13th of Summer’s High – 59 A.S. (After Sundering)
This day each year was always a hard one; but this time the old man felt his bones give an especially audible groan as he rose from his bed. His wife still slept soundly, tangled in silk sheets like a Rigoki acrobat he had seen once as a boy, suspended from the rafters in a circus. Certainly a far more impressive feat than the labored breathing, hot with the stench of wine, that gave rise to his beloved’s chest. Facing her this day, would be the hardest thing of all. For today, he was to send two of his children to what she believed to be their doom. Off to a land no one had seen in over a millennia.
He saw no other choice. For many long summers he had worked toward this goal, and he was far too weak to make such a journey himself. He hoped he sent them off to a better life; but he could only be sure he was sending them away from a hard one.
Not many men remembered that day, 59 years ago, as clearly as he. A lad, far from strapping and scared out of his wits, he was. He remembered though; the day the sky bled. It was midday when he saw it, a sky so crimson that it hurt to look at. He remembered the quake that followed and how it tore buildings in two before him. He had watched in horror from his tutor’s study as half the city, his family with it, fell into the ocean. And they’d had it easiest of all.
As he shuffled toward the chamber pot, still trying to get his tired body to move how he wanted, he thought of it. The Sundering, as it had become commonly called, touched all on Dashahl. Entire kingdoms were gone in an instant, many falling into pits no one has found the bottom of; or being engulfed in a lava flow wider than the eye can see. The aftermath was even worse.
The old man shuddered. Responsible in equal parts were the cold of the chamber pot upon his skin and the thought of the days and years that followed The Sundering. Some blamed the Elves, haughty and easy to hate. Many men believed the reclusive and apathetic folk who hid in their magically constructed spires had meddled in the wrong magics. Others blamed the anger of various gods. Which god and who angered them changed based upon who was asked. Some blamed the Halflings and their tunneling. The Halflings, of course, were able to provide evidence that their small holes could cause no such damage; and garner much sympathy along the way. There were some who believed the phenomenon to be natural. The work of the normal lifeline of our world or a dormant fault line. And oh, how they fought about it. There was not enough for everyone, and the times were dark and full of despair.
As he washed his hands in the basin he began to give thanks. Maybe it was fitting that today was chosen after all, despite his initial protests, for the expedition to depart. Maybe this day can stop being remembered as the anniversary of the shattering of the great continent of Dashahl, and can be remembered as the dawn of a new era.
As he gazed upon himself in the mirror, he breathed in deeply, swelling his still bulky frame up as proudly as he could. Today his legacy would finally be realized. The very thing that he’d worked toward since he was a boy of 9 Summers had become a reality. At least no one could ever say that King Meridius Halcyon had not tried. He just prayed it did not fail.