The Mind of Dross Gellan
In the barren land of Termina, a handful of humans struggled eke out a meager and uncomfortable existence. Among them was a farmhand named Dross Gellan, a quiet worker average and unremarkable by all accounts. He was unaware of the rapid rise to the forefront of martial philosophy awaited him, for it could not have come from a more unexpected source.
No one was completely sure when it happened, but the most popular stories told of a day when Dross stared listlessly out into an empty farm field. He blinked, turned back to his employer, and immediately began suggesting novel improvements to the farm, such as new tools, crop rotation, and irrigation techniques. While his employer was skeptical at first, his employer listened and reaped the investments back many times over in the following harvest.
Almost immediately, Dross Gellan became the most sought after man in Termina and beyond. Other farmers began to copy his techniques, and he became a wellspring of other gadgets and inventions. From mechanical clocks to interchangeable parts to the printing press, it was said he could recite the schematics for a thousand machines and ideas simply by closing his eyes and focusing. His political concepts, such as representative democracy, legal equality, and civil service exams, would not be so immediately realized.
It must be said, however, that machinery and inventions were not the only thing he preached. He began to teach a philosophy he called the New Path, a creed of meditative stoicism and personal development. He accepted all followers, both men and women from the highest and lowest stations in Termina and beyond. While disconcerting to those in power, Gellan was said to have created the first mind-blade, a weapon able to hold the intelligence of a sapient being. His followers developed manifold martial arts based upon it, should they ever be threatened or challenged.
What happened to Master Dross Gellan began to be reported in other people across Termina, although nowhere near as dramatic as what had occurred with Dross Gellan. His Path followers would assist and gather these prodigies together, giving them the mind-blades as a way to calm and direct them. In time, the warriors of the Path were sought out as mediators and advisors, bringing with it copious amounts of power and influence.
As Dross Gellan grew older, it was said a schismatic sect broke away with their own twisted interpretation of the original Path. While disparagingly called the Dark Path at first, they took the name as a badge of honor due to their years of subterfuge and covert teaching. Their own philosophy dealt with acquiring power over others as a method of testing one's worth, a hostile extraverted version of Gellan's original creed. Gellan's original followers called themselves the Light Path in conscious defiance of their rebel brethren's name.
War broke out between both camps across Termina and beyond, siblings fighting each other as civil war ravaged the land. Countless commoners and bystanders were killed in such battles, many more at the hands of the Dark Path followers than the Light one. Martial techniques were perfected between and against other mind-blade users, as each could easily deal with a small army. It was unclear if either side won, or if it mattered, for the ranks of the Path followers had been pushed near annihilation. In their wake, however, a new power arose.
A bureaucratic Federation, originally founded by a Light Path follower to care for war victims, arose as the dominant power in Termina. Citing Dross Gellan's care for the common person, they set to work improving infrastructure, education, and defense to a degree that did not rely on a handful of mind-blade experts to defend them. The rapid advance of weapons, from the crossbow to black powder to the boltcaster, made such a thing possible. The same methods used to make mind-blades also were used to make intelligent constructs, which eliminated the need for much labor. However, the golden age would not last.
The Light and Dark Path followers existed at the fringes of society, occasionally waging a covert campaign between each other and other threats. While religions and ideologies rose and waned across the Federation period, the Path followers remained. When a group of Dark Path followers developed a way to influence the minds of others by means of mentallic powers, they began to infiltrate the Federation into their own personal fiefdom.
The nature of the Dark Path's philosophy eventually pitted its adherents against each other. As the Federation collapsed into civil war, the remaining Light Path followers responded with their own secret weapon. Able to protect the minds of their own followers from the Dark Path's influence, the old feud was rekindled with terrifying mentallic abilities. The era of the Mind Lords had begun.
The Mind Lords, both Dark and Light Paths, had achieved a significant amount of power over the fabric of space and time itself through their mastery of mentallic powers. Mind-blades suddenly gained a new lease on life, alongside mentallic shields, boltcasters, and war constructs. New weapons, such as artificial plagues and toxic gases, raised the stakes dramatically. The mightiest Dark Path followers ruthlessly used such weapons, alongside hordes of mind-controlled slaves.
As a result, there was immense debate amongst the Light Path Mind Lords among the ethics of manipulating time itself. Faced with stalemate or annihilation, the Mind Lords made a fateful decision: they would try to alter history. Besieged for all angles, they began to send their minds back in time. The mightiest of them only realized too late that they had arrived inside the body of an otherwise ignoble farmhand named Dross Gellan.