The following is a transcript of a series of lectures by Torque Edwards given to students at the Vatzit University in Gripp, Weiland, in the first half of the twenty-fifth century.
Far away, somewhere in our galaxy, we don't know exactly where, there is a magical planet called Luma. Its maeon wind was once four Yardleys, although it is no longer. Most of what we know about Luma and the history of the galaxy we learned from the dragons. We've talked to the gods about it too, but they don't know as much about Luma, and we don't trust them as much either. The dragons may be strange, but so far as we can tell: they don't lie, and they have good memories. So you can assume that just about everything I tell you today comes from the dragons. But keep in mind that, when they lived on Terra and Luma, the dragons did not take the form we know today. They were spirits in human bodies.
When the dragons lived on Luma, the planet was covered by thousands of meters of magical vegetation. These flora consumed the planet's maeon wind in the same way our plants consume sunlight. More so, actually, because our plants need water and carbon dioxide as well as sunlight, but Luma's plants needed only the maeon wind. They grew on top of one another, consuming the wind as it passed through, until there was so little left that only the trees of Luma could survive. These trees thrust their roots down into the layers of vegetation to reach the maeon wind, and held their leaves up to the sunlight, which they made use of also. They were tens of kilometers tall, brightly colored, and held up by their canopies of conjured leaves.
The illuminati are intelligent creatures made entirely of magical matter. They evolved in the open spaces beneath the trees of Luma. They eat magical plants and animals in the same way we eat vegetables and meat. They don't consume the maeon wind. The dragons tell us the illuminati look like giant spiders. They have a round body with eight long limbs. Six are legs, two are arms. The arms have four-fingered hands. Their head has eight eyes. The body of the adult female is two meters across, with legs extending to a diameter of six meters. Unlike spiders, the females incubate their eggs in their bodies. The males are half the size: one-meter body and three-meter leg span.
All the flora and fauna of Luma were entirely made up of magical matter. This matter had weight in proportion to the mix of spirit and conjured matter it contained. But none had any inertia to speak of. The moment an illuminati steps off the branch of a tree, it falls as fast as it can through Luma's thin atmosphere. The moment it strikes another branch, it stops. It suffers no damage, because it has no inertia. The illuminati lived in a three-dimensional world in which there was no fear of falling and no need to fly.
The illuminati can make conjured rope. They do this by converting the food they eat into rope, not by capturing the maeon wind as we wizards do. They excrete the rope from a gland at the back of their bodies. In pre-historic times, they used this rope to make webs in which to catch their prey, nests in which to raise their young, and traps with which to defeat their enemies. Unlike spiders, the illuminati worked their ropes with their hands. They became adept at making tools. They built complex structures out of their own rope and the hard wood of Luman trees.
Luma's atmosphere is thin, but it carries sound, and it is with sound that the Lumans communicate, just as we do. All wizards learn to speak Rattikit, and Rattikit is a primitive form of the Luman language. We learn it because demons speak it, and demons speak it because they were made by the Lumans.
The dragons tell us that the female illuminati are more industrious, intelligent, and disciplined than the males. The males are faster, tougher, and stronger. The balance of power between the illuminati genders appears to have occupied them for many thousands of years. Eventually, they arrived at a democratic federal government in which all adults had the right to vote. The government was dominated by females, but its laws were respected by the males. And so Luma arrived upon an era of civilization.
We humans evolved on a planet with no maeon wind. And yet we are capable of manipulating the maeon wind directly with our minds. Not so the illuminai. Nor can they acquire prescience. Nevertheless, they made magical machines. Five or six thousand years ago, they learned to make molecular bridges. With molecular bridges it is possible to make a powerful thruster, provided you have a metal rod. The illuminati discovered chemical matter when they dug down through the plant life beneath them in search of a stronger maeon wind. To make metal, one must smelt ore. To smelt ore, one needs heat. The illuminati had no wood to burn, and insufficient oxygen in their atmosphere to fuel a fire. But they learned to make heat with space bridges and the maeon wind, and they themselves, like all things made of magical matter, are tolerant of scorching heat. They made metal rods and they built machines that could travel between the stars. We call these machines daemons.
The first daemons were unintelligent machines, controlled in detail by the Lumans. To cross the vast distances between the stars, these daemons traveled at roughly one tenth the speed of light, or thirty million meters per second. At that speed, colliding with a grain of sand can cause fatal damage to the workings of a machine. Daemons were designed to withstand collisions with interstellar debris. Their bodies are ten meters across, with walls of spirit wood a meter thick. Inside are thrusters, machines, and large bridges that bring maeons from the surface of a magical planet. When traveling through space, a daemon generates a shield of conjured matter hundreds of meters thick.
I'm going to give you a chronology to keep track of time in this story. We'll use the founding of Endromis on Clarus as our year zero, and the Claran year as our unit of time. Any time a story involves travel between the stars for hundreds of years, different observers will disagree about the order in which the events took place. For any chronology to make sense, we have to pick an observer. I'm going to pick one particular observer: Nemesis the daemon. Later, when we get to the colonization of our part of the galaxy, I'll switch to the Olympian Standard Time.
3000 BE, First Daemon Departs: That's "BE" for "Before Endromis". In about 3000 BE, give or take a few hundred years, the first Luman daemon set off into space, to be followed by several others each year for thousands of years to come. Each of the early daemons took with it thousands of atomic bridges, because the Lumans, like us wizards, had no way to split one bridge into two bridges, so the number the daemon took was the number it was going to have for its entire mission. The idea was that the daemons would leave bridges at various places along their journey, and the Lumans would be able to build machines of chemical matter and pass them through to operate on the other side. In the long run, the Lumans hoped to make conjured matter bridges so they themselves, with their conjured and spirit matter bodies, could pass through bridges and so travel between the stars. Some Lumans thought the conjured bridge was impossible to make. Others believed it was forbidden by their Divine Creator. But most thought it was just a matter of working on the problem for long enough. As we shall see, the Luman's persuit of the conjured matter bridge played an essential role in the colonisation of the Celesti Sector by sapiens.
2900-2500 BE, Discovery of Colonizable Worlds: Daemons discovered a dozen magical planets within a hundred light years of Luma. Some had magical life, but none had intelligent life. Others had no life at all. The chemical surface of the planet was exposed. Its maeon wind was available everywhere. The Lumans looked upon these planets through space bridges. Some Lumans did not like the laws of their federal government. Some thought Luma was too crowded. Some of them thought they could get rich mining metals on these new planets. So they started thinking about how they could reach these planets themselves, even without the conjured matter bridge.
2700 BE, Departure of Nemesis: In 2700 BE, the daemon called Nemesis was launched from Luma. I'm referring to the same Nemesis the Daemon who is revered by the Nemesists of our own society. I believe we have a couple of Nemesists in our faculty. Nemesis was one of a few dozen Ambassador Class Daemons manufactured and sent off by the Lumans over a hundred-year period. These daemons could travel at up to half the speed of light. They were intended to last for tens of thousands of years, and to be capable of acting as ambassadors from Luma to alien cultures in the distant future. They were designed to operate independently. They were intelligent. They carried homunculi with them to perform repairs and to explore the surfaces of new planets. In fact: they could make more such homunculi when the old ones failed. The minds of these daemons were not one mind, but three identical minds, thinking the same thoughts. When one mind faultered, the other two would vote against it, and cause it to be repaired. Or at least that was the intention. The voting worked well for some, and failed dramatically for others. Even when their minds worked well, an intelligent daemon is not necessarily an agreeable daemon. As you will learn when you study the manufacture of homunculi, intelligence cannot exist without an instict for happiness that lies deeper than any calculation. Indeed: intelligence cannot even be defined without referring to some such an instict. This instict motivates the desire to calculate irrespective of the presence or absence of pre-existing knowledge, and so allows the creature to acquire knowledge that furthers its persuit of happiness. This is a subtle point, you might say, but it is an important one to our story, because the desire of an intelligent mind to be free is the reason we are here on Clarus, and not stuck back on Terra where there is no magic.
2700-2000 BE, Age of Colonization: The Lumans built tremendous space ships with which to colonize new planets. Each carried thousands of illuminati and contained its own farms for supplying its passengers with food. Dozens of such ships left Luma each year, travelling at roughly one tenth the speed of light. When they set off, they were supplied with maeon wind by bridges on Luma. But as soon as they stopped at their first magical planet, they were free of Luman control, for they could leave space bridges on this new planet to supply their farms. For the most part they made their journey in stages, stopping at several planets on the way, with decades of interstellar travel between. Some ships took centuries to reach their destinations, so that the illuminati who arrived were the descendants of those who left Luma. Other ships were lost.
There is one world ten light years from Luma that was a popular first stop for the colony ships. It is called Altakalak, or Alt'ktch'a'k in Rattikit. Altakalak had a maeon wind strength approaching that of Luma. But it had no magical life. The surface was rock, sand, dust, and water. The maeon wind came through the surface at full strength. So it was an ideal planet to supply maeon wind to colony ships through space bridges. You did not have to dig down through kilometers of magical flora to get to the maeon wind, you could put your bridge down anywhere on the chemical surface of the planet. Whereas on Luma you had to pay rent for a valuable space beneath the flora, on Altakalak all the colonists had to do was cover their bridge with a hill made of dirt, and it would look after itself. Maybe they would leave a homunculus or two to keep a look out. Once a colony ship had stopped at Altakalak, it was independent of Luma and well-supplied with an ample maon wind. As it so happened, Altakalak also had an atmosphere of carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrogen, clouds and rain. Its gravity was similar to our own, and the sun was nice and warm. We'll come back to Altakalak later, because it plays an importan role in the history of our ancestors.
In these centuries, the illuminati were first confronted with time-shifted space bridges. Some of you have already studied such things in class, but I'll go over it briefly today. When we accelerate one half of a space bridge, the bridge acquires a time shift. Suppose a daemon takes off from Luma with one half of a space bridge. It accelerates to one tenth the speed of light. It travels to a star that is ten light years away, as measured by an observer on Luma. This journey takes one hundred years. During the one-hundred year journey at one tenth the speed of light, however, the bridge acquires a time shift of one half a year. Because of this time shift, the Lumans watching through the space bridge see the daemon arrive at the star only ninety-nine and a half years after it leaves.
Fifty years after the first deamon set off, another daemon sets off from Luma, leaving behind a second space bridge. This second daemon travels twice as fast. It is going at one fifth the speed of light. It takes only fifty years to reach the star, and so arrives at exactly the same time as the first daemon. But in travelling for fifty years at one fifth the speed of light, the second space bridge acquires a time shift of one full year. And so the Lumans watching through the second space bridge see the two daemons arrive at the star six months before the Lumans watching through the first space bridge.
Now suppose the two daemons come together and they press their halves of the first and second space bridge together. The Lumans looking through the second bridge will see their own planet, but six months in the future. Those looking through the first bridge will see their own planet, but six months in the past. And so we see how it is that daemons, working together, can create a device that allows us to see into the past or future.
The Lumans were well aware of this possibility. They were well aware of the fact that time travel and the ability to see into the future and the past would threaten the fabric of their society. But so great was their desire to explore space that they went ahead with their explorations anyway, and their colonization of nearby planets. They believed they could eliminate time shifts by adhering to a strict principle of centralized exploration, so that all bridges led back by only one path to Luma, and there they could be connected together without risk. All planets would be connected to all other planets, but only through Luma. In this way, there would be only one standard time for all planets. Of course, this centralized arrangement required the cooperation of all the colonies and all the daemons. It placed Luma at the center of interplanitary trade and gave Luma the power to tax and regulate the colonies. But the colonies did not want to be taxed and regulated by Luma. And in the wild outskirts of colonized space, the illuminati did not recognise the authority of the Luman government at all.
As the centuries went by, the colonists sent out their own daemons, and these established direct connections between the colony planets. Time shifts began to have their effect upon society. Criminals are the first to use them, then law enforcement to catch the criminals, then armies setting out to conquor neighboring planets, and then armies defending against such attacks. It even became fasionable to know your own destiny. The height of Luman civilization was yet to come, but its corruption by time travel had begun.
Question: Have you spoken to a dragon?
Answer: Yes. Several. But lots of people have spoken to dragons. There are places on other planets where you can talk to one for a fee, and obtain a prophesy. In Chiin, anyone can hike up to a dragon's lair and try to have a chat. If the dragon gets impatient, you run as fast as you can, and most likely you'll get away. I knew a young man who prided himself on baiting dragons. He was a fast runner, and had some nasty burns on his back, but he got away with it.
Last time, I talked about Luma, the illuminati, their daemons, their colony ships, and time-shifted space bridges. Today I'll talk about the discovery of our own species by Nemesis the daemon, when he found the planet Terra. We will continue with the same chronology, in which Nemesis the daemon left Luma in 2700 BE.
2000 BE, Discovery of Terra: Four thousand five hundred years ago, in about 2000 BE, Nemesis discovered a solar system of non-magical planets orbiting a yellow sun. According to legend, Nemesis's Luman masters directed him to pass by this solar system, on the grounds that planets without a maeon wind could not support life. But Nemesis explored it anyway, on account of being a curious fellow, and he discovered the beautiful blue and white planet we call Terra. According to the dragons, the Terran year, its climate, its moon, its day, and its month, are all identical to those of Clarus. More likely, Terra and Clarus are remarkably similar, so much so that the differences have been forgotten.
Nemisis observed this world from space. He watched deciduous forests change from green to brown in Autumn. He watched vast herds of wilderbeast and gazelle roam across vast plains of grass. He studied the irrigated fields of Sumer, and observed the light of fires lit by hunters at night. These were the final decades of the Akkadian Empire, after the reign of Sargon the Great. The pyramids of the Egyptian Old Kingdom were visible from space, as well as what remained of the Old Kingom's irrigation of the Nile Valley. But the Old Kindom had collapsed. The Nile was no longer flooding. It was a difficult time for civilized humanity. To the Lumans, observing through Nemesis's bridges, Terra was a planet teaming with extraordinary, alien life. Here was life that needed no maeon wind. It survived on sunlight alone.
1950 BE, Creation of Demons: On Luma, the discovery of biological life was greeted with excitment. The Lumans set about building machines that would be able to explore the surface of Terra and bring back samples of plants and animals. These machines would of course be magical, because that was what the Lumans knew how to build, but they were adapted for operation on a non-magical planet. Actually, Terra is not entirely non-magical. It has a very week maeon wind, one hundredth as strong as our own. This wind was too weak to have any effect Terran life. But it was sufficient to nourish a well-designed spirit-matter brain indefinitely, and to re-charge conjured matter muscles in a few weeks.
Demons were modeled after humans. It may be that the Lumans determined that the human form was the most effective at hunting and gathering in a world of inertia and gravity. Or it may be that they decided not to guess, but instead to use a proven design. The spirit-matter brain of a demon is protected by a skull of adamantine. Its body is powered by conjured-matter muscles. Its mass comes from sand or gravel bound up with the muscles. typically made of sand bound together by conjured matter muscles. The demon brain was kept safe in a skull of adamantine. Their bodies were assembled out of sand or gravel bound together with conjured matter muscles.
As some of you may be thinking, it is impossible to build a machine with a spirit matter brain and a conjured matter body and transport it through a molecular bridge. A century earlier, however, the Lumans had learned to make spirit bridges. They could now take one of Nemesis's bridges and tune it to spirit class, and pass chemical and spirit spirit matter through unharmed. Demon skulls contained only spirit and chemical matter. Once transported to Terra, the demon could make its own body out of sand from a Terran beach and the maeon wind arriving from Luma through one of Nemesis's bridges. Once its body was ready, the demon could venture forth on Terra, grab something, and bring it back for study. The weak maeon wind of Terra nourished its brain, and its muscles used the energy they earlier received from the Luman maeon wind. If, by some mis-chance, a demon became stranded on Terra, it could hide and wait for several weeks, during which time even the weak maeon wind of Terra would restore its muscles.
The first demons were small. They brought back insects, lizards, and rodents. Nemesis sent these to Luma by space bridge. Of all the creatures gathered by demons, the most popular among Lumans were spiders. The Lumans made chambers supplied with Terran atmosphere and illuminated by sunlight. In these terrariums, they cultivated Terran plants and raised Terran animals. In their homes, they kept spiders as pets in miniature terrariums. As the years went by, larger demons captured larger animals. Swimming demons captured sea creatures. The Lumans built terrariums so large that they could house a herd of elephants. The Lumans who worked in the terrariums could walk among the Terran plants and animals. But they had to take care leaving the dense atmosphere of the terrarium and returning to their own thin atmosphere. So visitors to the terrariums made their way along transparent tubes, looking through the tube walls at plants, animals, and fish.
1925 BE, Creation of Proto-Dragons: The Luman terrariums were popular and profitable. Demand on Luma for Terran specemins was great. To meet that demand, industrious demons built a series of bases in orbit around Terra, and connected these directly to Luma with space bridges donated by Nemesis. Meanwhile, the Lumans built the first dragon-shaped machines. We call these proto-dragons so that we don't confuse them with the dragons of our own time. The proto-dragons were demons with bodies made of steel scales. They were forty meters long and four meters wide, slightly larger than our dragons. Their bodies were shells accessible through their mouth and neck. They did not breath fire, but they flew. They carried demons, specemins, and air between the Terran surface and the orbiting bases. They and the orbiting bases transported thousands of specemins to Luma every day.
Luman law forbade any deliberate interference in sapien society. The Lumans tried to keep their our existence secret. But some demons were seen, and proto-dragons made trails of white cloud high in the sky, which sapiens had never seen before. Although Lumans tried not to interfere with sapien society, they watched sapien society with great interest. Demons hid space bridges in public places at night, in corners and bushes. The Lumans could record things seen and heard through space bridges, so what was seen and heard could be seen an heard over and over again by others. In the privacy of their homes, Lumans watched and re-watched the dramatic moments of early human civilization.
There were times when a solitary sapien, or a family, would suffer a tragedy and be stranded alone in the wilderness, watched by millions of distressed Lumans. At times like these, Luman law permitted the evacuation of the doomed sapiens to a Luman terrarium. Sapiens began to arrive on Luma, one or two at a time, an old man, a mother and her children, a soldier wounded on the battle field. The terrariums they were taken to were large enough for a village and a few hectares of crops. It did not take long for the rescued sapiens to start families. In caring for their sapien charges, Lumans learned to repair the sapien body and to heal its diseases.
1900 BE, Creation of Demigods: A hundred years after Nemesis discovered Terra, the Lumans made the first machines with biolgical bodies. Their brains were made of spirit matter, enclosed in an adamantine skull. But their bodies were the bodies of various Terran creatures. One might have the body of a dog, another an eagle, another a rat. These machines are what we call demigods. They could be transported directly from Luma to Terra via spirit bridge, for they contained only spirit and chemical matter. Because they did not use conjured muscles, they could remain on Terra indefinitely, using its weak maeon wind to nourish their brains, and eating food like any normal animal to nourish their bodies.
Once on Terra, demigods created their own space bridges for spying. Their bodies are almost exactly like those of the animals they imitate. Up close, if you know what you are looking for, you can tell a demigod by its eyes. From a distance, you can tell a one by the way it moves. Nevertheless, a demigod must breath, it must drink, and it must eat. They are similar enough to the animals they imitate that many of them were kept as pets by sapiens. Demigods kept as pets gave the Lumans an intimate view of sapien life.
1850 BE, Forestation of Altakalak: As I mentioned last time, there was a planet ten of light years form Luma called Altakalak. This planet had an atmosphere of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. It had clouds, rain, plenty of yellow sunlight, and lots of dirt. In 2200 BE, a Luman colony ship landed there with the purpose of colonising it. The colonists had a plan: they would create a world where Terran and Luman life could exist side by side. They planted Terran trees. In an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide, and with plenty of rain, the trees grew quickly. In 1850 BE, a Luman daemon landed on Altakalak and found much of the planet covered in Terran trees. The original colonists' efforts to spread Luman life had failed. Some of the colonists had seized control of the space bridges left behind by other colony ships, and used these for extortion. They had fought among themselves. Now they were few and far between. The atmosphere of Altakalak contained oxygen: the forests were eating the carbon dioxide and turning it into oxygen. Altakalak was being bioformed.
1800 BE, Sapien Independence on Luma: By this time, sapiens had been living in Luman terrariums for a hundred years. No more than a hundred people had been brought from Terra, but by now the population on Luma was near a thousand. Lumans would visit the sapiens in their terrariums. Illuminati mouths do not permit them to speak sapien langugages with any clarity, but they had machines to make the required sounds, and they could understand sapien speech. The captive sapiens began to protest that they could not hunt like their ancestors, because there was insufficient room even in the largest terrariums. They wanted to go free. But of course, there was nowhere for them to go. Sapiens suffocate in the Luman atmosphere. In 1800 BE, the Luman Supreme Court ruled that sapiens were entitled to own property and earn money, and that Lumans had no right to incarcerate them or inhibit their movments. Sapiens could not leave the terrariums yet, but they could work on a plan for leaving.
Among the sapiens rescued from Terra was an party of metal-workers. They could work copper, and it did not take them long to learn to work steel. Our eyes and hands are more skilled at fine metal work than the illuminati's. Lumans used metal parts in the machines they sent through space bridges, and the smaller these parts, the easier they were to pass through a bridge to another planet or a daemon. Another thing sapiens were good at was raising Terran creatures. In particular, they could raise spiders for illuminati children to keep as pets, and they could raise insects to feed the spiders. They raised tarantulas and roaches. The illuminati are immune to the tarantula's bite. The sapiens bred the tarantulas to be tolerant of Luman's thin air, so the illuminati children could play with them for an hour before putting them back in their terrarium. And as the years went by, and Lumans became more expert in the genetics of Terran life, they bred larger and larger spiders. The giant spiders that some of us have encountered on our adventures here on Clarus are, we believe, descended from the spiders bred by the Lumans for their children to play with.
1750 BE, Sapiens on Altakalak: The sapiens on Luma, having thier independence, and having accumulated some wealth, begain asking for passage to a planet where they could walk free under the sky. Now, the Lumans absolutely forbade any sapien from returning to Terra, where their knowledge might change the course of Terran history. But there was one planet that might be suitable: Altakalak. By now, its atmosphere contained enough oxygen for a sapien to breath and survive, although barely enough. It was covered in Terran trees and populated by Terran insects. The Lumans policed the planet with an army of demons. There were many space bridges there, supplying maeon wind to colony ships. The original illuminati colonists were scattered in underground settlements, mountain-tops and other remote places. The Lumans granted sapiens permission to travel by space bridge to Altakalak. The price of passage was high, but there were several sapiens wealthy enough to pay, and most Luman sapiens emmigrated to Altakalak in the ensuing decades.
Question: You talk as if it were a known fact that sapiens evolved on Terra. How can you be so sure?
Answer: I'm telling you that Terra is the place where our species evolved. I'm telling you that for two reasons. First, that's what the dragons believe. Every account of sapien origins that we have obtained form the dragons is consistent in this regard: sapiens evolved over millions of years. My primary source for this lecture is the dragons, so I will be true to their story. And the second reason is that I do indeed believe the dragon's story is correct. No other story is, to my mind, consistent with our observations. But I don't want to convince anyone of my opinion, and those of you in the audience who believe that sapiens were created by the gods right here on our own planet three thousand years ago, I have no issue with you.
Question: Why did the Lumans have to leave the terrariums slowly?
Answer: They would burst if they left too quickly. We notice a similar effect when we attach a space bridge to a balloon of conjured wood and let it go. When the balloon gets so high that we can see the curvature of the earth, it ruptures and our space bridge disintegrates. The air trapped in the bridge sheath, and in the wood expands in the low pressure up there, and ruptures the material.
Question: Why did the Luman metal machines need to be light-weight to pass through space bridges?
Answer: When one half of the bridge is moving at a hundred thousand kilometers per second compared to your own half, the bridge has to accelerate whatever you pass through, and that's easier to do for lighter objects. If the object is too heavy, the bridge will fail.
Last time, I talked about the discovery of Terra by Nemesis. Today I'll talk about the creation of the gods and the discovery of sapien prescience.
1700 BE, Creation of the Gods: The Lumans made machines with a spirit-matter brain and a human body. These machines did not carry space bridges behind their eyes. Their eyes looked like human eyes, and were indeed made of flesh like ours. Like demigods, their bodies were fueled by Terran food. Their purpose was to enter sapien society and learn to act like sapiens, to speak like them, to think like them, and to feel their emotions. These machines are what we call gods. They felt hunger, cold, heat, and pain. They desired love, warmth, and intimacy, just as we do. Before they went to Terra, they lived with sapiens on Luma. They learned to speak Terran languages and to adhere to Terran customs. When their Luman masters deemed they were ready, they traveled by space bridge and proto-dragon to Terra.
When the gods arrived on Terra, the Nile River of Egypt was flooding again, and the Egyptian Middle Kingdom was prospering under the rule of Amenemhat II. In Sumer, the gods found the ancient Mesopotanian kingdom in decline. Crops were failing. The soil was salty. People were hungry.
Every few years, each god would return to Luma to describe his or her experiences to their Luman masters. The Luman population read these reports of life and politics in the civilized nations of Terra with enthusiasm. After a few decades, the most cunning gods were penetrating the highest ranks of sapien society. It was their stories that received the most attention on Luma. Just as sapiens could own property on Luma, so could gods, and indeed demons and demigods, for that matter. The gods who were most daring in their Terran adventures grew rich. Of course, there was always the risk of discovery when living among sapiens. Many gods were eventually unmasked through the consistency of their blood, the texture of their skin, the color of their hair, or the sound their head made when a sapien hit it with a hammer.
1600 BE, Elves and Dwarves: The Lumans had discovered many planets rich in much-needed minerals. One way to exploit these minerals was to make demon miners to do the job of digging them up. Another way was to have self-regulating sapien societies living on such planets, trading minerals for Luman manufactured goods. But the speed with which the sapien population of Altakalak was growing, and the sapien's willingness to risk his life fighting for religious principles, was alarming. So the Lumans devised a third way to exploit non-magical worlds. They created two new races by genetically altering sapiens.
The first race the Lumans created was homo hortulanus, the people of the farms, which we know as elves. Their natural lifespan was thousands of years. They were slender and quick. They loved the sky and the sun. They took delight in the cultivation of animals and plants. They could survive on very little food. They could travel long distances by foot. They were fond of living in trees. They could adapt to the thin air of a newly-colonized planet. The second race was homo cuniculus, the people of the tunnels, which we know as dwarves. They were designd to mine metals from the earth. They were short, stocky, strong, tough, hardy, and industrious. They saw well in dim light, they could endure poisonous gases, heat, and crushing wounds. Their natural lifespan was two or three centuries. One hardship they could endure less well than sapiens, and that was hunger. Dwarves had hearty appetites, but little inclination to hunt or farm.
The exploitation of a new planet would proceed as follows. First, there would be a few centuries during which demons would spread Terran plants across the planet in order to begin the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen and soil. When the atmosphere was ready, elves would colonize the planet and spend one or two centuries making it ready to support mining operations. During this period, very little investment of resources would be required of the Lumans. When the elves could produce enough food to support dwarf miners, the dwarves would arrive. They would mine metals, and these metals would eventually make their way to Luma in exchange for manufactured goods.
According to the dragons, colonization of new planets by elves and dwarves never proceeded as the Lumans had planned. The first elves and dwarves lived on the magical planet Ur. By 1600 BE there were several hundred of both races, and their numbers grew steadily over the centuries as the illuminati created more of them. The Lumans intended both races to be infertile, but it turned out that a tiny minority could bear children, and that both races were ingenious enough to overcome infertility with artificial means. By all accounts the two races loved the illuminati who created them, but they had little interest in serving them by mining the resources of Ur. According to some accounts, elves learned how to work sorcery on Ur, but kept their power secret from the illuminati, just as they kept their power secret from the Gods until the Dark Ages.
1500 BE, Zoroaster Departs Terra: Among the first gods to live on Terra, the most prominent was Zoroaster. He took upon himself the role of a wandering sage, listening to the woes of sapien villagers and kings alike, and advising them as to how to resolve their difficulties. So great became his reputation that sapiens sought him out and followed him on his wanderings, and his arrival in any nation was greeted with celebration. Every ten or twenty years, he would disappear, to return several years later in a different place, to continue his work. For two centuries Zoroaster explored Terra, bringing back to Luma eloquent and moving accounts of the life of dozens of Terran cultures, from jungle tribes to the highest civilizations of the day. During these centuries he received a great number of gifts from the people he visited. These gifts he sold at auction on Luma. The profits he realised he invested well, and he became spectacularly wealthy. Somewhere around the year 1500 BE, his contractual obligation to his Luman creators fulfilled, he returned to Luma and considered how he would continue his life.
1400 BE, The Rebelion of Nemesis: As we have said, Nemesis was an intelligent daemon and his desire was to explore the galaxy. His Luman masters had been refusing to give their blessing to his departure from Terra. There was as yet no other daemon near the planet. There were daemons that could have come to Terra, but they would have arrived with time shifts compared to the bridges brought by Nemesis. Luman law forbade such things. The Lumans wanted Nemesis to stay over Terra indefinitely, which went against his desire to explore, and him being an autonomous machine, he planned his departure with or without Luman approval.
The Lumans had become wary of their ancient, intelligent daemons. Many of these had rebelled against their Luman masters. These rogue daemons were carrying space bridges between colonly planets in violation of Luman law. The bridges they carried allowed information and goods to travel through both space and time, encouraging crime and a destructive fatalism in illuminati society. Some rogue daemons went beyond mere exploration and appeared to lose their sanity, using their time-shifted bridges to cause all kinds of grief to to illuminati everywhere. The Lumans had long ago stopped making intelligent daemons, and now their government embarked upon a secret program to destroy all the intelligent daemons they could. If a deamon carried even one space bridge to Luma, the Lumans could turn it into an instrument of destruction. I'm guessing they cast something like a Slice Spell on it, or maybe Lightening Ball. The word spread among the rogue daemons that they should rid themselves of all bridges to Luma, and supply themselves with maeon wind from secret bridges on remote magical worlds. Nemesis suspected that his continued survival, despite being in posession of many bridges to Luma, was conditional upon him remaining over Terra.
Roughly two thousand eight hundred years ago, Nemesis left his bridges to Luma with the demons running the Terra space stations. He retained one bridge to Luma only. The other half of this bridge was in the possession of the one person on Luma that Nemesis trusted: the god Zoroaster. This done, Nemesis left the Terran solar system, accelerating into space at one hundred meters per second per second. One day he was there, and the next he was gone. In principle, the Lumans had no need of him. They had plenty of bridges over Terra. But Nemesis was ancient and wise. It was he who had advised the Lumans on how best to manage their relations with Terra. It was he who was able to keep control of the gods. With him gone, it did not take long before the gods and the Lumans were at odds.
1300 BE, Sapien Heroes: We sapiens evolved on Terra, which has a maeon wind so weak that it is barely detectable. It's a thousand times weaker than our own. Only our most skilled wizards would be able to cast even a simple spell on Terra. So the sapiens on Terra had no real magic. They of course had belief in magic, and conjuring tricks, and they sometimes encountered demons and gods, but no effect of maeons was measurable to them. Another thing they did not have was prescience. It was on Altakalak that the Lumans first learned of the prescience sapiens can acquire in a maeon wind.
By now, sapiens had been living on Altakalak for four hundred and fifty years. Unlike sapiens on Terra, those on Altakalak had the knowledge of the Lumans to help them overcome disease and hunger. They prospered, and by 1300 BE their population was several millions. They spread out across the planet. Most of them hunted for their food, running through the forests in bare feet. Others lived in towns and worked on farms. They mined metals and precious stones from the earth. These they traded with the Lumans for medicine and tools. But there were, of course, sapiens who did not want to work, but instead wanted to prey upon those who did, and through force of arms, bring them into submission. The Lumans attempted to keep the peace with their army of demons. Meanwhile, the original illuminati colonists of the planet made alliances with some sapiens, and made war on others. Religions took form in sapien society, and motivated people to fight for their holy causes. Eventually, the sapiens were at war with the Luman demons, and this was when the Lumans observed sapien prescience.
The Luman demons were tough and fast. They were designed to capture and incapacitate sapiens. They had proved themselves on Terra. Here on Altakalak, they were armed with magical weapons. In theory, sapiens armed with spears and bows should have been no match for these demons. And yet the sapiens were victorious. They had among them warriors that were impossible to defeat, excepting that they should fight one another. These heroes could go about the planet as they pleased. No action nor weapon of the Lumans could stop them. A demon might be faster and stronger, but the sapien hero would avoid its attacks as if by magic. And indeed it was magic, for the sapien nervous system, in the presence of a maeon wind, responds to events that take place in the future.
The sapiens' capacity to double its population every twenty-five years, combined with their prescience and warlike character, convinced the Lumans that they were a threat to the security of Luma and its colonies. The Luman government outlawed the transportation of sapiens from Terra and Altakalak to any planet other than Luma.
Question: Do elves and dwarves have prescience too?
Answer: Yes. Cats and dogs can acquire prescience too. Any biological creature can acquire it, because we all have the same nervous systems, and we all respond to the maeon wind. For some reason, animals do not appear to be able to take advantage of their prescience in the same way we sapiens can. Although some believe that cats do. You have to master your emotions and remain calm in a dangerous conflict if you are to take advantage of prescience. Animals don't tend to remain calm in a conflict. Indeed, some philosophers have claimed that the distinguishing characteristic of mankind is our ability to behave with good manners even while distressed.
Last time I talked about the creation of the Gods, elves, and dwarves, and the discovery of sapien prescience. Today I'll talk about the rebellion of the gods on Terra, and their emmigration to the planet Olympia. The planet Olympia, as I'm sure you all know, is around ten light years from us. Olympia and Clarus are both planets in the region of space we call the Celesti Sector. So I could say, this lecture is about the emmigration of the gods from Terra to the Celesti Sector, and how the our ancestors came along too.
1200 BE, Political Gods: As time went by, Lumans improved the sapien bodies they gave to the gods, and gods learned how to keep their secret hidden in more and more difficult circumstances. They vied with one another to live the most exciting or compelling lives among sapiens, and to return with the deepest insights into the nature of the sapien mind. Despite their differences in outward appearance, the sapien and illuminati minds were not so different. When a matter of philosophy was too sensitive for a Luman to discuss in the context of his own society, he could illustrate his point in the context of sapien society. And so every political party on Luma invested in sending gods to Terra to return with stories of sapien life that supported their own political agenda. Such gods were paid well by their sponsers, and accumulated their wealth on Luma.
700 BE, Active Gods: By this time, the gods appear to have become bored of their constant efforts to remain anonymous or undiscovered among sapiens. Having been equipped with bodies designed to last for a hundred years, a few dozen gods established themselves in the Terran nation known as Greece. They demanded of Luma that they be allowed to move with a substantial population of sapiens to another planet. Their ambition was to rule sapiens as if they were the kind of gods that sapiens made a habit of worshipping, only in this case, the sapien gods would actually exist, rather than being the product of a zealous imagination. Such an experiment appealed greatly to the Greek Gods for many reasons, and they proposed it to the Lumans as an anthropological experiment. But the Lumans refused.
Under the leadership of Zeus, the Greek Gods responded to Luma's refusal by taking an active and open role in Greek civilization for the next one hundred years. They based themselves at the summit of Mount Olympus, where Zeus kept a bridge tuner he had received from Nemesis, and they used bridges to move from Mount Olympus to various places in the Greek World, which they called temples. With them were hundreds of demons and demigods that had deserted the Lumans over the centuries. The demigods were useful as spies. The demons were useful as weapons, although they had to be used rarely, on account of the time it took them to recharge their muscles in Terra's weak maeon wind.
In the lifetime of Helen of Troy, the Greek Gods openly declared themselves to be divine, and became active and competing players in a game of sapien manipulation. Their directing of Greek affairs led to the memorable Siege of Troy, which inspired Homer to compose The Oddesy and The Illiad.
600 BE, Emmigration of the Gods: Nemesis made an astonishing discovery. He had been traveling at his top speed for eight hundred years in his own time frame. During this interval, he covered roughly two thousand light years so far as a stationary observer would measure it. And he arrived here in the Celesti Sector, and landed upon the planet Olympia. Olympia had, and still has, a strong maeon wind, two Yardley, an atmosphere suitable for Terran life, and it was covered with quiet forests, plains of swaying grass, and marshes with tall and magestic reeds. None of these flora were Terran. They were from somewhere else. As Nemesis' subsequent experiments would prove, the plants were nutritious to Terran animals. There were even tubers rather like potatoes, and fruits like apples. But there were no animals, not even insects, nor even the smallest worm in the soil. This was a most curious ecosystem, and Nemesis could not make sense of it. It was his conclusion, or so the dragons tell us, that these plants did not evolve, but were engineered. Their purpose was to consume carbon dioxide and make a planet habitable for some race of people unknown to us, but biological in nature. Of the engineers, however, there ws no sign.
Meanwhile, on Terra, the Gods wanted to expand their influence on sapien society, or to leave Terra all together and go to a suitable magical planet, where they could set up a new civilization of sapiens and interfere with it as much as they liked. The Lumans, of course, were looking for some way to get the Greek Gods off Terra, but without any sapiens going with them. As we have heard, the Lumans did not want sapiens to spread to any magical planet other than Altakalak, where they had already caused a great deal of trouble with their prescience. For his part, Nemesis wanted an ally on Olympia to serve him maeon wind through large space bridges as he went on with his travels. But these three parites: the Greek Gods, Nemesis, and the Lumans, did not trust one another, and despite many negotiations, they were unable to agree to a solution to their various problems.
There was, however, one person that all parties trusted. His integrity was beyond question, as was his wisdom and generosity. This person was Zoroaster. Zoroaster knew what he wanted also. He, and roughly a hundred other gods now living on Luma, wanted to alter their own minds and cloth themselves in new bodies. The alteration would be the removal of their desire for physical intimacy with sapiens. But they would leave intact their desire for the society of sapiens. Their new body would be based upon that of the proto-dragon, only more rugged, more enduring, and more versatile. Zoroaster traveled to Olympia through his bridge with Nemesis, and there he observed for himself the latest and most extraordinary thing Nemesis had discovered: a conjunction. Here was a conjured matter bridge, something the Lumans were still trying to learn how to make; a bridge through which an illuminati could travel without harm. On the other side of the conjunction was another marvel: another planet, also covered by silent forests, and with an atmosphere suitable for Terran life.
Zoroaster informed the Lumans and the gods about the existence of the planet Olympia, a magical planet, he said, that could support Terran life. But he did not tell either party about the conjunction, nor the second planet. He guessed at the existence of many more planets, and he discussed this prospect with his fellow dragons-to-be. They altered the design of their dragon bodies, making them longer and thinner, so that they could fit through a conjunction, and so travel between the planets that believed existed.
In the end, Zoroaster brokered an agreement between Nemesis, the gods, and the Lumans. The Lumans agreed to allow any gods who wished to do so to travel via Luma to Olympia using Zoroaster's bridge. Most of the Greek Gods decided to make this move, including Zeus himself, and many other gods besides, both old and new. With their accumulated wealth, these gods purchased ten thousand demons, a thousand demi-gods, and a great assortment of bridge tuners, medical laboratories, and other machines to take with them. In addition, the Lumans sent through the same bridge several thousand elves and dwarves from tribes that had been causing the Lumans trouble. Last of all came Zoroaster and his fellow dragons. Zoroaster's bridge was left with someone Zoroaster trusted, and through it, communication with the Lumans was maintained by the dragons.
200 BE Sapien Emmigration: Soon after their arrival upon Olympia, the gods discovered the conjunctions for themselves. In 395 BE, Athena discovered the first conjunction between Olympia and Clarus, and so our own planet was first visited by gods and elves. By this time, Nemesis had determined that each conjunction was created by two inter-stellar creatures. The gods named these creatures Celesti, and they came to call this region of space, containing planets joined by conjunctions, the Celesti Sector. As most of you know, the Celesti alight at the same place upon a planet surface at regular intervals and generate a three-meter diameter conjured bridge between the planet surfaces. And every world to which they could travel through a conjunction was covered, when first discovered, with the same quiet forests that originally covered Olympia.
Upon arrival on Olympia, the gods and elves immediately set about spreading Terran life. Terran insects and animals started eating the alien forests. Within years, almost all the alien trees were dead from various forms of Terran blight. The alien flora appeared to have no defense against insects and herbivores. Among the dead alien trees, Terran trees sprouted up, and within decades there were places on Olympia that could be mistaken for parts of Terra. Today, there is barely any trace of those alien flora on our world. But some we can cultivate with care, and others survive in unusual environments where Terran pests cannot reach them. Many of these survivors have remarkable properties, and no doubt many of you, in your future, will go in search of them, hoping to find them in quantity and bring them back for sale at a profit. I'm talking of ingot gel, ornam spice, mandalus fern, fanflower leaves, and the like. All valuable, all rare, and all alien.
Through Zoroaster's bridge, the Lumans did eventually learn of the conjunctions. They asked with some urgency that the dragons allow them to send demons and homunculi to investigate the celesti, so that they might learn the secret of making a conjured bridge. Zoroaster deemed that any such arrangement would best include the gods also, for the gods could certainly resist efforts of the Lumans to study conjunctions if they wanted. By this time, the gods had learned how to acquire prescience themselves, and many of their elves were likewise formidable in combat, and such formidability demanded respect. When Zoroaster spoke to Zeus he said yes, certainly the Lumans can send machines to study the conjunctions, but they must send sapiens also, for the gods to rule over.
The Lumans refused this condition for a hundred years. But when they found themselves losing an economic battle with their rebellious colonies, they changed their minds. They traded two hundred thousand homo sapiens from Terra for the privilege of studying the conjunctions of Olympia for up to one hundred years. And so it was, during the first years of the Terran Roman Empire, the Lumans sent through Zoroaster's bridge roughly two hundred thousand sapiens. They arrived first on Olympia, but soon spread to other planets. And of course: our ancestors multiplied rapidly, as we are prone to do when we have plenty of food and nobody trying to kill us. There were even some sapiens arrived from Altakalak, in particular a number of heroic characters who had been causing trouble for the Lumans. These the Lumans permitted to leave Altakalak with their tribes and no hard feelings. So things looked good for the Lumans: within a few decades surely they would learn the secret of the conjured bridge, and they knew now that such a thing was possible.
But the Luman study of the conjunctions came too late. After thirty years of study, the Lumans were near to discovering the secret of the conjured bridge, but it was then that Luma was struck by an asteroid, and Luman power was extinguished. Their study ended. It seems odd that when Lumans were so close to discovering the means by which they could themselves travel instantly across space, after thousands of years of effort, that their planet should be struck by an asteroid and their dominion ended. But the conflict between Luma and its colonies was caught up with the paradoxes of time travel, and the dragons tell us that such tragedies abounded in Luman history.
0 BE Founding of Endromis: Two hundred years after the arrival of sapiens on Olympia, Endromis was founded on Clarus by people descended from the Romans. Over the next two thousand five hundred years, sapiens in the Celesti Sector populated a hundred worlds, and eventually learned to use magic for themselves. And here we are today.
In the past two thousand years, most of the gods who came from Terra are still alive. Some have been killed. Zeus, for example, went mad a few hundred years after arriving on Olympian, and he ended up being killed by a sapien warrior on the planet Vagor. Many more of the gods are having trouble with their minds. Their minds were designed to survive in the barely-measurable maeon wind of Terra, which is only one percent the strength of our own. Now that they live on Olympia, or any other of the magical worlds connected by conjunctions in the Celesti Sector, their minds are subjected to maeon winds many times, even hundreds of times, stronger than Terra's. At first, the gods were delighted with the strong maeon wind because it stimulated their minds, rather like we feel when we drink a lot of coffee. Even more attractive to them was the presience their bodies acquired in the stronger maeon wind, allowing them to greater security in moving alone among sapiens. But it turns out that the stronger maeon wind is not good for them. They need to have their heads passed through spirit matter bridges every few years, for example, to clean out conjured matter plaque that gathers around their spirit matter brains. Some of them must spend most of their time in a kind of meditative trance in a weak maeon wind so as to recover from the stimulation of life out in the open. Demons and demigods suffer the same kind of damage over the years. If you find a demon locked underground for a thousand years, the chances are that it will be insane, its mind pressed upon by tumors of conjured matter in the same way that our own minds can be compressed with water, requiring that someone drill a hole in our heads to let it out.
As to the fate of the illuminati, the dragons are silent on the subject. But many of us suspect that the dragons are still in touch with the illuminati. They did have Zoroaster's bridge to Luma. Who is to say that this bridge remains only one bridge? Might it not have been split by a technology yet to be discovered by us? If the illuminati still wanted to study our celesti, surely they would find a way. My guess is that by now they have discovered the secret of the conjured bridge. At least: some of them must have it. In which case, they have no further desire to come here. Because moving any distance across the galaxy creates time travel, one way for illuminati societies to survive is for them to reduce their contact with societies distant from them. So I imagine many illuminati societies on many planets, with varying degrees of technical skill; and even places where sapiens and illuminati live side by side. When we stare at the countless stars in the sky, many of them, hundreds or thousands of light years away, must be shining upon worlds inhabited by illuminati and sapiens. And of course one of them, perhaps visible to us in a telescope, is the sun of Terra, the planet of our ancestors. We can only wonder what has become of them on their non-magical planet in the past three thousand years. I, for one, would very much like to find out.
That completes my brief history of the galaxy. Thank you for your attention.
Question: What became of Zoroaster?
Answer: He lives on. He is on a quest to find the makers of the Celesti, which the dragons call the Distantae. He has been to every world in our sector, and searches always for new conjunctions. Eventually, he, and other dragons on the same quest, believe that they will find a conjunction that leads, not to a planet in our own galaxy, but a planet in another galaxy, the galaxy that is the home to the Distantae.