“I will not trouble you all by beginning this Story at Existence’s Creation by the Ahlüt nes Nühnet for surely you four know it well as I. So instead, I shall begin with when the Original Seven Races became the one, the Dhaoine, and work as swiftly as possible from there.
Well longer than ten thousand years afore this precise moment, there were only the Original Seven Races, first born, magick-birthed by the Great Mother and Father after the Ahlüt nes Nühnet created the Great Mother and the Great Father and gave Them an Existence with which They may build whatever They wished. Each Race had a World that they populated, governed, cared for. For eons, the Seven lived in harmony, did as they were bid, lived and loved and grew and died and cared for the earth and their Worlds as the Great Mother and Father and the Ahlüt nes Nühnet bid them.
Until one day when the Seven realized that their numbers were dwindling. That females were not being born in as great abundance as males, children were not being born as healthy and as magickally powerful as they once were and with this realization came a panic of sorts, soft at first, but gained speed and intensity as the years continued to pass and females were born less and less. Prayers to the Great Mother and Father, to Their Creator, to the gods that the Mother and Father had birthed of Their own blood and flesh, went unheeded, went unanswered…. that is, until the day they were.
Born to each race was a being capable of switching between male and female and a mixture of the two, an androgyne as it is known now. How each of the Seven reacted to this new being determined whether their existence remained in the Worlds or if they died off as was rightfully deserved. As is obvious now, the reactions were… unpleasant at worst, curious and cautious at best. Except for the Dhaoine, the other Six Races regarded what you know as neodrachs now with a disgust that, were any of you alive back then, would send you picking up a sword to duel for the Honor of those spat upon.
To say this angered the gods would be an understatement. I was very busy those first few centuries after the neodrachs were gifted to the Races, for that was what they were: a gift. For someone had to man the ferry that travels along the River to the After and more neodrachs embarked upon that journey than I would like to recall. My Siblings called for retribution for the Slain, screamed for blood and punishments akin to what the neodrachs suffered. But the Great Mother and Father, the Ahlüt nes Nühnet, merely told Us to be still, to remain vigilant, to watch, and to answer prayers as We had in the past. And so We did.
Then, something else happened, utterly unplanned by Myself and My Siblings, the Mother, the Father, the Ahlüt nes Nühnet: the Dhaoine had a sub-race born unto them; one that was solely made up of neodrachs, whose magickal signatures were grey and balanced, who walked in shadow rather than solely in light or solely in darkness; wherever this race stood, balance reigned, total and unmovable. Chaos and peace in equal measure, the coin to which each clung strong and content in its purpose. My Siblings, Our Parents, and the Ahlüt nes Nühnet all watched in awe as this evolution played out. For neodrachs continued to be born to the other six Races, but the Dhaoine were the only ones that did not continue driving them towards death and self-hatred and self-murder; the Dhaoine were the only ones who opened their World and welcomed in refugees, who through that acceptance learned to love their cousin Races, who coupled and made children that were strong and powerful and intelligent and who thrived where millions had perished before then, weakened and miserable.
And so, this new sub-race spread through the Worlds, moved with a single-minded purpose, intent on bringing a balance to the Worlds that had not been seen since the days when said Worlds were first created, when the Seven Races had first stepped upon the lush grasses, rolling deserts, walked through wise forests, and sailed across awe-inspiring yet fear-inducing oceans. Fighting broke out and many perished in what could be called wars but were never coined officially as such. As the dust settled, only one of the Seven remained: the Dhaoine. And while My Siblings mourned the loss of those We had protected and loved and tried to guide for eons uncountable as they met Us on the shores of the River in the After or at the cliffs of Oblivion, We could not deny We felt impressed by the resiliency of the Dhaoine to survive, to evolve, to adapt, where their cousin Races had not.
Of course, the Pharadoche, Shätluvent, Aslankien, Phuri, Wahlchern, and Damonae lived on mixed in with the Dhaoine courtesy of the neodrachs the Dhaoine had welcomed into their World, granted safe haven to and love and shelter and protection, but they no longer lived as purely of the Race from whence they once hailed. And after many, many more millennia that bled into eons, all that was left of the other Six Races was power sets unique to them in one of the now twenty sub-races that lay claim primary of all others to the Dhaoine Race.
I have told you that to lead to this, the point of this Story. That first sub-race, the one solely made of neodrachs? It was later named the Greywalker race and for a long time was the race that governed the Worlds, that kept the peace, that was the teachers and the healers. And then, when that was no longer needed, the Dhaoine yet again evolved bereft of any aid or meddling of Me and My Ilk, and birthed what became known as the Qishir race/caste and the Pryncef/ka race/caste that served them to lead and protect the Worlds and the races that existed in those Worlds. Once the Qishir had taken over, once the Worlds had established the Laws and Etiquette that you four know of today, once things had settled and remained balanced, the Greywalkers spread out across the Seven Worlds and built Cities, what they called Sanctuaries, places where their race could thrive, where they could worship as was their wont, where they could grow strong and live in peace and harmony and the balance they craved above all else. These Cities became hubs of commerce and trade and known for the safety they provided. But while all of the Dhaoinic twenty races were welcomed within those Sanctuary Cities, only those who were of Greywalker descent were allowed to live there as permanent residents. And naturally, this led to discontent among the races for always there is someone who craves what others have that they do not and seek to take it for themselves.
At first, there were hundreds of Cities throughout the Worlds, but when Qishir Xhala Qinshi took over as the Eighth Qishir the Greywalkers suddenly began to dismantle their Cities until only twenty-three were left standing: three in each World except Txiwteb within which there are five. The most powerful of these Cities was thought to be Shiran City, and when Xhala Qinshi sent eir armies far and wide with orders to kill every last Greywalker that lived and breathed within the Worlds until none remained, Shiran City was the last to fall.
But what Xhala Qinshi and eir predecessors had never counted on while planning to take these Sanctuary Cities for themselves was that the Greywalkers would know well in advance of the plan to eradicate their people and would have made a contingency plan in response. So, on the day that Shiran City fell, twenty-three of the most powerful Greywalkers, a mixture of the warrior clergy, healers, historians, Storytellers, and others of note, set out from each of the Sacred Twenty-Three Cities with orders to find the most powerful families within certain races and assimilate, blend in, breed out, and wait. For the day would come when they would rise again to bring about balance, to retake their Cities, and seek retribution for the wrongs done to them.
There is no prophecy to draw upon, there is no Fate web to consult, there was merely this Knowledge held by all the Greywalkers who made it out of the Cities alive that one day, they knew not when, a Dhaoine would be born out of impossible circumstances, its bloodline strong and power nearly unfathomable and it would be the first Greywalker born of strength and endurance, the first neodrach born to a race that had never seen one amongst its numbers in all of recorded history. When questioned by Myself and My Siblings, they could not provide how they knew this but it was a Knowledge they all had, one that was as fervent as their Knowing of Us and so We did not question them further.
And so…ten thousand years passed from that night and We waited, We watched, and on the Festival of Flesh ninety years past, a neodrach was born with eir twin as an Other, born unto a mother who should never have survived long enough to carry em and eir twin to term let alone survived the birthing; a neodrach born of at least one of the two races from whence ey hailed that had never seen one born unto its ranks. A Qishir whose aura is a kaleidoscope of hues of grey and white and black, shifting and dancing, ever in motion. A being who is at once ordered, balanced, and chaotic, who seeks to right all unfairness. A Dhaoine touched by the only gods that the Greywalkers ever worshiped, that they ever made manners to, that they were ever Marked and Touched by: the Faceless, Myself, and the Soullessly Heartfelt.
You have suffered greatly throughout your life, My Scion, Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn Ka’ahne, and for that I offer sympathies that will do naught to curb the remembered agony you have suffered. But know that your mother is not the one deserving of your full ire. She merely acted as she thought was best. She is as much a victim of the turnings and dealings of Fate as you are, only she has less say in it than you.
The mantle placed upon your shoulders is a heavy one but it is not one you must accept and deal with. You may remove it, refuse it, and allow Fate to move on, to find another to replace you, to return balance to the Worlds, to right the wrongs of Qishir who had no business ruling let alone ruling unchecked. It is not your sole responsibility. Know that as you Know that I have Marked you, that My Brother, the Faceless, My Beloved, the Soullessly Heartfelt, have Marked you.
I will answer what questions I am allowed, but I must ask before I do…
How shall you answer the calls of Fate?”
Rhyshladlyn stared in wide-eyed shock as the Nameless finished speaking. Then anger bled through the shock but as swiftly as it rose sadness and loss and disappointment replaced it only to be further drowned out by an emotion he had no name for. Closing his eyes slowly, he bowed his head, hands raising up to cup and hide his face from view as his wings curled around him. For long moments he said nothing and no one moved or spoke to him. He knew what the answer should be, he knew what it needed to be, but gods have mercy upon him, he did not want this shit to be on him. He did not want to be responsible for the balance of the entire Seven Worlds. Let it be on someone else, let someone who had not suffered like he did, who would not continue to suffer like he knew he would, be what Fate decided before he was even born, before his parents were even born: that he would be the champion of a race long since diluted among the rest.
But as those thoughts hit he knew it was childish for him to think as much and while he was not yet of age according to his mother and his father’s respective races, he had never been a child; it was not something he had been afforded.
“Need I provide my answer immediately, Honored One?” He asked at length, knowing that the answer he wished to provide right now was rude and immature and thus should not be the one he gave.
“No, Child, you do not need to speak it until you are ready,” the Nameless answered patiently.
“And if I never answer, if I cross over into the After before I can answer?” Rhyshladlyn queried, lifting his head from his hands and moving his wings to stare unblinking, unseeing across the circle of them at the wall behind Ero and Alaïs.
“Then Fate will move on, find another to bear this mantle of responsibility,” it answered smoothly.
“Will you think less of me, Honored One,” Rhyshladlyn began, voice small as his eyes closed again, wings drooping over his shoulders like a blanket. He didn’t finish but his Patron knew exactly what he was not asking.
“No, Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn Ka’ahne, this one would not think less of you,” came the reply, and despite being the god of death and destruction, that tone was kind and gentle and it was slightly unnerving that such a fearsome Patron could be that way. “Like I stated before, this is not your sole responsibility and it is not one I would assign to anyone but I am not Fate, I am not My Mother and Father, I am not the Ahlüt nes Nühnet, and thus it is not My decision to make. I may simply guide you as best I can.”
Rhyshladlyn nodded and sighed deeply, head tilting back, eyes still closed and he knew everyone was watching the play of emotions across his face, knew that he should be wondering why Shadiranamen and Nhulynolyn were being so uncharacteristically quiet but he didn’t truly need to wonder; they would not make this decision for him and they were probably just as shocked as he was. After all, wasn’t every day one learned they weren’t supposed to exist and only did to be a weapon of sorts for Fate.
“Forgive me, Honored One, but I must take my leave. I shall answer when I am ready, when I know what answer to give and I will return forthwith when I am less… ” he trailed off as he swallowed and his dry throat clicked with it before he continued, “…when I am ready to ask further questions and have the meeting with Mother as previously planned,” Rhyshladlyn said as he stood abruptly, bowed low at the waist to the god, and strode to the doors behind him, orange-amber eyes dimmed and unfocused. Before anyone else could say anything never mind do more than blink, the doors were shutting behind him with a muted yet ominous rumble.
“Well that went better than I expected,” the Nameless muttered sounding bemused. “It will probably be some hours yet before he returns, shall I Call in refreshments?”
For long moments no one spoke, still processing what just happened.
“Aye, Honored One, that would be lovely. Our thanks,” Azhuri said finally.
Anis and Alaïs shared a look with Ero that spoke volumes; things were complicated before, sure, but they had become a whole lot worse.