There was a time when evil had swept the land led by a wretched and cunning sorceress, Vitrollia.
Vitrollia’s hold over the land had been gradual but quite deadly…..she kept many trolls and dark creatures within her grasp and had the power to turn innocent and good creatures into dark creatures under her spell.
Over a number of years her dark and deathly hold had spread across the land…darkening all that was bright and joyful and beautiful. It was almost as if nobody really noticed ….small changes went unrecognised….creatures disappeared with no explanation and before anyone had time to take stock of what was happening and form together to create a plan of action…..it was all rather too late. Darkness had taken hold of the land and there were only a very few little pockets of colour and life and love.
All sorts of creatures were turned to serve the evil sorceress but sadly it was centaurs and other demi-humans that were Vitrollia’s favourite creatures to turn. To this day centaurs and merfolk, aviantaurs and reptaurs…..all the demi-humans still carry the shame of some of the actions they took in her name…even though they had no choice…no free will to do anything other than follow.
It was speculated among some forest creatures that demi-humans were the easiest to turn because they had some human-type characteristics that made them weak and susceptible to her powers. Among men they speculated that it was their creature characteristics that made the demi-humans weak.
During the darkest days though….there had been underground resistance groups meeting in secret, making plans. Working together to try to think of a way to reclaim the land and vanquish the evil sorceress. The groups were so secret they were never spoken of outside of the groups and communication was made through secret symbols.
The ravens were important message carriers and they used small pouches at the top of their legs but under their feathers to tuck small pieces of parchment into when carrying secret messages across the land to the different groups. They had to watch out for gulls and hawks who might have been turned by the wicked sorceress and over the dark years many ravens were lost in their valuable work to deliver messages. After the great war, ravens were hailed as heroes as the message bringers who had been quite instrumental in bringing about the great war. Without them we might still be in darkness.
Among the few resistance groups was a young centaur, Julala. Fairly insignificant early on as a centaur in the group, she was of fae descent, her great great grandmother being a fae had bestowed her with some fae attributes. She was quick and brave, and being of fae heart she was a strong empath. She lived in a small village owned by a kind landlady, though her work with the resistance had taken all her time in recent years and she had lost touch with her landlady a little. She hadn’t seen her for some time and she hoped that she was ok, and had not been taken by the darkness of sorceress Vittrolia.
Over the years Julala’s skills increased as she worked together with members of her and other resistance groups to develop spells and healing potions, working hard to create something powerful that would hopefully end the reign of darkness. Two of the resistance groups Cloudbirth and Roonwit were working on the “Invertitia” spell, a magic that would break the evil hold over creatures who the evil queen had turned and heal them back to the light. Having such a spell would mean they could work to bring about change to the world and start to bring back their lost friends and families. It could be a cure to the dark days….an end to the reign of sorceress Vittrolia.
They had been working on the spell for many years with varying levels of success but towards the 4th month before the great war approached they were getting close to making it. The test subjects had shown great promise and the side effects they had experienced previously had been all but eradicated from the mix.
It was an exciting time. Hope was sweeping through the resistance but there was also apprehension, anticipation and a heightened secrecy. If it got out what they had been working on….if Vittrolia found out? It would be the start of war.
It wasn’t that they weren’t ready for war…..in other groups of resistance, the Glenstorm groups, warriors had been training and weapon makers had been crafting weapons to hold the Invertitia spell.
They all knew that when the time came they would have to work fast and work together for there to be victory. Remembering that many creatures across the land – including men – were largely unaware of the work the resistance groups were doing, in fact the secrecy of the groups had been so high that many didn’t even know they existed.
So when the time was to come….a strong clear message would need to be sent to all creatures at one time and this in itself was going to be a difficult task. It was a task that had been the subject of many planning meetings….some parts of the plan had been formed but they needed one sure way to be confident that the message would be received by all in a quick and accurate way. They needed Zephyrus, the God of the spring wind to deliver the message on the wind. Zephyrus had been in hiding on Mount Pelion since the reign of Vittrolia had begun, with a large bounty on her head. Her location was a closely guarded secret and only 2 creatures in the whole of the resistance knew of her location.
A plan was formed. When everything was ready – when the warriors were standing in their garrisons, ready. When the weapons were loaded with Invertitia and hidden around the land and ready to be picked up by the creatures of good and light. When all the resistance groups of Glenstorm, Cloudbirth and Roonwit were poised ready to act, a message would be sent to Zephyrus who would send the message on the spring wind to all creatures to stand up and fight for their freedom from the dark reign of Vittrolia.
George (Senior) the Raven was charged with the task of delivering the message to Zephyrus. George was a brave raven who came from a long line of message bearers. Both George’s Mother and Father had been killed delivering messages for the resistance during the dark days and it was his destiny to fulfill this most important delivery. For him it was a matter of honour and pride as well as urgency and vitality for the future. His future and the future of all – including his own young fledgling George Junior.
The time of great war
On the first day of the week when the great war took place everything was in place. There was an air of excitement among the resistance groups but also a feeling of holding their breath. This was going to be it! Their one chance. If this failed there would be no hope of the light returning to the land. Everything rested on each part of the plan being successful.
The Cloudbirth and Roonwit teams, who had been working on Invertitia were full of hope. Julala had been just as important in developing the spell as any of the team. Her fae skills had often brought about great steps forward in creating the perfect spell. She was the one charged with giving the word to George “We are ready……fly fast and fly strong George…this message must reach Zephyrus and it must not fall into the hands of Vittrolia”
George took the parchment from Julala and tucked in in his hidden leg pouch. He smiled at her and gave her a comforting wink “Have faith little centaur” he cawed as he launched himself from the window and disappeared up, up, and away into the clouds. The time of the great war was coming and now they must wait. Wait for the message to whisper across the spring wind to all creatures and then…only then…would they move up and take back their land.
Tick tick….tick tock…the thumping of hearts….the looks glancing between creatures….waiting for word….waiting to hear the whisper on the wind.
But it didn’t come….. The whisper on the wind didn’t come.
Looks of hope and encouragement changed to looks of concern and worry……hope….started to drain from the faces of those who had worked so hard. Why didn’t the whisper of the spring wind come with their message?
“He can’t have made it” they speculated “George can not have delivered the message”.
“Someone needs to go and see what has happened, we need to know where George is – if he has been killed we must retrieve the parchment and not let the message be seen by Vittrolia. If she knows what is coming….our plan is doomed.”
The swiftest creatures were dispatched to search for George. Julala stepped up to volunteer – she was fast and light on her feet – the fae in her would speed her way. They set off in search of George. Raven’s and harpies and gryphon flew fast through the clouds and the cold wind….Julala galloped as fast as her hooves would carry her…over hill and through dale, through rivers and fields….she had to be light and she had to be canny – she must not be seen but she must be fast. She knew that her haste would not go unnoticed. She knew she would be seen. This was perhaps a journey that she would not return from. She knew that.
Of death and souls
As she entered Willowert Forest there was a stench in the air….this was a dark forest and there were many eyes. Julala’s fae senses were warning her….she could sense that George was close but she could also sense death. Thick and suffocating the stench got stronger and as she entered a clearing she saw him.
She stopped in her tracks. Time seems to stop for a moment….she caught her breath and her heart was in her throat. There on the floor among a strewn welt of feathers…..was George. Blood on the floor around him…..his head ripped from his body by a single arrow.
Julala put her head in her hands….the sight was terrible. She couldn’t breathe……was it all over? She slumped to the ground – couldn’t bring herself to look at George’s dismembered body…..tears started to well in her eyes.
A tear….fell……and landed in the soft moss on the ground. All seemed lost.
The tear soaked through the moss and softly travelled down….into the ground….touching the tree roots and the plant roots…..there in itself was a message….and the message was received by the fae. The fae had been hiding in the ground under the forests.
Suddenly little beads of sparkling light rose up out of the ground…..and surrounded Julala. She stopped crying…startled…what was this? She looked around herself bewildered as more and more beads of sparkling light rose up from the ground and as she watched, she saw them form into fae. The tiny folk of the magical forests were surrounding her…glowing and sparkling.
One flew up close to her….and hovered in front of her face…..she was smiling at Julala. “Julala…..you must stop crying….you must get up….you must deliver the message” Slightly taken aback, Julala was confused…how did they know? “We’ve always known Julala, we see through you….you are fae in your heart. Your ancestors were incredibly powerful fae you know….now…you have a job to do….and you need to do it NOW.”
In the distance voices could be heard…..the evil dark creatures who had shot George from the sky and were coming to find him. It was vital they don’t find the message that was meant for Zephyrus. Julala scrambled to her feet and ran over to George’s limp dead body….she frantically felt under his plumage and found the hidden pouch, took the message parchment and put it in her pocket. The dark creatures were close….she must run…..
She set off in one direction away from the sound of voices…but as she ran she saw more creatures coming from that direction too….she took a right turn and fled…but there were more creatures coming from there too….they were all around her….where would she go? Suddenly the fae surrounded her and pulled her downward…..the ground opened up and she was pulled down under the moss of the forest as it closed over her.
It was dark…..and cool….and quiet. Only the faint light of one of the fae was visible. Julala held her breath as she heard the creatures above her on the ground. They laughed and jeered as the picked up George’s broken bloody body and swung it around their heads….wooping and laughing. Julala felt sick.
Eventually the voices moved away and the creatures moved on out of the forest. The grounds opened up and the fae lifted Julala up out of the soil and placed her back on her feet. Julala looked up at the fae and softly said “Thank you my family….but how will I succeed in this task? I fear my hooves will not carry me fast enough…..how will I get to the top of Mount Pelion to Zephyrus?” Julala was scared….she feared she would fail.
The fae knew what they had to do. “Julala, we can help you…..we carry the souls of the many who have fallen and we can give them to you….only…..it will take our own souls to do so….”
Julala looked confused “What do you mean?” she asked. The fae continued; “To give you the souls of the fallen….will give you the power to change your form, to use the strengths of those that have come before you, of flight, of strength, of power…….but to give you this…we must forfeit our own souls…..it is what we have chosen to do……it is what we must do……this is too important….YOU are too important….”
Julala watched in wonder as they circled around her, their light holding her in it’s warmth……she gasped ….”wha….wha?” she whispered as she felt herself lift off of the ground……in a mist of light and sparkles they wisped around her. She felt the light enter her body……through her skin….though her hair…..it shone out of her eyes….her mouth….her nose……she cried out as the wisping around her intensified…..the light getting stronger, a sound of souls singing loudly in her ears.
Then it fell quiet…..she softly came back to the ground……and the lights……the fae….one by one….faded and fizzled to nothing. They were gone.
Julala opened her eyes and looked around her…..She was alone. She saw George’s body strewn aside buckled and broken. She bent down and picked him up. His body was cold now. She lay him softly down on the ground and covered him with the soil and moss and whispered softly to him “I will have faith, my friend”.
She stood up….took a deep breath. She felt different….she knew that she had to deliver the message now to Zephyrus….and she also knew…somehow….that she would succeed.
As she galloped out of the forest she looked up and could see Mount Pelion rising up into the clouds. The dark creatures noticed her and started chase…..Julala galloped faster and faster as she looked up….reached up and…….arms outstretched to the sky…..she….flew…..she had formed wings and was flying. A moment of wonder was followed by determination and she pushed hard against the wind and flew up and up and arrived at the secret opening of Mount Pelion.
Zephyrus wasn’t surprised to see Julala which made Julala curious….strange that this was somehow expected.
Zephyrus took the message and read it……took a deep breath in and blew……..the wind came from her and it was glorious….nobody had seen the spring wind for years….it was sweet and warm and full of beauty and hope and scent and light. The message weaved its way through forest, up mountains, over hills, in valleys…..all heard the message and they stood up….they breathed in the message from the air and they took up the weapons loaded with Invertitia that had been left for them in all the secret weapons stashes.
Dark creatures also heard the message and they roared – they roared with the fury of Vittrolia. Vittrolia looked up with rage and screamed with venom so loud all her creatures heard her and stood ready to fight. All across the land dark creatures attacked and light creatures defended and light was turned to dark, and dark into light, lives were lost and lives were taken.
There was screaming in the air…..Vittrolia’s rage was constant and was vicious. She summoned all her strength to keep hold of her darkness…to keep hold of her dark creatures. She fought…they fought….it was a long battle that lasted a week….dark to light …light to dark…..dark to light….dark to light…….dark to light…….light…..light….
On the 6th day of the battle….the sun rose in the sky…….and light was restored to the world. Flowers bloomed….creatures stepped out from their places of hiding into the sunlight…..warmth filled the air with a scent of love and light. Creatures around the world could breathe again, could wander in the light again. They healed their wounded and buried their dead. There had been losses….but they had won.
And what of Vittrolia? Well…nobody really knew…she disappeared. Some say she imploded into a puff of smoke…..others suggest she was still alive and so the resistance groups of Glenstorm, Cloudbirth and Roonwit remained and formed into Houses. Remaining ready for any day that Vittrolia might return.
Julala had won the respect of the Gods with her hard work and bravery in delivering the message. After some celebration among creatures and Gods alike, she and everyone else started to make their way home……to a place she had not been for quite some time.
A new beginning
As she walked along the fresh grass paths laden with new flowers growing on either side she smiled….her heart was filled with joy as she reflected on what had come to pass. She pondered her new-found abilities….and played with changing her form…..surprising herself as she shifted from being a centaur to a harpy to a fae…..and back again and more. As she shifted to each new form she felt the soul of the being that had once been….whose soul she now carries.
As she turned the corner to her once home Julala stopped….her face fell…she looked but could not believe her eyes…..her home….the land around her home…..it…was…all…gone…. Her heart fell and she sat down on a rock beside the road. What a strange mixture of feelings swelled through her…..joy of the wonderful victory that had been made….a strange sense of loss of the home she once lived in….wonderful joy as she looked around at the new life and love that was flooding the lands…..but a sense of sadness as she wondered what had happened to Aztek, her Landlady.
They hadn’t been great friends…but she had known her a long time. It was a part of her history…her life…that felt lost….and so far away with everything that had happened. It was such a mixture of emotions…what strange times these were.
As the world returned to a more balanced realm….Julala set about finding somewhere new to live…she wandered and found a little place to stay with some friendly folk…but it didn’t really feel like home. She missed her old home. She felt homeless. She wasn’t the only one….there were many creatures that felt homeless, especially those creatures who had been turned to the evil sorceress and back again.
They were less welcome in some places….it was hard for people to forgive…even though it was not within their control at all to do anything to resist the turning. It was….a burden they would carry for some time to come….the shame of what they had become….the shame of the acts they had carried out in her name. With her heightened levels of empathy Julala felt their pain…she felt their shame…she took them in where she could but there were always more looking for sanctuary. It was an unexpected after effect of the great war. So many wandering, lost souls, not really sure where they should be or what they should do. Julala started to develop a community….The Ancient Order of Centaurs….a group where those centaurs and demi-humans who had been lost could gather and offer support and company to each other.
“Something more has to be done” thought Julala and she made her way to speak to the Gods. She still held their respect from her part in the war and she wondered if they might help her. She made her way to the platform of expression, a place that she had visited once or twice in the past and she reached out to the Gods.
They welcomed her and they listened. They looked down upon the lands to see what she was describing and they could see the issue. “My dear Julala, what they need is a leader, someone who can direct them and keep them safe and give them somewhere they can belong…….you could be that for them”
“Me?” asked Julala, “…but I don’t have the land to give them somewhere to belong…..I am no leader, I am homeless too….I have nothing to offer them except my love and help where I can”
The Gods smiled…. “We can help with that…..Aztek, your old landlady has gone my dear…we’re sorry about that, some just didn’t make it through the dark days and the great war….but she wanted her land to go to good use…..and we think we have a good use for it. Go, Julala….please take the land and build it into a place of safety for the creatures who need it. The creatures need a Queen…..and you shall be that Queen.” Julala was startled….she couldn’t quite believe it. “Really? You want me to be a Queen and do this for the creatures?” The Gods nodded and so it was done. Julala was made a Queen.
Julala didn’t really feel like a Queen but inside she knew that this was her destiny. She had to do what was needed…she had to make a place of safety for the creatures and a place where they can belong. She got to work straight away and rolled her sleeves up and worked hard….she was joined by friends who helped build homes and gathering places. And soon there were creatures appearing from all directions.
The Raven, George (Junior) was all grown up and had come to join Julala in the new lands. The loss of his Father had been tough on him and his Mother but he was grateful that Julala had given him a proper burial and cared for his body when so many had not. George had vowed to offer his services to the Queen in respect of her care for his Father.
Julala sent George far and wide, to deliver the message of invitation. The invitation of welcome to all those creatures who didn’t feel they belonged….particularly to the demi-humans who were still carrying their burden and didn’t perhaps fit in anywhere else.
And so, the birth of Centauria had arrived. A new dawn…new lands…new community. Centaurs, merfolk, aviantaurs, reptaurs, all sorts of demi-humans and a few of their allied beasts…..all came and found their homes their place to belong….….in the Centauria Regions.