The Expedition is an event roughly 2000 years before the start of the ArcheAge game world. It took place during the Hidden Era.
Prologue: Gods and Heroes
A half-age before the Exodus (roughly 500 years), twelve companions gathered in the Great Library of Delphinad, the capital city of Auroria, where they discussed and formed the library expedition to The Garden (the Birthplace of the World). "The expedition was tumultuous at best, set in motion after a jailbreak meant to free Inoch from imprisonment for his hand in inspiring Lucius's play, "The Scoundrel," which mocked those who would follow lesser gods than Thiol, and the gods themselves. After fleeing the city, they came to discover The Garden, where they wound up lost and separated for hundreds of years, and where they were imbued with great powers alike to the gods of the Delphinad Pantheon." (Quillodon on the forums)
The expedition included:
This expedition would give rise to our world - at the cost of their own. A detailed accounting of their journey was discovered in Gods and Heroes, a book attributed to Lucius Quinto, their ill-fated bard:
12th Day; 7th Moon
What if the legend was true?
It was an uncommon question, one quickly banned from the courts and cathedrals of Delphinad. In the mead halls, it was ignored in favor of cheap ballads, stories of lust and coin that filled the cups of the hungry and hopeless.
But for us, twelve friends with twelve reasons to find the birthplace of the world, it became an obsession. It was only a matter of time before our feet began to follow our hearts: North, toward the Hiram Mountains.
Mountains that will be the death of us all.
Three peaks into our crossing, we are tired, cold, and ugly. Teeth of frost hang from our hair and our noses, covering skin pulled taught over sunken cheeks. There are no pleasures of bed or table. Just snow, ice, and endless rock.
What if the legend was true? Is it foolish to hold out hope? What if we found the source of all magic – how many would be left to harvest its power? I see different questions in my companions’ eyes. Hungry questions. They wonder what sweet succor you’d find in Firran meat, what morsels could be torn from our Astra’s ribs. One in particular sets my teeth to chatter: Orchidna, a curious spirit hiding in the flesh of a child. If only she possessed a child’s ways, a child’s enthusiasm or brightness …. But no. She’s the same creature who was shunned in Delphinad, hiking as numbly through the grandest adventure of her life as down the city streets she would wander for days on end.
Orchidna is an ever-present reminder: What if the legend is true? And what if it’s like nothing we ever expected?
21st Day; 7th Moon
The mountains and their numbing chill are behind us. So, too, is the cracked, jigsaw surface of the Hiram basin, hot and dry as a funeral pyre. For days we walked and wondered: did we survive the frozen peaks just to be smothered by heat? Over time, dunes gave way to soil, then to forests of wild growth. Strange (breathing?) plants seemed to mark our passing. Some lashed at our weapons and limbs, taking flesh and blood before the oddling – of all people! – found a way to staunch their thirst. At last the air grew thick with magic, and we followed it to its source: the yawning maw of a vast crater – the birthplace of the world. Its bottomless darkness swallowed the torch we threw down, and a strange fog howled in its depths. It was no matter. We knew the legend, knew where to find the ancient, crumbling stairway circling the crater’s walls. In high spirits, blind with elation and wonder, we began our descent. Days passed. The walls of the pit grew treacherous, shot-through with gnarled roots. We cut and burned our way forward, always deeper, always down. Slowly, the roots were replaced by a dark, resinous surface that glittered as if lit from within. Before long, the stairs had flattened into solid ground … and we were received by the remnants of those who’d come before. What’s left of them is nearly unfit to tell, a patchwork of feed-lot splinters and stains. As we sought to identify the source of these horrors, the few of us with more to lose urged – to no avail – for a considered retreat. Instead, we wade onward, in twos, through waist-high heaps of human bones – each pair giving rise to a unique rhythm of cracking ribs and shifting skulls. Orchidna, lighter than I, shuffles ahead in the wreckage, holding a lantern for me to follow. She reminds me, more often than I’d like, that the world’s birthplace may be our deathplace, too.
All is chaos –
The first of us has fallen. Our mysterious dancer. She was young, beautiful, and skilled, but her grace proved no match for dragons. When we finally defeated the beasts, there was no time for triumph … or mourning. We had to leave her behind, half-buried, when the oddling went missing.
We followed Orchidna’s trail to the entrance of a shrouded hold, where we discovered her waiting for us, eyes alive with wonder. Somehow she’d found the gate.
Intricate carvings adorned its frame, and a singular, terrible glyph thrummed with magic where its doors were joined. The longer we stared, the more beautiful it became, the more it seemed to promise new lives in a new world.
No doubt smiling for the first time in months, Orchidna drew her hand to its surface.
And madness –
Thunder rent the air as the glyph burst to life, and the door hinged inward, bathing the chamber in vivid blues and whites. Only then did we notice a twisted throne, opposite the broken seal, and the fae creature sprawled across it.
As Orchidna approached, the fae rose blinking from the seat and fixed her with a curious gaze. In a guarded whisper, it asked if the end of the world had come.
Orchidna faltered. She looked to me, and for once, I had no words.
In the midst of our confused silence, the fae explained that she’d been bound as gatekeeper until the end of this world, or until another came to take her place. Before we managed to find our voices, the creature had gone – and left Orchidna howling in terror.
Acting in unnatural concert, the oddling’s limbs dragged her to the throne and sat her on its cold, impenetrable surface.
And the world turned in on itself.
We have suffered. We have lost a companion and doomed another. And yet we have hope.
The gate opened a passage to the birthplace of the world: a Garden that holds the source of all magic. The power must exist to free Orchidna from her new home and prison, and we’ve promised to find it among the wonders within.
After rest, we’ll set out one at a time. We tell Orchidna (and ourselves) that it shouldn’t take more than a day …
Epilogue: Gods and Heroes
They say that time puts memory to rest,
that its final gift is the loss of loss.
I wish I could agree.
A thousand years have passed since we discovered the gateway, and still its memory consumes my days. I dwell on our expedition, on Orchidna and her binding to the watcher’s throne.
I remember choking down bile as we left her screaming, begging us not to go. One by one, we promised to return with magic that would set her free. Then we stepped through the gate, and in moments we were separated, lost, and alone.
Time whirled in eddies around us, and centuries passed in the span of mortal breaths. When at last we found our way back, we carried new abilities that were frightening in their vastness. Some had been given the might of heroes; others had been transformed into gods.
We came back with grievances, too – the fruit of rivalries and jealousies left to fester for hundreds of years. So we loved and we hated. We started wars and spilled blood, drawing on powers we could barely understand.
We were like children set loose with primal magic, and innocents suffered for each of our blunders. Gene fared the worst. Once our leader in arms, he became Kyrios, the god of death who spread destruction throughout our world.
Though nine of us opposed him, some with powers equal to his own, we couldn’t save the old continent. We couldn’t save Orchidna. And we couldn’t save gentle Nui, who paid with her life to spare our people.
Now the future is uncertain. Mortal alliances prepare for battles ahead, and some of us plan to aid them. While others linger in the legends, in blissful memories where time can stand still, I like to imagine new heroes will be born. Heroes who will rewrite our mistakes, find those we left behind, and steer us to a brighter age.
The New Gods
The members of the first expedition were transformed as follows:
- Kyprosa Daeier - The fated Gatekeeper of the World. She assimilated with the God of Contact, Ranshisha.
- Gene Evernight - he assimilated the God of Destruction, Kyrios. However, as he was granted the "power of victory," it is possible that he had absorbed the power of Akrites, the God of Victory, as well.
- Tahyang Kahlzit - It is believed he merged with the God of Wind. (The original God of the Wind's name is unknown.)
- Eanna Nimush - The fated Leader of the World. The Mother of the New World. It is believed she assimilated with the Goddess Nui.