Legends tell of a time, many thousands of years ago, when the world of Exosta was full of life. Humans, Orcs and Ratmen - some claim even a few Goblins – lived on the surface, in the open, under a clear blue, and often lightly clouded, sky. No-one really knows what caused the sun to stop shining, but as quickly as the sun died, so did this golden age come to an abrupt end. The perpetual darkness and the cold drove the inhabitants of the city of Arx underground, into the old and long abandoned Dwarf mines. Goblins, Trolls, Orcs and Humans sought shelter in the dark shafts and caverns, and made them their new home. United by their common plight, the races set aside their differences and, with collossal effort, almost the entire city was rebuilt underground. Within mere months, however, the first animosities between the races flared up again, contracts, pacts and treaties rendered void by the darkness and scarceness of resources. Being cramped in such claustrophic proximity, devoid of natural light, quickly led to malice and aggression. Still now, many years later, not a day passes in this dark world without some form of violence or conflict. This accumulation of hate, anger and violence brought an unspeakable evil, an evil whose very existance had long been forgotten, into the underground world of Arx: Akbaa the Lord of Destruction, who took great delight in the suffering and death of humans. According to the legends, Akbaa allied with the human high priest Iserbius and founded a cult, a cult bent on worshipping their dark master and spreading his reign of terror. Their number grew by the hour, and throughout Arx hidden temples where built and human sacrifices held at secrets altars, until finally, one of king Lunshire’s astronomers uncovered the evil-doings of the sinister high priest. Shortly before his death, which most certainly was not of natural causes, he was able to send a message to the mysterious Sybarta. The Sybarta keep the balance of power between the gods, and, so the stories tell, sent a guardian to Arx. A guardian to counter the threat of Akbaa, whose power would be able to restore the bonds that once harnessed the Lord of Destruction. To this day, however, no one has seen this guardian. No one knows where or when this mysterious saviour might appear and lead Arx out of the darkness…
The Old Man's Story Edit
Part 1 Edit
With a glitter in their eyes and full of anticipation the children came closer to the old man in his dirty clothes and gray hair sitting on the chair.
Some of the younger lads whispered and laughed at the shaky old fellow - but this all ceased when as he began the story in his scratchy old voice...
«Well children...» the old man coughed. «The world as you see and know it today has not always been our world. A long time ago, this is what the tradition tells us, all people lived outside this fortress on the surface of the earth. They had something called a blue sky with crystal white smoke called clouds floating around above their heads.»
The incredulous murmurs of the children made the old man pause for a moment.
«You better believe me! Back then we had a beautiful sun warming everything with its magical beams. People were able to grow crops without the use of magic but only with the help of soil and sun. Sure there were also goblins, trolls, dragons and demons but everything lived so far apart that one rarely encountered any of these. The thing that really hit our civilization was how the sun suddenly vanished and died. From one day to the other it was just gone. The shadow of the night came and stayed forever. Since that damned day, the icy hand of frozen death reigns on the surface. All living things either froze to death or retreated into the womb of mother earth, just like our folks did in the old days. This ancient dwarf mine was the home to all those refugees from then on. The dark age began.»
Cries of astonishment and disbelief had accompanied the tale of the old man so far. The story teller paused and gave his audience some time for his words to sink in, then he went on.
«From that fateful day on, only the traveler guild has been bold enough to set foot on the surface again and to travel the surface in constant search for other refugees out there. Down here everything kind of settled with the years. Each race occupied certain areas of the mine for themselves. Today we grow food only with the help of magic and without that we would have already wasted away a long time ago.
Some levels below the goblins and the ratmen survive only by eating the nastiest things and stealing from us humans. Everyone down here has found his or her place by now. Lunshire the Just is a good and rightful king to us; protecting us from all the evil lurking behind the walls of our fortress. You are raised here and are happy with your lives since you do not know better. Hear me now and imagine how beautiful a life would be in an outside world with light from the sun instead of tunnels and caverns lit by flickering torches or magical spells!»
As if on cue, all the torches suddenly flickered and their glow crept up the walls towards the ceiling of the room. Frightened by the flickering lights, the children moved closer to each other looking up to where this strange surface was supposed to be.
«There is a way that we can escape all of this!», the old man suddenly screamed aloud. «A mighty god who holds the power to change our pitiful existence by returning the sun to us.» With a sigh his voice calmed down again. «But this is a story for another time. I am tired now, leave me alone you little rascals, hush, hush...»
Part 2 Edit
«Ahh, there you are again you little brats... So today I will tell you of the mighty Akbaa my children.» Once again the children settled by the light of the torches. They were again ready to absorb every word the old man was about to say.
«Just like I told you the last time, there is no escape from the walls around us. Outside there is only the cold, the loneliness and finally death. Due to the sudden nature of being thrown together underground, all the old rules and pacts once sealed on the surface to guarantee a better life among the different races were no longer followed. In the border regions there were countless struggles between the goblins, the trolls and also us humans. In these days of chaos something dark and twisted appeared between us. The god of terror wanted to dominate our existence! So who remembers his name, eh?» After an awkward moment of silence, the little son of the captain of the guards whispered: «Akbaa?»
«Very good, that's right Akbaa...» the old man repeated the name with a fearsome note to it which made the children shiver. It seemed as if the words echoed from all sides.
Story taken from www.arxfatalis-online.com . Note that the site is no longer online, but you can see an archived copy of it here .