Annals of Dystopia is a first-person series on the rise of the current Sha’an autocrat written by an unnamed shani who managed to escape.
|Volume #||Title||Word Count|
|v. I||A Forewarning||557|
|v. II||Decade of War||885|
|v. III||New Hero||379|
|v. V||Praxial Baron||739|
|v. VI||The Trickster||430|
|v. VII||Dark Warriors||576|
The year was 931 and I had just grown old enough to both understand the weight of the situation and to flee. This story is not only of me, but of my people. I was not much older than a young one when the siefek appeared. I was born just after the Reign of Bitis had come to a close. We were a Remnant at the time of my birth and our land was receding. We had been sequestered to the far northeast of The Blade. Sometime in my second decade our Remnant had managed to find somewhat of a peace, contained to a handful of planet-stars. We subsisted and survived – this became the reality of my life by the time I was near twenty years of age.
Throughout 920 we had heard rumors of these sick Sha’an appearing around The Blade. Word would get out that a sick one – a siefek as they came to be called – had appeared in a community we knew or on a planet-star, and we heard naught from them after. We surmised they were not to be trusted. When one appeared on a neighboring planet-star that was part of our Remnant, we swept our forces back to a single community. Swiftly, an entire Remnant of Sha’an filled a tower, then two. By the time our handful of planet-stars was in one place, we had filled the five largest dwellings on our home of Alekodst. Our Achran, the one in the mask had one last hope for us — a floating continent given to us by a Poria head of state when we were the Reign of Bitis still. Some of were able to seek shelter on this continent as it could be positioned close enough to the towers to allow for travel back and forth and moved for safety. We were never sure of how the siefek appeared on Alekodst, but they could not reach the continent in air.
The siefek themselves were the concern at hand. The first that appeared followed the description that came with the rumors. It appeared as a sickly, distorted Sha’an. Its fur was missing in patches, its snout was bent – a more accurate description would be that the snout itself was dented causing some teeth to poke out at odd and impossible angles, the eyes never looked in the same direction, it had only one ear, and its gait was disturbing and made me nauseous from almost a kilometer in the air. The ones that followed though were nothing similar. We considered it lucky that we had hauled our communication equipment to the continent – those who enjoyed its safety had the responsibility of maintaining communication with surrounding Remnants. Every day and night, without end for a decade the Reykata would scale our buildings; they would come from the inside and from the outside climbing vertically up the sides of the towers. Our bravest warriors were thinned so over time that I held many patrols over the last years. Occasionally, other Remnants and once a Reign – of Bostaur I believe – came to our aid with supplies. A water purification system that could be run from the continent was perhaps the single reason we lasted stranded in our own homes for a decade. A decade of attacks until he showed up.
Decade of War
At the onset of our troubles I had imagined that we were alone in our suffering; I was wrong. As previously told, our first interaction with these Reykata was the single siefek that had appeared on one of our Remnant’s planet-stars. Not the planet-star I resided on, but one that part of our remnant had established residence. Word of this occurrence passed to our Achran, the one with the mask of bone, and he ordered our entire remnant to amass on Alekodst – where I was – as we prepared for what could potentially be our undoing. No word or information escaped from the other planet-stars who had a siefek appear so we could not be certain what had happened, but if were could not reach them it could be safely assumed that something was amiss.
Within a day of the order we had the entire remnant on Alekodst, and by the end of that day everyone had coalesced densely into the largest five towers we had. We nervously waited for a few days that included securing our floating continent so that we could establish our communication relays. The siefek soon arrived, though we were never certain how. The dark passed and by the light the Reykata had appeared. They seemed to favor the dark, as during the light they would go into a tower and not depart until the dark drew close. They appeared a very disjoint force, spreading to multiple towers as the light crept upon the city and later as dusk spread they would move to different towers still. With each passing day the entirety of their forces swept closer to our location – I cannot be sure whether it was because they were looking for us, because we were opposite the section of the city they entered, or because we were in the tallest towers – but they found us nonetheless.
We dispersed our best warriors to the ground level of each tower to beat back the Reykata when they were within a few towers of ours. The first night of attacks, we lost not a single wattior, but the reports were that the Reykata were innumerable, somehow a much larger force than we had accounted for during the light. They Reykata all looked so similar that the warriors themselves swore they beat back and killed the same Reykata several times over the course of the dark. Weeks of this passed, beating back the same Reykata in the dark and resting in the light. Within a week we confirmed our theory. An arm was managed to be cut from a Reykata who we assumed dead from the spilled blood. It returned the next night, as the Reykata drew their forces back – and literally drug bodies – as the light swarmed the city. We had assumed they had taken their dead as either a retiring from their forces by either means of burial or by cannibalism. Instead they could bring back Reykata that were seemingly dead to return to wage war on us the following dark. I would hear stories from the warriors that on some spells of darkness, the same Reykata would return to fight us several times over.
We made it through 920 in this fashion but by the advent of the next year we had condensed further due to loss of not only warriors, but some non-fighters had perished from a combination of the elements and low resources. We had strung long cables from the top of the central tower to the surrounding ones as a way to distribute food and other supplies but once they had made their way down to the warriors, there was often not enough left for those who weren’t fighting – there was a mandate by the Achran to leave a certain amount for the fighters and no one wanted to die from the Reykata. By 925 we had not only condensed to the single tower, but we were trapped by Reykata occupying the first several floors. During the light they would coalesce their entire forces inside the lowest section of our tower so there was no way we could have driven them out. At dark they would come up through the building, and scale the sides aiming for the top. Those of us residing in upper floors had to assume the mantle of part-time warriors to beat back these Reykata that would crawl up the side of our tower looking for us.
Those of our Remnant who were able to stay on the floating continent received word from other Remnants that sometimes included supplies and aid. At one point, I believe in 927 the Reign of Bostaur delivered us enough supplies and aid with weaponry to last several months. Their system had been attacked by these Reykata, but they had not come looking for Sha’an as they did us. The Reykata in this system proceeded in a line of destruction that ran in rings around their planet-stars. If you were not in the way you were spared. It had crippled his forces, but had not driven them to the brink of extinction as it had us. After hearing our transmissions they came to offer aid; the food, weaponry, and warm clothing was likely the reason we made it to 931.
The year was 931 After Time, as the title suggests. Early in the year word came from another Remnant – who had heard from another Remnant, who heard it from further along – that there had been some progress against the Reykata by a small Sha’an force. For many weeks this was the last we heard but it was enough to keep our spirit from shattering. It was late in Ouovas when we had correspondence again. Word had come that the small Sha’an force was in fact a single Sha’an, with an interesting iota that was circulating with the word. It was unclear to us whether this Sha’an claimed it of himself, or it was posited on his behalf that he was from the Reign of Vulpek. This reign – for those non-Sha’an – was according to legend the first Reign of the Sha’an created by Sham’ayn herself and was the only Reign to have the Korun, the Achran of all Achrans, the highest rank given to any Sha’an. Reactions to this Sha’an potentially being a Vulpek were varied – some in disbelief and some in relief that the Sha’an to save us all was from the holy Reign. Most, like myself, lie in the middle.
It was Apuvas when we again heard of this Sha’an. Now, we came to find that his success was becoming widespread and consistent across The Blade, and Remnants and Reigns alike were fighting over his services. Typical for us, we as a species cannot allow something beneficial to happen to the entirety. No, it must be the action of a specific Reign or Remnant so we all become indebted and partially enslaved to said Reign or Remnant. Such is the way of the Sha’an, sadly. However, this particular Sha’an – still without a name – fought free from the control of any Reign or Remnant. News slowly crept in throughout Evtuvas as he made his way through The Blade. Unfortunately for us, he began on the southernmost end of Sha’an-Space, and we were in the north-east. Our numbers were thinning and the Reykata seemed to know both this fact, and that the Sha’an was coming along with their demise by the day.
It was the Fifth of Tauvas when he reached us, and by that time our numbers were less than fifty. We began in the thousands, and over the course of the decade, almost all had perished due to famine, sickness, or battle. I thought myself lucky to have survived a decade of some grueling and sometimes unimaginable sights. Though after what I saw in the remainder of the year, the thought of being lucky to witness such atrocities is one which I disavow. However, I must first tell what I had found so lucky at the time.
He appeared at the edge of the city, the same way the Reykata had came in, with a small band of Sha’an. His forces were even smaller than ours had shrunk to, yet he moved through the city and towards us with an aura of confidence. He moved faster than the Reykata had, initially I thought because he was clearing empty buildings, but once he found the Reykata he moved just as quickly. The warrior moved so quickly through the Reykata while his Sha’an force behind him did relatively little in his aid, though it did not seem necessary to aid him. He dispersed of any Reykata that were in his immediate area within seconds with lightning quick flurries of some kind of offensive capability. He left no bodies in his wake, I presumed from the sheer speed at which he was cutting down our enemies. I was both too far and he was too quick to see what weapons he was using. We had heard reports that he was a quick and far-more-than-capable warrior, but seeing him in action surpassed any expectations. Within an hour of arrival he was on the top floor of our tower, basking in the sunlight as he spoke to our Achran. I hid for fear of my voice and spirit cracking as I was in awe. Our Achran offered him rest in our tower now that it was safe, as well as any supplies he might need for himself or for his companions but he declined. He had most of the Sha’an at this point and didn’t want to prolong the suffering of our people another day longer. He was told that there were whispers of him being from the Reign of Vulpek. He admitted that he was not, and brushed aside our idea of rebooting the Reign with him as its Achran. “I have no connection to the Vulpek, other than the reverence we all have for the once-powerful. My own Remnant was wiped out some years ago, and I am too fond of my own mask to adopt a new one. We all would be honoured to wear the crown, but unless it was ever found I would not consider tarnishing the Reign of all with my own name and mask.” The Sha’an who were with him looked relieved by his words, and they looked like important Sha’an in their own rights – more regal than the warrior in any case – perhaps leaders and other Achrans convinced they would be able to spread the story of how they were the ones to escort the warrior to save The Blade. But the warrior was Humble.
By the Twenty-Third of Tauvas The Blade was clear of the Reykata. The warrior had set off to the Southern Ridge to cultivate a new Reign or ruling party of some sort, which he had hinted at as he left us to liberate more Sha’an. In the Southern Ridge he built on a series of planet-stars a colony for those he felt worth keeping close. The Remnant of Aegol had to be moved from their ancestral homes to make room, but they reportedly found land quickly elsewhere and migrated smoothly with the warrior’s Sha’an helping the process. Those not in the warrior’s ruling party were kept out of this section of the Southern Ridge — just for the time being, was the excuse — due to safety of construction.
On the first of Ontauvas, on every planet-star that the warrior had freed a portal of magicks appeared in the city that had functioned as the last bastion of each Remnant and Reign. This portal was mysterious at first, but buzzed with the familiar energy of Sham’ayn. We all instinctively knew that the portal would not harm us and crowded around it. It was a large oval shaped swirling disk of energy, somewhere around 20 meters tall and roughly flat on both sides. After a few minutes of the portal humming, an image of the warrior flickered into view and took up the whole of the portal. It was translucent-closer to opaque, we could see him but we could also see through the portal to the Sha’an on the other side. We had never experienced a moving picture, especially one of something happening across The Blade, but the portal was made from Sham’ayn’s magick. Clearly he had been blessed, so our trust was given.
The warrior was adopting a new mantle. Rey’ynar would be the name we would know him as. The Blade would become a meritocracy, like the Poria in Parallelium. The Reigns and Remnants would be no more rulers of local societies but instead family units that we would soon move beyond. We, as Sha’an, should be producers of goods and services, and owners of property to some extent so that we can make our own personal wealth and join the economy of Omneutta. He continued for a few minutes after, but little of it was of consequence in comparison. Our Achran was besieged with questions after a brief pause once Rey’ynar’s image disappeared from the portal, which remained. What goods were we to make? What services could our fragment of a Remnant offer to the Sha’an and Omneutta? He had no answers.
Before the end of the next week the portal again contained a moving image of Rey’ynar. Instead of a meritocracy The Blade would instead be a democracy. Of course, based off his eradication of the Reykata we would have voted for him. The rest of the democracy is chosen by the elected leader. There was no word on when the next election would be — but one would be had because he would become old inevitably and therefore another Sha’an would need to lead the throne. The democracy would encourage us to have our own democracies, set the value for goods locally, and open channels of trade across The Blade and Omneutta. The colony somewhere in the Southern Ridge would be complete soon – to be used by all Sha’an rulers in the foreseeable future – and the populace would be allowed to tour the grand tributes to Sham’ayn and the history of our peoples. There were plans to build a city-centre for the Sha’an, a mecca for trade to and from the Sha’an and the rest of Omneutta. We would know about these plans soon.
The plans never came. Presumably, there were never any plans. Early in Veauvas the portal gave us the moving image of Rey’ynar multiple times in one day. We were not to travel through the Southern Ridge. We were not to elect our own local leaders – everything would be delivered through these portals. We were not to enquire about the city-centre. All dealings with Omneutta would happen locally with our own initiative. We were then not allowed to deal with non-Sha’an. Further rules would come through the portals as they were approved by the Sha’an around Rey’ynar, though in hindsight — how much discussion of these rules could there possibly have been? Future rulers would be able to change Rey’ynar’s rules, pending the approval of the government that surrounded them. Governments were now to be composed of Achrans and pad-Achrans, to ensure a government for all Sha’an. By the end of the light of that day, governments were again chosen by the ruler so that there was no effective change from the prior day.
Much discussion in the interim between moving images in the portal occurred. After one particular vision of Rey’ynar we discussed the practicality and logistics of a new rule at the portal, which changed the frequency of its hum. After that, we no longer discussed anything in front of the portal. We were not sure if the portals were two-way transmissions, but after the frequency changed we took no chance that it was also sending moving images of us as well as our voice. It was harder to move between planet-stars now, mostly due to our harbors and populace being hit hard by the Reykata, but the constant gaze — whether imagined or real — of Rey’ynar made us cautious to travel. We were able to send a few Sha’an out on light, small ships. Two went towards the Reign of Bostaur and returned in less than a week and a half. The other ship was go go as far south as they could and return. We never heard from the third ship. Bostaur was able to tell us most of the small details I had already included in this edition and prior: the appearance of portals on every Sha’an planet-star they could hear from, the constant hum of the portals and their subsequent distrust in them, the overwhelming sense of impracticality of Rey’ynar’s rule. We never imagined that it would get worse, only that it would make less-and-less sense.
I awoke to screams. The Reykata had returned to Alekodst in the middle of the night. There had been no word of a Reykata return by any other Sha’an settlement, or any announcement from Rey’ynar. I fought the urge to sit up and run, as the Sha’an closest to me was ripped apart by a few Reykata as she tried to run. I lay underneath my robes and spare cloth that kept me warm at night, peeking an occasional eye through gaps in the fabric. I held my breath as they left my immediate vicinity and did not risk movement or sleep. I waited, holding eyes slightly open until the light of day rose over the horizon and through the broken windows. Convinced that I was relatively safe and the Reykata were gone, I immediately shed my stealth, gathered my cloth, and set off. I did not want to risk being seen by any Reykata, so I did not travel outside the building. Instead, I looked up and tried to find my way up. I scampered up a flight of stairs, leaping to a doorway that had been broken open. I carefully looked around, fearing having been seen through an exterior opening, but could not see one from where I was. I pulled myself through the doorway and continued my climb to the top.
Upon arrival, I found a small alcove underneath one of the taller beams that stuck out as spires on the structure.
From here, I could occasionally scamper up the beam and look down into the city. I could see the Reykata traveling in and out of both sides of the portal. Some drug Sha’an, still alive, through the portal while new Reykata I had not yet seen over the course of a decade emerged from the other side. Since I have not yet, I can take this opportunity to relay the appearance and mannerisms the Reykata I have so far encountered. In general, Reykata all shared many physical features. Their spines were largely exposed between hips and torso, a noticeable underbite combined with a lower jaw that came to a point, and in general appendages that came to a point. Somewhat of a noticeable exception were the Graeys with their large muscular physique in both arms and lower extremities. Their fingers however, did come to a point. The Pian were small anthropoid creatures that made up a bulk of the Reykata. The Pian as a race shared some common traits: they had small segmented bodies containing a thorax-like segment which pointy, jointed limbs sprouted from, an exposed spine that led to a head usually around the same size as the other segment, and the way they moved along the ground. Pian never moved in straight lines, instead rapidly scurrying to the left and right of their direction all while moving forward. The Rydir were overwhelmingly the largest race of Reykata – mostly due to wing size. There were a few Reykata that I had seen that had traits of both Rydir—simply having wings—and other races. The Lervay were among the most disgusting residents of Omneutta I had ever seen. Each member of the Lervay race was disgusting in a different way, but all shared their ability to produce smaller versions of themselves. Some of these young Lervay would grow to their adult size and reproduce offspring within a week or two. Other Lervay took longer than I was able to see.
For most of Veauvas I made my camp in that alcove. Some time during my isolation I realized that Rey’ynar had told us from the outset of his reign that he was behind the Reykata. His new chosen name of Rey’ynar contained the suffix ‘ynar, of several meanings. It is used as an honorific mainly, affectionately, and sarcastically mainly by younger Sha’an. We all assumed the suffix was related to our plight and joy related to the Reykata and our rescue from them, respectively. Instead, it appears to either be a taunt to us for believing in him, or perhaps to the Reykata themselves as an elder—possibly parental—figure to them. It had been in front of us this entire time. Not once did we stop to question the name, we took it at face value, he was the Reykata Savior; we thought it translated as Savior from Reykata. Not during the sudden shifts from never having a species-wide government to a meritocracy, then democracy, then to an authoritarian regime; we never questioned the name.
I snapped out of my stupor and climbed down from the spire I had perched on, unknown if I had been seen by any Rydir. Knowing my food supplies I had been able to periodically scrounge from the tower I was in were drawing short, I hatched a quick plan. I would either die soon from starvation or the Reykata if I stayed on Alekodst much longer; what difference did it make if I died attempting to escape The Blade? I waited until the next time light crept upon the city and the Reykata retreated from our buildings to make my escape. I needed to get to our small floating continent, still tethered to a spire a couple towers away.
As the light crept upon Alekodst, I gathered my robes, my mask, and what small amount of food I could take with me and scampered down the tower, leaping down stairwells, perching as still as possible at any sign of movement. I once heard the loud thudding flap of the largest Lervay I had yet seen as it passed by an open window, but from what I could see through the broken glass, it was not looking into the tower- only mindlessly patrolling around it. Did they know I was here? It would not stop me from executing my plan, but I would have to be more careful if they knew there were still surviving Sha’an. The first floor of the tower was largely open to outside access, so I stopped my descent on the second floor, able to look out at the space in town between buildings. The tower I needed to reach – where our floating continent was tethered – was two towers away. I cursed myself silently for not taking proper mental stock; I could not remember which tower was connected to the one I needed to reach via a supply cable. It was obvious and apparent to travel across a supply cable, but so was traveling up the tether to the continent. Once I was that close, there was no option but to be in the open.
I drew my belongings close to avoid being caught on a stray piece of glass or metal and jumped from the second floor out of the tower, softening my landing with a roll. I sprinted not to the closest building, but one a little further I thought held the supply line. I ran not into the first floor, but made my way up the exterior wall as quickly as possible. There were no second floor windows that had been busted out and breaking glass would be audible for too large of a distance. Mentally cursing myself again, I proceeded up the exterior of the tower further. Sham’ayn might have blessed me yet as a window had been left in tact, but the window itself was open. I crawled in and shut the window behind me, looking around for any signs of hostile movement. I was safe — for now. I cautiously yet quickly made my way up this second tower; the higher I climbed and leapt the more I felt exposed by broken windows or missing sections of exterior wall altogether. At the top my cloak and other cloth wrappings shook in the wind more vigorously than on my previous perch of near a month. This tower was higher, yet still shorter than the one containing the tethered continent. Quickly, I scampered across the supply cable, careful not to slow down to look around for any Reykata. I was growing tired but could not afford to stop and eat, so I shoved a few bites of food in my mouth and slowly let saliva and small jaw motions break the food down as I continued up the last tower.
By the time the mush of food had completely left my mouth I was near the spire. The wind whipped at my cloak again, and my mask jostled loose. The mask fell down into the tower and I felt my identity vanish with it. I paused to prepare to jump after it, and the wind with another gust pushed it through a window. It was gone. I resolved to make another one if I made it out of The Blade alive, but I first had to make it out alive, and not through the portal carried by some Reykata. With a new sense of vigor I pulled myself up the tether up to the continent. This time I dared to look around, since I was still alive and it was much easier to climb a tether than it was to run across a supply cable a few hundred meters in the air. No Reykata had seen me yet, so I maintained hope that I could launch a small craft still unseen. The craft I found resembled compacted trash more than anything else — Sha’an had never been proficient designers — but perhaps in this case floating in what appeared to be a pile of trash through space would be another blessing. I had enough food to last perhaps two weeks before malnourishment began. In three weeks time I would land on what I know now as [LOCATION REDACTED FOR AUTHOR’S SAFETY] within Parallelium. My craft had landed in a body of water, sparing me from death upon impact, but I was badly dehydrated and malnourished from my journey, along with badly burned from the heat of atmospheric entry. It took the better part of 932 to recover and now I present the story of yet another fall of the Sha’an to you, readers.