A Brief History of Aeris

September 26th, 2021 5:05 PM

In addition to offering a dictionary of Aerisian vernacular this month, I also wanted to offer this brief history lesson, which looks at the past upon which The Tales of the Gatherers is built. If you've already read The Gatherers and the Illness of the Isle or are currently reading it, having a clearer understanding of the setting's past (which is frequently referenced but never detailed so clearly) should surely help you to enjoy the story even more.

Every Aerisian is familiar with the land's holy book, a tome called the Dweller's Pages. This book details the Aerisian origin story, gives moral directives for Aerisians, and details what awaits them in death. Aerisians believe that the land they stand on is a great, horned aenti called the Milea that, because of its size, moves at an imperceptible pace. They believe that it was born as all aenti are, but born long before Aerisians came into existence. After existing for an unknown number of years, blind and without any light, the Milea found its way into the endless ocean and sky, and it became stuck. When wind blows, it is said that the Milea is moving ever so slightly, that it is turning in its eternal trap of clay beneath the sea.

 

The Milea brought with it the aereo: small, mysterious creatures that appear as glimmering spheres of light. The aereo created the Isle Dweller, the first Aerisian. The Dweller's Pages state that the Isle Dweller directed a majority of the aereo, sending them into the sky to create the harbinger (which was then called, curiously, the weaver). Most of the remaining aereo dispersed to the caverns of the Milea from whence they came. Then the Isle Dweller set the weaver in motion, creating absences (fourteen-hour periods in which no light bathes the land). The Isle Dweller named the land Asayla, and he went on to create more Aerisians—and all the other aenti—by using aereo. Using his vast power, he erected the glorious city of Arbor around his creations. The land was plentiful, and the Old Aerisians wanted for nothing. The Isle Dweller told his people to remain in the city all their lives, for they would never find their way back to Arbor if they left it. Then, he left them to themselves and fled away to the Isle—to Vai—to seek infinite solitude.

The Old Aerisians—alongside the aenti—prospered in Arbor, building a second city called Essa and a great ceiren to worship the Isle Dweller who had given them life. In Asayla, absences were not dangerous times but instead times of catharsis. The Dweller's Pages detail the ways in which the aereo would float across the sky during these peaceful absences, creating spectacles for the Old Aerisians. There was a period of peace, known by modern Aerisians as the Age of the Parables. The Dweller's Pages details the many happenings of Arbor and Essa here, but there is no indication of how long the Old Aerisians remained on Asayla.

After the Age of the Parables, the Aerisians grew uninterested in their idyllic lives. Since the Isle Dweller had left them alone, they reasoned that they no longer needed to heed his advice, and that they deserved to see that which lay beyond Asayla. Over several months, thousands of Aerisians built a great vessel and named it the Dureas, after the sea nearest Essa. After filling the Dureas with aenti, every Aerisian sailed from Asayla, embarking on a brutal voyage across the Pureo Ceia. They found that the ocean was incredibly unforgiving, and it only grew more violent as their voyage progressed. Several Aerisians were claimed by the ocean and its ferocious winds. As if by a miracle, the Aerisians finally landed near Milea’s Plain. They disembarked into the rich land. The tastes of the exotic fruit and grass enraptured them, and, fatigued from their taxing voyage, they set up camp in the heart of the plain. The aenti disembarked and set off into the land.

During their first absence ashore, the Aerisians met with the vayle, horrendous beasts unlike the peaceful aenti. The vayle attacked and killed many of the Aerisians. The few hundred survivors fled. Upon trying to return to the Dureas, they found that it had washed away in the churning waters of the Pureo Ceia. One of the surviving Aerisians, Escher Elis, discovered he could create immersia and manipulate it to ward off the vayle. Using the magic, he deterred thousands of vayle through the long absence and protected the remaining Aerisians. The following day, the Aerisians weighed their options. As the Dweller had warned, returning across the Pureo Ceia would be impossible; even if the Aerisians rebuilt another boat, the voyage would doubtless claim their lives.

Escher, infatuated with his newfound abilities, insisted he could defend the Aerisians, and that they could prosper in the new land as well as they had in Arbor. Escher named the land Asaire. Using the Bountiful Theia, the Aerisians built the city of Pera. Eventually, they prospered here, using Escher’s immersia each absence to fend off the vayle. For years, the Aerisians lived in Pera and grew in number until Escher and his closest cohorts—those whom he had imparted the ways of immersia unto—departed from Pera to explore the land further. Escher and his troupe erected Aurora, while Maya Aesar went south to erect Aesa and Aera and Belarus Esae went west to erect Illumina.

After founding Aurora, Escher married and fathered an heir. Escher lived in the city in the desert until he was near his natural death. He died at the Stand of the Granula Milea, an event described in the Dweller's Pages, in which Escher walked into the Granula Milea in the dead of an absence and lured several thousand vayle to him before using the last of his strength to destroy as many of them as possible in a sweeping surge of immersia.