Long ago in the time of the Guardians, before men had yet set foot upon the eastern shores or the Great Mouth was unmasked, there lived a man called Voxae. Voxae was a farmer of the lands in the very furthest east of the known world; that is on the Eastshores of the Great Inland Sea. In an short and unbroken line of the firstborn, Voxae could (and did) trace his ancestry right down through the ages to Aern (that is, The Flmae), youngest daughter of Atema, the first of all men. He therefore belonged to those people who have gone down in the histories as the Aernori; the Men of the Flame, and his father one of their mightiest princes.
Now of the eldest sires of men little is known (and less is told), but surely it has become demonstratively clear that of the gifts given them by the guardians the people of Aern were surpassingly blessed with courage, indomitable spirit and a fierce determination; less, with great patience, or caution.
All of this shall become clearer as we continue, but somewhat of Voxae’s exposition should perhaps be known before we begin his tale (which is rather long and is retold here only with great abbreviation) in earnest. In those days men lived long; many lives of their lesser kindred that live on to this day, at least; the longer time in which they might grow acquainted with a world in which they were still some of the shortest-lived and youngest of the many other races. Less in stature than the Gii of the mountains; less in mind and subtlety than the Kentari; slower and less nimble than the Llito; weaker than the Tuar; and bereft of all but the very barest of glimpses and perception of the second realm of the Thari (the Spirits) and Faeiir (the Wild Things); the question could be (and was) fairly asked of them, living as they were amongst so august and halcyon a company of other peoples: what use were they able to make of their short lives, however long they would be judged by the standards of today?
It is a question that all the more may be asked of those who now follow, all these long years later- we who trouble the earth for a far shorter duration, and that with greatly reduced potency than our sires, the mighty men of elder days.
But we have now come a long way now from the life of Voxae the Mariner.
As I said earlier, Voxae was a man of the Aern, a farmer of eighty years, who had for the last sixty of which dwelt in the Eastshores near the Great Inland Sea (as it was then called) which is now called Nulset, the Sea of Tears. The first seven of his years were spent in West Vhemsii under the tutelage of Albe the master and all of his various understudies (in this way his childhood was similar to that of all of the Aerni). After the completion of these formative years his father Vorxes had returned with his wife and son into the east. Since they day Voxae returned to Eastshore with his father (who was a man in his prime, of some hundred and fifty years) he had left the hills of the great Sea only once at the age of 13, but he was gone long, and returned at the age of 30 a marked and married man, with a strange name, bearing strange gifts and burdens, and wedded to a strange bride: Noetlin Keadine.
Noetlin was not of Aern but rather of Kead the Eye, eldest son of Okri, the second man. Kead fathered the Kediir, the Men of Sight, perhaps the greatest juxtaposition possible for the impulsive and fiery Aerni: stern of glance and slow to act (but unflinching once underway), Kead and his offspring leaned much from the great seer spirit Mira, Handmaiden to the Empath and wife of Okri, and were farsighted and wise beyond all men that were or shall ever come again. Noetlin was eldest daughter to the chief of the Kediir, Asu, and the sisu (that is, the spirit-essence and enduring identity) of Mira was strong in her heart and her being.
Now it was the way of things in those days for Aernorii men, after learning for some years at the feet of his father and other teachers, to leave the place of his family and to enter the wilderness for some time to commune with the spirits and the gods, and returning, to seek a bride and his place in the world. So it came to pass that when Voxae was 13 he tired of his instruction at the hand of his father and resolved to leave the east, venturing vaguely west and north on the Vilusa or ‘Voyage’ as it was then called, to find what adventures and destiny might await him.
Now the Guardians had appointed to each tribe a region over which they had dominion (and within which they were to stay) with wide open lands in between. The Guardians had also at that time already made forbidden the crossing of the Great Sea that would later be called Nulset and Setilolath (Sea of Darkness) and many other names, but in these days in the Sortr is was first called the Qualcerne (bursting fire) and the Essoligdhe, that is, the Rising Light or Sunrise, for the first Aerni explorers of that region came upon that great and terrible water just as the light of Dawn reached the breaking point over the flat east horizon.
The sun burst in that day over the sea with the force and terrible beauty of a red, fiery explosion. This light it is said kindled something deep and dormant in the hearts of these sons of fire, children of Aern the flame, and they did not forget, being drawn eastward and indeed ‘flameward’. Voxae was one of these, who even in the hearing of that great exploration and later in coming to dwell in the very foothills of the sea was kindled and ever smoldered with the passion and fire for the sea and for the East.
But I am running ahead of my story, again.