Listen, friend… This world is not the first. The True Count, however, is lost to the veils of time and mystery. That there were antecedent phrases in the song of history, we can be sure. And it is of these, dear reader, we speak today.
Quatria was failing. Though it’s metamorphic ability as a landscape to constantly physically remodel itself was known and admired throughout antiquity, at some point in geologically recent, but not recent in the minds of humanity, the dynamic tension which held the continent together had reached a sharp crescendo in the notes of the ruling priestly castes of the Hypergeic Temple. Their once prevailing virtuosity — which had flung them far from the Source to spread their music across other lands — had lapsed into laziness, and was verging toward mediocrity.
It was in the Summer of these times, when a small crew of Pentarctic sailors set out from one of the corrugated shorelines occupied by a then minor tribe of the Five Kings of Kremel, on a short phishing expedition. What should have been a three hour tour was waylaid by a storm-at-sea, which hurtled their vessel farther and farther off course.
The men heard the wail of sirens in the distance as the storm surged around their craft. Strange lights flashed on and off in the darkness. They could powerfully sense and were equally powerless to stop the inevitable drift of their vessel toward the Equatorial Girdle. The Cold and Dark grew louder and stronger around them, until they felt the numbess of their limbs overtake their cores, plunging them eventually into darkness.
And then the sound of ringing. A single pure tone, at first, splitting into a second note, in harmony, then a triad, and then a chorus of song… And then a rainbow, warmth as of Spring, and a tingling, as life flowed back into the earth of their bones, and the soil of their flesh.
Across calm turquoise waters dead ahead, a gleaming white island, and in the distance a palace, a temple, to which their inner compasses re-oriented themselves as though home. The Source of the strange music.
To understand the Pentarcs, and the Quatrians, it is necessary also to speak of the Triangulons, the Dyadic Duogons, and the monolithic Singulones. Each of them precursors to the other. Each of them a significant player in the Shape Wars to come.
In actual fact, there is only one long Shape War, and it goes back to the origin point in the timefield to the conception of forms in the first place. But for the lays of the bards, and the rhymes of the chronicler, we break them up into many, name them generally for their locus and players, and set them onto the stage of history to play out their parts in turn from harmony to dissonance and back again until the night is over, and the circle begins again.
Before the fall of Abbadon, in Old Quatria, when the land was still young, there were no hierarchic divisions among the priest caste, and in fact not yet a formalized priest caste. Instead, there were traveling minstrels, who went from field and glen to town and village in celebration of the mysteries. They told the tales and the jokes, sung the songs and epic poems of the places they’d gone, or dreamed of on that long, long road.
Though they brought with them joy, the people in the towns could feel their loneliness, and longing for home. They would cook them meals, and give them beds and barns to sleep in, and stock them with provisions and foodstuff when they went on their way.
And thus marked the passing of the rounds of time in Old Quatria. The timing of the Festivals coinciding with the return of the roving bands of minstrels and the changes of the seasons.
Abbadon then, was still but a humble village, thriving, but not yet even a town. To the East of the Hypogeum, it was the anti-node at that time. Thus inflow and outflow traffic then — consisting mainly of therianthropic magicians, and the virtuous amongst the minstrels (which legend would claim were descendants of Triangulon ancestors), whose purity allowed them to pass through the gates bi-directionally without disintegration.
This is important in terms of the Shape Wars, because the Triangulons embodied by the Dynamic Principle (the delta), lacked the fourth point, which the Quatrians had found. Stability. Their relation to the central core of their culture, the emptiness of the Hypogeum. In the Morning of Quatria, there was still ample traffic to and fro. And at Noon, traffic had slowed to a trickle. The Hypergeic Temple, in its full-development with an ascendent ruling priesthood of honored and illustrious crowned musicians, stood at apogee to its node, illuminating in starkest contrast the noise of its energy from the ambient background of emptiness.
What were once cyclic Festivals and celebrations had evolved into a complex multi-syncretic calendar of continual formal rites variously co-mingled with minor dalliances and degraded public debauchery and amusements. And it is into this decadent period of Classical Quatrian culture, into which their unwitting Pentarctican successors had accidentally sailed.
As blood flowed back into the veins of those revivified sailors somewhere beyond the harbor, beyond yet the ken of the waits, watching tirelessly over the Temple, and in turn over all of Quatria, the Head Augur in the Pillar of Song cast a mal throw on the songboard. Three pents and a duo, seventeen, in the House of Sadness.
The program was drawn up for the morning chant, the song of which would reverberate out from the Pillar of Song in rounds the moment the rays of the morning sun kissed the strings of of the altar.
It was a sad song. It told of the First Age of Quatria, after the ejection of Ederron from the caldera of the Hypogeum. The first Anti-Node, after the Separation, and rising of the mountains as Ederron was pushed out to the sea. Though its verses would not be included in the dawn chanson, for those versed in the lore, it called to mind those Quatrian ancestors who had left the continent for good, wanderers and outcasts, some of whom would found the colonies of old, of which Kremel was but one of many, in the second age, when the anti-node was shifting toward Abbadon.