The Pillar of Heaven
Nyx's River Tales
Here’s what Nyx has pieced together about the Pillar of Heaven, the Weirdrangle, and the Brightmore clan, from various sources in her Fairhaven investigations.
First Story Night on the Royal River:
Legend and research tell us the Pillar of Heaven was made when Verdens was newly created, in the time before time. Golodun wrought the artifact with his own hands and tools; Atmo gave it the power to purify air and control the wind; Yenaelweth empowered it to make the land pure, and generate certain kinds of crops; Aearmo imbued it with the ability to provide rain. As if all this were not enough, Gwalto made it spin gold; Zumbar made it a clock with the ability to manipulate time; and Olorwe wove within it a power to grant visions through the dream world.
The gods made the Pillar of Heaven so the mortal races of their creation could benefit from divine power without the gods themselves needing to intervene in the affairs of the world.
[these events are depicted in the movie “The Gods Must Be Lazy”]
The device was to be shared among the original three races: elves, human, and dwarves. By using the Pillar of Heaven with moderation and wisdom, these races were able to gain mastery over the material world of Verdens. In an era of harmony, the use of the Pillar was to the benefit of all.
That didn’t last. The early civilizations were, as we know, horribly oppressive patriarchies, wherein moderation and wisdom can never flourish. Seeing the unbearable oppression under which dwarvish women, elven maids and human females suffered, the lazy gods did what lazy gods do: scrap it all with a cataclysm to cleanse the world. They shattered the phallic “Pillar” and reshaped Verdens itself with a worldwide catastrophe.
At that time, all three races occupied a supercontinent that once contained all life in Verdens. In the cataclysm, the lands were rent asunder, smashing this mythical original home. However, some scholars of esoterica posit that Atmo and Aearmo joined forces to save some elves, dwarves and humans, bringing them to safety in new lands across the great World Ocean. This, they say, is how Etala, Dykumo, and the other known kingdoms were first settled. If the stories of the migration are true, perhaps some remnant of the ancient homeland still exists across the sea…
In our meeting with him, Father Gildshine maintained that the Stone Spire of Etala, the mountain peak on which the Weirdrangle sits, is a land form from the original supercontinent that somehow survived the cataclysmic reshaping of Verdens. Among the myths and legends regarding the Pillar, one holds that it was not destroyed, but broken, and its pieces were buried under a mountain. Gildshine believes the Stone Spire of Etala may be that mountain, and that the Pillar of Heaven will be recovered from it.
By the way, if anyone is skeptical about The Vision of Li Peng, religious authorities and leading arcane diviners have confirmed the vision’s authenticity as flowing from the deity Olorwe, the god who placed the power of vision in the Pillar of Heaven. This is confirmed by the highest-ranking arcane diviners, including the head sage of the Royal Library of Fairhaven, al-Qarawi.
The Weirdrangle’s construction was commissioned by the legendary mage Zarkandr over 500 years ago. Zarkandr, in his madness, sought the means to live forever and attain godlike power. The realm our party seeks, Zarkandaria, derives its name from this dark wizard. With the aid of the young, prodigious dwarvish Master-Smith and Architect of legend Vaelundar, the Weirdrangle’s megalithic metal structure was built atop a mountain peak called the Stone Spire of Etala. Some contended that Vaelundar was the aspect of Golodun himself, so great were his works.
Vaelundar struck up a friendship with the powerful wizard Zarkandr. Zarkandr had Vaelundar build the Weirdrangle as a fortress against Zarkandr’s enemies, as a testament to his twisted ego, and as a vault for both his and Vaelundar’s ehh-treas-yur-eee!
But beware: legend tells Zarkandr placed many portals in the Weirdrangle, including one to the mysterious Far Realm, which, it’s said, accidentally became a two-way portal. This may explain the incurable madness that seems to overcome all travelers to the Weirdrangle, including Zarkandr and his dwarvish companion Vaelundar. All unfortunate beings to have returned from the Weirdrangle alive were tainted by madness of various sorts: blithering dementia, psychotic rage, incurable myopathy…
madness— Madness !
Now off to bed.
Second Story Night on the Royal River:
And speaking of Madness: some time after the Weirdrangle was constructed, Old King Brightmore, who ruled Fairhaven at the time, was perhaps jealous— as men so often are— of Zarkandr’s bromance with Vaelundar. King Brightmore wanted the powerful dwarf to construct a fantastic new palace for his soon-to-be-wedded son, the crown prince, but Brightmore knew the dwarf would never agree. So he ordered Vaelundar’s wife and daughter to be kidnapped, to force the dwarf to do his bidding. Vaelundar refused, cursing the line of Brightmore to scorn and diminishment!
King Brightmore responded by executing Vaelundar’s wife and daughter. In his grief, Vaelundar relented. Instead of building a palace, he agreed to build a great Feast Hall for the wedding. Unbeknownst to Brightmore, Vaelundar and Zarkandr slew the crown prince and his bride and had them fed as sliced meatstuffs to the unaware wedding guests! In the late hours of the reception, (deliberately after the King had departed) the trapped Feast Hall collapsed and burned the revelers, slaying many nobles loyal to House Brightmore.
Enraged and wracked with grief, old King Brightmore ordered that Vaelunder be blinded, lamed, and thrown in prison. Not long after, the line of Godwin usurped the crown, claiming that Brightmore had no viable heirs and that his behavior had been irreligious. Nobody knows the ultimate fate of Vaelundar.
Some say Vaelundar haunts the echoing Pass of the Magus, howling with rage from the pinnacle of the Tower of the Magus, another structure he built for his BFF Zarkandr. Others say that he was only recently pulled from the heretofore lost Wave Echo Mine, and Vaelundar’s Curse has reawakened as a result.
Vaelundar’s name is synonymous with Doom, and his curse is blamed today for the misfortunes of the kingdom. Many common folk still scorn the line of Brightmore for their association with the tale.
Since its breaking, the Pillar of Heaven has never been known to have been recovered or obtained by anyone. However, missions have been made to find it. It was the last attempt to recover the Pillar that brought an end to the Brightmore dynasty.
The most recent attempt to recover the Pillar occurred around 500 years ago, just after the events between Old King Brightmore and Vaelundar. King Brightmore launched a mission to recover the artifact, based on information from Zarkandr that the Pillar was broken and lost, on an unmapped island out in the World Ocean. Old King Brightmore assembled the royal Navy of Fairhaven to find the island and bring back the Pillar. In his anger, Aearmo summoned a mighty tempest that scattered and destroyed most of the fleet, and few ships returned.
In the aftermath of the disastrous mission, a fleet from the ominous Far Dark Dykumo Empire attacked the vulnerable Bay of Fairhaven from across the sea, sacking its cities and subjugating the people for a season. It was Old Archduke Godwin, with his Dukes Mangold and Harmsworth at his side, who led the rebellion that eventually drove off the invaders.
For his valor, and his ability to rally all the people of the kingdom to a common cause, Godwin was crowned king of Fairhaven, and the disgraced house of Brightmore consigned to a lower rung in the aristocracy.
And thus entangled are the tales of the Pillar, the Weirdrangle, Zarkandr, Vaelundar and the cursed Brightmore line.
If you ask me, I believe the last ill-fated mission to retrieve the Pillar might have been engineered by Zarkandr as a wild goose chase— fitting revenge for what Brightmore did to Zarkandr’s beloved Vaelundar. That old fool Brightmore got what was coming to him for his legendary misogyny and cowardice…