The Aestrâgor

We Aestrâgor honed our hearts and souls against the smooth edge of the Waste’s emptiness. Ever sharper, we made of them the blade with which to drive our hatred home. You see, we understood that our final purpose required of us all that we were. Emotion alone could not suffice. Like the steel of our anger, our bodies and minds required tempering to be properly wielded. And so we set out to forge ourselves into the weapon with which to heal our past.
– Morrigan: The Legacies

Aestrâgor. A Krîll word.  A name that flies harsh and explosive over the tongue; forces its way between cracked, dry lips and defiant jaws.  A name chosen by a desperate remnant of humanity still fresh from their exile across the infinite folds between dimensions in time and space.  Chosen as they gather in great conclave to hear their druid’s words of harsh borne despairs and future hopes.  To hear the words that will shape their lives and the lives of their generations to come.  Aestrâgor.  People of the Promise.

Drawn from the kingdoms of Cymru (Wales) and the emerald isle of Éire (Ireland), each woman, man, and child carries a singular promise for their world, a promise of blind hope and barely founded faith, a promise borne within the blood of their Celtic hearts.  It is this shared ancestry, this one common and ancient thread of descent amongst all the fractious races of mankind, that Dael ap Owain, last of his age’s arch-druids, draws upon with his eldritch powers to pierce Time’s veil and grasp with desperate passion and determination the last hope for survival his world has against the invading Krîll Empire from Krîl-lôc.

It is here, upon Krîl-lôc itself, amidst the desolate, sorcery drowned Wastes, that Dael leads the clans, those thousands of souls who have followed him into this hellish world, in a counter-stroke of such bold audacity that only the inevitable ruination of Earth herself justifies such a brazen gambit.

To give voice to Dael’s Choice is to relive not only his flight and final resolve, but to accept what he denied himself – he and all who followed him. Our world. And by that choice, it was equally lost to the generations that would follow. Not by their choosing, mind you. No, as so often is the case, the choice was made for them. It was to become the cornerstone of their legacy: self denial.
– Morrigan: The Legacies

When the Cymry and Éiren clans ventured through Dael’s sorcerous portal, striding for the first time onto the dead dust and sand of Krîl-lôc’s Western Wastes, they faced untold mortal dangers.  One particular peril, as much an extremity of the soul as materially mortal, was felt and noted by Morrigan, Dael’s wife and a druid in her own right.

One night, soon after their great conclave where the clans had claimed their purpose and a name by which to call it and themselves – Aestrâgor – Morrigan spoke to Dael of her fear . . .

. . . Both moons were in the sky. The larger, little more than a crescent sliver of gold, was making its quiet way through the night. The smaller, a gibbous ball of silver, sped beneath her sister; soon to pass her for the third time this night. Near full, her face was like a silver mirror and morning bright.

The two figures sat side by side, their feet hanging free over the ledge’s side. Far below the desert stretched into the distance, its rolling surface finally lost behind a fog of sand-dust and moonlight. In the quiet that had settled between them, their shadows touched lightly before spreading out behind them like dark wings.

“The night of the conclave, the magic you worked, I felt it as if it were a cord binding us to our homeworld. A cord of spirit and soul that crossed Time itself.” Morrigan paused, her words coming with slow deliberation. “We need a way, a magic, to bind our minds and their memories. Memories full of our past . . . of who we are as a people, our heritage, our histories and origin. A way to nourish and keep all of this alive within us, here on Krîl-lôc.”

She lifted her bared arm in a wide, sweeping arc that encompassed all of the wild and desolate expanse before them. “This world is hungry and savage. It has a thirst for far more than our life’s blood. It will consume our very daemons if we allow it.”

Their shadows flew out over the thickening dark below. The small moon’s bright orb would soon slip under a jagged horizon behind them and still Dael sat in silent thought. Stirring only as the last of her light turned to shadow and gloom, his voice was a whisper against the night’s quiet. “There are disciplines, meditations, that once mastered, will allow one to reach into the deepest parts of what we call our minds. In truth, it is more akin to expanding into the furthest reaches of ourselves. In part, this was how I tied a cord, as you called it, from each of us to our homeworld. Think of it in part as a string, a harp’s string. Now, pluck that string and you produce a note. Each cord is made of many strings. Countless as there are possibilities in a lifetime . . . or times.

“If you know how, you can play the strings to any melody, any song ever lived in all of time. In this way, one who has mastered such lore can play the song of all that they are, of all that they have ever been or will be.”

Morrigan’s eyes were wide pools reflecting the dim, golden moonlight as she stared out over the now, truly dark night. Her lips stretched from a puckered frown to a tight smile. “So, it can be done. Our . . . past, our true past, bare of all the myths and deceits we always shade it with, this can be kept alive within us?”

Dael nodded, but his expression held grim against Morrigan’s growing satisfaction and even excitement. “Aye, such a thing is possible. But the discipline, the learning and mastering of such power, it is a perilous journey to undertake. What was required of us to become druids is as like a meadow’s gentle stream to the raging cataract of this lore. In its depths eternity can swallow whole worlds, whole realities, as easily as it will a mere, solitary soul.”

Morrigan reached out, her fingers running through her husband’s silver hair. “Ah, my love, all true. But what is life if we lose ourselves in its living. We must have our song, and singers to sing it, or indeed, eternity will swallow us whole. And what will we be then?”

Oh People hear well
In a place beyond Time
In a time beyond Place
Make yourselves ready.
You who stand on Oath, hold!
You who wait by Oath, hold!

When Drej will break his nasu free,
And Dregvans do hear his nefesh call,
Then again will emerge the ancient blight
Through eons of time, this we fight.

Who will stand?
Who will fight?

Our Promise holds.
Our Oath lives.
Our Duty calls.

Oh People hear well in a place beyond Time
Oh People stand ready in a time beyond Place.

Sacrifice forged and Honor held,
Across Time nine bells will call.

Answer swiftly and answer true.
In a place in Time
In a time in Place.

By kingdoms lost and peoples flight
Rumors ran and rumors flew
From the east rampaged a tide
To engulf all who stood
With nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.

Cruelly they crushed any and all
Oh nations mighty, oh civilization’s great
Under thundering hooves they fall.

Minds terrible in purpose and will
With iron cast hard and cold
In a sea of red rode the Krîll.

Nearer and nearer they swept
From whence they came and why
A secret Time hid and kept.

Upon our shores at last they fell
In hatred, bloodlust, and plunder
Less like men than demons from hell.

Our despair became a thing solid to feel
Driven back before their thirst for death
Our hopes slipping away, a phantom unreal.

Our lowest point reached
Our final death assured
From the ashes of our demise
A warrior mystic did arise.

Of conquest and man-made blight.
Mysteries delved, their evils found
Through haunted halls hidden in Time
The light of our Hope, his choice made, stood his final ground.

Sworn to their Duty and course through Oath and blood
Leaving all behind, their lives foresworn.
Into Time they fought.
Beyond Time they won the way.

The Way they closed, with blood and lives it was sealed.
With Oath it is warded.
Through our fight will our world be healed.

We are the Aestrâgor.
With Dael we chose.
With Dael we fought.
With Dael we died.
With Dael we stand.
With Dael we’ll return,
When Time turns and the ages pass.

We wait,
We Honor,
Dael’s Choice.
We Aestrâgor

Two worlds wheel through the cold reaches of disparate universes. Eldritch sorceries are wielded, their lore woven into the very fabric of existence, into the primal energies of creation, wielded until reality unravels and both worlds, separated by the infinite void between dimensions in time and space, brush against each other as lightly as shadows. For all the delicacy of their touch, the malign purpose behind their joining engulfs both in a raging tempest of enmity and bloodshed. Indeed, for Krîl-lôc and Terra it will become a time of ash and death unimaginable, a time in which a legacy is forged in sanguine strife, a time spoken of as Dael’s Legacy.

Terra: Across the sweep of the Roman Empire a new age breaks. An age where the Hun, the Vandal, the Saxon and the Goth challenge Rome’s iron rule. An age where the ancient mysteries of the druids and their gods are little more than a dying ember within the souls of men and women across Britannia. An age where the gods of old fade, their jaded indifference cast against the nascent certitudes of a Christian Trinity. This is an age balanced upon the cusp of shattering change, a celestial season gravid with perilous convergences where the improbable, the impossible, the fantastical find form and substance. Where febrile dreams are want to reshape reality itself.
– From: The Chronicles of The Years of Bone and Ash

Within the infinite folds of time and space there exists realms – timelines – as dark, as gelid, as lifeless and barren as will make the gods weep. For such can be the cast of creation’s die. All things are possible, to include the void of nothing.

Equally, realms exist where the dark void is filled. Where there exist such balances that allow energy and light, matter and mass, time and space to weave a fabric of a sublime design as to allow for anything and everything imaginable and beyond to exist. Even onto life itself.

Who are we, then, to say that our realm, this timeline, this mortal wrinkle of existence we occupy, is of such unique character as to be singular in its expression of life? Who amongst us can even claim knowledge of life’s origins? Where, and at what mysterious instant do the forces of creation align whereby that spark of being ignites, suddenly borne free from the quiet of unloving matter?

The answers lie so far beyond our grasp we must create whole pantheons in which to house and worship the unabridgeable chasm that separates us.

Let this be a leavening for those who find what I am about to assert impossible to accept.

At every turn, in every instant of time, creation’s die tumble and roll. Eternally cast. Eternally stilled. Both moving and quiet simultaneously. And in this chaos of chance, this wild dance of opportunity, our cosmic realm, and in it our world of Terra, came into being. As did infinite Terras, amidst infinite timelines, each expressing the endless possibilities of creation’s casts.

In this way we come to see how on our Terra, within the bounds of our Cymru, the kingdoms of Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Dyfed and Gwent; Powys, Glwysing, Erging and Brycheinog rose and fell each in its season as measured in our histories. And even as those histories were penned, on another Terra, those same seasons had long since passed into dust, while on still another Terra they have not, and will never, come to pass. And how, on one Terra, these seasons came as harbingers of a darkness coming. A season whose shadow quickly fell cruel and hard upon the very bones of that world. A season measured in the years of bone and ash.

We know the Aestrâgor came from another realm, from another time and place. We know they came in answer to our own trespass upon their world. Did our gods venture across time’s void to join our conquest? Did their gods follow them here, their blood hot for revenge? Reasonable questions for philosophers, mages, and priests.

Here then are questions for all people: Can the dead’s souls cross such a chasm as time? Are souls trapped where they die? What of the Krîll dead on Rôme? What of the Aestrâgor dead on Krîl-lôc? Good questions to ask: before one sunders the veil of time.
– The Book of Questions

Celtic Gods

(And what they have dominion over)

Arianhood: Welsh goddess of beauty, fertility, reincarnation.

Bran: A Welsh giant, associated with ravens, a war leader. God of prophesy, the arts, leaders, war, music, writing.

Branwen: sister of Bran. Goddess of love and beauty.

Brid: Goddess of fire, fertility, the hearth, all feminine arts, martial arts. Known as Brigid in Ireland.

Cerridwen: Welsh Moon Goddess, Great Mother. Goddess of grain and nature. Her magic cauldron held a potent brew which gave inspiration. She was the goddess of death, fertility, regeneration, magic, herbs, science, poetry, spells, knowledge.

The Dagda: “All-father”, father of gods and men. Irish god of life and death. God of magic. High king of the Tuatha De Danann. God of perfect knowledge. His cauldron – called The Undry – supplied unlimited food. His harp of living oak caused the seasons to turn in order.

Danu: Irish ancestress of the  Tuatha De Danann. Goddess of wizards; rules over water, magic, wisdom.

Diancecht: Irish physician to the Tuatha De Danann. God of healing, medicine, magic, silver-working.

Dôn: Welsh goddess of sea and air.

Gofannon: Welsh god of blacksmiths, weapons-makers, brewing, fire, metal-working.

Gwydion: Welsh warrior-magician. God of illusion, magic, healing, warfare.

Llyr: Irish god of the sea and water. Father of Bran and Branwen. (Lir, Wales).

Lleu Llaw Gyffes: Welsh god of war. The shining one; Sun god. God of sorcerers, revenge, healing, prophesy.

Morrigan: Welsh “Great Queen”; “War Goddess”; shape shifter, and goddess of battlefields, fate, and death.

Rhiannon: Welsh goddess of horses, enchantments, and the underworld.

Scáthach: Irish goddess of martial arts, healing, magic, warriors.

Within the deeps of our unconsciousness is a visceral search for images with which we can comprehend our world. But the world always appears one stride beyond our ability to grasp its hidden nature. What we call magic. Is this any wonder?
– Morrigan: A War Druid’s Mind

The Druids

The Druids were drawn largely from the tribal aristocracies of Britain and Europe and had long since become almost a class of their own, not unlike the Hindu Brahmin caste in India. These were the men who could interpret the language and mood of the gods; and this meant they could also intercede on their people’s behalf. Their power and influence is hard to overstate: in a time when inter-tribal welfare was a defining characteristic of Iron Age culture, Druids were perhaps the only group of people who could be guaranteed a warm welcome and safety in any household in the land, advising kings as easily as commoners. In fact, if Caesar’s account of them is to be believed, they were perhaps the one unifying and unified force in the Celtic World, with an annual gathering at Chârtres attended by Druids from all over Europe.

While the first recorded use of the word Druidae was by the Greeks in the second century BC, its actual meaning is thought by many to derive from the Celtic words for oak (dru) or knowledge (wid). The basis of much of our knowledge about the Druids of classical times came originally from the Greek writer, Posidonius, who was a major influence on the later writings of Strabo, Diodorus Siculus and Caesar, while in his Natural History, Pliny also discusses the existence and function of the Druids. During his Gallic Wars, Caesar made careful note of his observations of the Gauls, dividing all men of high rank as either Druids or knights; he further claimed that the system of Druidic training was invented in Britain before spreading across Europe but this original seat of power was still the best place to go for learning. Although this elite band contained the most learned people in the land, it was reportedly proscribed to write any of their knowledge down – which, combined with their later suppression by the Romans, means that scholars today are restricted in their learning to what others wrote about the Druids, rather than hearing from them in their own words. They certainly bear little relation to the modern-day “Druids” who are an artificial construct from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; they have a fascinating story of their own, but that belongs to a later Britain.

According to Caesar, just to become a Druid was no mean feat: it required around twenty years of study to achieve a sufficient standard of learning, during which time an alleged minimum of three hundred and fifty histories and romance tales would have to be memorized until they were word-perfect; then, as well as their religious instruction, they also had to become experts in astronomy, astrology, medicine, the laws of the natural world and also the laws of the Celtic world. Having listened to the arguments, whatever a Druid decreed had to be obeyed; failure to comply simply was not tolerated and the punishment would be a total exclusion from sacrifices and thus society – to all intents and purposes, you would effectively cease to exist. In this respect, Druids were even more potent than kings – they had the power over life and death, the power to stop or start battles and the power to mediate with the gods themselves. Small wonder no Celt would ever dare to challenge them.

“Extract from Vanessa Collingridge’s Boudica, The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc., 2006, used with permission.”

Beresford Ellis, Peter. Celtic Myths and Legends. Avalon, 19??

Chadwick, Nora. The Celts. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970

Cunliffe, Barry. The Celtic World. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979

Dillon, Myles, and Nora Chadwick. The Celtic Realms. New York: New American Library, 1967

Green, Miranda. Celtic Goddesses – Warrior, Virgins, Mothers. British Museum Press, 1995

Green, Miranda. Celtic Myths. British Museum Press, 1993

Beresford Ellis, Peter. A Brief History of the Druids. Constable & Robinson, 1994

Green, Miranda. Exploring the World of the Druids. Thames & Hudson, 1997

Piggott, Stuart. TheDruids. Thames & Hudson, 1968. Reprinted Penguin, 1971