Prequel Lore
Britannian Prequel Stories

Britannia - Blind Virtue

The silhouette appeared on the castle wall as though exhaled by the winter fog. In the twilight it moved across snow-dappled ramparts and crenellations. It made no sound. Its breath formed no mist in the cold air. Even a careful observer could barely have discerned that this was a man, for the black shape seemed by instinct to know where eyes would fall and skillfully it kept itself just out of view. Yet, as though unsure of its next move, it stopped when it approached the tallest tower of the castle. An amber glow beamed from an open window on the topmost floor. Deep voices murmured within. The silhouette crouched in a shadow, unmoving, surrounded by the grit and dusty smell of timeworn stones. Then it stirred, and stood, and drew out a sword. The rising moon winked in the steel of the blade.

From a garden below came cries of discovery. The silhouette moved closer to the tower, darting among jagged shadows like a spider on its web. When the shouts below increased in urgency, the phantom slipped into a corner, in time to avoid a bright light that flooded the space it had just vacated. It paused again.

The light was magic. The time was at hand.

The frosty air swirled in a sudden breeze. There was a glint, as if the wind crystallized, and a second man stepped onto the rampart. He had materialized from nowhere. His cloak rode the breeze like a storm cloud. [top]

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Britannia - Ultimate Wisdom

Blackthorn was glad he had learned the language of daemons. Had he not spoken in time, the one before him might well have snapped off his head.

Instead the nobleman stood with crossed arms, staring up at the monster's face. The daemon was twice his height and must have weighed more than three horses. Its hands were larger than Blackthorn's head. Its claws were razor-edged shingles. And it was repugnant. Rotting gore and excrement smeared its pocked skin and clotted in the creases of its wings, dropping on the floor in clumps when it moved. Its huge jaw hung slack, emitting a visible miasma that slunk through the air like putrid fog. Its fangs were splotched with bilious colors.

And its voice rang as deep and sonorous as a flawless iron bell.

"Perhaps we can make a deal," it said, the walls resonating with its purity of sound. The words arrived on a putrescent breath.

Blackthorn wrinkled his nose. "I shouldn't," he answered, "but at the moment I have no choice. Tell me what I must do."

"Come closer." [top]

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Britannia - Indomitable Conscience

The sitting room was more opulent than any other in Britannia. Its lavish paintings and goldenwood panels, extravagantly carved, spoke of generations of devoted craftsmanship. Rich tapestries wove ancient tales in their lush designs. Silver and crystal glittered among the room's details, flashing in the glow of an enormous, blazing hearth.

In the center of the room sat Blackthorn, dressed in a tunic of the richest black silk. Gold trim echoed the firelight. His fingers were steepled before his face. With no trace of a smile he murmured, "You do keep a fine dungeon, British."

"You call my chambers a dungeon?" Lord British stood in the doorway of the parlor. A white sorcerer's gown draped to his ankles. A large box rested under one arm. "I thought you would appreciate living in a king's quarters for awhile."

Blackthorn stared back at his friend. His eyes glistened like obsidian. [top]

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Britannia - Cataclysm

An icicle wind creased the midnight clouds. Shrouded in a deep hood, Lord Blackthorn watched from the peak of a tower as his armies battled among themselves. Inhuman voices snarled and snapped. Iron clanged against iron. Sharp echoes danced atop the dreary black crags surrounding them.

The dusky valley paled with moonlight sown over a tumbling snowscape. Campfires made constellations across the ghostly scene. The dark tower rose alone in the center. At its base rallied a troop of grotesque, tusked orcs, wielding axes and spears against a smaller group of goblins. The orcs taunted their diminutive cousins. The goblins answered with swinging blades. Around them all stood a circle of human Chaos Guards, goading the skirmish with laughs and jeers and volleys of copper coins.

Blackthorn regarded the conflict with stoic eyes. His gloved fists curled over the stone bulwark.

A shadowy figure appeared from behind the gold light of a brazier. Exedur crossed his arms against the chill of the winter evening. In his gentle voice he said, "Lady Gavrielle summons you, my lord."

The nobleman motioned to the conflict below. "Behold the army I'm taking into battle." [top]

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Meer Prequel Stories
Meer - The Matriarch

Kaji crouched behind the giant leaves of a tropical bush, trying not to make a sound. She had extinguished her luminant beads and the darkness of the jungle seemed to press upon her. Her catlike ears twitched at a movement. Something very large was walking past. She thought she heard the click of talons on the stony earth, pushing through the mossy groundcover. It moved at a slow, deliberate pace. Huge nostrils sniffed noisily. Kaji was grateful she had masked her scent with a hunting cantrip.

She strained her ears for any sign of her companion, who was still out there in the night. She heard nothing, and frowned. Teyloth was very brave, but he did not have the benefit of Kaji's spellcraft. She wondered if he wasn't overconfident about his chances against a wild predator. It would be like him to try to impress her. At that moment, she was not charmed by the thought. Rather she prayed that the beast would move on, finding no prospects for a night's meal in this otherwise lush, peaceful glade. The creature had already ransacked their camp and found nothing.

Kaji's prayer went unanswered. The huge predator stopped and lifted its head, smelling the air with sloppy noises. She saw its silhouette in the skeletal moonlight. It was a madrogai. On its hind legs it was more than twice her height. The reptilian carnivore cocked its crested head, to aid its hearing. It had sensed something. It snapped its beak and coughed a grunt. The sound was hard and resonant, jostling her with its force. Kaji froze. She fought the impulse to run.

Then the madrogai turned its massive head and looked at her. [top]

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Meer - From Earth To Sky

The moment Kaji saw the crystal city of Anjur, she hungered to learn the magic which had wrought it. In awe she gazed at the multitude of tall, glassy spires that captured the dawn's light and swirled it like water around long, graceful curves. The towers sparkled clear and distinct, even several miles away. At this distance Anjur looked like fluid calligraphy, painted in crystal on the sky, depicting some ancient, cryptic language that begged to be deciphered. Kaji's mind quickened at the sight.

The young Meer stepped out of a thicket of oversized ferns, onto a hillside overlooking the city. Her mage's tunic was grimy after the long journey from the provinces. Despite the fatigue which made her feel heavy as stone, she stood with a proud arch in her back. Her ears perked high. Her spotted fur was damp with dew.

Teyloth walked beside her. He was dressed in his warrior's armor, round plates of iridescent chitin engraved with his family's symbols. His face bore marks and bruises from their ordeal a few nights earlier. His expression was not as bright as his companion's.

"There it is," he said in a dark tone.

Kaji nodded, still staring.

"That's it, then," he mumbled. "We can't see each other once we're in the city." [top]

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Meer - Maelstrom

A grotesque black shape rose in the center of the crystal room. The manlike silhouette shifted and churned like an angry storm cloud, an oily, nebulous vapor of tendrils and eddies condensing into an animate being. Its groans were baroque and macabre. The sounds piped and moaned from hollows that mocked a living throat and lungs. The air around it swirled with a clot of stenches, of sickhouses and stale carrion; the brisk, peppery tang of death. It was an indistinct abomination, seeping into the crystalline gloom.

Surrounding it was a ring of sorcerers of the highest order. Five in all were present, each possessing a seat on the celebrated Lore Council of Anjur. They held aloft staves of the purest emerald, in which subtle lights glimmered and winked. Their diaphanous robes wafted in the fetid breeze. Their faces were chiseled with grave expressions. [top]

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Meer - Parting the Veils

"Pity the heart that dies for love. Paradise holds no glory for half a soul."

The very old Meer shook her veiled head and held the hand of a dying man.

"He is gone, Venerable Mother?"

"No, young woman. But the passing hours weigh heavy upon him. He will die honored."

"What of Kaji?"

"I am unable to dream to her. The sorcerers put walls between us. I pray our ancestors guide her home in time."

"Perhaps they are wiser not to. Kaji and this warrior are forbidden to join."

"Hearts are jungle creatures. Fencing them is a fool's ambition. And I have been a fool. Now find us some water. See, he calls her name again.


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Jukan Prequel Stories
Juka - A Forged Race

It was a sunless world of smoke and iron, of fumes and oil, of brickwork and smokestacks and pipelines and other lifeless, stirring things. It was a forged world; a cemented world; a machined world. For mountains it had factories, for rivers tar and grease, for oceans reservoirs of viscous, foamy runoff. Its smoldering, soot-black sky had forgotten the sun and the stars. It was a grotesque, cancerous mechanism in the shape of a landscape.

And it was in the throes of war.

Like swarms of insects two armies battled among the land's geometric crags and hollows. The combat sparkled and flared with lights and fire. Poisonous clouds spread like fog. Soldiers clustered around twisted black machines, which flashed and pumped streams of angry lightning into enemy formations. Overhead, iron-keeled ships floated on the toxic wind. Their hulls were riveted with armor plates. Windmill sails pushed them slowly over the battlefield, where they showered the combatants with flame and poisoned missiles.

Man-to-man the soldiers clashed steel upon steel. They were faceless shapes in the choking, corrosive haze, their outlines distorted by ornate armor and mechanisms of defense and destruction. Their melee was furious and precise. They moved with fluid skill and struck with lethal accuracy; yet their noisy weapons roared and buzzed and spat flames and glowed hot metal, and rarely were kills clean. Instead the battleground keened with the wails of the dying. The stench of boiled flesh seared like acid in the air. [top]

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Juka - Faces of Victory

In the smoky gloom above the foundry hovered a dozen black, hulking specters. The airships pricked the darkness with clusters of lamps, like a thousand tiny, glowing eyes. On occasion it was possible to discern the outline of one of the armored vessels. Their shapes were bizarre and irregular, resembling a strange accretion of components from fortresses, seagoing ships and complex siege engines. Long, bat-like vanes of sailcloth caressed the high currents of air. Windmill propellers rotated with eerie languor, resisting the push of the caustic winds. [top]

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Juka - Conquest

The hurricane of sand howled a deadly scream. Like a monstrous predator it swept across the cracked barrens of Britannia Desert, beating the air with wings of blood-red dust. Talons of lightning struck the parched ground, churning up stones and debris. The air was an opaque veil of sand. The crimson dust stung all it touched, gnawing the landscape into blurs of scarlet-grey amid the endless, erosive squall.

A tall shape cast a rippling shadow among the curtains of wailing sand. It was a tower, solid and angular, unyielding to the storm's onslaught. Around it splayed a complex of buildings and silos. In the thunderous red gloom lights flickered, smokestacks vented fumes and ash, flames blazed and sputtered quickly away. The automated works of the Core Siphon churned on, mindless of the desert's fury. Its own violence was directed elsewhere.


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Juka - Exodus

Of all the events in Jukan history, none commanded more awe or terror than the Last Assault on Citadel Moonglow. The final, impenetrable stronghold of the Overlords had never been conquered, not even in the machine-driven wars between the citadels. Its very name spoke of untouchable gods from antiquity. Ruled by the Prime Overlord, it was an invincible opponent. On the day of the final offensive, the rebel Juka learned the cost of challenging its legendary reputation.

It was, as every schoolchild knows, the end of the world.

Veiled by a writhing thunderstorm, the glimmering shadow of the citadel stretched over the sky like a canopy of smoldering embers. Thousands of lamps twinkled across its hovering bulk. Anchored in a dozen places by tall, thin pillars, the city swayed uneasily in the embrace of angry winds. Ash-grey clouds were tangled with lightning. Thunder roared like a god's nightmare.

Yet the sky was the barest echo of the tempest on the plains below.


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MS Word Version