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༻The Old World༺

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~Prehistory~

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      Originally, Mère Terre created multiple different groups of humans, and scattered them across the continent now known as the Old World. Exactly how many groups she created, or which group was the first, has never been disclosed to humanity: therefore, in ancient times each city-state considered themselves to be the descendants of the first humans. By the early 3000s S.A., it’s generally agreed that the citizens of Arinasa, the historical center of Lady Sun’s worship, were the first humans—although this is almost certainly apocryphal.

      During the dawn of humanity, there were so few humans that the gods directly visited and interacted with them. While Père Ciel was always distant, the three goddesses would walk among humans, travelling from place. Mère Terre would always be accompanied by her daughters: Lady Sun, who in this era was an adolescent, and Maiden Moon who was but a young child. Many in later eras would romanticize this as the golden age, when humans and the gods walked amongst each other in harmony.

      While the gods directly interacted with humanity in those days, it’s worth noting that they deliberately tried not to guide the development of humans. To some degree, humans were influenced by the gods—in particular, language was inspired by watching the goddesses speak amongst themselves. Yet, even so, the goddesses primarily wished to see humanity grow on their own, develop their own ways of life.

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~The Old World~

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      The process of humans developing societies was gradual, although no one knows how long this took. Some theorize it was merely within a few centuries, while others think it took tens of thousands of years.

      Earlier in prehistory, humans viewed the gods as family: Mère Terre was literally their mother, Lady Sun and Maiden Moon were the siblings of the whole world. Over time, more complex hierarchies began to develop—and as a consequence, suddenly such a mundane view of the gods seemed inappropriate. This shift was marked by the construction of the first temples, made to both honor the gods and house them. These temples were the earliest permanent examples of human architecture, even beyond settled towns and cities. Settled cities first began around temples in particular, so that humanity could always be in contact with the gods after it had become rare for the gods to simply walk amongst humans anymore.

      While multiple cities were formed around the same time, it’s generally believed that the first to gain power and influence was the previously mentioned Arinasa, which sprung up on a wide, grassy plain—although, again, it’s difficult to verify the veracity of this claim. Considering Arinasa’s later importance to the inhabitants of the New World, most claims about it are somewhat suspect.

      Another important city-state—perhaps the most important known to the Old World—was Shinanna. Shinanna laid on the fertile banks of a long river in the middle of a desert, and sprung up around a temple to Maiden Moon, eventually becoming the center of her worship. As Maiden Moon grew to be the favorite of humanity, greatly blessing humans and positioning herself as something of a benevolent queen, Shinanna exploded in wealth and prestige. Eventually Shinanna grew to be the largest city-state in the Old World. Although they never went to war or conquered other states, the Shinannan language eventually even became the lingua franca of the Old World, as their influence was so expansive.

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~Imprisonment of Maiden Moon~

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      All was well until one day, Maiden Moon became unusually infatuated with one of her priestesses. While Lady Sun regularly took on human lovers, Maiden Moon preferred to focus on her duty first and foremost—but she simply found this particular priestess too lovely to not try to woo. However, to Maiden Moon’s shock, the priestess refused her pleas, not wanting to put themselves at the complete mercy of a goddess. Therefore, Maiden Moon found what she considered the perfect solution for this: find a human body, and perhaps her beloved would accept her then.

      Unfortunately, absolutely nothing about her plan went well. For one, Maiden Moon abandoned the physical moon, leaving it as a corpse. Because of this, like all corpses, it began rotting away, giving the moon its now characteristic craters. Even more tragically for Maiden Moon, even as a human her beloved did not reciprocate her feelings—indeed, if anything, they were somewhat repulsed by her human persona. Worst of all, before Maiden Moon could give up the ruse and return to the Moon, the priestess discovered her betrayal, and told the other gods of her misdeeds.

      The other gods smote Maiden Moon’s human body, and connected her soul to the Moon before it could rot even further—but now what was there to do? Mère Terre wished to do nothing, believing Maiden Moon had been well punished enough. Lady Sun, however, was spiteful—she had grown jealous of her sister, that the world seemed to love Maiden Moon more than herself. She proposed that Maiden Moon be punished for her transgression, that she should not be allowed to visit humanity at all anymore—she couldn’t handle such a privilege responsibly.

      At odds with one another, the two goddesses went to Père Ciel to break the standstill on Maiden Moon’s fate. To Mère Terre’s dismay, he agreed with Lady Sun: there was only one Moon, it wouldn’t be a simple matter if Maiden Moon did something so reckless as to fully kill her original body—and besides, what would become of herself? Would she be left as a wandering phantom, and would the night sky be forever enshrouded in darkness? None of this would do.

      And so, Maiden Moon was imprisoned within her soul’s home, never able to leave. They were merciful though, or so they thought. Maiden Moon’s imprisonment wouldn’t be forever, only long enough that she would get the point. It would merely last for a “measly” 6,000 years; surely, what is a few millennia to one who has lived for millions of years, at least? Right?

      Distraught, Mère Terre pleaded with her family that, surely, they could ease Maiden Moon’s woe a little, that she need not always be alone; and so, they allowed a compromise. Mère Terre enchanted a priestess’ necklace so that it would never break, never fade—and any soul who wore this necklace, Maiden Moon could appear to them freely. While she was not wholly satisfied with this solution, it was something, at least.

      Soon, however, things grew ever worse. Lady Sun wasn’t satisfied even with this much, wanting Maiden Moon out of the picture entirely. And so, when her mother gave the necklace to the priestesses of Shinanna, Lady Sun slipped in and plucked it for herself. Unable to destroy it, she opted to throw it as far as she could. The necklace flew to the other end of the Earth, landing on an oak tree growing on some lonely continent far, far away.

      Mère Terre was horrified when she discovered this, but it was already too late to be able to really find the small object. She asked her family if she might make another…but they refused. This was already a concession anyways—it would be better, they said, for Maiden Moon to remain alone and think on what she had done. After all, look at Lady Sun—she frequently took on human lovers, but never so flagrantly abandoned her position as a god. Maiden Moon was clearly too unstable.

      From that day forward, the entire balance of the world shifted. Maiden Moon could no longer interact with her clergy, with the citizens of Shinanna. Mère Terre was overcome with grief for her daughter, baffled at the cruelty of her husband and eldest daughter—and, to add salt to the wound, Maiden Moon shunned her company, upset she didn’t do more for her. Overwhelmed, Mère Terre began retreating into her own soul’s home, increasingly unable to handle the company of anyone.

      And so, with Père Ciel as ever distant as he always was, only one goddess remained in the lives of humans: Lady Sun.

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~The First War~

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      Once the world discovered Maiden Moon’s “sin,” absolutely everything changed. The idea of a god succumbing to such a fate was already a frightening thing, but the most beloved one of all—no one knew how to take this.

      Within Shinanna, it was decided that business should continue as usual, at least as much as possible; Maiden Moon was still their patron goddess, and it is not as though the Moon was not still shining in the Sky as brightly as always, pulling the eb and the flow of the waters the same as before. While of course, individual opinions varied all across the world, this was certainly a minority position to say the least.

      Most of humanity felt deeply betrayed: how could Maiden Moon, known for being so dutiful and merciful, succumb to such lust? How could she abandon them like this?

      In most city-states, any reverence at all towards Maiden Moon quickly dissolved: temples were abolished, no more rites ever done in her name. The most hostile reaction came, predictably enough, from those cities under the direct influence of Lady Sun, Arinasa especially. Worshiping her at all became illegal, seen as heresy; soon talk of her became the realm of hushed whispers and euphemisms, as it became believed speaking her name alone could bring ill. People even began to believe that, though imprisoned, Maiden Moon was crafty enough to stick her tendrils where they didn’t belong, plotting her revenge. Paranoia and rumors abounded, some which would last for millenia—such as the rumor that those born with albinism were chosen as the maligned goddess’ servants. While Lady Sun didn’t start such rumors, neither did she dispel them, instead letting them flourish. After all—it’s easier to consolidate power when one has an enemy to fight: the more sinister, the better.

      Before this period, the world lived in a divinely ordained peace, only interrupted by the most minor of skirmishes. But with Maiden Moon gone, Mère Terre crumbling, and Lady Sun burning with the flame of ambition, the world began devolving rapidly.

      Naturally, tensions rose drastically between those cities under Maiden Moon, and those under Lady Sun—especially Arinasa and Shinanna. About a decade after Maiden Moon’s imprisonment, everything boiled over: Arinasa, along with a coalition of other city-states under Lady Sun, went to war with Shinanna—the First War.

      Though relatively short, the First War was a gruesome, bloody affair. Shinanna and its few remaining allies stood little chance against the Arinasan coalition, in spite of their once great power and prestige. Within the span of a year, the once magnificent city was reduced to rubble, its riches stolen and its inhabitants scattered—and, largely, dead.

      From this forward, the balance of the world permanently shifted: no longer did anyone harbor any sympathy for Maiden Moon; not that they would express, at least. Shinanna’s thorough defeat “proved” all the wretched rumors right.

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~Collapse of the Old World~

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      With the sacking of Shinanna, one might assume that the world began to return to peace; however, this could not be farther from the truth. Unlike her sister and mother who despised war, Lady Sun had no such qualms. Duress breeds progress; seeing the great wealth brought to Arinasa by the sacking of Shinanna, Lady Sun became convinced that war was, on the whole, good for humanity, bringing never before seen prosperity and riches. While Mère Terre tried to encourage peace, by this time her influence had waned terribly; and, frankly, her mental state was far too poor for her to be especially effectual regardless.

      For centuries, all civilizations succumbed to increasing warfare. In the beginning, it was not terrible—at least, as “not terrible” as war can be. Over time, however, everything grew more extreme: barbarity and duplicity became commonplace, all the world over normal people lived in constant fear of siege and ruin. Eventually, this grew to such a great extent that any “benefit” brought on by war was felt nowhere. Even the richest began to live in squalor as all wealth was funneled into a never-ending war machine.

      Eventually, though she largely remained cloistered, Mère Terre looked out upon the state of the world and decided she had quite enough of it. Without even consulting her daughter, in her despair and grief, Mère Terre struck disaster through the world—volcanoes, earthquakes, spreading deadly diseases: anything to be done to decimate the human population. In her mind, two things could come of this: humanity would finally stop their nonsense, and live in harmony; or, they would rightly perish, her most beloved creation ending in failure.

      For decades, the world existed in this hellish, chaotic state. The human population shrunk to a frighteningly tiny fraction of what it once was, and all were convinced that they were truly upon the end of the world. Lady Sun was not particularly happy with this—even if she had begun to grow weary of the way the world was before, such chaos was truly too much to handle. But, for the first time, she became confronted with how genuinely miniscule her own power was. No one can stand up to the face of the Earth.

      Luckily for everyone, once humanity’s extinction seemed inevitable, Mère Terre at last put a stop to the destruction. In the end, she couldn’t bring herself to destroy them, in spite of her great disappointment in them. After all, they too were her children. Instead, she decided on a different punishment for humanity—but also, a second chance. Though their homeland, the Old World was a mess of ruin, the stains of disaster and despair marring its landscape. Therefore, it was to be the home of humanity no longer: they were banished.

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Lovingly created by [J. H. Rose].