“From the time that we are born to the moment that we die, our lives are marked by the passing of days, darkness giving way to light, the sun chasing the moon. So it is easy, then, for us to imagine that things were always thus, and will always be so.
“But the world of tomorrow is not the same as the world of yesterday. In the space of a month, what was once a bud becomes a flower only to fall into decay and unbeing. In the passing of a year a child may be born of nothing, and in a few short decades more return to nothing. And in the turning of the centuries an acorn may rise to an oak, only to fall back into the ground it sprung from. What is may not always be, and what was is often no longer so. And this is true of things we consider eternal, even as it is clearly seen in the fleeting, the ephemeral.
“Believe me, then, when I tell you that the world was not always as it is today.
“For once, all light and all darkness, all day and all night, were held separated in two spheres; a land of Always Light and the land of Ever Darkness. In the land of Ever Darkness to the east nothing could grow, and nothing could live; but likewise, in the land of Always Light in the west nothing could survive, all was burned, and all was destroyed. Only in the place between these two spheres, a narrow ribbon of land, could life exist, and struggle, and die.
“These were the Lands of Twilight.
“I said that nothing could live in the darkness, and nothing could survive in the light. And, for those such as you, and those such as I, this is the truth. But even as there are fish which live so far beneath the waves that no light can reach them, and even as there are creatures who dance within the very flames of the sun itself, so there was life, of sorts, in the light, and sentience, of sorts, in the darkness. And where there is life, and where there is sentience, so too there is struggle, and there is strife. So it was that on occasion beings were cast out of the light, banished to the Twilight, and so it was that on occasion beings escaped the darkness, fleeing into the Twilight. Once there, being no longer entirely of the light nor entirely of the darkness, they met, fought, lived, and on occasion even loved. And from these, came our most ancient of ancestors.”
The Nether Lands
Along the western edge of the Lands of Twilight were the Nether Lands, where the Twilight Coast gave way to seas beyond which it was believed that the lands of Always Light lay, though none had skill enough to fashion vessels capable of making such a journey, and even if such were fashioned, only a fool would man them. And it was here that the Twilight Peoples were to be found.
Theirs was a society of castles and fortresses, walled towns and keeps, ruled harshly by those who understood that survival necessitated such iron regimes. Or at least, that was their excuse for the conditions they forced upon their subjects. There was no single ruler of the Nether Lands, rather they were formed of many smaller kingdoms controlled by independent warlords, each determined to maintain their independence, even as each was determined to increase their lands. Many attempts at unification of the Nether Lands had been made, but all had failed, the peoples simply too divided to submit to a single ruler. Often such discussions broke apart due to racial hatreds, but even on those few occasions when the various races had been persuaded to put aside their ancient feuds, the political manoeuvring of the land- and power-hungry lords ensured that failure was inevitable.
The Dark Lands
Less than ten in number were the Shadow Masters, the Dark Lords, the Vessels of the Dark Spirits. Cast out of the lands of Ever Darkness – for surely none could imagine them born of the Twilight Lands themselves – they dwelt in the eastern mountains of the Lands of Twilight, as far from the light as was possible. From there, they looked to increase their hold upon the Lands of Twilight, and lengthen the shadow of the Ever Darkness. Since few would come to serve them willingly, they used their magics to turn the minds of men, and worse, to raise up Husks, imbuing them with the barest semblance of life and thought, enough to do their bidding and fight their wars, but little else. Each of the Lords, it is said, was but a part of the Dark Master. Through defeating the other Lords each sought to become that Master, and with the power that inferred, assume sole dominion of the Lands of Twilight.
The Iridescent Forests
It is said that even evil cannot control chaos, and that the darkest of spells will only bring about rebellion of the very nature that they seek to control. So it was in the Lands of Twilight. One of the Dark Lords had tried to improve their husks, seeking to merge their forms with the spirits of animals in order to fashion Changelings, and so imbue them with greater cunning and instinct that they might fight the better. But his new creations escaped, fled the Winternight of the east into wilds of the Iridescent Forest in the centre of the Lands of Twilight. There they grew, and there they multiplied, driven by hatred of the Dark Lords, and hunger for the flesh of the peoples of the Nether Lands, whom they distrusted, believing that they were too closely related to the Dark Lords. And there they waited, the Packs of Wolfin, the Prides of the Maratasen, and the Clans of the Bearack, for the arrival of someone, or something, to unite them.
So it was in the Lands of Twilight. But there was another caste of people whom I have not yet told you of, though even to this day their name is known in legend and myth. Their time in the Lands of Twilight was but a short one, yet in that time so many wonders did they perform that surely, if anything is eternal in this shifting existence, it is their name. They are, of course, the Iron Cloud Lords; The Technomages. Some said they came from the light to walk in the Lands of Twilight, for they were capable of great kindness; others that they must be darkness given form, for the destruction they could wreak was dreadful indeed. But in truth, I think that they came from elsewhere entirely, for, when they had seen all they desired to see of the Lands of Twilight, when they had tired of making our lands their playground and their battlefield, it was to elsewhere they returned.
Some curse their name, others long for their return; and perhaps both are right to do so, as their final deed deserves both our gratitude and our anger in equal measure. For, with their final parting, it was they who caused the land of Always Light and the land of Ever Darkness to merge, their spheres colliding, melting into one another. And in so doing, the Lands of Twilight ceased to exist, and the new world, our world, as we now know and understand it, came to be.
This, then, is the story of the Twilight Struggle of the peoples of the Lands of Twilight, in the final years before the collision of the spheres. It is a story of battles won and lost, of tragedies and victories, of alliances formed from necessity and broken for convenience. It is the story of all these things; it is the making of Legends.