A note from Dr. Marth Ceager, head of archeology at the Fenks University in Fenks, Devonia, and co-founder of the Institute for Moaiian studies.
The stories of the ancient Moaiian people are seldom recounted, or even recognized, in our modern consciousness. While many Moaiian people remain today, and are intensely proud of their heritage, the culture has nearly died. This was mostly due to colonization, and the onslaught of influence from other cultures, arguably more advanced than their own, urging them to modernize. To see the consequence of this, one needs look no further than the popularization of kitschy luaus, hula dancing, coconut bikinis, grass huts and carved idols. While these were certainly aspects of their society, their actual meaning has been lost to a history that barely remembers them.
I should begin by informing you of the basics: the archipelago of Moa is a chain of islands nestled near the center of the warm, tropical waters of the Aren Ocean, far removed geographically from most major continents. There are eight main islands and several islets of varying size, and the total land mass of Moa is nearly 38,000 square miles. Its people were far more advanced than we had once imagined, as the colonists who plundered their homes hadn't been at all gracious with the details, and they had (in their isolation, no less) developed working sewer systems, methods of food preservation and even primitive firing weapons, based on the designs of my own ancestors.
The stories told by the ancient Moaiians, however, did not die out with their advancement, as many modern Moaiians still tell these stories to their children and grandchildren out of a natural desire to preserve them. The folklore of the Moaiian people is eccentric, engaging and exciting, but due to the physical isolation of their archipelago, they are seldom referenced in this day and age.
It must be stated that most of these tales, however mythological they may seem to modern cynics, can be verified, and still are. Moaiian artifacts found over the past few centuries provide evidence of their truth. For example, the discarded or broken instruments of mana-wielders, called "mages," such as wands and staffs, which once channeled the powers of their wielders, now find their home in the Capital History Museum in Henns, South Lotheria, and the confirmation of Mana's existence as a physical property encourages modern science to try and recapture a seemingly lost understanding of it and unlock its practical uses. Clothing, drawings and even a photograph depicting the rise of elemental guardians, who were prominent figures in Moaiian mythology, and their enemies, the grotesque and embittered counterfeit elementals, are displayed proudly in the Ku'ono Cultural Center - a must-visit for any Moaiian enthusiast. The feathers, skeletal remains and metallic weaponry from the Miako - a savage species of bird people of humanlike intelligence, now long since extinct - are finally on display in M'tuvu Province's Hall of Natural History, along with the curved scimitars carried by General Sorek and the crown of their leader, Emperor Nodak. Countless museums and libraries hold written accounts, collected over the years, which tell of the Moaiian's epic battles, which were waged almost daily in bids of dominance over the island.
However, all the deductive archeological research in the world is no match for a word-of-mouth testimony from someone who was actually there, as I'm sure you'd agree. In the summer of 2314 (1870 by your reckoning, dear reader), an aged author named Barod Delworth, who had written many books based on the old Moaiian legends, publicly declared himself to be a prominent figure from one of Moa's most famous stories - the great mage, Rekorius, who aided in defending the Moaiian people from the malice of his twin brother, Tahvo the Sinister, for centuries. Not a soul believed him, and he was quickly dismissed.
Despite the public's dismissal, scholars, like myself, who read his books, found congruencies between their plotlines and known fact. His books told of details that were, at first glance, seemingly insignificant, but, after being verified through archeological findings discovered subsequent to when his books had first been published, those tiny details ended up being verified as well.
My natural curiosity as a historian and archeologist was peaked. I began to send him letters, requesting to speak with him, and at first it seemed as if he was suspicious of my intentions. After assuring him that I had no intention of ridiculing him as the public had, I was finally granted an audience in the spring of the following year.
Mr. Delworth greeted me politely, and offered me coffee. I accepted, and to my surprise, he left the living room for a moment. When he returned, he had a large item bundled in cloth under his arm. He lay the bundle on the table in front of me, and bid me to unravel it. I did so, and held my breath in amazement at what I saw.
It was a staff, made of gnarled wood, with a crescent-shaped handle on the top that had a grip between it. The outside of the crescent was carved in a beautiful, intricate pattern, reminiscent of the carvings of the Horvish people- a culture of conquers that had died out thousands of years ago.
He bid me to observe the cloth it had been bound in, so I did. To my amazement, it was no mere cloth. It was an ancient, fading Moaiian tapestry, depicting three figures. In the center stood an old, robed man with gray hair that resembled rays of the sun, holding aloft the unmistakable image of the staff which lay before me.
On either side of him were two figures- a heavyset woman in blue clothing, with a feather cape and shields on her arms. Behind the woman was a massive, teal ocean wave which rolled in at her beckoning. To his right was a thin young man with a shell necklace and an orange loincloth, and behind him grew a blazing inferno.
"My wife wove this," Delworth said hesitantly, as if his words, while true, had not been spoken aloud for ages. "She passed away quite a while ago. If you're looking for verification, Mr. Ceager, you may take these with you and date them yourself."
Curiously, I made a request to Mr. Delworth. "And, this staff…" I asked. "Does this work?"
Barod smiled. He appeared relieved, most likely at the fact that I wasn't in doubt as to his true identity, and had a youthful glint in his eye. He took the staff in his hand, and raised it. The biscuit on my plate rose, to my astonishment, without physical aid, as if gravity itself had released its grip. All of a sudden, other objects began lifting- the chairs and table (including the one I was seated in), the rug, the lamp at the center of the table, the couch at the far end of the room, even the bookshelf, which was too heavy to be lifted by anything not visible to the naked eye.
He lowered them back down, and as I felt the chair land, I chuckled in amazement. Honest-to-God manacraft. He set the biscuit down on the table, but rather than ending the show, he did something to it that caused it to age. The biscuit hardened and fell apart before my very eyes.
I looked at him in confusion. His face had lost its youthful glow and seemed older and worn.
"Like the biscuit, my friend," he said, sighing deeply, "I feel the centuries in me wearing me down. In the years of my authorship, I had gotten responses from historians, archeologists and anthropologists alike, who, like you, saw the truth. My books were not fictional - they were accounts of events long forgotten, except in the hearts and minds of the last Moaiians. The portions of the stories that I was absent from were told to me by those who had been present for them.
"I have lived for centuries, but I am not immortal. I wish to retire, Mr. Ceager," he said wistfully. "Yes, perhaps to travel, to planes where others cannot follow. Yes, I think that would be good."
He sat next to me. His careworn eyes were flooded with memories of ages long past. I nearly felt as if I could see all of what he had experienced, and felt my eyes well up. "I tell you these things because their culture is dying," he said matter-of-factly. "If I am to leave, I wish to be reassured that I am leaving the stories of my beloved friends in capable hands."
When I arrived back in Fenks, I dated the artifacts. The staff was crafted well before the era in which the stories of Tahvo's villainy and Rekorius' council took place, while the tapestry was found to have been woven near the end of Tahvo's reign. All evidence pointed to the inescapable truth: the man I had met with was Rekorius, in the flesh. To this day, I'm not sure what became of him. His home was emptied that very week, and he was absent from it. Investigations yielded a dark, empty house filled with cobwebs. By all accounts, he seems to have vanished.
Soon after Rekorius' disappearance, I released a paper in International Anthropology to inform the public about the staff and the tapestry, and have since collaborated with historians, archeologists and anthropologists to try and revive this lost culture at the mage's request.
My first act will be to republish Rekorius' books, and include images depicting what remains of the Moaiian culture. The Institute for Moaiian Studies is an organization to further these goals, and has been founded by myself and my collages, Prof. Branni McFarnell of Moaiian anthropology, and Andwell Aldman, a collector and enthusiast, and with the help of many encouraged Moaiian scholars, we hope to raise public consciousness about their culture.
The story you are about to read is true, and as mentioned, the events within have been verified. This first story, "Tides of Fire," is based on the mythology surrounding the origins of the Guardians of Moa, who play a major part in the events of Moa's salvation