The Beginning Is the End


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The stone walls have stood for more than two hundred years, maybe longer: their ramparts and watchtowers unnaturally preserved by the craft of ten thousand Hierophants, or at least that is how the story is told. There are in truth three of these walls that run from the Delrun mountains down through the farmlands before terminating somewhere in the Golden Sea. Only twenty miles of space separates the second and third walls, but it is here in between them that the entirety of the Republic’s food and livestock are grown and tended. Behind the second wall there are certainly farms and pens of a sort you’re fairly certain, but these are concerns best left to ‘Seconds’ whereas your birthplace is one of the ‘Thirds.’

All your lives, you have tilled and sown, reaped and harvested, birthed and butchered, all to support the Republic. Life is simple and orderly: each of you having a place in this world and a job to do that helps feed and clothe others. Every day that you wake you are assured that you have a place in God’s kingdom because of your labor for his servant's Republic. At the end of each month the Guard collects the tithe, some of which is used to support them while the rest is sent inward by the merchants who come from behind the Second Wall. The merchants occasionally bring improved tools for your laborers, weapons and armor for the Guard, and rare luxuries like new mirrors, dresses for your women, and new books for your children to be taught from. It is from these books that each of you has learned about the Law, the Order, and the Tithe. And of course, you've learned the story of the Walls.

Before the Walls, there were several dozen kingdoms, each ruled by petty kings and queens who quarreled and warred with each other. Their people suffered as conscription, war, famine, and the resulting poverty tore their lands apart. The last king of Delrun was a wise, aging man who saw the result of his neighbor’s pettiness and vowed to keep his people prosperous and defended from the predations of his lesser peers. To that end, he asked each village to send their Hierophants to the capitol where the king could hear the needs of his people in even the smallest locale. From this meeting, the Hierocracy was organized to represent the people and carry forth the Law that they and the king had decided was best to help their country. To prove his intentions and to further empower the will of the common people, the king abdicated his throne, leaving the Hierocracy to rule over the newly established Republic.

In short time, the Republic began to prosper as the Hierophants cultivated new industries and used their magic to continuously increase the yields of the Republic’s farms and herds. As the land prospered, the other kingdoms began to grow jealous and the citizens were forced to assemble militias and even a standing army to deal with the encroachments of envious rivals. Only a decade since the birth of the Republic, the first great wall was erected where the Second now stands. This wall prevailed against barbarous raiders and discouraged the other kingdoms from further aggression, plus it served as a place where the farmers and herders of the Republic could retreat to in times of danger. The erection of the wall however only further inflamed the jealousy of the neighboring kingdoms and soon an alliance of twelve formed to invade Delrun.

The One True God had warned his Hierophants of this invasion though and allowed for a mighty miracle to take place in which the Third Wall was created almost over night. When the Alliance of the Twelve arrived, the armies of the Republic were there to meet them behind massive fortifications. Undeterred, such was their pride and vanity, the Alliance assaulted the wall all along the thousand miles of its length. There was no end to the willingness of these wicked kings to throw away the lives of their armies against the walls, but in the end the Republic, like its walls, stood firm. In their rage, the Alliance burned and salted the earth for miles in front of the wall. A century passed before they would be heard from again.

During the life of your great-grandparents a horde of demons and their ilk (certainly sent by the pathetic leaders of the Alliance) came against the Republic under the cover of thick fog and poisoned rain. This time there were sections of the Third Wall and even parts of the Second that fell before the horde. Plagues and monsters spread throughout both sections, and thousands died each day before order could be restored as the Guards and the Hierocracy pushed back the filth, repairing the walls as they went. The plague required corpses to be left outside the Third Wall where the fog and acidic rain continued to fall as it still does to this day. The Republic was victorious and after awhile, life returned to normal as your grandparents and parents were able to produce abundant harvests of both food and children. While the petty kingdoms languished in poverty and filth, the Republic stood as a shining example of the Hierocracy’s wisdom.

To that end, the hierophants have asked each of you to have a role, to labor together, and to contribute generously to the tithe whereby you can provide for the needs of so many others who work to keep you safe and cared for. It is a trade off like any other, but in the village of Nehrenbolt the evidence of the Hierocracy’s benevolence is abundantly apparent. You are able to see the dim, dark outline of your former sister city Ardenglen across the river: smokeless, uninhabited, and barren, its fields long since neglected and its inhabitants either having fled the horde so many years ago or likely conscripted into the war machine of the Alliance. The raised drawbridge which used to connect the neighboring cities stands as a perfect symbol of the gulf that exists and will likely never heal as long as the Twelve kings rule.

You were born a ‘Third’ and might have lived your whole life without needing the wall to protect you. Never before in your life had any creature even been seen on the other side of that bridge. Still the alarm was sounded and rumors began to circulate throughout town that the Guards at the watchtower had seen a pair of riders on the other side of the river somehow undisturbed by the acidic rain and deathly fog which clung to that side of land. Unsure of what else to do the Guard put the town on alert and waited to see if riders would need to be dispatched for reinforcements. That night as you prepared your homes and families for whatever might happen, a cold realization crept in: the beginning is the end…

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