"Weep for the pride of Aquilon, ye mortals; weep for that which is lost. For the glory of old shall never come again; the light of Aerys has gone out. Doors barred to the mind of man lay askew; gates with keys of madness gape wide. Awake is that which woken never should be; the price of pride is the Doom of Aquilon."
--from a fragment of the Cyriandran Cycle,
translated from ancient Aquilonian
Aquilon is name of an ancient civilization which held sway over large swaths of Brittanis. It was possibly the largest empire in the history of Aerys, and its eventual destruction was the event that heralded the Breaking of the World. The hubris and disobedience of Aquilon's leaders caused the gods to send a fiery mountain hurling down from the sky, sinking the entire continent beneath the waves and bringing darkness and desolation to the world for a thousand years. Seas fled the coasts in some places, mountains fell into the ocean or were thrust up from deep beneath the earth. Mortals by the millions died. coastlines were re-drawn and the wrath of the Otherworld was visited upon the sons and daughters of Aquilon for their treachery. The world was broken and has never reclaimed the glory of the Lost Empire.
Empire of Magic
The Empire of Aquilon lived and breathed arcane magic-- without a doubt the masters of the ancients far outstripped the mages of our dark times. The magic of Old Aquilon was the stuff of children's tales today-- fragments of tales from that age tell us that (supposedly) the ancients had magic that could:
- Change the weather patterns of entire regions. When Aquilon was struck down, untold multitudes perished because the magics that had allowed them to live and grow food in normally-inhospitable areas suddenly failed.
- Craft and mold buildings and architecture on a scale unheard of by even the greatest Free Dwarves, Erin'Tar or Gael'Dar. Entire cities were build by magic-infused materials with far greater strength than can be forged today.
- Living machines served the nobility of Aquilon as servants and warriors. Other living constructs were used as transportation over water or even flying through the air.
- Weapons that could kill at vast distances, even hundreds of miles away, fueled by magical power.
- Lights, powered by pure magical essence, that never ran out of fuel, grew warm, or made smoke
These and many other miracles, each stranger than the last, if the tales and stories can be believed. Possibly the most famous of all the Aquilonian magical wonders are the Waygates, magical transportation devices scattered throughout the lands that carried food, trade, and people from place to place round the world in an instant.
Many ancient Aquilonian ruins exist today, bare foundations and occasional tombs and necropoli of the dead. They often contain the secrets of the dead ancients, but far more frequently those who enter never leave again.
Guardianship & Betrayal
Ancient legends tell us that the Aquilonians were tasked by the gods to guard, protect and watch over a great secret; their purpose as a people was to ensure this secret never came to the light of day.
As centuries passed and the Aquilonians grew mightier and more powerful on their own, they forsook the worship of the gods and even proscribed and banished those who still believed. The Aquilonians ordered their universe with arcane magic and shaped their world-view around that. They believed themselves the equals of the gods-- the archmages of Aquilon could alter reality with but a thought, they cred. How is that unlike the gods themselves?
It was this hubris that brought their doom. The masters of magic in ancient Aquilon began to investigate the secret their ancestors had sworn to protect and never disturb; the mages found that the secret contained vast stores of power, quiescent and unused, locked behind magical wards and protections. In their lust for power, they did not wonder why this power had been locked away-- they only saw that the gods had kept a source of power from the mortal world and in their jealousy tried to unlock it.
No-one living knows what happened then; not even the tiniest fragment of lore reaches us about that day-- only tale and legend from those who were hundreds of miles away, and many generations later bring us the stories of the Doom of Aquilon.
The tales tell of a great scream-- as of an animal freed from a cage-- that sounded across the entirety of Aerys. Every living thing took note of that terrible, primal roar. Next, a great star fell from the sky to the west of Brittanis, and after that, it seemed as if the whole world was engulfed in flames and rock and dust. The entire continent of Aquilon fell beneath the waves, swallowed by the great ocean that bears its name to this day.
The Breaking of the World
When Aquilon fell, the world wept for a thousand years at what pride and greed for power had wrought.
Aquilon had been an empire dependent entirely on magic; when Aquilon was destroyed, the flows of magic were altered--changed by whatever force they had loosed upon the world and forever after the wielders of arcane magic have been haunted by creatures of the Otherworld attempting to corrupt them from within. The mages of that time had no knowledge of what was happening at the time-- each and every one of them went mad, their power destroying the world as it was known and making the world we know today.
Cities were destroyed in an instant of blinding magical fire as the mages of old battled each other in their insanity. Mountains were smashed to rubble, and new ones brought up from the bottom of the sea. valleys became mountaintops and slowly massive sheets of ice crept down from the polar caps to embrace the world. The sun did not show itself for over 100 years, obscured by clouds of dust and thick fume. The old world died and a new one was born screaming.
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