The Heart of Sapience

As the Creator gave a single look back at His creation, so too did Sapience look towards Him. The single utterance from the God of Strife mirrored the feelings of the land as it heaved under the weight of its new burden: forsaken, bereft of its Creator. As the portal shut behind Varyan Celestine, a terrible shudder heaved throughout the realm, and His abandoned Creation’s despair began to manifest subtly.

The loss of its Originator drove the realm itself into mourning, instilling within Sapience a deep depression. The effects manifested nigh immediately, and those connected more intimately with the land began to experience odd dreams. Centaurs within the Duiran Council demanded immediate attention from Esrytesh Sibatti, recounting to her their abnormal dreams that started benign before a sweeping wave stole the colour and life from everything they witnessed before terror and loss jostled them awake.

Far in the northern tundra, the loyal guards of Spinesreach experienced similar dreams. One in particular found herself in the office of Doctor Pietre Marcelli, complaining of a lack of passion and joy that had developed into an intense, palpable apathy. After some prompting about her sleep, she admitted that she had been experiencing odd dreams where all the colour and joy bled away wheresoever she looked.

In their carved sanctuary next to Enorian, the Arqeshi of Jaru went through a similar tumult. Typically haunted by Chakrasul, the Mother they had spurned, the once-Nazetu were no strangers to these nocturnal disturbances. Despite this, the people of Jaru reached out to Enorian to express concern over this newly formed topic of their nightly terrors. Dhurik, the High Priest of Jaru spoke to once-Brute Eaku Redwood and all those gathered at his behest, noting his people’s worries with some small agitation and communicating the odd dreams that they suddenly found themselves enduring.

Soon, the slaves and guards within Bloodloch began to show the initial signs of a similar depression. A lack of motivation and thirst for existential experience spread like a mental plague, and the denizens – both within the Cycle and beyond it – began to wistfully sigh or slump, drawing ire from citizens unaware of the initial wave of melancholic dreams.

The joyless wave rippled throughout Sapience quickly as the land itself succumbed to the despair of abandonment. The loss of vibrant dreams and motivation was now noticeable by everyone, and many wondered what other troubles awaited them. The answer would soon reveal itself as food and drink began to lose all taste, though this initial anomaly was so slight as to be missed by most of Sapience’s ascended adventurers. Still, as the weeks passed, it became unmistakable that even the most spiced dishes tasted akin to grey mush: bland and bereft of all texture.

Throughout all this, mortal hearts grew heavy, their tones muted by the weight of Sapience’s bone-deep mourning. Only Whirran, the High Priest of Loss, accepted what was happening as a foundational truth and embraced this new existence as the sign of his Lord’s virtue achieving true dominance. Preaching from the highest point of the Sibre, the once-legionnaire and loyal voice of Loss and Strife confirmed the death of joy and the expiration of amusement, his words ringing throughout Sapience with the grim weight of unbearable veracity. He went on to tell the realm entire that there was no purpose in existence, for Varian’s departure proved them all irrevocably flawed, unworthy of paradise, and ultimately replaceable.

As if in response to this doomsaying, the land wept torrents of rain that mirrored the sorrowful tears of one inconsolable. Earthquakes, like sobs wracking from a grieving body, shook the very foundations of Sapience and set the commonfolk of the realm to concerned muttering and panicked gossip. At the same time, rivers surged and threatened to engulf Esterport in a watery grave – a fact that sparked terror and confusion amongst its people. The ceaseless deluge only added to the river’s flooding, threatening Esterporean businesses and humble homes with destructive erosion.

Boube, an exuberant Kobold hailing from Spinesreach, could no longer bear the collective despair of everyone around him. Determined to lift the spirits of Sapience, he summoned the entire realm to North of Trees with cheerful yipping. He invited each soul attending to share their tales and joys in hopes of rekindling the spark of hope. As voices mingled and stories intertwined, a minor miracle occurred: the clouds above relented, parting to reveal the mid-morning sky where all other sections of the land suffered ‘neath dreary, perpetual overcast. The rain ceased to fall and the pervasive despair that burdened the land evanesced in response to this sudden, improvised sanctification in the name of resilient morale.

Inspired by Boube’s courageous initiative, an Arqeshi man from Jaru felt a stirring within his soul. Emboldened by the prospect of kindling hope amidst the darkness, he resolved to create a miracle of his own. Seeking counsel from Nawan, another Jaruvian Arqeshi now settled within Spinesreach, he sought support to bring his ideas back to his conservative hometown, seeking to buoy the spirits of the realm and its many people. Nawan initially refused the idea, suggesting instead that he might find better luck bringing his ideas to his brother, Inthirath the Vanguard of Enorian instead. Disappointed but undeterred, the Arqeshi man persisted in his quest.

Vurseng, the Arqeshi man, returned to Jaru the following day to present his grand vision to the Chieftain and High Priest. After many hours of heated debates and fervent pleas, the Arqeshi man rallied support from kindred spirits who shared his belief in the power of unity and renewal. Slowly but surely, the tide turned, and Sorkan, the Jaru Chieftain and Dhurik the Arqeshi High Priest, swayed by the collective conviction, relented. With their blessing secured, the Arqeshi man set plans for a festival at the end of Chakros. He shared his blueprints of a paper lantern, asking those who made one to inscribe a message or whisper a prayer within each they made.

On the day of the plan, the murmur of Jaru’s Arqeshi drifted forth from the heart of Sapience, their quiet rumble just above the steady sound of pouring rain. As everyone gathered under the midnight stars hidden by the storm clouds, a nervous tension clung to the air. Despite the raging storm that pounded down upon the continent, the rainfall still failed to encroach upon the land north of the Morgun. Demarcating this miraculous fixture was a large tear in the clouds, providing a glimpse into the dark wonder of Sapience’s midnight sky. An opportunistic merchant called aloud above the low murmuring, ensuring he caught the chance to make a bit of spare coin while passing out simple lanterns from his vendor stall.

Vurseng, the Arqeshi man responsible for organising the gathering, stood just outside the rest of the gathered Arqeshi, catching a few of their eyes as he glanced upwards at the tear created within the sky from some weeks before. He held his lantern tightly between his own hands, back momentarily turned away from the crowd of his fellow kinsfolk. At the sound of the Howling, Vurseng exhaled deeply and turned around to face the gathered crowd with a shaky smile. “Thank you, everyone, for gathering with me,” he started with a nervous lick of his lips. “The end of Chakros was symbolic for all Arqeshi as it ushered in our new year. Though the standard calendar new year ends on Haernos for most who walk Sapience, we Arqeshi view the end of Chakros as an opportunity to be cleansed and ward ourselves against corruption in the coming months.”

Vurseng gave one more glance up towards the tear in the clouds before holding his lantern up high for everyone to see. “This, though, is not completely about my people and Chakros,” he explained, “It is the opportunity to show our resilience and cheer. It is the chance to prove our steadfastness and determination. Just as a young Kobold stood here and changed the world with his belief, so can we expand on that.”

The storm continued to rage on around the gathered, the pouring rain challenging the Arqeshi and threatening to drown his words in the roaring deluge of a continent’s sorrow. “So lift your lanterns high. Pray to the land that steadies our feet. To the air that gives us life. The water that sustains the world,” Vurseng cried out as he raised his voice to match the raging storm. “Let us pray to Sapience, and help it find its way without the Creator! Let us lift the Land’s spirits!”

Those gathered prayed to Sapience itself, closing their eyes and bowing their heads. Quietly whispering a prayer to his lantern, Vurseng looked to the gathered once more and prepared his lantern. “As one, Sapience.”

After the whispering of prayers concluded, the Arqeshi man lit his lantern and placed it on the ground. The curious papercraft slowly began to drift upwards into the sky, its course meant to join the stars upon the night’s atramentous canvas.

“Please. Join me.”

As the collective of lanterns burgeoned into a glittering beacon within the night sky, the prayers and hopes of mortals resonated throughout the land.

With every additional lantern, Sapience’s sobbing slowly subsided and the rain tapered off into a soft drizzle before halting entirely. The wretched quaking of the land steadied and the flooding rapids began to recede all at once.

Responding to the prayers and hopes carried aloft to the heavens, each lantern dissolved before their eyes. One and all, their physical forms sloughed away to reveal celestial motes of silver and gold that danced through the air, each coruscating speck adding to the energetic nebula cloud that chased away the storm clouds. Blinding radiance erupted betwixt the stars without so much as a warning, forging a glorious panoply of light that momentarily transfigured night to day for a few precious seconds.

In the aftermath of this dazzling salvo, the Heart of Sapience beat anew, born by the will of its many denizens. Brought into being by the collective will of the realm’s people, the Caretaker declared that Sapience was restored by Their efforts and went to tend to the land, seeing Sapience’s despair pushed away with the power invested within Them.

So it was that Euthymius came into being, ushering in a new era for Khepri’s long-forgotten virtue of Morale.

Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 25th of Dharos, in the year 2 AC.