or showed support to the Denos, had ample grain. Those that wronged the Denos in any form would receive paltry amounts and suffer for a season or more.
Fenalin was mostly devoid of Demons except during the autumn, during delivery of grain, when a column of Demons under the control of several Lords would transport a caravan of grain to Fenalin. The Demons would then spend several weeks there, while the Lords met with the Denos. Fenalin was also subject to the Harvest, but the Denos were in charge of gathering up the children, always from those clans who opposed them.
There was no formal church in Fenalin, having been outlawed by the Denos. A few Priests remained in the area. Those who did took on the disguise of being merchants, moving from town to town trading goods, while their holy objects were hidden in their carts. While in town, they would be given a place to sleep by a faithful family, where the Priest would perform a prayer service in the house for the hosts any any other faithful families.
I spent several years in Fenalin researching, and traveling with the Priests. They were extremely helpful in introducing me to a number of people, as well as being well studied in the paths leading through the mountains. With their help, I was able to find a Giant outpost where I spent several months observing and documenting their activities. The Priests would come by to bring me supplies and to keep me company. They also helped me to build a new cache in an abandoned mine, where I could store my notebooks and other scholarly texts; the same mine where they stockpiled their holy artifacts when Stammiglin fell to the Denos.
I spent the next few years in and around Fenalin, but eventually I had learned all I could and decided to move on. The Priests escorted me out of Stammiglin and took me to the east, where I met up with some Monatobean nomads who escorted me into their kingdom.
Kalibre, Monatobe 1055
I spent a few years traveling with the Monatobean nomads, moving from one small town to another. I grew accustomed to life in a caravan and took on the role of Quartermaster, where my skill with writing and my aptitude with numbers helped the caravan survive during the lean summers. It was also during this time that I learned the ancient eye-blinking language of the nomads. Designed so that they could keep their mouths closed and covered during the blowing sands, the eye language was a crude, but effective language, enabling them to convey simple commands and engage in commerce.
I came to learn from visiting several towns that during the Fall of the Empire, a number of texts from the coastal cities were saved and hidden. I made my way south to Kalibre and began to inquire. Kalibre was a port city, and the main city where ships carrying Ebon from Stammiglin would make port before heading to the Demon Lands. It was also where ships of Vaasarian fish would come in to be preserved and then sold to the nomads, for trade into central Monatobe.
Kalibre was occupied by Demons, and ruled directly by the Demon Lord Korthras. Demons were seen in all parts of the city, walking on patrol, observing humans. Because of this, Kalibre was a much more subdued city. Where Brodar and Fenalin still felt like human settlements, Kalibre was more like a prison. What you were allowed to do was more limited, and large gatherings of humans were forbidden. People huddled into small groups and whispered to one another, and mostly kept to themselves. The few Priests of the All-Father who remained in the city were fugitives. Worship of the All-Father was an offense that carried the penalty of execution.
After a few months of dealing with the locals, working to gain their trust, and learning to navigate along the clusters of people, I made contact with man known as The Sage. The Sage was similar to myself, an Areleanan who fled the homeland during the Fall. While he never outright said it, I suspected he was in some way connected to the final Imperial house.
The Sage was a collector of Imperial artifacts. He had a hidden warehouse full of goods he managed to acquire, and sold artifacts to those who had interest in the Fallen Empire. His trade was quasi-legal. He had some arrangement with Korthras, who had an interest in sculptures. The Sage promised no trafficking of artifacts of the All-Father as well as to provide Korthras with any sculptures he could acquire, and Korthras turned a blind eye to his work.
The Sage was kind enough to allow me to transcribe a number of texts that resided in his warehouse. Many of the texts were recovered from the Areleanan Universities, including my own. I was able to then pass them to my nomad friends who archived them in vaults in the central Monatobean desert.
Kalibre was also close to the edge of the Demon Lands, and occasionally traders from the Demon Lands would come into the city to acquire food and other goods. Their physical differences were pronounced, and the scholar in me became curious. I got to know several of the traders well over the course of a few years. Eventually, I decided to go and see the Demon Lands for myself, and to start to document this terrifyingly new world. I parted ways with The Sage and joined the traders.
Firekeep , Demon Lands 1061
I traveled the Demon Lands for three years, documenting all that I saw. I filled three tomes with observations and drawings. It was the most unique experience, and unlike all my other studies and research. The Blight had transformed the former Imperial District into a wasteland where even the normal laws of nature were twisted and broken.
It would take me several weeks to tell you all that I saw during those years. We will spend some time in future lectures discussing the Demon Lands in more detail.
Eventually, I took residence in Firekeep. It was once a Demon outpost that had been abandoned and built up by the humans. The Keep had a unique defense, it contained a network of Fire Throwers, weapons that could shoot fire at an opponent. No one knew how it worked, but it was effective in keeping order in a very chaotic land.
I learned later from King Arion that Firekeep had enslaved a fire salamander and drained its fire for its defense. Later the Great Heroes would free the salamander, but that is getting ahead of ourselves.
Firekeep was a mix of Demon and humans, but run by humans. Demon Patrols, mostly lead by Knights would come through Firekeep, as they patrolled the Demon Lands. Both Demons and humans co-existed in Firekeep, in a way different from Kalibre. It was not as oppressive, and there were more equal interactions between the humans and Demons. It was during this time in Firekeep that I talked to my first Demons. I spent time talking to several Knights and one Lord. I was able to interview them and learn about their culture. It was a fascinating time.
I would have remained in the Demon Lands to spend more time interviewing Demons, but I awoke one morning to find a patch of skin on my leg had changed color. Talking to the local healer, he told me that it was a natural occurrence for those who spent prolonged time in the Lands. It was then that I decided to head north to Vaasari. I made arrangements that week to head north.
My time in Vaasari falls outside of the Reign of the Demon King, and I will talk about it during our discussions of the Great Heroes. I had a great many experiences during the Reign. It was not always good, but I am happy to have been able to experience a number of places and meet many interesting people. I was also able to preserve a good deal of knowledge, which would remain hidden for years, and eventually became the foundation of the library at this university.
Next lecture, I shall start the discussion of the Great Heroes, talking about the original three heroes, and how they met.