The Stones: A Beginning by Jordan Wolfe & Danika Stonesoul

~oOo~

The story begins nearly 600 years in our past…

In those times, before the dawn of the new millennium, the Northlands were in a perpetual state of conflict and war. Tribes of human men fought in battles that raged with a feral, internecine quality – for the families that led them, which had intermarried for generations, fought with fierce determination to assert their dominance. Alliances were formed and then betrayed. Men, women and children were slaughtered or enslaved – not least of all, those in the line of succession in one or another of the warring factions. In time, family lines were extinguished or driven into exile.

The Great Cataclysm marked the peak of the struggles, and is recalled to this day by the ruins of the grand keeps that stand as monuments to the utter violence. It was at that time that Tearus Wolfe, scion of the Wolfe family and the last of that family’s line, made a fateful choice. Faced with extinction, Tearus chose instead to summon masters of the Dark Arts; and from the crystal quarries beneath the Northlands fashioned stones of great power — by which he intended to subjugate the other families and assure the dominance of his own.

The first stones shaped were the primal pair: Fate and Faith. Through them, Tearus pushed out his will to all the families…drew in their minds, and aligned them in belief and, ultimately, in fealty to him. Consequences fell quickly on the few who resisted, as men were driven to madness or subject to other acts of Fate. Some simply died in their sleep.

Other pairs of the crystals were shaped as well – eight of them in all. Through them, Tearus slowly drew the strings of domination tighter…listening in private councils; watching for actions against the throne; seeding thoughts of betrayal among the conspirators. In time, resistance crumbled; and all of the other families were bound to the Family Wolfe in fealty and homage. The imminent threat of devastation was avoided…and the wars, at last, ended. Tearus was made king of all the Northlands, which he renamed Estara after the Goddess of new beginnings. The stone masters and wizards who had served him well slowly disappeared amidst whispers of intrigue and murder.

But Tearus’ supremacy was to be hard earned…and short lived. For Fate and Faith, it seemed, were not so easily mastered…and, in time, both proved fickle. For two score years, he wielded the power of the stones; and little realized that as they worked to influence the will of others, so did they exact a similar toll on their would-be master. As his Faith grew strong, the imbalance with Fate blinded him. And so, twenty years to the day from the Time of Reckoning, a thief and murderer came in the night; and Tearus and his queen quietly succumbed to the blade as they slept. The heir apparent, Jared Wolfe, and his twin brother and sister survived as a Stonemaiden raised the alarm. But the great stones of Fate and Faith disappeared…and remained missing until recent times.

The identity of the thief remained a mystery, though whispers of treachery touched the Kilgarrah family name, as the eldest son – Aramis Kilgarrah – disappeared soon after the slaying. Conflict rose up at once, in all quarters of Estara, and it was only through the actions of the boy king, Jared Wolfe, that a bitter and fragile peace was managed. King Jared opened the borders of Estara, building pacts with the other races in order to keep the peace. And so came elves and dragons, shapeshifters and outcasts; even varieties of odd and exotic creatures, of uncertain origin, who seemed half human and half animal. These alliances of convenience came at a cost; emptying the treasury of much of the riches of the realm…chief among these the precious stones which, like Fate and Faith, were slowly lost to the ages. The realm was consolidated into Stonehelm, and the rest of Estara opened for colonization by the other races. Such was the ransom for peace and order.

Years passed, and then centuries; and the chaotic violence of the past was replaced by scheming and intrigue, deception and betrayal. The shared trait of all the peoples of Estara was an enduring lust for power, linked to the stones themselves and the powerful instinct to find and control them. Those passions live, in Estara, to the present day.

~oOo~

A few centuries later…

Danaus Kilgarrah was weak. His will had been slowly eroded by the seductive power of Oom-dah (the Fate stone); and eventually, he succumbed to it. From his own father’s treasury, he stole the pair – Fate and Faith – which had been in the care of the Kilgarran line since time out of mind. He fled his homeland and made his way to the sea, intent on mastering the stones, building an army and returning to usurp the throne of Estara. But Fate soon played its hand, and the brigands he hired betrayed Danaus; who barely found time to stow the stones before his throat was cut and he was cast into the sea.

Fueled by the will of the stones, which ever sought to find their way back to the veins in the earth from which they were formed, a mutiny broke out aboard the ship. Murderous conflict took its toll until only one remained. His mind was broken – either from the assault on it by the stones, or his consequent isolation at sea. In his madness, he steered the ship upon the rocks off the coast of an unknown land.

The ship washed up on the nearby shore; and her cargoes were found and hauled to the local castle keep. The ruler of that realm – Queen Danika Stonesoul – discovered the stones and, enchanted by them, hid them in her treasury. It was not long after that Damon Kilgarrah, the younger brother of Danaus and heir to the Kilgarran titles, found his way to the Queen’s court, drawn to reclaim his birthright. By blackmail and threat, he secured the stones; only to learn that he could no longer hope to control them. Fate and Faith, it seemed, had wrapped themselves about the mind of the Queen, as if melded to it.

Out of desperation and his irresistible lust to control the stones, Damon kidnapped the Queen and spirited her away. Driven by the hope that bringing them back to the source – to Estara – would allow him to break the bond with the Queen and bend them to his own will, he set course for home. “Fate and Faith are the key to all”, his father had often told him. “Control them, and you can find and control the other pairs.” And so, like countless questers before him, Damon returned to Estara to find and master the stones, and through them rule the Realm of Stonehelm and then, Estara.

Unbeknownst to Damon – and in one of the odd series of coincidences wrought by Fate – Danika was betrothed to Jordan Wolfe, heir apparent to Stonehelm. Upon learning of the abduction, Jordan set out to follow the two – tracking them on their journey through the wild lands and back to Estara.

~oOo~

Jordan Wolfe and Danika Stonesoul live and work within the Realm of Estara on Second Life.

“Fate and Faith are the key.” Your adventure awaits among the stones of Estara. Estara is a fully immersive medieval role play environment, designed to be friendly and supportive. Join us in making YOUR medieval fantasy story come true today!

Calendar of events link: http://estararp.blogspot.com/p/calendar-of-events.html
Realm of Estara SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Estara/189/69/3002

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