She was born before the First Hatching and came of age around the same time that Creaton Live and Chane landed on the shores of Azunu, Iceload. Argolis GraiLord, son of the great dragon slayer, Mycenae GraiLord, had already begun to woo her before the Quran reached the Blue Ridges. As Islam swept across the Vanian Mountains, she held fast to her Christian heritage as did much of the Recercoff nobility but the love of her life did not. Argolis adopted the religion brought by the Black Crown Pact and lost his place among the aristocracy. Argolis GraiLord became Argolis Muhammad. Still, their love was too strong to be broken by theology and a couple hundred bitter royals. In the midst of the First Void War, Eirene GraiLord and Argolis Muhammad became husband and wife.
Not long after their wedding, Creaton Live was defeated at the Battle of Krynor. With his disappearance came the armies of the elves, nellafs, and bearns. The minotaur empires had to decide whether they would fight or adopt the position that they’d been duped – that the Moon Dragon Man was not the Mahdi. Most of the northern minotaurs, led by Mycenae Muhammad, decided Creaton had been an opportunistic blasphemer but retained their faith in Islam – they called themselves Rational Muslims. Most of the southern minotaurs, Kurrs and Lunas, refused to admit that Creaton had conned them – they called themselves Original Muslims. With the help of the foreign powers, Mycenae and the GraiLords fought Chane and those who still supported the Black Crown Pact. Though Argolis followed his father, Eirene and many of her fellow Christians remained in Recercoff. Her deep faith prevented her from promoting violence and in letters she pleaded for Argolis to convince his father to find another way.
After the war, Argolis wished he had. Though they won, expelling all those loyal to Creaton from the Blue Ridges, Mycenae died on the battle field. After the Pact Expulsion, the dynasties of the minotaurs were in shambles and the one empire that was still strong enough to rule had just lost its king. What remained of the southern minotaurs wouldn’t bow to a Christian and the GraiLord royalty wouldn’t bow to a Muslim – this made Eirene and Argolis the perfect compromise. When Eirene declared that the crown should go to Mycenae’s son no one argued and, for the first time, the Vanian Mountains were united under one banner, the banner of the GraiLord Empire.
– – –
“Sorry, I’ve got to ask,” Joe interrupted, “aren’t they like…cousins?”
“HA!” Acamus roared, “No, my friend, they may be closer to cousins than say…a GraiLord to a Kurr, but cousins? No!”
“There wasn’t a single royal family.” Ekaf interjected, “Don’t they have nobles on Earth? Aristocrats? A class of historically wealthy and powerful elites?”
“Yea, but they don’t all use the same last name!”
“There is a reason for this!” Acamus assured Joe, “Roughly one hundred families built the city of Recercoff many years before history began, these families took the surname GraiLord as founders of the dynasty.”
Joe blushed, “That makes a lot more sense.”
“Shall I proceed?” Acamus asked.
– – –
With the shift of the minotaurs towards Islam and the fall of the spirits of Grantara, the majority of Christians in post-war Iceload no longer hailed from the Blue Ridges but lived in the Sentry Empire. Many of Eirene’s subjects were beginning to perceive Christianity as an elven religion and even she could not deny that it was quickly becoming so. The problem was that this association meant the minotaurs’ opinions of the electric elves was beginning to affect their views on Christianity – and the elves weren’t making a good name for themselves.
When Vanii was sacked by the Black Crown Pact, Ipativy lost their control over much of their territories. The war ravaged tundras of central Iceload were liberated but had no means of self sufficiency. The king of Sentrakle, John Sentry, saw opportunity and swept these lands up. The Sentry Empire provided them with the resources they needed to get back on their feet in exchange for taxes that seemed to get heavier and heavier by the month. Before long, the people of north eastern Etihwy found themselves deep in debt to the conniving, Christian king of the north. The GraiLord were well aware of these tricky dealings and a stereotype began to circulate describing Christians as wealthy money lending, debt inducing, capitalists. It didn’t help that the only Christians left in the Vanian Mountains were the wealthy GraiLord nobility. Eirene saw the growing animosity and worried for the future of GraiLord Christians.
Shortly after ascending to the throne, Eirene left the mountains and traveled north to visit First Church in Black Lake City. Bluff founded this monastery a few months after the Battle of Krynor in order to facilitate the spread of Christianity through the electric elven nations. There they discussed her fears and made plans for Bluff to lead a mission into the mountains to reconnect with Recercoff Christians, get to know the Rational Muslims, and show the minotaurs that Christianity was more than a tool used by power hungry dictators.
Argolis Muhammad, as leader of the Rational Muslims, stayed with the missionaries at their mountain camp for a week. He and the Christians got along well – too well – and one night, they decided to crack open some snowball root vodka. The next morning, as the Christians staggered out of their tents clutching their aching heads, Argolis was gone. It took a week to find him. He’d continued drinking long after his new comrades had passed out and, with the bottle still in his hands, he’d tumbled off the side of a cliff. When word spread the minotaurs were outraged, even many of the Christian GraiLord simply could not believe that Argolis had drunken himself stupid and walked off the edge of a cliff. Argolis’ brother, Perseus Muhammad, was one of the loudest proponents of this disbelief. Claiming that the king’s death was a part of some elven conspiracy, Perseus led a group of Muslims and Christians on a march through the streets, protesting the foreign presence in their mountains.
– – –
“Why’d they find it so hard to believe?” Joe asked, “Didn’t you say they found Argolis with the bottle still in his hand?”
“Muslims aren’t allowed to drink,” Ekaf answered, “it is against their religion, as is any drug, certain foods like-”
“Not just that, my friend,” Acamus cut in, “Eirene had done her best to keep her husband’s drinking habits secret at his own request. As a leader in the Islamic community, if the people knew of his alcoholism he’d lose all his moral authority.”
“So they lied to the people?” Joe crowed.
“Yes,” Acamus admitted, “but Eirene only agreed to keep it secret if Argolis would try to stop. Supposedly, he’d gone almost a year without alcohol before relapsing amongst the Christians.”
“And his brother didn’t even know?”
“No.” Acamus shook his head, “He knew that Argolis had been quite the drinker before adopting Islam but he believed that he’d quit the stuff after his conversion.”
“I suppose that would look a bit like a conspiracy.” Joe remarked.
“Indeed it did.” Acamus sighed, “Eirene did what she could to diffuse the situation but she didn’t have the heart to bring her love’s skeletons out of the closet.”
“And she couldn’t very well bring it to light now!” Ekaf chimed in.
“What’d she do?”
– – –
Eirene and Bluff agreed that he should cut his mission trip short. Before leaving, Bluff and his missionaries traveled to the ruins of Grantara and, with the help of the GraiLord Christians, they began work on a basilica. Half mosque, half monastery, the settlement would be called the Argolian Temple and it would be considered a neutral zone, for both GraiLord and Sentry, Muslim an Christian, minotaur and elf. Immediately, Christian and Muslim leaders flocked to the convent to begin a dialogue on the relationship between the sibling religions. One of these leaders was Perseus Muhammad who, honoring his sister-in-laws attempt at reconciliation, calmed the fury he’d riled up and the protests ended.
Despite the efforts of religious leaders at the Argolian Temple, the animosity between the congregations in the GraiLord cities grew steadily. Soon churches began abandoning their cities to take refuge in the sanctity of the late king’s temple or in the capital of Recercoff. Recercoff’s Christian population grew to match the size of the Muslim population and – unlike the theologians in the Argolian Temple – these two populations butted heads constantly. Ten years after the First Hatching, a fight broke out between minotaur Muslims and Christians. This brawl spilled out into the streets and escalated to an all out battle between religious mobs becoming what was considered the first of the many Recercoff Religious Riots.
As the GraiLord Guard struggled to restore order, Eirene GraiLord watched from the palace, seeing Muslims and Christians alike striking each other, looting businesses, and defacing buildings. She was so sickened that she couldn’t bring herself to eat. By the end of the week, as the chaos seemed to be dying down, one of the leaders of the unrest was captured by the guards and escorted to the queen. Driven to his knees, Perseus faced Eirene with a defiant smirk until he saw her weakened state. Approximately fifty had died and the GraiLord Guard had only arrested half of the individuals guilty of these murders. Those they missed happened to be Christian. However, these Christian delinquents had been captured by the angry Muslim citizens and would soon be hung, according to Perseus, unless the GraiLord Guard released the Muslims they’d arrested. Eirene agreed and the two addressed the people together. As the prisoners switched places the riot ended and the trials began, Muslims judging Muslims and Christians judging Christians.
Within the year, the Christians had been tried and for almost all the verdict was exile. Among the Muslims, the courts took a while longer. At the end of the year, the decision was made. It had been proven that twenty of the arrested Muslims had intentionally killed another minotaur. These men were executed.
– – –
“They were hung.”
Joe specified his confusion, “Why the hell did he want to get them out of jail if he was going to hang them anyways?”
“He didn’t hang them all,” Ekaf jumped into the conversation, “but Islamic law is pretty straight forward when it comes to punishment. An eye for an eye, an ear for an ear, a nose-”
“Perseus was merciful, my friend, because they were punished as Allah demands and they were repentant, when the rope went taught they were forgiven for their crimes.” Acamus explained, “If Eirene and her Christian officials had been the ones to judge the Muslim rioters, then they would’ve received the same punishment as the Christian rioters: exile. However, my friend, though this punishment may seem preferable it would have caused them more harm than good. This punishment would not have been what Allah demands of us and these men and women would not be forgiven by our Lord. They would fall out of grace.”
“So by killing them, Perseus was doing them a favor?” Joe asked.
“In a sense,” Acamus nodded, “neither exile nor execution would be favorable but, my friend, the punishment for murder should not be a favorable experience.”
“And being exiled from the Vanian Mountains meant being exiled from all Iceloadic Islam – nowhere else was it practiced,” Ekaf interjected, “so even if they sought to atone for their sins by returning to their Islamic brothers and sisters where they would be judged appropriately, they would’ve been unable to. They’d have to travel to Tadloe-”
“And the Rational Muslims of Iceload were none to fond of the earth elves who they half-blamed for the trickery of Creaton Live.” Acamus added, then he asked, “So now do you see how some violence can be righteous? If one man kills another, then it is only fair that he too must die.”
Joe sighed. Despite the animalistic urge within him to defend revenge, to defend violent punishments, his moral compass still pointed away from violence. He knew in his heart what was true and so he answered, “Just because it is fair doesn’t mean it is right.”
“You remind me more and more of Eirene GraiLord,” Acamus chuckled, “I admire your determination, my friend, Eirene said much the same thing to Perseus. Perseus and Eirene began meeting weekly to discuss religious differences as tensions began to rise again.”
“The Muslims felt it was unfair that the Christians got to go free when they had been just as guilty of evil as their Islamic brothers and sisters.” Ekaf explained.
“So there were more riots?” Joe asked.
“Many more, my friend,” Acamus said, “but if I were to tell you of every one we’d be here all night. Instead, I’m going to skip ahead five years to a discovery that rocked Iceload to the core…”
– – –
One of the Chrisitan exiles from the first of the Recercoff Religious Riots, Prometheus Rytram, was hunting amongst the bluffs between Ipativy and the Vanian Mountains when he stumbled across a frozen book. He took the text to Ipativy, thawed it out, and realized he’d found a copy of the Gospel. Many were skeptical, especially considering the discoverer’s outcast-status and soon Bluff came to investigate. After scrutinizing the text, Bluff admitted that it was either the most spectacular hoax he’d ever seen or an authentic copy of the first four books of the New Testament.
– – –
“Sorry to interrupt again, but didn’t they already have a Bible?”
“Nope!” Ekaf proclaimed, “And, technically, they still didn’t. They found the Gospel, not the whole Bible.”
“But you are right, Joe.” Acamus nodded, “The ancient Christians of the Vanian Mountains had found a copy of the Gospel long ago but that copy had been lost in time – well before the First Hatching.”
“So most of what folks knew about Jesus by this time in Solaris’ history came from spoken accounts passed down from generation to generation! On the other hand, people had had a physical copy of the Quran for decades, maybe even cent-”
“We Muslims have always had the Quran, since the day Solaris split away from the Sun.” Acamus explained.
“I told you what the Big Boom was, right?” Ekaf didn’t give Joe time to respond, “People believe that long ago, there used to be one universe, one solar system, and one life-gifted planet under the Sun-”
Joe nodded, “And after Jesus’ crucifiction, Earth split into many dimensions and one of these was Solaris.”
“That, my friend, is what the Christians would have you believe,” Acamus smiled, “but for those of my faith, we believe the worlds split after Muhammad’s revelations were recorded.”
Ekaf added, “And the Delians believe that after Hormah gave man death, Girn split Abbim into many parallel universes.”
Acamus agreed, “Every religion has their own version of the Big Boom.”
Joe was puzzled, “But how do yall know that happened if all yall have from Earth is the Quran and the Gospel?”
“Just as Christianity was preserved over the ages, so too was this great myth passed down.” Acamus shrugged, “How else do you explain the existence of this world with two alien religions, artifacts of a much more primitive planet?”
“Primitive?” Joe laughed.
“He doesn’t mean primitive as in your Earthen civilizations are a little backwards-”
Now it was Acamus who laughed, “Don’t I?”
“Well…” Ekaf gave the minotaur an eye roll, “what most scholars mean when they refer to Earth as primitive is that your progress in evolution is quite a few steps behind ours. Granted, species will evolve differently in different environments, but a lot of scientists here speculate that Earthen species – at least, what we can tell of them from the two holy texts – are earlier forms of many of the species we have here in Solaris. Many of the beasts and peoples here are derivitaves of the creatures and humans of Earth.”
“And you justify this theory with the Big Boom?” Joe asked, “Seems like a far stretch!”
“That is why men like I, my friend, don’t depend on science to explain our existence,” Acamus stated.
Ekaf grumbled under his breath, “If only this were science fiction and not a blasted fantasy novel…”
Satisfied – or at least submitting to the fact that he may never learn a rational explanation for the bizzare parallels between life beneath the Sun and life beneath Solaris – Joe moved onto another line of questioning, “So was the Gospel the minotaur found the same Gospel we’ve got back on Earth?”
“Yup, yup!” Ekaf said.
“Wouldn’t that sorta screw with the existing Christianity?”
“How so?” Ekaf asked.
“Didn’t you tell me that Christians here don’t believe in heaven or hell and don’t focus on the miracles and what not?”
“Before this Gospel was discovered, they did not.” Acamus nodded.
“After this Gospel was discovered, Christianity divided.” Ekaf elaborated.
“Zalfron mentioned this, the New and Old Christianity, right?” Joe asked.
“They’ve gone by numerous names,” Acamus admitted, turning to Ekaf, “I’m not quite sure what they’re called now?”
“They still go by the old names, but now a days most folks do just call them New and Old. But that’ll be confusing for you, seeing as the first sort of Christianity, Vanian or Mystakle Christianity, the one that focused on morality rather than salvation, is actually called New Christianity. That’s because, as you’ll see once you learn more, the theology that grew out of the new found Gospels wound up expelling the old theology so that when it popped up again folks had forgotten all about it and thought it was something new.”
“Let’s get back to the elves and minotaurs,” Joe suggested, tired of the Knomes attempt to untangle the convoluted theological history of Solarin Christianity, “back to the discovery of the Gospels, I want to know how Bluff and Eirene handled this!”
– – –
The Promethean Gospel claimed the one and only omnipotent God sent his one and only son to warn the world to worship him in order to avoid the fires of eternal damnation. From the text, conclusions were made that polarized the church even more – specifically the idea that since some souls – those that did not believe – deserved hell, deserved God’s violence, then there must be such a thing as righteous violence – because the actions of a perfect God could not be immoral. A new denomination, calling themselves Thoran Christians, took this principle and ran with it. The Thorans spread exponentially within the old Ipativian Empire. They began to promote punishment over forgiveness. Invigorated with renewed spiritual fervor, Aella Hydrana, one of the many exiled minotaurs that’d converted, snuck back into Recercoff and began to spread Thoran Christianity.
As soon as Aella stepped foot back in the Blue Ridges, Eirene was alerted. Rather than acting immediately, Eirene chose to ignore the exile. She didn’t want to appear afraid of this new strain of Christianity. She also didn’t want to persecute them because part of the Thoran’s theology explicitly foretold that they would be oppressed and that through martyrdom they would assure themselves a place in heaven. But in the end, Aella forced her hand.
Aella Hydrana had drawn such a following that she even had loyal disciples within the GraiLord Guard itself. These Thoran policemen began to apply excessive force to citizens they handled and, after two years of peace in Recercoff, one of Aella’s converts went too far. When an Islamic man, a known alcoholic, resisted arrest, he drew his bow and shot the man in the back. The drunk died in the street. Despite the man’s low status in the Islamic community, the Muslims saw this as something that could have happened to any of them and were outraged. Before the cop could pull his arrow from the fallen minotaur, the Muslim witnesses swarmed him. Now there were two dead. The GraiLord Guard was furious. They’d been dealing with anti-police sentiments from the Muslims since the Quran first reached the Blue Ridges and they, like the Muslims, saw this as something that could have happened to any of them. Their fury spread from the municipalities to the Christian aristocracies. Soon the streets were filled with blood thirsty extremists of both religions and the second wave of Recercoff Religious Riots began.
As Eirene GraiLord’s appetite shriveled and died, she commanded the GraiLord Guard to change their focus from the rioters to the source of the unrest: Aella Hydrana. Thanks to her connections inside the police, Aella was able to avoid capture all the while mocking Eirene and the Vanian Christians for their weakness and condemning Perseus and the Rational Muslims for their heathenistic ways. The periodic violence continued split by brief episodes of peace just long enough to allow Eirene to break fast and stay alive. As the queen was seen growing weaker and weaker, her fellow Christians became less and less enthusiastic about the violence. Even the Muslims, goaded by Perseus of all people, began to critique some of the violence – specifically, the violence against Vanian Christians. Like Eirene, Perseus blamed the Thorans and Thorans weren’t doing much to help their case. So, when a handful of loyal GraiLord Guards cornered Aella on the top of a tall building and the heretical preacher jumped to her death, the majority of minotaurs were stunned but pleased and peace returned to Recercoff.
With a new found mutual contempt for the followers of the Promethean Gospel, the result of this second phase of unrest was a closer bond between Rational Islam and Vanian Christianity. Muslims and Christians worked together to repair the damage of the riots, while Aella’s converts trickled out of the mountains to take refuge with Prometheus in the Ipativian Empire. Another product of the turmoil was that a new brand of highly trained guards entered the royal palace. These men, the Icespear Sentinels, were headed by Perseus. He’d convinced Eirene of the necessity by pointing out the corruption that had festered in the ranks of the Guard (plus it would help unite the two religions to have an Islamic force protecting the Christian monarch).
Year 22, the Thoran Christians, led by Prometheus Rytram, founded the monastery village of Zviecoff – which means New Home in Ancient Elven – over looking the Etihw River in the glacial valley below the Argolian Temple. Missionaries became more prevalent within the Vanian Mountains but the Thorans had better luck on the eastern side of the Etihw River. The elven dynasties that had remained independent from the Sentry – Ipativy, Oreh and the Etihw – were drawn to the Gospel. It wasn’t the theology that made this new cult so attractive but rather the fact that this denomination stood in opposition of the Sentry’s Mystakle Christianity (which was known as Vanian Christianity to the minotaurs).
Both Eirene and Perseus spoke out against Thoran Christianity. Eirene pointed out flaws in Thoran doctrine, asking things like, “why would an all powerful and moral god be forced to send life he created to suffer in an eternal hell he also created?”. Perseus was less focused on logic and more focused on conspiracies. Perseus believed that the Ipativians were so starved for power that they were attempting to use this new religion to plant anti-Islamic insurgents throughout the mostly-Islamic GraiLord Empire so if they invaded there would already be spies in the Blue Ridges, willing to betray their race for their religion. Eirene thought this ridiculous but three years after the founding of Zviecoff it seemed Perseus’ rhetoric was spot on.
At the start of winter, twenty-five years after the First Hatching, an attempt to assassinate Eirene GraiLord was thwarted by Perseus and the Icespear Sentinels. All of the insurgents were captured alive and all buckled to pressure, admitting that Prometheus Rytram was the mastermind behind the plot. The men were exiled and Prometheus was warned, by Perseus himself, that if he ever stepped outside of Zviecoff and onto the slopes of the Blue Ridges then his head would wind up on the end of the Vanian Spear. The heretic never got the chance. A year later, a group of anonymous GraiLords snuck into Zviecoff and killed Prometheus in his sleep. The Thorans were outraged. No longer did their missionaries loiter the streets preaching to convert, now they marched the streets of the minotaur cities preaching to condemn.
The new head of the Thoran Church was none other than the traitor Godi Morain who had sold Vanii, the city that once stood were Ipativy did now, out to Creaton during the First Void War. The Gospel-bandwagoner had been using his new found faith to clense himself of his past transgressions – Baldure Ipativy even publically forgave him. Now that he had a clean slate in Post-Pact Iceload, he could pursue his lifelong aspirations for power and he saw opportunity with the death of Prometheus but the small monastery of Zviecoff did not satisfy his appetite. Prometheus’ martyrdom was tragic enough to get the Thorans riled and ready for war but Godi knew he needed allies for it to be a victorious struggle. He needed something more tragic. So he began to provoke the minotaurs. Arming his missionaries, he sent them out on suicidal missions of destruction. It was the martyr warriors’ duty to raise hell and stop only when incarcerated or dead. They looted, burned, raped, and killed and they heightened the anti-Thoran sentiments of the minotaurs and it didn’t take long for many of the GraiLord to covet revenge.
A couple hundred GraiLord youngsters, of both faiths, gathered near the end of 27. All had witnessed violence caused by Thoran martyrs or had been victims themselves. On December 7th, these young men and women raided Zviecoff and killed every soul that refused to flee. Many chose death over retreat but their leader did not. He took a ship, along with others who chose to tuck tail and leave, up the Etihw River to beg Baldure Ipativy to avenge the victims of what was described as the Zviecoff Massacre.
Baldure was unwilling to face the minotaurs alone. He waited to attack until he’d accumulated a few allies – which didn’t take long. Etihwy and Oreh eagerly got on board. Describing their plight as a defense of the Thoran Church, Baldure Ipativy, with the traitor Godi Morain by his side, declared war on the GraiLord Empire.
Perseus Muhammad rallied the minotaurs of the Blue Ridges with talks of nationalism, speaking of defending their mountains and repelling the foreignors. Eirene GraiLord rebuked the people. Whether their actions had been fair or not, their violence had brought this war upon themselves. She begged the people not to fight, to show up to battle weaponless, to bow before the elves and pleed for their forgiveness, and see then if the elves would still be willing to fight. However, the people, including the Vanian Christians, did not want to hear this. Too many had been scarred by the terrorism of the Thorans. They loved Eirene GraiLord deeply but they would not obey her, not now, and so they asked her to step down from the throne so that Perseus Muhammad could rise up.
– – –
“Was she the only true Vanian Christian?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Vanian Christians are New Christians, right? They believe what Brahim Phinn did, right? There’s no excuse for violence,” receiving nods, Joe continued, “so how could the aristocrats of Recercoff stand in favor of war?”
“The same way that Saint promoted violence through his Samurai,” Acamus responded, “Submitting to acts of violence doesn’t necessarily mean one believes it isn’t a sin.”
“But how can a true believer knowingly sin?” Joe demanded, “That’s cheating!”
“I don’t want to make any rash accusations…but have you never consciously commited a sin?” Ekaf asked, “I mean, I have. I’m sure Acamus has. There’s no way! You must’ve-”
“Yes but I’m one man! One mind!” Joe beat his breast, “Not an entire church!”
“Not all the Vanians abandoned Eirene, my friend, many went with her to the peak of Mount Krynor where they would watch the First War of the Blue Ridges unfold.”
“Did she hunger strike?” Joe asked.
“Oh yes,” Acamus nodded, “before she left, she told her people that she would fast until they abandoned their evil ways and learned to practice love and forgiveness once more.”
“Wow…” Joe muttered, “What about Perseus? Wasn’t Eirene beginning to sway him with her peace talk?”
“She was indeed and he visited her frequently. He begged her to end her self-starvation which was slowly deteriorating her body but she would not. She considered her condition insync with the moral depreciation of GraiLord society.”
Joe groaned, “She’s gonna die, isn’t she.”
“Wait and see, my friend, the tale is almost told!”
– – –
At first, Perseus Muhammad struggled to hold the elves back. Atharta fell, becoming Vaniakle under elven rule, and the Argolian Temple was also taken. But as the year grew stale and winter approached, the elves were no longer able to push deeper into the Blue Ridges. It seemed the minotaurs would be able to hold them just north of Mount Krynor. At the start of the 29th year, a battle that, if the GraiLord won, would force the elves to retreat was to take place below the mountain. Perseus climbed the mountain to beg Eirene to come down once more. The poor ex-monarch was nothing but fur and bones. A handful of aids stayed around her, bringing her chicken broth and water, just enough sustenance to maintain her existence. Still, after having fasted for a year, the aids warned Perseus that she would not live much longer. Conflicted, Perseus marched down the mountain and led his troops into battle.
At the last moment, while standing before his soldiers and glaring defiantly into the eyes of the approaching electric elves and their leader, the conniving Godi Morain, Perseus Muhammad changed his mind. Running through the ranks, he ordered his men to lay down their weapons. Perseus then turned to Godi and proclaimed that they would not strike an elf, but they would also not step aside.
“Peace is what we seek,” he said, “and we seek it by way of peace.”
The elves stopped in their tracks. Behind the army, King Baldure Ipativy was told what was happening but was unable to make a decision. He could not retreat, his allies and peers would be at his throat, nor could he advance, his conscience would forever haunt him if he ordered such a slaughtering. No one knows what Baldure would’ve decided because Godi Morain, tired of waiting, raised his blade and led the charge. They plowed into the minotaurs and the first few rows of the GraiLord were overwhelmed before those behind them surrendered to the violence and defended themselves.
Despite the rough start, Perseus and the GraiLord army still won. In the end, the elves retreated. They fled the narrow mountain pass and ran on to Zviecoff. However, the minotaurs victory was also their loss – four times as many minotaurs died than did elves. Baldure Ipativy was so disgusted by the brutality of the battles first charge that he sent messengers to Recercoff to offer a ceasefire. Then, he expelled Godi Morain from the Ipativian Empire which, thanks to Godi’s engineered war, had expanded to include the Vanian Mountains north of Krynor.
The messengers never returned from Recercoff. After the Krynor Massacre, Perseus Muhammad had changed. As the dead were taken care of below, Perseus climbed to the top of the mountain once more. When he arrived, the aids came running. Eirene had heard his order and had seen the minotaurs lay down their weapons then she’d watched as the elves charged. Not long after witnessing this, Eirene’s heart stopped. Perseus came down from Mount Krynor with a merciless rage that would stay with him until the day he died. He refused to end the war and led numerous fruitless battles against Baldure and his allies. After five years, Perseus died in battle and his neice, Gorgophone, picked up the gauntlet.
By then, Eirene’s Christians had almost vanished from the Blue Ridges. After her death, they’d begun to trickle out of the Vanian Mountains to avoid the violence. They took refuge in Icelore with Heimdallure Darkblade. This left the GraiLord Empire completely in the hands of Muslims but, like the Christians, these Muslims were also tired of the war. Gorgophone was unwilling to compromise and absolutely refused to surrender. Just as her father had lost his last name due to his stubbornness, so did Gorgophone lose hers. The now Islamic aristocracy stripped her of her authority and refused her the right to the name of the Prophet. Without the backing of the Empire, Gorgophone continued the fight with a few hundred loyal soldiers and she took the name of her weapon – the same weapon that had been wielded by her uncles and grandfather – becoming the first in a long line of Icespears.
Though Vanian Christianity had left the mainland, its twin, Mystakle Christianity, survived within the Sentry Empire of the north. As Thoran Christianity took over, Mystakle Christianity was forced to take to the shadows. Meanwhile, the desciples of Eirene took their faith to Icelore then across the globe to Manaloe where they taught the words of their nonviolent savior to the spirits of the Phinn River.
– – –
“That is the tale of the Queen of Peace and the birth of a hatred,” Acamus stated, “even today, the minotaurs do not trust the electric elves.”
“Even Zalfron?” Joe asked.
“Ha! My friend, that boy’s head is full of rocks. Suspicion would be a waste of energy.” Acamus chuckled, “Besides, we don’t mind the Sentry half as much as we despise the Ipativians.”
“Exactly, the Ipa…” the rest of Ekaf’s words were so distorted by a yawn that they sounded absurdly whale-like.
“I think its time for bed.” Joe decided.
“Indeed,” Ekaf nodded, “You coming with, Acamus?”
The minotaur turned away from them to stare out over the ocean.
“No,” he said, “I think I’ll man the helm until morning.”
Joe and Ekaf exchanged anxious glances. There was literally no reason to stay at the wheel. They were anchored in the bay outside Etihw City. But they didn’t argue. The seductive siren’s song of sleep was summoning them and they were too weak to make her wait.