|The Enclave > Lore > The Farthest|
|Tales of the Farthest|
The Datarii call the place beyond all places "the Farthest." The long-departed Draugh, from whom the Datarii inherited myths, fragments of language and little more, called it by this and many other names.
Every place in the Enclave borders the Farthest, or so the Datarii say. Forest, field, library, inn, temple and open land all lead into the Farthest - endless, increasingly strange extensions of the border that led you there. No wizardry is needed to enter the Farthest, and the most common of folk must exercise care in their daily tasks lest they stray too far from the familiar and lose their way.
White-bearded Ammanders first wrote of the Farthest as the "Quintessential Realms," showing curiosity and understanding beyond that of the Lost Magi of the Vanished Isles. The sages hold that certain thresholds must be reached before the Farthest opens up like a rare flower to Visitor and Trespasser alike. The borders of the Farthest are most tangible in large and intricate buildings, the densest of forests, most frequently tilled fields, the busiest of marketplaces and docks.
To enter the Farthest is to notice folk becoming stranger; it is to become a Visitor in their lands, just as Visitors and Trespassers come from the Farthest into the Enclave. The farther from the familiar, the more different the Farthest becomes - and the more likely a Visitor is to lose their way. Even the near Farthest shifts and changes from day to day.
The Farthest Market is the Market of all Markets, the Quintessential, unending, eternal Market, the Market that, somewhere, contains everything that could possibly exist - as is true for the Farthest Library, the Farthest Inn, the Farthest City, the Farthest Temple, the Farthest Fields and Farthest Forest. Ammander tomes declare that all things may be found in the Quintessential Realms. The Datarii tell grand tales of wizardry won from the deepest Farthest by brave Visitors in dire need - and at great cost.
For all of the tale-telling, the border of the Farthest is often hard to distinguish. The folk are much the same, as is their merchandise. Sometimes it is only that the street leads to a different junction, or the corridor has an extra turn, or the bookshelves do not end where they should. Stray too far, however, and you might come back with whitened hair and strange tales - or not return at all.
"Elbows in all the wrong places," Tal is prone to grumble. His daughter - no Datar, but as skilled as any in stone and metal - came from the Farthest, found wandering the deep halls of Dar's Craft where the Datarii carve Unfinished Works and the border of beyond is close. To hear the older Datar retell the story to all who pause and listen, the Beautiful Stranger herself stepped out of the Farthest Craft to foster this Lost one on Tal.
Tal's Daughter is strange, unlikely in appearance and far from her birthplace. She refuses any name and never learned the gruff tounge of the Datarii. She speaks through stone in the deep halls, and the Datarii of Dar's Craft are fiercely proud of their Visitor.
The oldest stories, those said to come from the Draugh, speak favorably of charity to the Lost. Datarii respect the old wisdom, the craft of storytellers and wise ones long gone. Be kind to the Farthest, kind to the Lost, for one day you may need such kindness yourself.
Not all who come from the Farthest are friendly - or willing. Trespassers, as the Datarii call them, are violent, angry and destructive Visitors. Trespassers are fortunately rare, only to be expected in fear when the Enclave touches upon the Farthest Battle. It is said, however, that sages of the Black Tower and followers of darker Powers know of wizardry to call Trespassers from the deep Farthest, meddling in a balance best left alone.
Of the many stories of the Emerald Company, the Farthest-Broken Raid is but rarely told by warriors, and then only in hushed tones. Neth from the Road in the Greenwood were seen from the villages before even first snow that year, like long-dead things carried by the tide of winter. The Company, bolstered by Ammander spearmen, rode forth to drive these most vile Neth back beyond the Known Roads. Yet many great and shambling Ur Maka were amongst the lesser Neth - a pitched battle developed amidst the stench of Neth earthworks and rotting game. Neth and Ammander stepped into the Farthest Battle, which in turn stepped into the Enclave. Powerful warriors, white of skin and strange of face, came forth from the confusion of blood and death to smite at spearmen, Neth and Emerald Company alike.
Neth broke and fled as the bile of the last Ur Maka tainted the snow, as did the Ammander spearmen. The White Trespassers tore at snow, Neth-turned earth, bodies and each other. There died Arith of the Company, last of the first, her body never found.
It came to be a part of the tale that cruel, dark-minded Neth had come to an ancient place of the Draugh, had found wizardry to summon forth the White Ones - but who can tell the truth of these matters? It is not a tale that those who know best, those who once wore an emerald broach, like to retell.
|The Farthest Coast|
The miser Menas has your coin from the fresh pressing, eh? That's the last you'll be seeing of that silver, mark me well. He'd be on the Council in place of the Master Trader if he cared to look up from his gold - aye, too much greed to be a Councillor, there's a thought to go with the ale!
The old trader wasn't always so devoted to coin, leastways not until he brought back ten blue coins from the Farthest Coast. The Master Trader's lackeys have the Coast Road now, aye, but not when Menas led mules about the Known Roads for the Guilds. Headed to Cael with glass and red iron he was, making camp for the night high up where the Road touches the cliffside before the Watch of Trees. Aye, something to be said for watching the moon out over the Unending Sea while far and away from everything; the fisherfolk know that and more.
More ale! A seafarer could die of thirst afore you'd even notice! Aye, the hook on the story, eh? The first cool mists of the season came rolling in the next morning and Menas was Lost afore he knew it. No Watch of Trees, not the Coast Road nor other travelers; just the Sea, cliffs and hills all mist-covered and strange.
Aye, the coins, not found lying in the grass, no. Menas and his mules met an old whitebeard of strange manner and clothing, wandering the cliffside with fishing line and a fresh catch. Menas is a trader - they traded, what did you think? Fish, strangers' coin and the way through the mists in exchange for glass, red iron and mules besides. To hear the way the old miser told it, he bargained with the greatest trader in all creation; with the Fisher in Darkness, some say. Aye, but I say he would have given his right hand and purse besides to a drunk thief to see the Coast Road again, and there's the truth.
Still, ten blue coins it was, and he has them still after all these years. Wizardry there, if you will; coin that brings out the greed for counting in a man. Aye, all thoughts for you to mull over while Menas is counting your silver, eh?
|Lost in Thought, Lost to the Farthest|
Well and well; she's in her bed, asleep finally. She doted on that boy, and there's the rub of it. If he'd lived in the City Without or the Port docks there'd have been none of this. Apprenticed he'd have been and had some sense knocked into his head years ago. It's too easy to be Lost in city streets, none of this wide-eyed dreaming and following Master Lareth's ruffians here and yon, no.
Someone has to say it now - it's been the better part of two days and neither hide nor hair of the boy, not in field nor Road. Lost to the Farthest he is, though none may want to say it. It could have happened anywhere with his head in the clouds and the ramblings of troubadors the way it was. Blind man or a fool to be Lost from a village, and isn't that the truth? I'll tell you this, mark my words, I'll be placing a coin with the Powers tonight, for I'll be the one his mother leans on in the days ahead, and there's a task.
Well and well, and maybe the Beautiful Stranger herself will point the boy back to the village - just like Krineth once on a time, none the worse for wear and learned his lesson well. I'm afeared that's only the way in tales, mind, so best to expect the worst.
|Each Village an Island|
All of the larger personal collections of books and parchments in Port and Three Stones include elegant copies of the most important work of The Expected Smile - fifteen treatises, often bound into two folios in the traditional fashion. Amongst them is "Our Sea," an anonymously circulated treatise that Black Tower sages declared - not without some controversy - to be from the quill of The Expected Smile.
"Our Sea" is a powerful, short treatise on life lived amidst the Farthest, the "Quintessential Realms" that so fascinated Ammander sages in seasons prior to the Vanishing. The Expected Smile - or perhaps another, more anonymous sage - wrote that "each village is an island, comfortably familiar and from which travelers venture forth but rarely. By comparison, Port is a convergence of tides at the river mouth, a place of strange sailing and unfamiliar streets. We are never quite sure of ourselves; are we Lost; will the stranger before us speak the Ammander tongue; is this unusual finery the latest fashion or a Visitor's garb; was this wall here the day before? The children of tradeship passengers have grown to be sharp-witted and careful in the tides of dockside and Port streets. Dreams are for village folk, for those who do not have to mark the road ahead - the careless wanderer in Port is soon Lost to the Quintessential City, at the mercy of the Powers of this land."
|Weather of Powers and Strangers|
The mortal folk of the Enclave have many sayings for fog and mist from the Unending Sea. "Fog brings forth the Farthest" they say, and teach their children to walk with care, stay inside or settle beside a known place when the sea mists come rolling in. The fisher folk of Port and the coast villages touch statues of Salin the Seafarer, or toss a coin overboard for the Fisher in Darkness when fog is sighted out on the waves. To be Lost at sea is a very real threat, even though Enclave seafarers sail only within sight of land since the last of the Vanished Isle Magi and their great tradeships passed away.
On the Coast Road, in Port and the fisher villages, mists are the weather of Visitors and Trespassers. Fog and sea mist are the heralds of unfamilar streets, mysterious traders and unknown stalls in the Dockside Market; strange faces, incomprehensible languages and novel fashions in the taverns; travelers to places unknown to Enclave mortals; odd fisher folk bearing ugly or wonderous catches; Strangers' calls and half-glimpsed vessels out on the Sea.
Yet just as often, the mists of the Unending Sea come and go without incident, and careless folk can become just as Lost to the Farthest on the clearest day or night. The wise amongst the Enclave common folk leave coin for priests and the Powers, to be saved for a day of mist and need.
|That They Were Lost, Not I|
There was never a merchant's fear like it afore nor since, a cold craw grasping at my heart, as when the folk drew near upon the Coast Road. Close enough to see robes of red and stranger's beasts carrying I know not what, and I alone with my mules - watching my thoughts and not the Road, not the Road. Then it was, by the touch of the Beautiful Stranger, I saw the third-broken stone marker and its sapling tree beside the cliff. It was as the Unending Sea came up to wash away the blood of my legs, to know that they were Lost, not I!
|Thieves' Toll, Paid to the Beautiful Stranger|
Only a thief counts steps, or so it is said, but in truth many cityfolk keep the habit in places they know well. Who knows when you might be caught without lamplight on a cloudy night when the moon is dim and far over the Unending Sea? But only a thief would willingly set forth to walk city streets in darkness, avoiding the lanterns hung from taverns and the high walls of manses, for to walk in darkness is to walk on the very edge of the Farthest Night, and the thieves of Port and Three Stones pay a toll in coin of lives Lost.
Healers and devotees of the Beautiful Stranger in Three Stones tell tales of the long arm of the Power of the Farthest; she watches the borders and Roads between the Enclave lands and the rest of Creation, reaching out to touch those who carry ill will in their hearts. The dockside eels of Port laugh at such legends; those Lost to the Farthest Night have demonstrated themselves poor thieves, and only their coin should be missed.
Still, common thugs and safehouse eels in Port carry torches for skullduggery and theft on the dockside after dark, while thieves in Three Stones work by day, for the lantern-lit streets belong to Watch blades by night. True thievery on dark and clouded nights, counting steps and skirting the Farthest, is the province of tall tales and rare, masterful rogues like the Unseen Hands.
|The Twice-Folded Scroll and the Farthest Library|
In the Year of Winter, The Twice-Folded Scroll was the eldermost whitebeard of the Black Tower, of such great age and frailty so as to have passed into that lonely demi-realm that only the very oldest mortal folk inhabit, and then for but a short time. Many Ammander sages of the Tower vanished in the seasons following the Winter of Trespassers, and this most ancient whitebeard was amongst their number - already all but forgotten by those beyond the black crags and former retainers. All that remained were folios and inkwork, copied hastily by a few poorly rewarded scribes, buried and misunderstood in private collections, lost amidst long shelves in the Three Stones Library.
The Twice-Folded Scroll was a sage of the Farthest from the very first, a student of the works of The Denier and The Expected Smile, of the Port sages of past times, those who had walked two shores of the Unending Sea. In his lifetime, The Twice-Folded Scroll journeyed to Spire, the vaults of Great Home and Ura above the Mountain Below to speak to wise Datarii, and to the Watch of Trees in search of the last Ammanene. As seasons passed, and hair faded to white, this Ammander sage was drawn ever more to the Library of Three Stones - and all Creation beyond it, the unending shelves and halls of the Farthest Library.
It is perhaps this closeness to the Library, and the old, bad blood between Black Tower sages and Library priests, that led The Twice-Folded Scroll to obscurity in his own lifetime. The guarded, jealous hierarchy of Black Tower sages had no place for those overly-familiar with priests of the Vessel. The priests, for their part, have long been comfortable with the Farthest Library as a mystery of the Seeker after Burning Truth, their honored aspect of the Vessel. In the eyes of the Library faction of the Temple of Powers, the Farthest Library exists for all, a necessary step on the Road walked by the Vessel and all those touched by the Burning Truth ... but what possible use could there be for any sagely elucidation of the Farthest Library? Burning Truth can only be sought, found, mastered - not taught.
So it has came to pass that the deepest secrets of the Quintessential Realms of learning - sought, founded and scribed by The Twice-Folded Scroll - were never told, but are hidden away in fading ink and aging folios, their very existence all but ignored or forgotten.