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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:21 am 

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
Posts: 888
Morgan’s Notes: Iun Ilana, the Living Plane
by Tevish Szat
Status: Public :diamond:

Being a summary for private record and reference of journals and travel-logs made while on Iun Ilana

P.S. – Remember to reduce this text further for archival purposes and possible dissemination. The current version is still not academic quality.

Iun Ilana is a unique plane. Larasa and I first arrived in the southern extent of its known landmass, and had the unique, for our travels, privilege of exploring the vast majority of ‘known’ lands and interacting with their cultures. While the four months we spent there, mostly traveling, are not a span of time I regret, neither of us has any inclination to soon return, owing that we might not receive a warm welcome from the one being that matters: Iun Ilana herself.

Before beginning the record of our journey, one of the important basic facts about Iun Ilana is that the plane is alive. In many ways, it appears to be a single, impossibly massive organism comprising the physical terrain and to a lesser extent the plant and animal life of the world. Sapient creatures do not appear to be part of the Iun Ilana being, exactly.

As a living thing, Iun Ilana shifts and changes. The regions I detail are a fraction of her surface area, but are the most stable regions, seemingly those that Iun Ilana deliberately spares from her shifting and changing, which can alter the topography of any other landscape on the plane.

Arrival on Iun Ilana: The Glittering Peaks

Our first introduction to Iun Ilana was on the southern end of the more southerly of its two continents. The region about us was tall, steep mountains, but of such a character as I have not seen elsewhere: large crystals, ranging from a few feet to the size of a house, were half buried in the stone, which itself ran with veins of iron pyrite like rivers and sheets of opalescent mica. Indeed, it was more difficult to find plain stone than something that sparkled, shimmered, or shone in the light.

We did not marvel long at the scenery before being accosted by a native creature. This entity was small, no taller than four feet though perhaps it would be closer to human stature if it stood erect. It had long, wiry limbs, a hunched back, a long and hooked nose, and skin that was a sandy-yellow brown. It’s most immediately notable features were its eyes, which were wide and bulging in addition to appearing to be faceted gemstones. Owing their varied morphology throughout the planes, I guessed, and correctly, that this creature was a goblin.

The little thing was not hostile, but was somewhat rude. At the very least, it had no concept of the bounds of personal space, nor of the gravity of anything. Larasa and I, mostly Larasa, spoke briefly with it in a vain attempt to get our bearings, during which time it was constantly distracted and momentarily fascinated by almost anything. While no distraction held its attention for long, it inspected (and usually tried to grasp at) the powerstone atop my staff, the fringe of my robe, the laces of Larasa’s boots, and finally the laces of Larasa’s bodice, which earned it a swift and decisive kick to the midsection. I suspect, as on many planes, the goblins of Iun Ilana are quite durable against abuse. They must be, for not only was the creature merely dissuaded and not injured or even perturbed, but also this was not unusual of their behavior, overcome as they seem to be at all times by curiosity such that many of the other natives of the plane regard them as vermin for the personal habits we well observed.

We did gather from its scattered babble that humans would seem to dwell primarily north of our current position, as it called us northerners, and thus we took our bearings and set out northwards with all haste. Our journey between the Glittering Peaks and the next landmark took nearly a full month and was the longest leg of our journey, owing that we were not yet accustomed to the shifting nature of Iun Ilana and frequently became lost along the way.

High Kingdoms of Iun Ilana: The Womb

The second landmark in our trip through Iun Ilana was a great plain known to locals as the Womb, for many reasons – because its fertile fields give life, because it is believed to be the birthplace of modern human society, and because its shape as a massively wide depression gives one close to the center the feeling of being inside something, for the land stretches upwards in all directions.

In retrospect, I wish we had stayed longer in the Womb, for a scholar could spend quite a long period making a survey of its people and culture, while Larasa and I did not tarry but for a day or two in any one city, and only overnight in smaller towns.

The Womb is divided into three kingdoms, who all owe fealty to a single emperor in the current time, an arrangement that seems to have been common throughout the history of civilization in the area. The emperor often permits the constituent kingdoms, however, to settle their differences on the field of battle. One such war we were permitted to witness. It was somewhere between a battle and a pageant: the armies arrived on the field at appointed times, and several mounted men with the livery of the emperor oversaw the back and forth and ultimately, after a few hours, rode to the back ranks of either army and forced them to disengage, enforcing a time limit on the conflict.

It seems that in the past, more conventional war was common within the Womb, and that it may be again, for the imperial throne has often been contested, and the constituent kingdoms of the land are not stable in borders or even number.

As we progressed through the Womb, we received an interesting piece of advice: we learned of the fact that the topography of unsettled lands in Iun Ilana shifted, and were advised that if we were ‘on pilgrimage’ we had best go by a particular road to Cemetery Mire, and there receive more accurate directions to go further northward. Despite the inauspicious name of the place and my reservations about entering a deathly bog, our host at the time seemed quite baffled by the idea that we would do anything else, and thus Larasa and I prepared to travel there.

Grand History: Cemetery Mire

Cemetery Mire was half as we expected, half what we would never have dreamed. The geography was as loathsome as we imagined: a festering, stinking bog where not even the plant life, which in many wetlands can be quite beautiful and varied, seemed to have the will to live. In addition to everpresent mud and stagnant water, asphalt wellsprings provided tar pits throughout the swamp.

The civilized area of Cemetery Mire, however, was not like anything else I have encountered in the planes. The central city has two rings: a wood and clay shanty-town, remarkable primarily for its use of asphalt for waterproofing and as a fuel source, giving the outer city a remarkable stink. The inner city, however, is constructed of stone, a mighty structure of terraces, bridges, and pillars on a truly cyclopean scale. The reason for this would, as we passed through the city, become quite obvious.

All, or nearly all, of the permanent residents of Cemetery Mire are undead. It was terrifying at first, to be hailed by a skeleton, but terror thankfully prevented us from making a rash, magical reply, and it seems that the dead here are quite used to dealing with the living, for many pass through Cemetery Mire on business between the Womb and the northern continent, or even simply to visit the mire itself. The first undead we encountered were human-like, but soon I came to learn of the giants.

Larasa and I stayed in Cemetery Mire for over a week, much to her chagrin for if it were not so I would have remained longer. In this time, I learned more of Iul Ilana than in nearly any other location upon her surface, for here was the first place I learned the reason for the tectonic shifts, thanks to the grand history of the Giants.

One of the features of the central city of Cemetery Mire is the Grand Wall, a massive, spiraling wall of stone carved with reliefs relating to what they believe to be the whole of history. It surrounds the heart of the inner city, the Giants’ Necropolis, several times, but only the inner side of the innermost loop has yet been carved – they are prepared to record a long history yet.

From the carvings, and conversations with two undead giants who seemed to take interest in their strangest visitors, I have pieced together this as an account of the history of Iun Ilana.

Long, long ago, Iun Ilana produced her first creations, crafted of the clay of her body given life by the blood of her heart, they were very much like modern humans and elves, though some of them had different skin or other features that would set them apart were they seen in the modern day. For ages, Iun Ilana watched them, but she grew lonely, and put her consciousness in bodies like unto their kind, and walked among them as one of them. Some of the shards of her self loved mortal men, and bore them children.

These children grew eventually to prodigious size, possessed immense strength and magical prowess, were seemingly immune to disease and degeneration, and appeared to be immortal barring violent deaths. They were the first generation of giants. Eventually these sons and daughters of Iun Ilana’s soul wedded one another, and the race of the Giants began in earnest. They set themselves up as stewards of the world that was their mother’s body, and reigned with wisdom for long, long years.

But a new foe came to Iun Ilana, that threatened her in a dire way. It is not known from where the Wurms first came, whether they were misborn creations or somehow came from outside, but they multiplied prodigiously and their burrowings caused Iun Ilana great agony. In time, some wurms sealed themselves in cocoons of stone and hatched forth as dragons, that rained fire and death upon the peoples on the surface.

The giants tried their best to protect their mother, and killed countless wurms and many dragons, but the numbers of their enemy outmatched them. Knowing they were fighting a losing battle, the giants begged Iun Ilana to save herself, even if it would cost the lives of everything upon her surface. In sorrow, she did. When the lands stabilized, all the giants and the first races were dead, but so were all the dragons and the vast majority of the wurms, though somehow that scourge persists to the modern day in a limited form, ever hunted.

The bodies of the twelve thousand or so giants that had ever lived were moved by the earth itself to this place, the Cemetery Mire, and black mana was gathered there until light could not exist on that place, for Iun Ilana had loved those children of her soul the most, and that she could not restore their lives pained her greatly. Finally, some few hundreds awakened, their spirits inhabiting their bones again, and the great collection of blackness faded, though enough remained to transform the spot into the landscape it is now and ensure that anything that died there might reanimate in the future, as the giants and some of the bodies of the first races had.

The giants who had awakened into undeath then began with the others of the undead the construction of the necropolis and the recording of their history, as Iun Ilana shaped the new races – humans, elves, merfolk, and goblins as we know them – from clay and blood once more. But the pain of the deaths of the giants was too great, and she no longer remains with mortals when she walks among them, coming instead as beasts or angels or merely passing by a brief moment.

Much I wondered at this history, and the fall of the proud race of giants, and the knowledge that though hunted fiercely enough to control their numbers the wurms and dragons still existed upon Iun Ilana.

From Cemetery Mire, Larasa and I were resolved that we wished to speak to Iun Ilana, if it were possible. The giants that we had befriended told us that there was a place where it would be assured, though we might find an angel or avatar of the world before reaching it, and gave us a good route to that place, called the Head, which was upon the northern continent.

Merfolk of Iun Ilana: The Great Reef

The Great Reef is situated between the two continents, on the western side, and is the best means of passing between the two when there is not a land bridge east of there. The waters are shallow, and the merfolk are numerous, building amphibiously. This is because, unlike merfolk on most worlds, merfolk of Iun Ilana are proper mammals and breathe air, though as with most sea mammals they can hold their breaths for fantastic lengths of time. Further, their tails are strong enough that they can move on land, even holding their torsos erect

We passed through the domain of the merfolk by a common ferry channel very quickly, and I was not at liberty to explore their culture, though I did notice they made beautiful jewelry of abalone shell and managed to barter for such a piece to gift Larasa with later.

Society Upon the North Continent: The Blazing Steppes

It took us quite some time to reach the Steppes – the southern half of the north continent, called the Heartlands, is a massive stretch of shifting terrain, and thus passage through it is always slow and difficult. Finally, though, we reached the Blazing Steppes, a high grassland separated from the Head, but near unto it as any dared to settle. At first, we believed its name was for the effects of sunset over the pale grasses, which gave the landscape the appearance of a sea of flames.[/p]

On our third day crossing the plains, we noticed smoke erupt nearby, and a great commotion. Upon arriving we found that a fire, mercifully slow burning, seemed to have surrounded a child, separated from a small crowd. As I began to work protective magic, Larasa charged inward, utilizing her spellcraft to shunt the flames aside. She scooped up the child, a girl of about seven, in her arms and rushed out, towards the crowd, again deflecting the flames around herself. Such was our introduction to the people of the Blazing Steppes.

By and by, we discovered that the fire had been set deliberately, in a manner that should have been controlled, to offer the life of the grass back to the land so it would become fruitful again. The child had gotten caught on the wrong side through her own misadventure, and was not an intended part of the offering – indeed, for her quick action Larasa was given a hero’s welcome, and as her companion I was accorded only a little less attention and respect.

The folk of the Blazing Steppes were quite different from the olive-skinned and dark-haired humans of the Womb, tending to be pale and either blonde or red-haired. Additionally, the Steppe folk seem to have no overarching leadership like the throne the Womb-dwellers fight over: each village is a tribe with its own leaders and in some ways its own customs, though all revere the land, Iun Ilana, and the fire that sweeps so frequently across it from time to time.

We stayed some time here, having been quite exhausted from our trek through the Heartlands, though we made care not to overstay our welcome. In that time we were given good advice on how to reach the Head, and with our purpose known, that being exploration, it was also suggested we might visit the Locks afterwards. Larasa was quite keen to head there, as the tales of wooded crags and lives lived by strength and courage quite appealed to her sensibilities. Sometimes I wonder that I have the fortitude to walk where she does, but I don’t think I shall ever lack it.

Conversations with Iun Ilana: The Head

The Head is a lone mountain, surrounded at distance by others. Within the ring, one can see the southern face appears to be carved into a face, though I have good reason to believe its exact appearance is subjective based on the viewer, as Larasa and I saw somewhat different images.

One can also feel the presence of Iun Ilana. Her mind is everywhere within sight of the Head, though she did not speak to us immediately upon entering the psychic field, but rather waited until we continued our course directly towards the Head on the second day.

It was midmorning when the dull hum of divine presence turned into focus, words that rang in my mind with a feminine voice both young and old, gentle and powerful.

“Why have you come?” The voice asked, and I knew that it was Iun Ilana. Larasa must have heard it too, for she spoke before I could collect my thoughts.

“We wanted to visit.” She said, “And to talk, that’s all.”

There was a brief lull, then Iun Ilana replied.

“You are not of the children of my flesh.” She said, “You are children of a mother that is dead. Do you bring death with you, outsiders?”

“No.” I gasped, “No… we just travel.”

“Her loss swirls around you like a shroud of shadows.” Iun Ilana replied, “It is unpleasant.”

“Forgive us.” I said, falling to a knee, “We did not mean to cause you discomfort.”

Iun Ilana’s voice softened in my mind. “You… are not the cause. You are children. Fortunate to live, unfortunate to outlive your mother. I have spoken to you. This is what you wished?”

“Yes.” I managed to say, “I wanted to know… if what they said was true.”

Iun Ilana was silent for a moment.

“Then please, little ones, I wish in return that you would leave my presence. You may remain on my surface, but I would you did not come again to this place.”

“We won’t.” Larasa said. Her eyes were wide, and she clutched her chest. Though she still stood, the force of the experience was no less upon her.

I think Iun Ilana sensed that her speech to us was becoming quickly overwhelming, for the pressure of that presence began to fade, and the voice grew soft.

“You are not the first to have come here,” Iun Ilana said, “Who is no child of mine. Many before, from lands that sleep deep sleeps, that maybe never were awake. But you are the first to have such a shadow upon you, the first whisper I have heard that the sleepers can die. It is… frightening, as much as you would understand, to feel. And also sad. What was her name, your mother-creator?”

“Taramir.” Larasa said, “We’re from Taramir.”

Then the voice fell silent. We turned back towards the ringing mountains and marched with all haste to flee the presence of the Head.

Wild Folk of the North Continent: The Locks

The Locks are on the northeastern coast of the north continent. They are a series of mountains, with deeply wooded valleys between, cold and foreboding. They are home to a hardy strain of humans and the native elves. It is said that the flowing bands of white, brown, and near-black green resemble, from the air, locks of a woman’s hair, hence the name of the land.

The humans that dwell there are somewhat like Steppe stock, in that they are fair of skin for those not born of Taramir, possess pale eyes, and have blonde or red hair. They are on average taller, broader of shoulder, and possessed of greater physical strength, though I suspect that difference to be primarily learned rather than biological. The elves, however, are slight of frame, and their skin is a very dark ruddy brown, their hair either dark copper or raven black. Indeed, the folk of the Locks say that the humans are like the mountains: strong and solid, while the elves are like the trees. I can’t say they’re wrong. We saw very little of the elves, but I suspect they saw much of us, their slender forms easily disappearing between the close-growing pines.

Before recounting the end of our journey on Iun Ilana, I would like to take this opportunity to make note of its flora and fauna, as it was in the forests of the Locks that I was best able to note its peculiarities.

It is my suspicion that all life on Iun Ilana, except for the intelligent races of the planet, is in some way Iun Ilana herself. I already knew at this point that many plants followed the changes in topography outside the settled lands, shifting with the world. What shocked me in the Locks was the animals. On many planes, I have seen animal life struggle for individual survival, but on Iun Ilana, this is not the case.

I observed as herds of deer stood still, and one of their numbers offered itself to a pack of wolves, as though the individual entity did not matter, and the others seemed to experience no fear. The grazers themselves paced their consumption, nibbling here and there, avoiding putting excessive strain on any region. The entire ecosystem, I realized, was except for our role in it and that of one other being, carefully managed, directed towards sustaining itself.

I think that this process is subconscious for Iun Ilana, as beyond vague senses, she seems to require her angels and other avatars to act as eyes and ears beyond the Head.

We stayed with a few bands of humans in the Locks. The last we were with seemed to be amused by us the first night, but in the morning they had turned very serious, and attempted to shoo us away. I managed to restrain Larasa from her anger at this change and find out that an outrider of their clan had sighted a wurm, and the tribe was to begin a dire hunt

At that, Larasa insisted we be allowed to join. When questioned, she threw a ball of flames into the air, where it exploded. There was no more argument with our desire to be part of the hunt, and indeed I was quite eager to chronicle this myself. The wurms – those creatures that caused Iun Ilana such pain, that metamorphose into dragons – they were a grand mystery I wished to unravel.

We found the wurm on the third day. How long it was, I do not know. I know that after it was killed, the whole tribe made camp about it, and they had not finished butchering the carcass and preserving the good meat when we departed. It had a slick skin, and was covered in a thin, glistening slime that seemed to sear and blacken the plantlife about it and in its wake. Was this, I wondered, the cause of Iun Ilana’s pain, that made the wurms more baneful to her than the quarrying or mining of the Womb-kingdoms?

It was at rest when we, as part of the hunting party set upon it, but roused to action with an unnatural rapidity. It surged forward, bushing warriors aside, and would surely have crushed to death any too slow to avoid it. Within moments, when we had attacked from surrounding it, it had encircled us with its body.

This did not seem to perturb the other hunters, and we formed a tight circle, weapons outward against it. I do not know much combat magic, but I do know a little, and I began to channel a spell against the creature, a lance of burning, pure-white light. I struck it somewhere below the head, but while I did not injure it greatly, I surely caused it some pain, for it rounded on me and struck, its great jaws opening wide, and I too horrified to move.

A wall of stone blocked its progress, its upper jaws peeking over. Larasa, hands outstretched and beginning to glow with crimson auras, stepped in front of me, as the wurm, ignoring all other senses, did its best to crush the wall. Quickly, I worked what I knew better – wards and protective glyphs – upon the wall, for those jaws were meant to crush through stone and Larasa’s wall would not have lasted long.

Still, the wurm remained mindlessly occupied upon us, and the hunters took to their work, stabbing it in the sides and the throat with spears, and here and there hewing at its length with axes. Very quickly, the beast was slain.

The men patted us on the backs, and laughed heartily, and offered to share mead while we waited for the slime to dry, for touching it would give any man a cruel and regrettable rash and boils soon enough. Larasa, impatient to be outside its bulk, worked her best to call pure water from the ground, and once the men had certified the washed section was fine to touch, we all climbed out. Soon, the rest of the tribe arrived, and when the slime dried over the rest of the wurm’s body, they began hewing it apart to roast or stew, to smoke or to salt. A wurm hunt, it seemed, was not just the group’s sacred duty, but a great boon for food and crafts that could be made from it.

As part of the hunting party with the native men and women of the tribe, Larasa and I were given dishes made from the hearts of the wurm (there are several, and more than all the hunting party could eat, but the party was afforded the first taste). I must admit, if I hadn’t nearly died I might be more able to comment on the culinary properties of the creature. As it was, I was distracted.

We stayed the next full day as well, but thereafter left not just the locks, but Iun Ilana behind.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:07 am 
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Joined: Sep 25, 2013
Posts: 11475
Location: Kamloops, BC
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Found a spelling mistake.
"crushed to death any to slow" should be
"crushed to death any too slow".

Edit- A second
"if I hadn’t nearly died I might be more able to comment on the culinary properties of the creature. As at was, I was distracted."
Should be "as it was"

Cato wrote:
CotW is a method for ranking cards in increasing order of printability.

*"To YMTC it up" means to design cards that have value mostly from a design perspective. i.e. you would put them in a case under glass in your living room and visitors could remark upon the wonderful design principles, with nobody ever worring if the cards are annoying/pointless/confusing in actual play


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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 11:57 am 

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
Posts: 888
TPmanW wrote:
Found a spelling mistake.
"crushed to death any to slow" should be
"crushed to death any too slow".

Edit- A second
"if I hadn’t nearly died I might be more able to comment on the culinary properties of the creature. As at was, I was distracted."
Should be "as it was"

Fixed, copied, backed up. Thank you.

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