The Aevum were far from myth and legend as they were like it. They were wise and knowledgeable, but only after learning from their past mistakes. Originally from L’Main, they had travelled to other worlds, building the Blue Heaven Road — what they called Caeruleus Aether — with the use of technology and etheric methods. Traveling so far amongst the stars, they had gained a great deal of power and influence. The Aevum bestowed their knowledge and technology upon the other races, but after witnessing the abuses of their gifts they retreated from the Realm of Man.
Where they lived now was a sub-Realm that overlapped with others now and again. The use of their wondrous technology was used sparingly, as they were afraid that overuse of it would damage their new home as it did their old ones. They lived as much as they could in harmony with their surroundings. They had spread throughout much of Ys, creating small cities while being very careful to not use too much of the natural resources of the land. Their biggest city was modeled after Tymy, with its white stone and graceful structures overlooking the sea.
It was here in Ostaear that I was taken to. It was their first structure that they built when they came to Ys, incorporating themselves in with the indigenous people. Their second had been Kaer Castle, whose echo was felt throughout most of the Realms. The Aevum felt that here they would start anew and strive not to repeat their past mistakes.
At least, that was what Solara, Diahnee’s constant companion, told me. Many of the Aevum deferred to her and I guessed that she was an Elder among them. She answered any and all questions I had about Ys and showed me how to use their technology. I discovered that the magic and science of the Ásgarðr had its roots in Aevum technology, as did most other cultures such as the Laskandians. I knew that some cultures and even some worlds lost the ability to manipulate the Aevum technology left behind, but what remained seemed to still work.
It was a quiet time in Ys; however, there was always that undercurrent of tension and worry as their best magi and scouts were sent out to investigate the strangeness in the Realms. They went about their lives as normally as possible, but everyone could feel that something wasn’t right.
A year passed. I was given quarters of my own within the immense city, not far from where the Elders stayed. I was treated with great respect and allowed near free reign among them. They were still cautious around me, but seemed to recognize that I was not mortal. The rules they usually enforced were disregarded for the most part. I think they knew that if I really wanted something, I could force them to give it to me.
The more I learned about them, the more I realized why they left. It wasn’t just their technology that the others had abused. The Aevum possess an uncanny knack for knowing the future. Not just certain people, but all of them. Some trained to have better control over this particular ability, and their visions progressed from vague sensations and notions to clearly defined events. They were the children of Destiny and their visions were a remnant of Her divine ability.
Some of these visions were written down, but not in the way that most would. They created murals. Vast, colorful murals of exquisite detail. Each one was different. Some were done with glass, others with paint, and yet others were etched into the stones. The oldest of these murals were in rooms in the temple of <city by the sea>. No one really knew what these murals depicted, but the thought was that they were events that had occurred in another reality or another universe, perhaps another timeline before this current one. Or they were a depiction of events soon to come. Diahnee made the comment that all of them were right, yet all of the theories were wrong as well. I didn’t understand the comment, but let it be. More philosophy of the Aevum, I presumed.
Word finally arrived of the cause of the changes in the Realms. Solara approached me with a grim look on her face, Diahnee not far behind. I put down my work — a history about the Aevum and my own observations of them — and noted the worried frown and the grim line of her lips.
“There is something you need to know,” she said, gesturing for me to follow her.
“What happened?” I asked as I rose, following her out of my private chambers and into an adjoining hallway.
“We have confirmed what is causing the disturbances,” came the curt reply.
Diahnee shook her head and waved my question off. “Later,” she told me. “There is something else you must know first.” Turning away from me, she began walking without waiting to see if I would follow.
I glanced over at Solara with a questioning look, but she only shook her head. We hurried to catch up with Diahnee, slowing as we came near. “What could be more important than knowing what the cause is?”
My only answer was a shake of the head. What the hell was going on? I was led to their temple, a vast building that served more as a repository of their knowledge. It was made of the same white stone that I had seen in Tymy with its graceful arches. Within its halls, there were books made of paper and velum, bound with leather or thick paper. Scrolls were stored away in lattice type structure and some objects that I didn’t recognize pulsed with faint light.
Diahnee led us past many of these rooms and deeper into the temple itself. The rooms full of all manner of recording type were replaced with rooms full of murals. The paint was faded in one room and pieces of glass were missing from another. Each one seemed to tell a story, but there were no ancient texts to help decipher the scenes. The one Diahnee led us to was old indeed. Stepping aside without saying a word, she gestured for me to look.
I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be looking at. Glancing first to Diahnee and then to Solara, I stepped closer. Light from several candles illuminated the mural. I called forth my own light to help see by and saw a woman with a spear in her hand, raised to ward off some sort of attack and defend someone. A man? it was hard to tell from the crouched position. I felt my frown deepen as I scanned to the right of the mural, then the left.
The depiction of Yggdrasil caught my eye and I moved to inspect it, the light I summoned following me. It was of the Nine Homeworlds with three women with spears leaving, with two leaving together and the third going off in another direction. In the next scene, one of the two women had light radiating form her as the other looked on.
I felt my heart begin to race, seeing my story echoed on these ancient walls. I searched further, finding a scene of a woman with a spear going off into battle and then dying. Another woman carried her to a field in the sky near Yggdrasil. It was impossible that my life would be here on these walls. I must have said something for Diahnee spoke.
“The story is too close to what you told me for it not to be true.”
“It’s impossible!” I whispered. “This mural is far older than me.” I gently touched the depiction of the Norns measuring a thread and cutting it, presumably mine. I moved further back along the story the mural told and was met with the end. A woman with a spear lay dying before being taken as a ball of light into the ether. Was this my death? I moved back to the scene of the mural of the woman protecting someone. The one after it was of the woman alone by a body of water.
I turned to Solara and Diahnee. “What does it mean?” When no answer came, I flung my arm back to point angrily at the mural surrounding us, the summoned light reacting to my memory of anger. “What the hell does this mean?! Why is my life depicted here when I have never been here before?! Is my life nothing more than a plaything of the gods?! I refuse to be used in this manner!”
It was Diahnee who answered me, moving in front of Solara as if to protect her. “Your life is not a ‘plaything.'” Her voice was low and quiet, but firm. “You have a role to play in coming events. That is what this mural tells me. You’re an important person, Lady Vaeramae. We each have our part and this is yours.”
She was so certain of it, of her words, that I was on the verge of shouting. “Our lives are not predetermined,” I snapped.
“To a degree, yes,” she replied, fixing her unflinching gaze upon me. “However, there are certain action, events, places, and people that we encounter in each lifetime. How we meet is different every time, but we always meet, Lady Vaeramae. In each incarnation we find the people we love — friends, family, teachers — and we run into those that would be our enemies — former friends and ancient foes. Over and over again, each time in a different guise.”
I wanted to dismiss what she said, but the certainty of her words made me wonder if Diahnee was right. “You’re saying that you and I have met before.” Caution colored my voice as I spoke A part of me wanted to believe her. If I could continue after my time as a mortal, why not this? Why not reincarnation?
“Yes, Lady Vaeramae, we have.” I saw something like a smile on her face. “But this time was different from the last.”
“We have?” I asked dubiously. Before she could answer I asked another question. “And why do you keep calling me ‘Lady’ Vaeramae?”
Diahnee paused, as if thinking over her answer. “A sign of respect, and yes, we have.” She didn’t elaborate further, and turned slightly away. “If you want, I will show you my mural.” Solara began to speak, but Diahnee hushed her with a look. What was so important about this mural?
I followed Diahnee out of the room and into a far older part of the temple. In a room dimly lit by flickering candles and torches that sputtered along the near wall, I could see faint shapes on a yellowed wall. Lighting a lantern, Diahnee walked to the far wall to reveal faded paint. She found the section she wanted and raised her lantern high enough to reveal a hooded figure and a woman with a spear.
“How do you know that this is your mural?” I questioned.
“Just as with you, the similarities were too strong to ignore.”
I felt that there was more to what she said, but didn’t press for answers.
Lowering the lantern, Diahnee seemed to watch me. “The Aevum exist beyond time This allows them to record events as they happen across the Realms. They have seen history repeat itself and change. The events you and I participate in never change, but how they come about and what we do always shifts. It’s different every time.”
“You confuse me. You say that our fates are predetermined, but we can change them. How is this possible?”
“That answers nothing,” I replied crossly.
“It explains everything. Especially what is causing the disturbances in the Realms. Free will allows us to act as we want.”
“And what of these events that we keep reenacting in every life?” I demanded.
“Lessons we have not learned from yet.” It seemed to me that she spoke wearily, with an unvoiced sigh in her voice. She looked no older than thirty, yet her eyes conveyed a sense of being far older.
“The disturbances are caused by a man named Lyrac Argona,” she said abruptly. “He was once a member of the Aevum but left. He has decided that we can no longer sit back and watch events unfold. He believes we should be influencing the Realms toward our greater benefit and to no longer uphold the Balance of the Realms.
“As the Aevum exist outside of Time, he is able to change things in the timeline and alter them for his own benefit. What he is doing is upsetting the Balance. He must be stopped lest he ruin everything. Too many changes cause pockets and instabilities, which in turn could cause everything to collapse in on itself.”
I admit that I was lost, but I wasn’t about to let Diahnee know that. “What would this do? Destroy the Realms?” I crossed my arms over my chest. “It almost sounds like Ragnarok.”
“These disruptions could cause problems and the timeline could loop in on itself.”
“Loop in on itself?” I echoed. Something didn’t feel right. I began to suspect that Diahnee was withholding information. Or she was hoping I would make a connection. I closed my eyes in an effort to block out the world around me. “I need time to think all of this through,” I told her.
“Take as much time as you need.”