My Big Book of Ideas
Tales from the Age of Sorrows
Tales from the Age of Sorrows
These are the tales of mortal men and women in the Age of Sorrows. They are flung across Creation, separated by oceans and continents, and their tales are decades, perhaps centuries, apart. Who can say? The lives of mortals are as mayflies next to the mighty Exalted. These heroes have long faded… but their stories remain.
It is time they are told.
The Tale of Winter’s Daughter
It was the bitterest winter for as long as anyone could remember. Even ancient Grig, wrapped in wolf pelts acquired by his hunter-sons, said he had never felt such cold. The ocean was filled with ice floes, the fishing-ships on land, their hulls covered in hoarfrost. There were grudges among the chiefs in those days, a daughter slain, a son mutilated. Vengeance was waiting. Winter had frozen their grudges, ready to thaw as spring came. But spring came not.
She did. Her fleet sailed from the west, its frozen sails snapping, its iron prow cracking the ice. They called her Winter’s Daughter, a woman untouched by the cold, unharmed by the ice. Her men were sworn to follow her to glory and death. Scattered, warring among ourselves, it seemed we were destined to be her slaves.
This is the Tale of Winter’s Daughter, and those who sought to unite the quarreling chiefs against her.
The Tale of Sad Castle
The villagers called it many names: Old Black-Wall, the Sorrow Fort, the House of the Sad God, or simply “The Castle” – for what other castles are there? Certainly none as old or grand as Sad Castle. It had once, in a long-lost Age, risen to the skies and been home to heroes as grand as the gods. Now, its blackened, labyrinthine ruins was home to but one: The Silent God, his true name known only to the wise-women who whispered their prayers among Sad Castle’s fallen ruins.
Lords came and went to the villages around Sad Castle. Some were Kings. Some were Princes or Queens. They asked for tribute and taxes, and the villages could pay, for their lands were watched by the Silent God, and ever fertile. Then came Lord Otho, convert to a faith from beyond the seas; and with him came the monks. They put the wise-women to the sword. They condemned the Silent God, forbidding him. And so, the lands around Sad Castle began to die.
This is the tale of Sad Castle, and the ones who lived there; and what they did to save their lands.
The Tale of Hamoji’s Chosen
The Feathered One was a cowardly ruler. Theere were storms and bad weather and long droughts, and the ground shook, and Mount Hamoji spewed lava in his wrath. There were discolored sea-shells and three-eyed whales and many other strange and ill omens. And yet, the Feathered One did not do his duty; did not throw himself into Hamoji’s caldera to please the gods.
But this tale is not about him. It is about a handful of criminals, condemned to die. Many were pirates. They were held in gray cells at the foot of Mount Hamoji, to be fed to the volcano god when next he called for sacrifice, taking the place of the Feathered One.
The gods saw that it was ill. Perhaps that is why Hamoji rumbled, and an earthquake destroyed the prison, and the criminals went free. But mortals cannot escape their fate; and the Prophet who had risen among the people, the convulsing old man whom many believed, saw the will of the gods. And so the pirates were bound by chains of fate, and by the hands of the chanting, frenzied worshipers.
This is the tale of a rebellion and its unlikely, and unwilling, champions.
The Tale of the Murdered Khan
Long ago, the Guild came to our steppes. With it came many good and useful things, and many beautiful and scented things also. But it made our people lazy and weak, and many abandoned the traditional ways, and left behind their horses and their freedom. They went to the cities, and lived there among strangers, and forgot the ways of the horse-people.
So the gods issued a decree: All sons and daughters who lived in cities must send someone to represent them at a Feast of Calibration with the True People. There, they would be reminded of the old ways, and pay respect to the gods and to the Khans, who still lived free and owned horses instead of land. And so it was that strangers came to the Feast, each from different cities, raised as bastards in foreign tribes, to pay tribute to Khan Algül. They spoke with strange dialects, and carried strange gifts, but they were of the People, and they were sworn to recall their heritage. So they were welcomed as brothers and sisters, and they joined the feast on the last day of the year. And on the first day of Calibration, Khan Algül was murdered in secret.
This is the tale of the bastard guests, and how they were given five days to prove their innocence, and how they sought to prevent a civil war among the People on the steppes and the People in the cities.