Before the discovery of magic, the only power came from the spirits and elementals. Each spirit or elemental could shift energy from one group of its children to another, strengthening certain children for certain purposes or spreading its energy evenly to protect them all. No creature, whether skinchanger or element-kin, had control over what amount of power they were given; they could request it of their parent but could not demand, and could only use it in the manner for which it was gifted.
The Houses of Metal wanted more. Distant from their parent element and driven to craft and seek, some of them began trying to capture the power of other creatures. These various experimenters tried skinchanger enslavement, prayer to beast-spirits and non-metal elementals, mechanical innovation and even the forced alloying of their own kind, but it was only when the House of Silver extruded a spire above their mountain home and caught a bolt of lightning that they realized there was power in the air—raw power—for the taking.
Lightning had always belonged to the Fire parent, but with it locked deep in the earth alongside the Metal parent, the energy of lightning was undirected, at loose ends. It sometimes struck down at the ground as if trying to return to its parent but most often jittered among the clouds, agitated. When the House of Silver raised its spire, the lightning attacked it, for it remembered Metal as the cause of its parent’s entombment, only to be captured itself by the spire.
Channeled and imprisoned, the lightning struggled all the more, and the devious Silvers experimented upon it until they discovered that their metallic composition allowed them to manipulate it by hand after they had adjusted themselves for the purpose. With this new power, they approached the leaders of the House of Silver and offered their services for the purpose of conquering the other Metal folk and retaliating against the Nimir.
The leadership of the House of Silver, intrigued yet unnerved by this new magic, refused the experimenters. In bitterness, the experimenters decided that they must overthrow the rest of the Silver, but only after they had proven their magic effective against the other shards of Metal. To that end, bands of Silver sorcerers set out through the underground to seek and destroy their foes.
Some succeeded—but some failed miserably, finding that not all their Metal kin responded in the same manner to the strike of lightning. Every House that they assaulted soon sought them for interrogation though, desiring the secret they had uncovered. The non-magical House of Silver sealed its gates against the inquest from its fellow Houses, leaving the renegade sorcerers on their own, and soon the secret of magic had propagated throughout the Houses—to the point that several Houses dedicated their entire population to the study of magic, as the House of Silver had refused to do.
Soon other Houses were building their own spires on the surface to channel power from the atmosphere—and from there, it was only a matter of time before they reached too far.
For there were greater sources of power beyond the bounds of Halci, one being the lesser light around which the world revolved, and the other being the primordial Light that looked down upon it from far, far away. Many of the Houses managed to leech energy from sunlight, but a few made observatories within their spires, saw all the bright realms beyond even the Chain of Ydgys—saw the burning center of the universe itself—and desired that power.
In reaching for it with their channeling spires, they drew its attention, and even through all that distance, all that black and empty space, it lashed at them for their hubris.
In a coruscation of uncontrollable energy, the spires were annihilated, every metal-kin in the vicinity struck dead. Through them, the Scouring Light’s power touched all the Metal shards that studded the near-surface, sending them into paroxysms of agony and forcing them to shatter into spiritual pieces in self-defense—part dead, part infused with stellar energy, part unharmed. All those metal-kin connected to the slain pieces were so overloaded with power that they burned even in death, a peril to any creature or spirit that came near their corpses; all those connected to the infused pieces heard the voice of the Scouring Light condemning them, and felt the press of its angry gaze no matter how deeply they delved into the earth.
The unharmed pieces of the Metal shards were connected to those metal-kin who had never touched magic. Prime among them were the denizens of the House of Silver, who had exiled their sorcerer kin from their mountain home; their spire, the first, was the only one to survive the Scouring Light’s punishment as it had long lain dormant, and in the future would become Howling Spire, the Seal of Metal. With this terrible schism among the Metal shards and the Metal parent still entombed in the world, the unharmed Spirit of Silver called the other unharmed spirits to itself and advocated a joining; their energy would combine to salve the pain of their people and stabilize the chaos, and they would enact a ban on magic—to never again use it and to keep all others from discovering it.
The unharmed spirits agreed, and meshed together into the entity that would become known as Brancir: Silver predominant but nearly all metals in truth, though some of the shards and their attached Houses had fallen entirely to the Scouring Light.
In reaction, the renegades of the infused Metal spirits alloyed themselves into a master spirit of their own—Ciaures—and reengaged in the practice of magic, though more subtly. They believed they had learned their lesson, and that the Scouring Light was simply a harsh teacher, one they would have to prove themselves to before they would be granted access to the core of the universe.
Meanwhile, the Dark entities beyond the Chain of Ydgys had looked on with dismay as the Metal people made contact with the Scouring Light. Believing that Halci was soon to become a bastion of the Scouring Light within this darker section of the universe, they banded together to fling a great planetoid through the Chain of Ydgys at Halci, hoping to destroy it before it could birth a second sun. One of the Dark entities preferred the status quo though, and leapt upon the planetoid as it smashed through the Chain of Ydgys, trying to slow it—trying to avert the impact.
Halci’s shadow—the entity that would one day call itself Kherus Morgwi, the Shadow God—saw the approaching planetoid but also the Dark creature trying to stop it. Even as Halci’s Light swelled up and focused on it, intending to annihilate it even at the cost of scorching part of the world, Morgwi beseeched him to try a different way: to instead pull at the planetoid while he pushed, and simply avert the strike.
Light reluctantly agreed, and together they forced the missile just wide of its target. Seeing that it would now head toward Light himself to be burned away in the sun, Morgwi felt a pang of compassion for the Dark rider and turned his push into a pull—swinging the planetoid around Halci into an orbit.
Though Light was furious, the Dark spirit attached to the planetoid expressed gratitude and relief. It was terrified of Light but more so of the fanatical Darks that had flung it in, for like Morgwi it had grown comfortable with dwelling as a shadow detached from the Hungry Dark and no longer wanted to fight.
After much soothing by Morgwi, Light reluctantly allowed that the new shadow could stay, and the planetoid could remain as Halci’s first moon. In time, Light even grew intrigued by the moon-shadow, though she was still frightened of him; for a long time it seemed as if they were dancing around the world, the moon always hiding on the far side as the sun sought her. Morgwi grew jealous, but then let it pass, for though he and Light had formed the world together, Light was distant by necessity, and though he had saved the moon-shadow from destruction, she was his own kind—and he had become far more interested in the mortal creatures.
Thus when the sun and the moon started a careful courtship—for she could not look into his face without burning away, and he could not touch her without harming the world—Morgwi did his best to aid them, for he loved them both as kin.
(In future ages, particularly the time of the Phoenix Empire, the knowledge of the moon’s origin was lost or twisted. Though worshiped as the Shade Mother by the people of the south, the moon-shadow became unknown to the north, and the moon itself was said to be her: a silver woman given life and placed into the sky by the sun so that he could have company. In the south, the moon is still known as the Shade Mother’s Mask.)
Next: The Moon’s Effect and the Falling Stars