Version 11: The SunriseEdit
Kestrel's moods have been mild in these passing months. The Kormadians have been lucky thus far, but their luck is beginning to run out. While disaster on the part of Omicron has been averted thanks to Kestrel's interference, a new disaster is lurking, and it is one even Kestrel himself cannot undo. At most he could alleviate the stresses resulting from it, but to stop it fully and completely, Kestrel would have to sacrifice himself.
And everyone knows that would never happen.
Not unless the Kormadians found a method by which to hold him to such a demand.
A demand that would force him to halt Prime's changing state of matter.
The first pulse of many has begun, and Prime's rays are growing in heat and intensity. Daylight hours are increasing, and light levels are doing much the same. Some of the weaker equines have already become blind, for their sensitive eyes cannot handle the increased light intensities. The star has taken on a reddish tint in the sky these days. The global temperature on the Equine planet has increased by a full degree, a tentative step toward disaster in itself.
But for now, the Kormadians have noticed little, for Prime's steady transformation into the red giant phase of its life cycle has only just begun. For now, the equines will notice only a slight increase in temperatures and therefore a decrease in snow in the coming winters, and with a mild drop in the water levels of the shallow seas covering Kormada. The air is more humid and moist, but not in an uncomfortable way.
For now, Kormada seems to be doing good for the equine inhabitants.
For now, the planet is at last, paradise.
Version 12: EvolutionEdit
As those who had lived through horrors past know, Kormada has never been kind to those who live among its rolling hills and shallow seas. First it had been the massive planet-wide earthquake that separated the supercontinent into many smaller subcontinents. Then had come Omicron's violent brush with an asteroid-induced death, and the dominant moon was set on a collision course with its mother planet. After this the Vaporous Eye had erupted, followed by a global night during which strange, foreign creatures began to emerge amongst the bioluminescent plants lining the forest floors. Winter soon took hold of the planet, chilling inhabitants to the bone and weeding out the weak. When the ice melted, Kormada suffered a global flood, drowning coastal territories and forcing those who had once lived there to relocate. Damaging winds developed thereafter, effects of the moon as it spiraled ever closer to Kormada.
Then had come Kestrel, the beast from above who saved the equine planet from Omicron's death orbit. He controlled all, and continues to. And now, as Prime shows the first signs of entering its red giant phase, new threats have emerged that are closer to home. Some may blame these creations on Kestrel, and while it is true that he knows and has always known of their existence, he is not responsible for their creation alone.
Foreign creatures have evolved, some of them almost equine in nature; others are far from anything one could even begin to imagine. Beasts with two legs or eight legs or even one hundred roam an alien continent known as Hinterland. Some beasts are friendly, others are not. They take on the alliances of the horses they cannot interact with unless the horses so wish it. They are large, they are small, they are herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores alike. They can fly, they can swim, they can live beneath the ground or in floating nests in the Kormadian skies.
And, as with most all of Kormada's historical figures, they are absolutely unpredictable.
Version 13: The DisturbanceEdit
Peace was not a feeling the Kormadians were used to. Calm, a word in a foreign language. Beauty, a concept long since forgotten. But these were the feelings and the words and the concepts that swarmed the equine planet these days. Prime's impending death looms closer every day, but the Kormadian equines remain oblivious to their star's plight. It will take many many years before Prime will swell large enough to consume Kormada, or even for Kormada's residents to feel the effects of a larger, hotter star.
In the meantime, all is quiet.
Temperatures and seasons have balanced out and become more regular, and Kestrel has thus remained dormant and has not yet attempted to harm his equine subordinates. The non-equine creatures of the planet have dutifully remained locked on the Hinterland continent. Even the Scarmakers seem to have become dormant, and equines have grown comfortable in the belief that the shapeshifting days of the Scarmakers are over. The Scarbearers, too, have grown silent; perhaps they feel they are no longer needed since Kestrel has arrived.
Of course, things can change.
Things always change for the worse on Kormada.
Concealed within the apparent calm, a storm is gathering strength. There is a disruption between the alliances. Battles are breaking out. Religions are being formed, which are leading to disturbances across the globe. Whispers of an uprising, a campaign against the wyvern, can be heard amongst the trees.
Could this be the start of a war?
Version 14: To Call Upon An AllyEdit
The divisions of power have been decided, and the Kormadians have chosen their sides. Kestrel is more aware than ever that there is some disturbance across the planet, but even he, being all-knowing, cannot predict exactly what is going to happen. He has grown frustrated in the recent weeks, and has so called a new ally into the picture.
These creatures, however, much like the Kormadian equines, have their own ideas of what should be done about the wyvern. Some of them are truly allies to Kestrel, some allies to the equines, and others have taken no side at all.
To make things even more confusing and strange, Kormada has become bathed in a blue light originating from Prime itself. At night the world is slightly less colored, but those who remember a time before the blue will notice a significant difference in their ability to see in the dark. Whether this difference is for the better or not will depend on the animal itself. The creatures Kestrel has called forth seem to do quite well in this colored world, and plan to use it to their advantage when confronting Kestrel.
Whether all-out war will break out between the Kormadians and the wyvern remains to be seen.
Version 15: InsurrectionEdit
Something is wrong with the wyvern. In the midst of a soon-to-be war, the once seemingly infallible beast appears weakened. His mental state--if ever it could be deemed healthy--has deteriorated in the recent weeks, and he is, as a result, more dangerous now than he ever was before. A Kestrel with a barrier to logistics, reasoning, and negotiation was a problem. A Kestrel incapable of these things is a near death sentence for the Kormadian equines.
The wyvern is immortal, and invulnerable to weapon or physical attack. It appears, however, that he is not invulnerable to disease--and that is the very cause of his sudden and rapid deterioration. An immortal body does not guarantee a functional body, and the equines of Kormada are learning this very quickly. Whereas an equine has death to put an end to a disease, Kestrel cannot die, and so he shall remain a constant menace--unless, of course, the horses can devise a plan to end their difficulties.
But, it would seem that some equines have already been working on a solution. There are rumors that a facility to contain the wyvern is being carved from the stones high in the mountains of the Loftland. It will take time to finish, but more and more inhabitants are flocking to help out.
In the meantime, the intelligences of the planet are faced with a far more daunting task.
How does one capture a wyvern?
Version 16: The CaptureEdit
The Kormadians, long plagued by the immortal wing-ed beast Kestrel, are free.
His days of exerting his power over them have ended. For Kestrel, once the king of kings, has been captured and contained by his subjects.
Equine and Non-Equine have worked together in these dark times, planning, creating, and acting out their goals. A net, woven from the manes and tails of the Scarbearers, flung into the sky by a monstrous wooden mechanism built with the assistance of the Non-Equines of Hinterland, and kept hovering there with the help of--though the Kormadians dared not believe it at first--the Scarmakers. It was only a matter of time before the wyvern was unlucky enough to find himself entangled with the unbreakable fibers, and his capture was announced when the Kormadian earth quaked and rumbled as his great body struck the ground.
Thousands labored to haul the captured monstrosity away, their journey long as their half-crazed catch struggled to free himself. Into the heights of the Loftland they traveled, seeking the mountain into whose face was carved the entrance to an enormous tunnel. The Kormadians followed this tunnel to the depths of the mountain until they reached the cavern that would house the wyvern for the remainder of time.
Still ensnared in the net, Kestrel's anger was unspeakable, his fear palpable. The masses left, save for a select few, whose jobs would lose them their lives. At last, the entrance to the cavern was sealed and, locked within it, the remaining Kormadians, dug away at the sides until water burst forth, flooding the cavern, drowning the martyrs, and trapping Kestrel forever in a watery prison in which he could never die, yet never fully live.
At several points along the tunnel back to the surface, the walls were collapsed, a final sort of insurance that the wyvern could not escape. At last, the entrance was sealed, marked with one guard who would not leave his post until his dying day was near, and the Kormadians returned to their homes.
Free at last, the agreement to allow Non-Equines to roam and claim Equine territories came easily. For they were brothers, now and forever more.
Version 17: OriginsEdit
The Kormadians had forgotten themselves.
With Kestrel imprisoned and impact from Omicron averted, the Kormadians suddenly had at their disposal a peaceful time such as they had never known. But there is a darker presence hiding here, one they had not bothered to explore with the wyvern hovering above: The origins of the alliances.
Kestrel had created them, and he had created the havoc that had forever shaped and changed Kormada, but it was the Kormadians themselves who had chosen to divide into the Lights, Neutrals, and Darks. But why?
The answers to these questions and others are rumored to have been engraved on a series of twelve tablets. Some Kormadians claim that they were purposefully buried in different areas of the planet to ensure they would never be found together, for the information they contain is of such great importance as to destroy the current alliance and revive an ancient, more aggressive set of unions altogether: those that existed prior to the Great Split; those that served four entirely different and long-forgotten races.
But these are just rumors.
In the meantime, search parties have gathered together in an attempt to collect the shards of those very tablets of which the legends speak. Each tablet leads to the location of the next, and from each tablet can be gleamed a word or phrase to dispel the myths surrounding the alliances' origins. The first tablet successfully pieced together was discovered unexpectedly during the construction of a bridge to allow non-exclusive passage to Hinterland. Its text reads as follows:
Ignis Accerso leaves his mark
in the hottest place
of the alien land
to be found by those who are worthy.
Version 18: RecognitionEdit
The tablets had proven too difficult to find. While a number of Kormadians did indeed take part in the search, the pieces they found didn't quite seem to add up. They were left with a less than complete understanding of their origins, but the recognition that their alliances were still fundamentally different was there.
Each alliance blamed the other for the undiscovered tablets. The Darks had clearly stolen them for themselves; the Lights had obviously hidden them away for the good of all Kormadians. The Neutrals tried to see both sides, while the Rogues simply did their best to avoid the crossfire. Even the Scarbearers lacked the answers they so desired; the tablets had claimed to hold the information behind their own evolution as well.
As the days progressed, each group grew more angry and bitter than the day before. Rumors of an uprising began to form. Attacks came as they had in the days before the Great Split. Whispers of Scarmakers that had not been seen for years surfaced from the midst of it all. The Scarbearers, humbled by their inability to solve the riddle of the tablets, held back. The Darks took advantage of their lapse in authority. The Lights did their best to survive. The Neutrals and Rogues had no choice but to choose a side, and those who refused were living on borrowed time.
What would become of the Kormadians now?
Version 19: The ScourgeEdit
At first, the Kormadians thought that the snowfall in the springtime was a freak occurrence, unlikely to happen again. But as the days passed, the temperatures continued to drop, and the Kormadians grew concerned. None of the horses had their winter coats yet. Mares were still in foal, and countless newborn foals had already been lost to the cold.
Word began to travel until, one day, the non-equines of the Hinterland stepped foot on equine soil. Those non-equines who traveled here knew that although the physical barriers keeping them from the mainlands had not been in place since Kestrel's defeat, most of the Kormadian equines still shunned their strange counterparts. It was a risk to travel here, but when they arrived, the equines understood why.
Something had overwhelmed the Hinterland, and those who survived it had been forced out. In its presence Prime's light grew dim and the sky grew cold. Those few hundred individuals who stood before the equines now were the only survivors of the thousands of non-equine species that had once called the Hinterland home. The Scourge infestation is spreading, growing in numbers and ferocity. Even the vast Kormadian oceans cannot halt its journey.
Now, armed with only the experience of the non-equines, and haunted by the knowledge that Kestrel could have saved them all, the Kormadians must unite in their battle against the Scourge or face their species being wiped out...for good.
Version 20: DeliveranceEdit
The Scourge had devastated everything. Continent by continent the infestation had spread, able to survive all the Kormadians could throw at it. In its search for nourishment the Scourge had even taken to burrowing into the ground, seeking the salts and minerals of the alien earth. When the land itself became too unstable to stand on, the Kormadians had no choice but to flee, as had the non-equines.
The Loftland was the last to be struck by the devastation, but its time would come. Most of the surviving inhabitants had gathered here, surrounded, and with nowhere else left to go.
When the first cave-in occurred, the equines thought the Scourge had already begun their assault. But the infestation had always come first from the skies, and it only reached into the soil once all other resources had been depleted. No, this cave in was purely coincidental.
Or was it?
The ground began to fall away more rapidly as the Scourge infestation loomed just out of sight, but no sign of the red mass had yet appeared to take credit. It was when the largest collapse of them all occurred that the Kormadians realized something else was at play. Steam and smoke billowed out of the crater at the center of Quarter Caverns. The ground trembled and shook, rising and falling as though in breath. On the horizon, red skies had finally appeared.
The attack began with no hope of a positive end for the Kormadians. The Scourge were everywhere all at once, consuming everything in their path. The mountains of the Loftland crumbled into the seas below. The Kormadians were pushed farther and farther inland, a mass of hopeless, terrified bodies. Their hearts seemed to stop beating. Time slowed down. The breath of the earth grew more frequent and pronounced. And then...
The wyvern had broken free!
The beast ripped himself from the earth with an ear-splitting wail of fury and spread tattered wings. He launched into a counterattack, bombarding the infestation with ice and flames. He shielded his creations beneath his great shadow, forcing them backwards and into the protection of the cavern that had once imprisoned him. The Scourge continued onward at a punishing pace, straining the wyvern and forcing him to his last resort.
Another piercing scream tore from Kestrel's throat, and bursts of lightning split the sky. The bolts struck down at the Scourge itself, disintegrating the mass little by little. The wyvern, caught in the crossfire of his own ammunition, fell like a stone to the ground and lay still. Minutes passed until all at once, at last, there was silence.
When the Kormadians moved out of the cavern, the devastation they had known for so long, was gone.
The land was fertile once more and in its most pristine condition. All evidence of the Scourge had ceased to exist--save for one piece.
The wyvern's great body rested silently just a few meters away. A small crystal orb lay beside him.
A mare stepped forward and touched her muzzle to the orb. It began to glow, emitting a thick mist that surrounded them all. As it did, the voices of the Scarbearers echoed through the mountains.
"The Leviathan has made his choice. Now you must make yours. Even evil has a soul. Return to him his soul, and solidify your existence. Throw it into the sea, and entrust your world to chance."
The mist dissipated slowly, until all that was left was the glowing orb. The mare that had touched it looked around at her counterparts. Kestrel had saved them all, in spite of their dissent. He had saved them from an evil not even the Scarbearers could stop. Kestrel, even in his craze, had always protected them. In their frightened eyes, she saw the truth and knew what she needed to do.
She nudged the orb toward the wyvern's body until it touched his burn-blackened skin.
The wyvern's eyes snapped open. A red glow grew within them, and as his heart began to beat, the thin sail on his back pulsed red along with it.
It was the same red hue as the Scourge.
Kestrel's weapon had not destroyed the infestation at all. He had contained it within himself. And now, as the Kormadians gave him life once more, so too lived the Scourge.
What had they done?